Master the morning.
I am not a morning person.
It’s hard to underscore how much of an understatement that sentence is.
Here’s how mornings have typically gone for me before I started my 2018 project. It doesn’t matter how many hours I’ve slept, I wake up thinking, can I just go back to sleep? And I’m a little mad. Not at anyone or anything, just a general state of being mad.
My brain doesn’t function. I can stand in my closet for 15… 25 minutes staring at my clothes and realize no conscious thought has passed through my mind in this time. I usually hit snooze for anywhere from 30-60 minutes and then mutter curse words under my breath while I tell myself, “skin, teeth, hair, clothes, makeup.” I don’t want to talk to anyone, I don’t want the lights on, I don’t want any noise. Just let me make peace in myself with the fact that I had to wake up.
Basically, it’s not a great way to start the day.
As I started thinking about how I wanted to ground myself for my project, I wanted to start the year with developing better habits, establishing the foundational steps to making everything else work for my 2018 project. And this starts with revolutionizing my morning routine. I need to Master the Morning, rather than let the morning master me. And my January focus took shape.
As I thought about how I wanted to spend my mornings, how I wanted to approach the start of my day, I focused on building a morning ritual grounded in my top two principles: 1) turn to God, and 2) discipline is a muscle.
For the month of January, my daily morning ritual would be: wake, devotional, pray/meditation, scribe/journal, move. To do this well and with intention, I need an hour. So how do I squeeze another hour from the day?
Pretty much all research on the topic says establishing a regular sleep rhythm helps to get adequate sleep. And I had to get adequate rest for my brain and body to function, so revolutionizing my mornings would start with revolutionizing my evenings. I needed to get control of my bedtime.
I’m a night owl. Always have been. If my natural body clock wasn’t subjected to a world order controlled by early birds, it would be bedtime at 2 a.m. and wakeup at 10 a.m. But that’s not an option. So I have tended to struggle to fall asleep before midnight, sometimes much later, while still waking up early for work, and then spend most of life sleep deprived.
Since I needed to pick a bedtime and a wake time that I could realistically expect myself to keep, I decided on 11 p.m. and up at 6 a.m. I use the bedtime setting in my iPhone alarm clock app, and I listened to all the music for waking and picked the most soothing, least annoying tone to my ear.
Then I defined my non-negotiables—start winding down at 10 p.m., in bed and lights off at 11 p.m., no hitting snooze, and no going back to bed. I wake up and get out of bed with the first alarm and even if I still do a lot of staring into space and wishing I were back in bed, no getting back in bed.
So far, at three weeks in, it’s made a drastic difference in my ability to start my days peacefully and with intention. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. I don’t get into work any earlier, but I get there more focused and ready to dive into whatever is on my plate.
I’m not perfect, but I have gotten up with the first alarm every morning and I don’t go back to bed. Even if I’m groggy and mad, which I am. I sit in the same spot on my couch and move through my morning ritual. I did find that jumping straight into devotional and meditation was causing some head bobbing, so I’ve made adjustments.
Currently, I wake, start coffee, stretch, pray for my intentions, get coffee, read my devotional, pray and journal, and then move. Usually a walk. You know, if it’s not raining.