May 3, 2017 6 minute read
I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t exactly a morning person before Everett came along, preferring to trade early starts for late finishes. However, lately I’ve been making a conscious effort to make the most of those first hours of the day. I’ve come to learn that what I do in the immediate future after I wake up sets the tone for everything that follows, and now that each day involves caring for a baby this kind of uplifting self-care is even more important to me. So these past months I’ve worked hard to adjust my morning routine to create something that maximizes my productivity, boosts my mood, and enhances my energy. Here are 6 things I do to transform my day.
1. Set an intention for the day.
I’ve found tremendous peace in starting my day by picking one intention to manifest throughout it. I feel more calm, focused, and, well, intentional! Some examples are:
I intend to practice patience.
I intend to take things a little less personally.
I intend to make my youngest son smile. A lot.
I intend to focus on my breath.
I intend to allow myself to feel.
I intend to find peace and manifest it.
2. Spend time in meditation.
My day always starts with Everett’s first feed. Sometimes this happens in bed (if it’s before 5:00 am) and sometimes it happens in his nursery after we’ve both changed and freshened up. During that first feed, I meditate. Meditation is something that doesn’t come easily to me, and I have to allow myself to release all expectations on a daily basis. It’s one of those things that can be completely different on any given morning: sometimes 5 minutes fly by, and sometimes I can’t get through 30 seconds. But for that designated time when the world is quiet and it’s just Everett and I, I calm my mind and stop the chaos that plays on a loop during most of my waking hours. I think the most common misconception about meditation is that to be doing it you need to clear your mind of all thoughts. The goal isn’t really to stop thinking, but that you find yourself in stillness, slow everything down, and guide yourself to focus on one thing at a time so that you can experience clarity.
Sometimes I start by bringing my daily intention to mind and use that to lead my meditation, repeating the intention over and over. Sometimes I spend it in prayer. Sometimes I focus on breastfeeding and listen to the rhythm of his gulps or feel the steady rise and fall of his chest against mine. Sometimes I meditate on my breath, counting the inhales and exhales in patterns (inhale 2, 3, 4, 5, exhale 2, 3, 4, 5). And sometimes my mind is reluctant to surrender and I just accept that and consider why that might be the case on that particular day. Meditation takes practice. Stay with it!
3. Keep a gratitude diary.
This is something that has become so important to me. It was actually introduced to me by Aaron, and he picked it up from the podcast Why Is My Life So Hard by Freakanomics Radio. I have pushed back against podcasts most of my life. While I work, I prefer classical music playing in the background to someone talking. Aaron, on the other hand, listens to them when he works, when he drives, or when he bikes. Because of this, he has become a walking encyclopedia. He knows everything about everything – makes him extremely difficult to argue with but a very handy resource! I digress.
Spending a couple of minutes each morning reflecting on all of the things that I am grateful for has completely changed my daily outlook and, consequently, my productivity. Sometimes I think of all the seemingly little things that I’m grateful for: overnight oats soaking in the fridge, clean nursing bras that aren’t stained in milk, a pantry full of peanut butter stuffed pretzels. And sometimes it’s the big things: a safe home to live in, supportive family that lives nearby, a healthy child nestled in the crook of my arm. I definitely believe that setting this positive, grateful tone not only changes your attidutde towards the day ahead of you but also, over time, rewires your brain to think positively instead of picking out all of the things that are going wrong in your life or need changing – something I myself am guilty of far too often.
Then, after his first feed, Everett either has a mini nap (15-20 minutes) or will be completely content to go about the rest of my morning routine with me, usually in a wrap. However, he is a tiny human with tiny human emotions and there are days where these next things just don’t happen. This doesn’t mean that my day is shot, it just means that I have to be open to change within my morning routine.
4. Make a slow pour over coffee.
I love coffee. I love that I can drink it again. And I love the ritual of a slow pour over in the morning. Once Everett is fed, changed, and dressed for the day, we move to the kitchen so I can make myself a healthy breakfast (these days it’s usually overnight oats that have soaked through the evening that I can quickly add a few toppings to in the morning – I can share some recipes later if anyone is interested?) and get a little caffeine in my system. I use our manual burr grinder, pull out our natural coffee filter, and set up my cup and ceramic coffee dripper. As the water boils, I usually do a little power clean. This is when I take a couple of minutes to make our bed, put away toys from the night before, or finish off a few dishes. When my coffee is ready I bring it to the dining room table with my breakfast and sit down to do the next ritual.
(Note: If you’re not a coffee drinker, the same can be done with the preparation of loose leaf green tea or hot water with lemon.)
5. Read off-screen.
I try to read one book every two weeks. Since a lot of my work is done through writing on my computer or phone, it’s important for me to exercise my brain daily away from my electronics. I read a book, the paper, the Bible. This is usually only for as long as it takes me to drink my coffee (5-10 mintues) but it sharpens my mind and sets a certain tone for the day.
6. Make a list.
As a self-employed mama, I cannot stress enough how important it is for me to make lists. At the beginning of each day I write down everything that I might have planned for that particular day – from chores to various contract or modeling jobs to workouts and anything else in-between. Then, as I accomplish each item, I cross it out. I find tremendous empowerment and motivation in that physical act of marking something off after it’s completed. I try not to attempt anything that’s not on my list for the day, because that leads to feeling unproductive and usually decreases the chances I have to make it through everything else I was planning on accomplishing. Writing these things downs helps me to prioritize what’s important, gives me comfort, and inspires me to move through the day with goals in mind.
There are lots of other little things that I do in the mornings to maximize my productivity for the day, but these are the main ones that I make a deliberate effort to get done. I’d love to hear from you. What is a part of your morning ritual? And why is it important to you? Comment below or shoot me an email if you have something you’d like to share.