MINIMALIST MORNING ROUTINE TIPS TO START THE DAY WELL
A morning routine can set you up for the day, no matter what that day has in store for you! Here are some minimalist morning routine tips to help prepare your body and mind and start the day well.
WHY A MORNING ROUTINE IS IMPORTANT
Henry Ward Beecher once said that “the first hour of the morning is the rudder for your day”. I know in my own life that when I’ve had a good start to the morning, the positive vibes continue into the rest of the day.
Putting it another way, when I’m running late, stressed out and getting shouty with the kids, I’m pretty grumpy when I arrive into work and not my usual, productive and motivated self. Not the way I’d like to enjoy my day, either at home or at work!
How do you feel about your own mornings? Do they support you to have a positive, upbeat kind of day or are they all a bit of a blur if you’re rushing to get yourself, your kids and even possibly the dog, ready for the day ahead?
WHAT TO INCLUDE IN YOUR MORNING ROUTINE
It would be easy to fill your mornings will a load of activities designed to make your day easier. I’m sure we could all think of many things that we’d like to tick off our long To Do lists – that is, as long as we can get up early enough or we have the luxury of a slow, long morning!
There are many resources on the internet about morning routines. How they can help set you up for a successful day ahead, how they can help you be more productive and fill your time getting stuff done. These are fantastic reasons to plan your own morning routine but this article is slightly different.
I wanted to share some thoughts around what makes up a minimalist morning routine instead and give you some ideas from my own mornings.
And, just so you know, I don’t have long, slow mornings. If only! I usually have kids to get to school, a dog to walk and a commute to work. So, my morning routine has to be realistic for a busy person!
WHAT IS MINIMALISM?
Minimalism, in case you’re not familiar with it, or you need a gentle reminder, is about intention. It’s about clearing away the excess in your home, schedule and life in different ways so you can focus on what matters instead.
One of the most important lessons about minimalism is that it’s not about scarcity or dullness. It’s just a way of creating time, space and freedom to prioritise the important things, instead of trying to juggle everything.
- A minimalist home might mean decluttering your home and giving yourself a more spacious, better functioning, calmer and more relaxing home environment without lots of stuff to clean, tidy and clear away.
- A minimalist approach to money and your finances might mean avoiding impulse buys, shopping more mindfully, saving more, simplifying the way you pay bills and check over your statements and keeping on top of what comes in and goes out each month.
- A minimalist approach to time management and your schedule might mean saying no to invites, deliberately slowing down, giving yourself wiggle room, appreciating the value of free time, not being afraid to miss out on things if you don’t have the energy for them and learning to be less busy.
These are just three examples of how minimalism plays out in real life. The common theme is that minimalism is about intention. The emphasis being on making space in our busy, overstuffed lives for the things that matter, instead of us managing the things that don’t.
THE PITFALLS OF A MORNING ROUTINE
And so, how does this relate to a minimalist morning routine?
Well, as I mentioned at the start of this article, there are lots and lots of things you could fill your morning routine with but that would mean your mornings would become overstuffed.
Overstuffed morning routines are busy, time-sensitive, have no flexibility and are yet another list of activities and things to do to add to your busy brain and schedule. It would mean you jam-pack your precious morning with so many things to do that it feels like you’ve done a full day’s work before the day has really begun!
What happens if you don’t feel well, you wake up late, you didn’t get a good night’s sleep, you have an unforeseen emergency? A busy morning routine crammed full of activities designed to help you have a great and productive day, can actually feel stressful and overwhelming.
This isn’t how I like to start my day! Instead I designed my own minimalist morning routine and that’s what I’m sharing with you today!
WHAT IS A MINIMALIST MORNING ROUTINE
For me, a minimalist morning routine is one that’s intentionally designed to set me up for the day ahead in the best way possible. It’s not so crammed with things to do that I’m watching the clock to the nearest nanosecond. I have plenty of time and space to do what needs to be done, planned or unplanned!
My minimalist morning routine has a framework but no definite structure. I have several activities which I choose to do, but I can swap the order around and take more or less time on each one, depending on what I need for that day. I can even miss something out if I don’t have time or energy to do it. No big deal.
The activities I include in my mornings are designed to help me have a great day, in both body and mind. Of course, our days don’t always go as planned but my mindset is positive and ready for what the day throws at me.
“How you spend your morning can often tell you what kind of day you are going to have.”Lemony Snicket
Over the years I’ve changed my morning routine a lot. As my kids have gotten older and my work-life balance has shifted and my own needs have changed, I’ve noticed that my morning routine actually has less in it than it once did. But the things I do now are important and really work to set me up for the day.
