Several months have passed since the worldwide lockdowns have been put in place. For many of us, this still means working from home. As it looks like this will be the new normal for the next six to twelve months at least.
This forced people to change the way they go about their daily routine, specifically in the morning. After the first several weeks, I noticed trends in my habits and behaviors that I didn’t like. For some reason I stopped meditating, went to bed later than usual and spent many more hours in front of the monitor than I used to. Around the end of April, I said to myself that I need to change things around, as otherwise I may suffer in the long run. Below are the five areas that I put extra attention on, specifically focusing on how I was starting my day.
Get to bed on time
The good morning routine starts the night before. You need to get enough sleep in order to be healthy, focused and productive. Each person has a different lifestyle, but one thing that is common is the requirement to sleep for at least six hours a night. For most, seven or even eight hours is the norm. Of course, there could be factors that may interfere with this. Having a baby is a perfect example that I’ve personally encountered over the past few years. In this case you must try to compensate the lack of sleep whenever you can.
Another important factor is consistency. The human body gets used to a particular regime, so if you regularly change it by going to bed at a different time every night, you won’t achieve the best results. Think what hour works best for bedtime based on your personal circumstances. This also includes when you get up in the morning. Once you figure it out, aim to stick to it as much as possible.
Have a proper breakfast
There are people who either underestimate breakfast, or completely ignore it. I’m on the complete opposite spectrum. Breakfast is very important, as it provides me with the energy that I need to start my day in a positive way.
I’m not doing anything fancy, usually going for a couple of toasts, but I always combine it with either a freshly squeezed grapefruit and orange juice, or a banana milk shake. It takes 10-15 minutes to prepare, but it’s worth it every time.
I read the news either during or right after breakfast. I check both local and international websites, never missing the Sports section.
I go for coffee 30-45 mins after I’m done with my breakfast, right after my morning exercise.
Exercising in the morning is a great way to wake you up and improve your mood. Depending on what you’re used to, it could be everything from a basic stretching to a full power workout. I go for stretching in the morning, which takes between 7-10 minutes. The great thing about it is that I do it together with my 4-years old daughter.
I want to emphasize on the fact that a few mins of stretching in the morning can’t replace a proper workout. In my case, this is either at noon, when I do weightlifting (at home), boxing (at home) or tennis, or in the evening, when I play football.
Although both meditation and mindfulness are terms that have become a bit of a cliché, there is a reason why both are so widely praised and used. I was doubtful when I started practicing a few years ago, but I realized that everyone can experience it in a different way. I’m sure most of you are aware of the basics, so I will share how I meditate and how it benefits me.
- I have a reminder on my phone that pops up each morning at the same time 20 minutes before I start working.
- I open OneNote on my computer. It’s quite handy when I think of an idea that I would like to remember.
- I set a timer on my phone, usually keeping it at 10 minutes. The more time you spend, the better.
- I leave my phone away so that I can’t easily reach it.
- I sit down, close my eyes and focus on my breathing.
- After around 30 seconds, I let my mind wander in any direction. The most important thing is that you shouldn’t judge yourself. Just enjoy this moment of peace and silence.
If you struggle to find time and place to meditate, do it in your car. I was doing the same before the lockdown. You may look weird if someone sees you, but don’t worry about it. I remember one time when my mother thought I was sleeping in my car, when I was actually meditating in front of my garage, scaring the hell out of me when she knocked on my window.
Set a goal for the day
Finally, set yourself a goal for the day. It should be something that’s important and achievable. It should take between 30 and 90 minutes to complete so that you don’t just choose an easy 5-minute task. This way your day will have a meaningful purpose, and you won’t just be consumed by the never-ending flow of emails and meetings.
At the end of each day, look back and see whether you’ve completed your goal. It’s expected that this could prove a difficult challenge at first, and it’s perfectly normal if you don’t always succeed. Don’t give up, improve and the results will come in time.
I strongly believe that having a well-organized morning routine can help you get the most out of your day. I admit that it’s not easy, but the investment is worth it. Give it a try, you won’t regret it.