Morning is a four letter word – but I might’ve beaten it

Photo by Amanda Jones

Go onto YouTube and it’s inevitable that at some point, probably pretty quickly, you’ll come across at least one morning routine video. In these you generally see these incredible, determined people getting up at 5am, being in the gym within half an hour, showered and breakfast eaten and ready for work all by 7.

This is not the picture I am about to paint for you, but I am going to talk about the morning routine I started at the end of December.

Some background, firstly, on me and mornings.

I’m on medication that makes me very drowsy. I’m in the process of coming off it, but it means that the last few years I’ve been pretty much incapable of waking up early. On top of that, I’m taking that medication for depression, which also makes it hard to get up on time (and sleep, and go to bed on time, etc).

On top of that, I just hate mornings.

I’ve never been great at them. I can get up early when I have to, but I am known to be a creature of great monstrosity before the hour of 9am, and those who have ever had to wake me up on time for things live in fear of my grumpiness. I will swear and grumble and come up with any excuse to not get up.

But not being able to get up in the morning has started to hold me back – a lot.

Because here’s the saddest thing: I’m really productive in the mornings. Moreso than I am in the afternoons. It’s the great irony of hating the morning. I am, it has to be mentioned, still grumpy and awful. I just also get a lot of words written.

I’ve tried, a lot, to fix my morning problem. Sometimes I’ve managed it for a couple of weeks – but it’s only ever been a couple of weeks. This time? I’ve managed almost an entire month.

I’ve gotten up at 7.30am every day since the 28th December. It’s worth noting that for a week of that time I had the flu – on those days, I would get up, assess whether I needed more sleep, and then go back to bed if necessary.

Because if I’ve learned anything about keeping to this routine, it’s to be flexible. The first few days I fastidiously kept to both the order and the tasks I set for myself. It was hard work – really hard work. But I did feel satisfied by the end of it each time. Half the idea was to start the day with a load of wins, and that definitely worked.

So here’s what I was doing each morning to start with.

These are points you’ll commonly find in most online morning routines, mostly because I watched a lot of morning routine videos for inspiration:

  • Yoga session from Yoga with Adriene
  • Meditation session from Headspace
  • Eating breakfast whilst reading
  • Morning Pages
  • Reviewing tasks for the day
  • Shower
  • Making the bed
  • Open all the curtains in the house

Does the last one seem weird? I’m really bad at remembering to open the curtains. And shut them. I have, however, removed it as a task – I’m broadly remembering to do it now anyway

All of these tasks were great in their own way, but it was a bit much. I don’t always want breakfast, I don’t always want a shower, and doing 3 pages of text every morning was a slog. I think it’s designed for people who are handwriting – 3 A4 pages, typed, was a lot to churn out whilst making my morning routine not last all morning.

After the first few days, I failed at doing everything. A lot. I still fail at doing everything. But I’m trying to, and that’s making a huge difference.

After a few weeks, this is what I’ve settled on doing.

I now focus on doing yoga, meditating, making the bed and reviewing my tasks for the day. I shower or bathe every other day. And most importantly? I don’t do it in the same order. I don’t even always do it all before I’ve done anything else. Sometimes, on a really bad day, I do some of it in the evening, making them more daily habits than a morning routine.

I’m getting a lot better at listening to my body and my mind with what they want to do. Sometimes I wake up and I don’t want to get out of bed, but I do want to write. On days I’ve been sick, or when I’ve taken my medication, I have assessed and gone back to bed if needed. At weekends, I’ve let myself be a lot more lax.

I honestly think this is the key to how successful it’s been. By not enforcing perfection, but retaining the ideal, I’ve been much kinder to myself and that has enabled my routine to be much more beneficial.

That, and I’ve got a secret weapon.

When I started this plan, I splurged the princely sum of £20 on something that would help me: a light up alarm clock.

You’ve probably seen them around. They light up slowly, half an hour or so before the alarm is due to go off, and help you wake up more naturally. I was a bit sceptical – I doubted that, at this point, anything could wake me up well.

I was wrong.

This alarm clock is some kind of magical. Every time it goes off, I am awake. I have not pressed the snooze button once – admittedly this is because it’s quite hard to find and hit it, but honestly, that’s a point in the clock’s favour. It’s been absolutely brilliant, and I don’t regret a penny spent on it.

So the only remaining task is to keep going with this.

This is easier said than done, of course, but I think I’m past the danger point. Normally after a week I’ve given up – but it’s been three weeks going on a month now, and I think if I was going to fail it probably would’ve been already.

If you’re looking at starting some kind of morning routine, by all means read guides and watch videos for ideas. My biggest advice would be to try things, all sorts of things, but ultimately just stick with what works for you – and only what works for you.

Yes, there is often some merit in ‘forcing’ yourself to do something you don’t like, if it’s good for you. But it’s also really important to understand when disliking something is equal to it not working for you. I’ve learned to listen to myself so much better, these past weeks. To trust myself. If you want to seize control of your mornings, I think that’s what you need to do.

Whatever you decide to do – good luck!

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