In the true spirit of minimalism, I let go of activities that just cluttered my morning and intentionally kept in those that added value, purpose or joy to my morning!
7 TIPS FOR A MINIMALIST MORNING ROUTINE
Instead of cramming everything into your morning routine, here are 7 ideas for a minimalist morning routine that could really support you to have a better day.
1. Make time for yourself
Ok, so this may be a logistical point but finding the time for yourself can be difficult, particularly when you have a busy family and home. Getting up a little earlier can help you carve out a calm, peaceful window just for yourself. You are important after all!
To be able to have a morning routine at all, rather than whizzing around chasing my tail when the kids and dog are awake, it’s important to me to carve out some time for myself. Based on what I’d like to achieve each morning, I then work backwards with my timings so I know what time to wake up.
My morning routine would be stressful and difficult if I didn’t allow enough time. In particular, that’s time before the rest of the house is awake and I have peace, calm and silence in which to breathe, think and plan for the day. I prefer to focus on my routine instead of watching the clock and trying to block out the noise of my family!
This is why it’s important to purposefully and intentionally make time for yourself in the mornings. Grabbing a quick five minutes whilst the kids mess around with breakfast probably won’t do much for you (except raise your stress levels!).
2. Daily rituals
When I’m trying to introduce a new routine or habit into my life (or for my kids), I find it helps to develop a little ritual alongside it to get your brain and body in alignment.
As an example, for many parents, we read a story book before bed to our kids. It not only calms them down ready for sleep but it becomes a ritual that signals the end of the day and the start of night. Miss out the book part and your kids might not settle as easily if they’re used to a bedtime story. The same is true for us adults.
I’ve found that using a daily ritual is also helpful for me. Part of my own minimalist morning routine is to make a cup of tea, sit quietly for a few moments and savour those first sips in silence before I do anything else. This marks the start of my day.
Sometimes I stare out of the window, sometimes I snuggle on the sofa under a blanket. No matter where I am, my tea and silence signal to my body and brain that the day is beginning and my morning routine has begun. It’s a time when I can let my mind wander or I can run through my mental checklist of things I need to do. I’m not specific about what I think about and I don’t necessarily ‘do’ anything with those thoughts at this stage. I just sit with them and let them be.
Aside from marking the start of my morning routine, I like this little ritual because it’s simple, stress-free, easy and doesn’t require energy or motivation. It eases me into the day in a simple, slow way. I’ve tried bouncing out of bed and straight into a workout but I hated it and couldn’t keep it up.
The secret to a sustainable morning routine is to work with your mind and body and what they like. You need an incentive to get up in the morning and begin your day and for me, at least, a gentle approach works best. I pick up steam as I go though!
3. Move your body
Moving my body is, to be perfectly honest, not something I enjoy first thing on a cold Winter morning! However, I always feel better after I’ve done it.
Choose an activity that feels right for you, it could be 5 minutes of gentle chair stretches or a full-on circuit session. Do what feels comfortable and take it as an opportunity to listen to your body and what it might need.
I know that when the day is in full swing, I don’t often get a chance to heed my body’s signals. I can’t always take a nap during that mid-afternoon lull. Housework needs doing whether I’m feeling energetic or not. I can’t always find time in the evening to bump up my steps if my 10,000 steps a day target is still way off.
In short, once the day gets into a swing, if I haven’t moved my body in some way then I’m unlikely to have time, energy or inclination to do it later in the day.
Personally, I do 10-15 minutes of Yoga, Pilates or just gentle stretches every morning. Sometimes I follow a YouTube video, sometimes I just do my own thing. I’ve found this is long enough to make my body feel less tight but it’s not too long to feel overwhelming or off-putting.
In this season of my life, juggling work and kids, it’s important for me to be realistic about what I can achieve. Set the bar too high and I can’t reach.
4. Practice mindfulness
When the day is in full force, it’s difficult to find a quiet moment. We’re encouraged to juggle balls and spin plates and these circus skills pull and push our bodies and brains in different directions.
Mindfulness is an art and it gets better with practice I believe. Staying still long enough in body and mind is something I struggle with so that’s why I deliberately add mindfulness into my morning routine.
For me, this takes the form of a 5-minute guided meditation so I can practice centering my thoughts and learning how to block out distractions. All handy tips for being more intentional with your time and making time for what matters.
Mindfulness teaches me to focus, be patient and be present in the moment. I find it easier to do this when my mind is relatively clear first thing in the morning. I tried it in the evening but my brain was too busy from the day that I found it difficult to switch off. I just ended up feeling frustrated!
5. Observe gratitude
The practice of gratitude has altered my life so much. It’s difficult to imagine how such a seemingly small mindset shift can really change your outlook on life, but it has.
