I stumbled across an article recently in Training Magazine about “Creating a Continuous Learning Culture”. We’ve talked before about self-learning being a competency that individuals should develop. The thing I found interesting in the article was the focus on daily rituals. The idea being that employees should learn how to develop daily rituals that will help with their learning.
When I think of daily rituals, the first thing that comes to mind is my morning routine. I’ve always felt it’s easy to have my day slip away from me; so, if I could take control of my morning routine, then that’s a win. This means I have a tendency to put a few pieces of self-care in my morning routine. I work out in the morning. I like to read in the morning.
If you’re looking to start a new morning habit (or know someone who should), SkillShare has a class on how to “Create a Perfect Morning Routine”. You can watch it for FREE from your Facebook account.
Getting a good start to the day can help you be your best and do your best work. But like so many things, if you want it, you should find time for yourself.
Jeff Finley, the class instructor and author of the book “Wake Up: The Morning Routine that Will Change Your Life”, encourages viewers to take the time to clearly establish the reason you’re doing it. You have to care about something that is causing you to focus on your morning routine. Whatever it is, write it down. Put it on your refrigerator. Keep it in your planner. Make it your computer or phone screensaver. Whatever it takes to keep you focused and dedicated.
5 Steps for Creating a Morning Routine that Works for You
I believe the key to successfully creating any type of routine is figuring out what works for you. Honestly, it might not happen right away. You can use other people’s suggestions as a starting point. Some might work, others not so much. In the class, Finley focused on five steps:
Step 1 – Make getting up fun. I don’t want to say get up at a specific time. Think of this more as the way you get up can have an impact on your day. Create a sense of excitement about the start of the day. One way to do that is going to sleep knowing what you’re going to do the next day. It could be binge watching your favorite TV show, having your favorite beverage or breakfast, or reading something you enjoy.
Step 2 – Develop a routine. There are obviously things you’ll do every day. You’ll want to figure out what those are (i.e. meditation, journaling, reading, showering, eating breakfast, exercise, etc.) But there might also be things you do on a particular day of the week. I’m hearing about people adopting activities like “Bucket List Monday” where they do something they’ve always wanted to do. Or maybe a “Fun Friday”.
Step 3 – Include learning in your morning routine. This aligns with the continuous learning culture I mentioned at the beginning of the post. Do something to stay curious and keep learning – listen to a podcast, read a book, or try an activity. You can also use this time to write in a career journal. Since we’re talking about morning routines, it might be necessary to keep learning activities to the ones you can do by yourself (unless you have a couple of friends who are early risers).
Step 4 – Practice self-awareness. This can be done through meditation, mindfulness, or deep breathing. It doesn’t have to take a long time. You’ll be amazed how a few moments each day can increase your self-awareness. This could also be a good time to think about gratitude. Take mental note of the things you’re grateful for or your priorities. Shawn Achor’s TED talk includes some insights on gratitude journaling.
Step 5 – Find time for exercise. It seems logical to me that there’s a connection between waking up your body and waking up your mind. And no one is saying you must go to the gym. I know some people enjoy taking a Pilates class after work or SoulCycling during their lunch. Mornings could be for light exercise like a walk or just some stretching. For me, it’s walking on my treadmill desk and cycling on my Cubii.
Make the Commitment to a Better Morning
Developing any kind of routine takes time. Do what works for you. Put it on a piece of paper. Attach times to it. Want to spend 30-minutes exercising? Put it on the list. Want to binge listen to the STown podcast each morning? Gotta budget the time. Start by setting a small goal: try to do your morning routine for a week. Then for two.
One other thing that the class didn’t mention but I want to. I find that duplicating my home morning routine is difficult when I travel for business. So, I have a slightly different routine when I travel. I look forward to it when I’m on the road and I look forward to my home routine when I’m back. Same with vacation. It keeps the guilt away because I’m still committed to a routine.
Lastly, once you make a commitment to a routine, communicate with the people in your life. It’s possible that your morning routine will impact others. You don’t want them to sabotage your reasons for doing this. Let them know why it’s important and ask for their support. Ultimately, your self-care is better for them as well.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby after speaking at the SHRM Annual Conference in Las Vegas, NV17