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Are your mornings hectic? Or are you able to approach them gracefully?
If you’re trying to get your children ready for school, make sure the dog has gone out, and pack everything you need for the day all at the same time, your mornings can certainly feel overwhelming.
Mornings are tough for a lot of us, which can set an unsavory precedent for the rest of the day. But, developing a positive morning routine (which, studies show, will quickly become second-nature to perform) will possibly help turn your mornings into something you look forward to rather than something that the mere thought of makes you break out in a light sweat.
Afterall, by practicing good habits in the morning, studies have shown that you will be more proactive in life overall, which is associated with the ability to anticipate problems and solve them before they occur, better job performance, more professional success, and, ultimately, higher wages.
Hopefully you’ve created a morning routine for yourself after learning about the importance of them through previous articles on our site. We’ve given you the dos for creating your own routine, but what about the don’ts?
If you’re motivated to make your mornings really work in your favor, you don’t want to be steered off track by making a mistake that could easily be avoided if you understood the potential harm behind what you’re doing wrong.
So, in this article, we will look at 5 morning routine mistakes that you might be making that can decrease the potential that this critical time of day has to offer.
Let’s get started.
What You Will Learn
1. Picking Habits That Aren't Relevant
So you were able to get out of bed early in order to have some extra time to yourself. What are you going to do now?
Choosing your activities at random and doing whatever your wandering mind wants–like falling down a Youtube rabbit hole–will prevent you from taking advantage of this key time in your day.
What’s equally as inefficient is following a random morning routine that you find online just because someone says it’s good. It may be good for them, but everyone has different and unique goals, so there’s a very small chance that their morning routine is ideal for you as well–no matter how much success they’ve had in life.
For example, this article on Success.com gives several examples of morning routines that extremely successful people swear by. If you go through them, I’m sure you will notice that you can’t relate to all of them.
The routine that sticks out to me is that of Mark Sisson, who played a large role in the boom of the paleo movement. He takes a cold dip in his pool every morning and then does a crossword puzzle before work. I don’t have a pool at my house, I don’t want to jump into cold water soon after waking up, and I would need a lot longer than a few minutes in the morning to complete the LA Times crossword puzzle.
These activities don’t support my why or my ultimate goals in life, so spending my morning hours doing these things that are irrelevant to me wouldn’t help me move forward in life. That doesn’t mean Mark’s routine is wrong, it’s just wrong for me.
You need to have a reason behind each morning habit. You want to spend your time doing things that will help you work toward your goals and improve yourself. So, identify the things in life that are the most important to you and incorporate related activities into your morning routine. Working on meeting your smaller goals every morning will compound to ultimately help you achieve your long-term goals.
Otherwise, you’re essentially spinning your wheels with regard to attaining the things you want out of life. And, because studies have shown that your implicit goals provide you with powerful motivation to engage in relevant activities, keeping your goals in mind when scheduling your morning routine will help you stick with it.
2. Not Scheduling It
Speaking of scheduling, too many of us leave the bulk of our mornings up to chance. Instead of being proactive upon waking up, we get on our phones to respond to emails or social media posts, starting a spiral of reactive behavior for the rest of the day.
Once you check your email, other people’s needs start to officially dictate your time as you go from one email or text to the next, putting your effort toward the things that other people are asking of you, thereby forgetting your own goals, ambitions, and passions. And since studies show that we now spend almost half of our days interacting with media of some sort, spend your time in the morning in a very intentional way.
We put ourselves at the mercy of other people and external stimuli for most of the day when it comes to everything from the clothes we wear to what we eat for lunch. Without being loyal to a scheduled morning routine and carving out a specific time each day to engage in the activities that are important to us, we are putting everyone else’s needs ahead of our own.
Think about what you want to get out of your day, and then plan your morning routine around whatever that is. You want the beginning of your day to be designed intelligently to prime you to be your best self for the rest of the day, so schedule activities that will set you up to maximize your productivity and optimize your health and wellbeing. After all, studies show that having healthy morning habits set in stone will help guarantee your satisfaction with life.
3. Having a Routine That’s Too Long
While you want to take advantage of this time during the day when your willpower and self-control are at their best, you don’t want to drag your morning routine out so long that you won’t have time to complete it whenever you encounter an obstacle in life, such as a last-minute project or an out-of-town meeting. In fact, psychologists and health experts recommend that your morning routine lasts just 30 minutes.
You don’t need to overhaul your morning into one that resembles that of a stranger you found online who manages to meditate, exercise, write in their journal, stretch, work on their hobby, and eat a breakfast composed of healthy fats, vegetables, and 40% lean protein every morning. You need to focus only on the activities that will benefit you.
Make a routine that you can at least maintain the core of, even during the busiest of times, to preserve your mental health. Research shows that it’s best to slowly incorporate changes to your routine to ensure long-term adherence to your plan, so you can start by incorporating one new habit at a time and just stick to two or three that you find to be beneficial.
4. Having Too Many Habits
Some sample morning routines that you may come across online when looking for inspiration recommend doing 10 to 12 habits, but this can feel very overwhelming to try to complete during that short window of time. And you definitely don’t want to start your day off by rushing around because it will set the stage for more chaos.
It's better to start small when you’re designing your morning routine and add habits once you get into the swing of things. Remember, you don’t need to cover everything that’s meaningful to you; you have to maximize how you spend your morning minutes by addressing your keystone habits or those that focus on more than one of your goals to make the best use of your time.
Keeping your mornings simple will help you avoid experiencing decision fatigue. Making decisions takes energy, so if you can avoid facing needless choices in the morning, you will be able to spare your energy and divide it more evenly throughout the day. Avoid having so many habits on your plate each morning that sometimes you have to choose which ones you’re going to do. Pick the few that benefit you the most and stick with those.
5. Not Staying Consistent
Consistency is key in any routine, and it is the only thing that will help you maintain your morning habit loops. And, the first step to being consistent with your morning routine is getting up at the same time every day.
To be consistent in your waking routine, you need to maintain a smart sleeping pattern. Without getting a good, restorative night’s sleep, being engaged in your day can be a challenge. Once you can appreciate the power that your morning has to offer and the multifaceted benefits of sleep, you’ll probably be inclined to make your sleeping schedule a priority.
The most impactful habits are the ones that you stick with, so if getting into a morning routine is a new thing for you, practicing consistency will make your routine become more natural over time.
As you start to notice the positive impact that your morning routine has on your life and your progress toward your goals, you will be motivated to keep it up. In fact, a study published in Obesity showed that those who were consistent in their participation in a weight loss program were most likely to continue their course, even two years after the study was complete. On the other hand, those who fluctuated each week experienced the opposite, which shows how motivating being consistent in your habits can be.
Your routine will start feeling less like a chore and you will start to look forward to doing it. If you have to skip a day, get back to it the next day. While you don’t have to be perfect in your performance, you have to give yourself the chance to do your best.
Final Thoughts on Morning Routine Mistakes
Do you find that you’re making any of the mistakes we listed in this article? If so, consider how you can fix it by adding more focus to your morning and attaching your activities to your ultimate purpose. Keep your morning routine simple and to-the-point, be intentional with your actions, and you will find that your routine becomes second-nature.
How you start your day impacts how you spend it, and how you spend your days dictates how you ultimately spend your life. Having a high-quality morning routine is the most effective way to take charge of your life and it’s well worth your time and effort.
Connie Mathers is a professional editor and freelance writer. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Marketing and a Master’s Degree in Social Work. When she is not writing, Connie is either spending time with her daughter and two dogs, running, or working at her full-time job as a social worker in Richmond, VA.