Change Your Morning Routine and Change Your Life

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Every morning, I wake up at 6 am. I go downstairs and check email for a moment (why? I have no idea? I think it's my get-adjusted-to-the-light ten minutes). Then I go down to the basement and run for a half hour. I drink a bit of water. I head back upstairs and shower (my husband is moving the twins through their morning routine), and then once I'm ready, I pack the lunches, get bags and coats set up by the front door, drive them to school, return home, and begin work. That's my morning -- Monday to Friday.

So what's your morning routine? Are you the morning sort? Do you also work out? Or are you more of a sleep-in-because-you-showered-at-night sort? Do you need to drink coffee? Write down your morning routine, down to the last detail. Go ahead, I'll wait.

Good, now that you've cemented your current morning routine by putting it into words, I'm going to ask you to change one small thing in order to force you out of your rut. Yes, changing your entire life can be as simple as changing one tiny moment in your morning because it will create a ripple that moves across your whole day.

I once had a friend point out how disconcerting it can be to accidentally wash your body out of order in the shower. We all have a shower routine that involves washing various body parts in the same order -- day in and day out. And it throws off everything when you accidentally start with your arms instead of your legs, or maybe wash your hair before you wash your face as usual. That feeling of everything being a bit off usually stays with you long after you've dried off, and that's the effect we're going for as you tweak your morning.

In other words, we are creatures of habit, and the best way to create a change is to break a habit by making a small change.

I looked at something I could move out of my morning routine so I could move something in, and getting the bags packed or the lunches mostly finished seemed like the best place to save a little time. So I moved that to the night before and now I need to figure out something tiny I can place in the five minute window that opened up in my morning routine. Would it be something that makes me happy? Something healthy? I'm leaning towards reading for five minutes.

I know, you're sort of laughing at that, wondering how reading for five minutes is going to change my whole life. But I'll tell you why -- it's not only going to jar me out of my rut by being something new in my morning, it's going to send a message to myself that I am important too. That my likes (such as reading) are just as important as packing those lunches or taking that shower. So I'm starting my morning with a tiny bit of me time. If I hadn't already had exercise in my routine, I would have found five minutes for yoga. Or five minutes of meditation. Or five minutes of tea-drinking and staring into space. In other words, all I did was bump out something small and work in something small. And it changes the whole day.

So ... what are you bumping out and what are you working in? Or, if you have time for it, you can simply add without bumping (or multitask such as working in a cup of really good coffee; but drinking it as you drive to work).

And after you've tried this for seven days, I'd love to have you come back and tell me how creating a new morning routine affected the rest of your day.

Melissa writes Stirrup Queens and Lost and Found. Her novel about blogging is Life from Scratch.

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