This is the first in a new series I’m calling Healthy Habits. In this series, I’ll be sharing habits I put into practice that help me to live an integrated life.
Each one of us develops habits throughout our lives. Some of these habits are healthy habits – they help us to stay on top of our game and live an integrated life. Others work to our detriment and sabotage our efforts.
One of the most powerful healthy habits that I have found is developing a consistent morning routine. I find that what you accomplish in the morning helps to set the tone for the rest of the day.
Here are six key elements of a productive morning routine for me:
1. Have a consistent wake time.
Waking up at a consistent time optimizes your productivity. There’s nothing worse than waking up exhausted. By training your body to get out of bed at a consistent time, you are more apt to make good use of your morning schedule.
2. Start the right way.
Starting your day with prayer puts everything else into its place. As a Christian, daily prayer is a central part of my morning routine. I place my day, my decisions, and everything I’m about to do in front of the Lord and ask for his guidance in helping me to live as He would have me do. Regardless of whether you’re a Christian, spending 15-30 minutes of quiet every morning putting everything into perspective can have its benefits.
3. Review your priorities.
Reviewing your priorities optimizes your day. Every morning I review the projects I’m working on and determine tasks that are needed to propel each of them forward. By deliberately laying out goals for my day, I ensure that I make good use of all moments of my day – not just those that are “calendared” or top of my mind.
4. Eat breakfast.
Eating a healthy breakfast prepares your body for a full day. Here’s an area I need to work on. My morning Starbucks Run for a Grande Mocha doesn’t necessarily qualify as healthy, even though it meets the market for habit. In theory, my breakfast should lay a foundation for a great day by getting my energy up and metabolism started. This helps you to be alert and healthy throughout the day.
5. Read ahead.
Catching up on your reading will provide context for the day. Before the day gets the best of you, take time to scan and read the news, catch up on your emails, and review other important items that will help you prepare for the day. Having context and being up to speed on various sources of information helps you to be more strategic. It allows you to connect dots – identify trends and make connections – throughout the day.
6. Leave at a similar time each day.
Leaving the house at a consistent time provides dependability. There’s nothing worse than missing your first appointment or falling behind first thing in the morning. Your day may never recover. By consistently leaving your house at the same time every morning you will be able to set clear expectations (with yourself and those you work with) regarding when your day starts and when you are available for your first appointment. Of course, if you implement a morning routine that starts with a consistent wake-up time and is truly consistent, this once should simply fall into place and help you be on top of things from the get-go.
Some people find that exercise, walking their dog, or getting a handful of chores out of the way within their morning routine can be beneficial. Whatever works for you is fine, but, in my experience, your morning routine should contain at least these 6 core items — and most importantly it should be consistent. By implementing a consistent morning routine and tackling each of these items before anything else gets started, you can optimize your day.
What healthy habits do you deploy? What things are part of your morning routine?