I talk to a lot of people who want to use their mornings more wisely, but don't know how to start, or have a history of starting new disciplines only to quit shortly thereafter. We all need routines and rhythms in our lives to help us really live out our lives. I'm not talking about thoughtless repetition, but meaningful rituals and patterns that give structure and strength to our daily lives. Most of us feel this need, but have a hard time making it a reality. There was a good article on morning rituals back in March of this year. In it Seth Simonds offers practical advice on how to reclaim your mornings. You should check it out.
His advice is simple, but I will reword it a bit and add to it here. Determine what you really want to accomplish in the morning, then break the morning down into all the steps needed to accomplish the big goal(s). Figure out how much time it will take, adjust your bed time and wake time accordingly, and then (the most important part for me) approach the morning one step at a time. This last piece of advice has helped me quite a bit by forcing me to focus on the first step in the process when I wake up, and not the whole which can sometimes feel overwhelming. For example, you may want to wake up and have a meaningful time in prayer and the word, but when your alarm goes off early you feel too tired to attempt thoughtful reflection on Scripture. By breaking your morning down into steps that lead to the larger goals it really is much easier. In my case, I want to pray, read the Bible and run. But when I wake up early the leap from my warm bed to the cool street outside is too big for me. So I focus on step one, and go from there.
This is my typical weekday morning routine.
5:30am: Wake up. I've been doing this long enough now, that at this point I typically beat my alarm by a minute or two. I Head downstairs, turn on the stove to either boil water or heat up a frying pan. I'll have oatmeal, or a fried egg and a piece of toast, and a glass of water.
5:45am Eat breakfast and read Scripture. I'm in no rush. I have plenty of time to eat, read and journal. Besides, in my case I need to wait about 30 minutes after eating breakfast before I can run.
6:15am Get into my running clothes. No spandex or short-shorts, thank you very much.
6:30am I'm off and running. I run without an iPod, and use that time to pray and go over what I read that morning. This is one of the best parts of the day.
After my run I cool down, shower, and head out for the rest of my day. And honestly, it feels amazing. Of course, if I'm getting up at 5:30am it means lights out, eyes shut by 10:00pm. That is crazy early for a guy who didn't go to sleep before midnight for most of his adult life, but it's worth it. This routine causes me to slow down while simultaneously creating momentum for the rest of my day.
I'd love to hear about your morning, afternoon, or evening rituals and routines that help you to find a healthy rhythm and do the things that matter.