Making a list each morning of 5 things that I’m really grateful to have in my life has stopped me chasing things I didn’t really need, comparing myself unfavourably or feeling unsuccessful and unfulfilled.
Envy, jealousy, over-stretching, pushing, chasing – they’re all tricky mindsets that set us up to fail before we’ve even got started. Intentionally focusing on the positive, wonderful aspects of my life has helped me get the not-so-great bits into perspective. I’d rather develop what I already have instead of dwelling on what I haven’t.
Sometimes I love to journal and my journaling often follows on from my gratitude list as I have pen and paper to hand already. Whether I journal or not depends on my frame of mind, what else I’ve got to do, the time I have available and whether there’s anything particularly pressing on my mind (for both good and bad).
Occasionally I’ll feel called to journal but can’t think of anything to start with. On days like this I’ll start with a simple journal prompt such as ‘Today I feel like…’ and that’s usually enough to make the words flow.
I don’t like to force myself to journal but I definitely find that mornings are my most creative and reflective time. Probably something to do with having a peaceful, quiet house and a brain that’s not been drained of energy by a busy day!
Here are some journaling tips if you want to explore journaling for yourself. You might also like to read about Morning Pages from Julia Cameron which is a particular journaling habit for the mornings.
6. Limit your social media consumption
This is purely personal preference but lately I’ve found it better to avoid checking out my social media feeds first thing in the morning. I’d rather concentrate on starting my own day right rather than looking to see what everyone else is doing with theirs.
As the day goes on, I find a few minutes here and there to scroll through and check messages but not really much more than that. If I’m doing social media posting for my blog (or my work) then I do that in set blocks of time so I don’t feel tempted to scroll over time.
There’s a useful saying about ‘creating before consuming’ which I try to stick to. Better to create something fruitful in my day first before I consume what other people have been busy creating instead.
You might enjoy this article for more tips on mindful consumption of social media and a more minimalist approach to being connected to our phones 24/7.
Here are some ideas for productive things to do on your phone instead of social media which you might enjoy. Our phones aren’t all bad!
7. Define your priorities
The art of intentional, minimalist living is to be clear on your priorities. What are the things that really matter to you in life? Defining your priorities for the day might be easier than defining them for your life, but they’re no less important.
Consider what you need to get done today, make a list of 3-5 items, and leave it at that. When you’ve done something, tick it off. Anything that you haven’t gotten around to today can be put in top spot for tomorrow.
You might like this article with some helpful time management tips. One of the best and that I try to do as part of my own minimalist morning routine is to get my Most Important Task (MIT) done first. If there’s something urgent, important or worrying that I need to get done then I try to do that first thing in the morning. As Mark Twain suggests, eat your ‘biggest frog’ (task on your To Do list) first and get it over and done with.
Here are some bonus tips to help you create your own minimalist morning routine.
1. Give it time
Creating a morning routine that suits you is trial and error. If something works stick with it, if it doesn’t, swap it for something else. Give your routine time to settle and for it to become a regular habit.
2. Prep the night before
My mornings are easier, partly because I do a lot of the preparation the night before. This might include choosing my clothes for tomorrow, resetting my home before bed and making packed lunches. I also make a loose plan for my morning routine and make sure I have everything I need ready – a notebook and pen, warm blanket, a book etc. This saves time but also stops me waking up the rest of the house or wasting time looking for things in the morning. An evening routine goes hand-in-hand with a morning routine to frame your day.
3. Try my Morning Routine Planner
An intentional start to your day is a wonderful way of getting your body and mind ready for the day ahead. Minimalism is about identifying what makes your heart and soul sing and making space for that to happen. What better way of preparing for this than by establishing the framework to support this, especially if the rest of your day is busy with work, family, things to do and people to see.
In this article we looked at 7 tips for a minimalist morning routine to start your day well.
- Finding the time (Carve out some time for you)
- Daily rituals (Help to establish consistency)
- Move your body (To keep it functioning as well as possible)
- Practice mindfulness (Be present before a busy day pulls you away)
- Observe gratitude (Instead of chasing, comparison and envy)
- Monitor your social media consumption (Focus on your life, not that of others)
- Defining your priorities (creating your To Do list)
You might like to include some other activities in your morning routine and I encourage you to try out a few different variations to see what suits you.
You might also need to include some more mundane activities but which could save you time and stress later in the day. For example, unloading the dishwasher, putting a load of laundry on, making packed lunches etc.
Don’t be afraid to switch things around for a little variation every now and then. A minimalist lifestyle is all about making choices that feel right for you, your own version of minimalism and your morning routine is just one example of that.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Leave a comment below if you’ve got any other suggestions to add!