Ok, ok, we all know that it’s a good idea to start the day with a routine. We’ve read about how all the most successful and creative people do it, and how it sets you up for a more happy and productive day. But how many of us actually begin our mornings this way?
Well hold the phones and stop the train, because holy flippin’ crap - after over 10 years of saying I would do it, I’ve finally done it! I have a consistent morning routine!! Listen up, y’all. This is worth reading about. Because guess what? I’ll give you tips on how to design yours at the end – yippee!
During the last two weeks of our honeymoon in Bali, Omar and I stayed in a gorgeous villa in Ubud. Being in one place allowed us to get to know the neighborhood, and being on our honeymoon meant we didn’t have much else to do other than enjoy each other and our surroundings. So without even meaning to, we sank into a morning routine. Bali tricked me into doing it!
This is what our day looked like in Bali from about 7:30am to 10:30am:
2. Brush our teeth and throw on yoga clothes
3. Walk past the rice fields behind our house and enjoy the morning sun shimmering on the nearly-still waters
4. Eat breakfast at the raw food place at the end of our road
5. Walk through the narrow, jungle-y passageways of the village to arrive at our favorite yoga studio
6. Take an inspiring yoga class
7. Sit at the café next to the yoga studio to enjoy a cup of coffee while we discussed what we’d like to do with the rest of our day.
I’ve been back from Bali for three weeks now – the time it takes to form a new habit - and I’m thrilled to report that I have been able to design and keep a morning routine that works in real life, even when I’m not living in a tropical paradise where someone else cooks all my meals and does all my laundry. It’s possible!
My California, “regular life,” morning routine:
1. Wake at 7am
2. Use the toilet
3. Light incense (from Bali J)
4. Meditate, sitting up in bed, for 10 minutes
5. Go to the kitchen to put a tablespoon of coconut oil in my mouth for 20 minutes of oil pulling (the practice of swishing oil in the mouth to remove toxins)
6. While swishing the oil, return to bed to journal. Write everything that’s on my mind until I have nothing left to say. If I run out of things to say before the 20 minutes is up, pick up the inspirational book by the bed and read for the remainder of the time. (Right now it’s A New Earth, by Eckhart Tolle)
7. When the 20 minute timer dings, spit coconut oil into the trash, brush my teeth, take a shower, and get dressed
8. Head to the kitchen to eat a breakfast of either steel cut oats with cinnamon & berries, or green smoothie with bacon. (Tip: I make the oats and/or smoothies in large batches every few days so I don’t have to start from scratch each morning.)
9. While breakfast is heating up, drink a giant glass of water and take my vitamins and supplements.
10. Make bulletproof coffee (freshly ground french press coffee blended with grass-fed butter and coconut oil) and take it into my office to begin joyful work by 9am!
This whole routine takes about two hours. If you had told me five years ago, when I was a school principal just outside of Washington D.C., that I needed to have a two-hour routine in the morning, I would have laughed and slapped you silly. But now I can’t imagine living without it.
I am reminded again that time is fluid, not linear. The secret to productivity is not filling every hour with hard work and discipline; it’s how present we are in each moment.
By beginning my day with a conscious two-hour routine designed specifically for me, I set myself up for a day not only of optimal productivity, but optimal joy, compassion, and ease. It’s amazing how much easier it is for me to love people when I’ve started my day this way, or how much more joy I find in simple tasks like ironing or loading the dishwasher. And yes, my business tasks have also been more efficient and productive as a result.
Ok, before you take a one-way trip to compare-and-despair land with all the reasons why you can’t make this routine work for you, listen up. This is my morning routine, designed for the person I am and the needs I have at this specific point in my life. For example:
Starting to get the idea? Here are a few tips for designing your own morning routine:
Design only what works for you.
Decide how much time you can allot and start playing around with different elements. Perhaps start with a short routine that includes just one new thing, then add in additional elements each week as you feel ready.
For example, you could start with five minutes of meditation before you jump in the shower. When you’re doing that consistently, you could add five minutes of stretching. After another week, you could add a few yoga poses, or oil pulling, or journaling, or increase your meditation time, or whatever is calling to your soul. The point is that it be organic to your needs and desires. If it’s not, you won’t do it.
Ease into it, and cut that perfectionism shit!
It might take several weeks or months to find a rhythm that really works for you.
For example, I’m still a little too addicted to my phone to wait until 9am to check it. I admit, I roll over and check Facebook and my email before even lighting the incense. This is something I want to phase out, but I’m giving myself permission to take small steps. If I started beating myself up because the routine isn’t yet perfect, I’d probably give up on the whole thing.
Your routine can change as you and your needs change.
During travel or changes to your schedule, you may need to adapt certain elements of the routine. But still do it. In fact, I find my morning routine even more vital when dealing with disruptions to my location or regular schedule. It helps me stay grounded through the transition.
Also, it is worth mentioning that I don’t yet have children. I’m sure becoming a mother will change my routine dramatically, but I will still have one. Maybe it will become a 20-minute routine rather than a two-hour one, or maybe it will get moved later in the day when Omar comes home from work and I can have time to myself. Who knows? But right now, this is the life I have, and this is the routine that supports it.
What is the routine that supports you? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section!
Important announcement: I currently have an opening for ONE private coaching client. At this point I mostly do group work, so only open up my private practice to new clients a couple of times a year – and this is one of them! If you’re a woman who’s been feeling the pull to make a change in your life, or want to know what it could be like to live connected to your inner wildness, let’s talk! I am absolutely addicted to helping women discover their true passions and design their lives around them. You can apply for a Wild Woman Strategy Session here to see if we’d be a good fit. Can’t wait to talk!
What type of wild woman are you?
Hello! I'm Melanie Munir, founder of Professional Wild Woman - a women's empowerment business dedicated to helping women who are tired of feeling either "too much" or "not enough" to connect to their inner wildness so they can create work that allows them the fullest expression of their unique voice. Welcome!