Why your morning routine may be failing

I have tried more times than I can count to curate my morning routine. I have attempted to add exercise to the beginning of my day. I have tried to add a healthy breakfast. I have tried to make a special morning beverage, meditation, and journaling a priority. I have even tried to incorporate all of these ideas into a perfectly balanced self-care routine. No matter what I tried, I struggled to create consistency.

For me, I realized I could not create a morning routine in a vacuum and expect the rest of my day to respect that routine. Think about it. Have you ever tried to study for an exam at the end of a semester, but you have absolutely no notes from which to reference? You somehow convince yourself that you can have a seamless study session even though your entire semester has had no discipline. The same goes for a morning routine.

There is no way you can expect to have a disciplined morning if your entire day before and after lacks discipline. If you’re like me, your morning routine probably failed for 3 reasons: (1) You kept hitting snooze and didn’t actually have time before scrambling to get out the door for work; (2) even if you did wake up on time, you’re too tired to commit in a meaningful way; or (3) you tried (and failed) to adopt someone else’s routine. In order to create a morning routine that works — and one that you can stick to — you have to evaluate each of these issues in turn:

What prevents you from getting a full night’s rest?

A good morning routine is usually preceded by a consistent bedtime. I realized that I had to add boundaries to my working day so that I could get to bed at the same-ish time every night. That included admitting I was watching way too much YouTube or Netflix before going to bed.

What makes you run out the door in the morning?

The mornings where I did wake up rested, I found I neglected to follow my routine because there was something urgent pulling me into the office. While it’s understandable a work day can be unpredictable, most working people would agree that they have more control over their mornings than any other time of day. This usually translates into front loading the work you should have done the day before, and trying to play catch up in the morning hours when no one else is around. This can lead to anxiety that makes you dash out the door. As a solution, I had to add structure to my day so that I finished my planned tasks enough so that I didn’t feel pressed every morning when I woke up. This structure will look different for everyone, but one key aspect is that it requires taking control of your schedule and not letting others dictate your tasks.

Identifying your actual morning needs.

While I love tutorials and learning about others’ routines and organizational habits, I think the point of it all is to find your own lane. Refer back to my end of semester studying example. Using your friend’s outline to study won’t guarantee that you will pass the exam if you don’t have a personal knowledge base with which to review your friend’s outline. The numerous morning routines on the internet were created by people who knew what they needed and made a routine based on those needs. Following their routines may work for a time, but your desire to commit (and the effectiveness of the routine) will taper if it isn’t serving the needs you need fulfilled. My current morning routine is simple and doesn’t require much effort at all. Surprisingly I get most of it done commuting to work and sitting at my desk in my office, which stands in contrast to the pre-packed morning routines that require secluded sanctuaries.