My name is Tom O’Leary and this is the Time Academy podcast. Today we are talking about morning routines and crafting our days.
If you think about it, each morning we receive a particularly amazing gift and that is the blank canvas on which to paint our day. So, what are the first strokes YOU put on that canvas? In short, what is your morning routine?
We all know some people start with a coffee, their inbox, a favourite book or indeed a morning run! Some people have very fixed routines whilst others have building blocks they play with each day. Still others have no particular morning routine. So there is clearly no one right way of approaching the day and yet there probably are ways of better preparing for whatever a particular day has in store for us.
Let me repeat this because it feels important – “There probably are ways of better preparing for whatever a particular day has in store for us.”
The morning is a special time of the day. For me at least it is when my brain is most focused and when there is the least residue from other activities. Morning routines are in a way like preparing for a special event or a journey – there are certain things that may be helpful to make the performance or experience better. I know it may not always be obvious in advance what might be helpful on a particular morning because who knows what the day holds and yet we typically have some sort of idea! It isn’t about creating certainty but more about getting the numbers on our side. So ask yourself –
- What is today asking of me?
- What might I do to increase my chances of looking back on the day with satisfaction and fulfilment?
If you are listening to this later in the day or want to reflect back on yesterday these questions might be more helpful –
- What was the day asking of me?
- How satisfied and fulfilled am I after the day?
- Is there anything I might have done to better prepare myself?
- What about tomorrow?
If you would like to take a moment to reflect on these questions please hit the pause button.
So I see morning routines as serving a number of purposes. First of all they offer a space in which to attend to our physical, emotional and spiritual needs before the world starts making calls on our time and energy. You may not get a chance to work out, meditate or read once you allow the world in. This can give you some sense of control, a sense that you’ve attended to your own needs first, which allows you to face the world a little more grounded.
Equally importantly, it is a practice about whose agenda you are following. If for the first hour or two of your day you are resolute that you are following your agenda – those activities that are important to you on some level – this can feed into the rest of your day and help you block out the noise the world throws at you. The world will keep us endlessly busy if we let it – so it is essential to have clear boundaries between what is important to you and what is important to all those you encounter during the day. There are times when we need to keep the interruptions from the work and there are times when the interruptions are the work and it is important to be able to distinguish between the two.
This is a central part of my morning routine and I find it really helpful to visualise the day ahead – how each activity will flow. It allows me to sequence activities in what feels like an optimal manner but more than anything to set my expectations for the day. As I visualise the day it often becomes very clear that I’m asking too much of myself or of the world so I look for ways to lighten the load. For me this is primarily about ensuring I work on those priorities that help me achieve long-term aspirations. My morning routine certainly adapts depending on what is scheduled that day but the basic building blocks of meditation, written reflection, exercise and a very late breakfast are usually in the mix. Email and news come later, and sometimes much much later. I simply find that visualising my day increases my chances of living days that are full of purpose and joy.
So, as you begin your days over the coming week my invitation is to carry some variant of this question with you:
How is my morning routine setting me up for the day?
Thanks for listening to the Time Academy podcast. I hope this has offered you a slightly different perspective. If you find it helpful please share! I’d also love to get your feedback and hear your stories so please feel free to email me.