Are you a morning person?
Whether you are or not, everyone has to deal with some sort of a morning every day. I listen to the “Beyond the To-Do List” podcast and the host, Erik Fischer, has often asked his guests to share what an ideal morning looks like for them. This is not an unusual question for people in positions of influence, it seems. Michael Hyatt did a podcast episode on reengineering your morning. My blog post on three ways to reduce time management stress also deals in part with this idea. It’s a popular topic. Let’s flesh it out some more.
To have an ideal morning:
Design a morning template.
A template in a word processing program is a shell document you start with to launch several similar pieces of writing. You add to and modify it as appropriate, but the general skeleton stays the same. It’s the same with a morning plan. Most of us–either by default or intention–have a morning routine we have fallen into. I have several components that make up my template, but sometimes they need to be rearranged or eliminated. My ideal morning template five elements which I have associated with the word BEGIN.
- B – breakfast
- E – email & home office base tasks
- G – grooming
- I – inspiration
- N – neatening
For me, a minimum of two hours is ideal. The five elements mentioned above interweave and can be lengthened or shortened depending on the requirements for the day. But typically:
- B – breakfast – usually consists of what I call a “Seven Layer Smoothie” and/or morning breakfast meal such as oatmeal, breakfast pudding, or eggs, any of which can be enjoyed during other elements such as inspiration time. I hardly ever simply sit to eat breakfast unless I’m going to meet someone.
- E – email & home office time. I take a glance at what email or notifications have come in overnight, mainly to satisfy my curiosity. I also have about a 10-15 minute home office time where I greet people for their birthday and do quick run through of email before starting my official work day.
- G – grooming and dressing – I may do the bulk of this in one segment but then do some final touches later, or let hair dry while I’m doing something else, etc.
- I – inspiration – this starts with going through a series of inspiring apps when I first awaken. I stay in bed for this 15 minutes or so, and begin with the YouVersion App for some Scripture reading. (Bible Gateway would also be a good source.) Later, if time allows, I’ll add a more extended time of quiet for additional prayer, reading, and study.
- N – neaten – I nearly always make the bed. I also like to unload the dishwasher, straighten up other parts of the house as I can, and perhaps take out food for the evening meal if it requires defrosting in the refrigerator.
To cut down on mental clutter (a concept for another post) it helps me to have a consistent time in mind that I consider the end of my morning routine and the start of my work day (whether I’ll be working at home or leaving for activities out of the house.) For me, that is typically, 8:00 or 9:00. Whatever the time, it’s a good idea to have a marker to mentally shift toward settling into my home office or a home project, or to pack up and begin my transition into my vehicle to leave for errands, meetings, etc. I got lax about this in recent months, and am working on tightening this up.
Start the night before.
I’m not the first to present this concept. I know that flylady.net recommends that you have an effective before bed routine. This is a bit tough for me because my energy level flags in the evening, so I have tried to design an after dinner routine. You can shave minutes off your morning by having clothes picked out, lunches packed, the house in a general state of tidiness, electronics charging and keys in their assigned place by the time you go to bed.
So how about you? What would an ideal morning look like to you? What one step can you take to start making that happen?
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