I was going to begin this by stating that I am not a morning person. But I don’t know if I believe that completely. Maybe it’s because I want to be a morning person. Whenever I happen to manage to wake up early, or I have to wake up early for a specific reason, I usually have a good day. I always liked getting into the office (or now the lab) before everyone else. It’s quiet. I can get myself oriented to the day before anyone else is there to interrupt me. And I’m usually productive in the morning. But again I repeat, this only applies to the days I manage to get myself going early. More often, I sleep in. Or I wake up early and figure I have plenty of time to get ready to leave the apartment so I take my time, and then before I know it, I’m running late.
The typical morning routine for me:
- Wake up, stumble out to the living room and start squinting at the computer screen before my eyes have had a chance to fully focus.
- Check my personal email; look through at least 5 offers from Groupon, Living Social, and Chewpons (before deleting them all); check Facebook; check the weather forecast; check my school email; look at the 1 or 2 offers from Groupon that have entered my inbox since I logged on.
- Realize what time it is, go get breakfast, and return to the computer. Look at Facebook more. At this point I have already looked at everything I really care about, so I am aimlessly scrolling into the depths of status updates and posted links from people I have met once.
- Realize what time it is and get in the shower. Get myself dressed, pack my bag for school.
- Realize I haven’t packed a lunch. Pack lunch.
- Start to head out the door and realize I haven’t fed the cats.
- Feed the cats. Start to head out the door and realize I haven’t taken my medicine.
- Take my medicine. Start to head out the door and realize I haven’t said goodbye to Nick. Depending on my mood and/or how much of a rush I am in, either continue on my way out or run back to kiss Nick goodbye before I leave.*
This is a frazzled and hectic way to start the day, and there are a lot of mornings that by the time I get in the car, I’m already in a bad mood, or at the very least, feeling pretty stressed.
So last week I decided to try an experiment. This was my morning routine:
- Get up and feed the cats their crunchy food to tide them over for a bit.
- Get in the shower.
- Heat water for tea and feed the cats their canned food. Supervise feeding time while waiting for water to heat up.
- Make tea and prepare breakfast.
- Eat breakfast in the living room, looking out the window, not at the computer screen.
- After I finish eating, check email. Close laptop when finished checking the essentials.
- Dry my hair and finish getting ready.
- Take meds, pack lunch, get books together.
- Say goodbye to Nick before I head out the door.
I’ve tried this three mornings now, and while that doesn’t seem long enough to have any firm conclusions, I can tell you this. The car rides into school have been way different. I’ve felt excited to get in and get things accomplished. I’m not rushed and I’m not kicking myself for forgetting to grab something on my way out the door. And I’m…. energized. How energized, you ask? Well, energized enough that last Thursday at 9:30 am I was rocking out to Elvis Costello’s Armed Forces album for about ten minutes before I realized my advisor was in her car in front of me at the intersection.
I’m sure as it gets colder it will be harder to get up early, and as the semester nears its end with more looming deadlines I will still have stressful mornings. But I’m feeling optimistic that if I keep having good mornings following this routine that I’ll be motivated to stick with it, even when it is harder to do so.
Do you have a morning routine or ritual that helps you start the day? As I fine-tune mine, I’d love to hear what works for other people.
*I am definitely guilty of storming out without saying goodbye because I am in a bad mood. Or just rushing out without saying goodbye because I am running late. But in my experience I can tell you that, in either case, taking the time to say “I love you” and “have a good day” really makes me have a better day. I figure it certainly won’t make things any worse and it gives me a chance to reset instead of coming home where I left off in a crappy mood. And if I already am running late, 30 seconds is not going to make much of a difference.