3 Ways NOT Having a Morning Routine Can Actually Make You More Productive
This was going to be a post about the importance of having a morning routine. I was going to write it after I figured out what my morning routine was and then perfected it down to the millisecond. Because honestly, I would do anything for you, my reader.
And believe me, when I say this, I really did try.
I tried waking up at the exact same time every morning.
I tried mastering an exact sequence of events to “optimize” my mornings.
I tried all the influencer-suggested morning routine hacks like, meditation and movement and oil pulling and lemon water and apple cider vinegar and making the bed, and stretching and showering and getting dressed and eating something healthy like a smoothie with carrots in it, and writing in my diary and all those other things productive people do before 7 am.
But then I got confused.
Am I supposed to drink my warm lemon water before or after I oil pull? And do I oil pull before or after I brush my teeth?
What can I do to be productive while I oil pull? This kind of feels like wasted space?
Omg. I just drooled coconut oil all over my journal.
What about my apple cider vinegar water? When do I drink that?
How long do I have to wait (/how many different variables of water do I have to drink) until I can have a cup...scratch that... a pot of coffee?
Do I really have to shower to “start my day”?
I’m not really a breakfast person. So I'll just eat this single grape.
I don’t understand meditation, and I hate making the bed alone (because it’s like pushed against the wall, and to get it nice and tight, it’s really more of a two-person job, but BF’s already at work, so screw it.)
YEP. I f*&ked up my morning routine, again.
Spoiler Alert: The purpose of having a morning routine is definitely not so that we can brag about how productive we were today.
After numerous failed attempts at being a superhuman every morning, I realized, plain and simple, I’m not a morning person. I have never been a morning person. And all of this “morning routine” business was only stressing me out and making me less productive (as in an entire morning would go by and I realized I hadn’t actually gotten any work done because I had been too busy Googling the proper way to oil pull) rather than the intended result of uber-productivity.
Just to be clear, I don’t mean to rain on your morning routine parade. If you’re reading this and you’re all like, “but I like my morning routine,” then, by all means, carry on. Go read one of my other posts about why dieting sucks, and you shouldn’t do it.
BUT, if you’re anything like me (read: a non-morning person who rejects routine), then read on to find out all the ways not having a morning routine can actually work in your favor.
3 Ways Not Having a Morning Routine Can Actually Make You More Productive
When I started writing littlefoolbook, I seriously tried to dial in a morning routine. I had read all the blog posts about productivity, listened to all the podcasts about the importance of morning routines, and seen all the infographics that showed the habits of highly productive people and I was all like, “Oh, okay. In order to write littlefoolbook, I just need to wake up at 5 am every morning, drink three different variations of water, stand on my head for 137 seconds and voila! Book!”
Except that’s not what happened.
Within a few weeks, my morning routine became something I dreaded to the point that I wouldn’t want to get out of bed at all. (Sometimes I didn't.)
Instead of popping out of bed every morning at 6 am (because just ewwww to 5 am), motivated to start my day, I woke up to the blaring sound of a duck quacking through my iPhone and then proceeded to bury my head in pillows.
Precious mornings that were once mine, to do with as I please, had suddenly been overhauled by a to-do list longer than an apocalypse preppers shopping list. And I was dreading every single item on said list.
What I soon realized was that to be productive, you absolutely must be motivated to get out of bed in the morning.
Sounds obvious, right? But think about it.
How do you honestly feel about mornings?
Do you dread the monotony of your am?
Is “when can I take a nap?” one of the first thoughts you have when you wake up?
If you’re not motivated by your morning routine, then it’s time to change it...or ditch it altogether.
When, after 3 months of being totally creatively paralyzed by my morning routine, I finally decided to ditch it for good (which, btw, doesn’t mean failure), I re-discovered motivation (right where I had left it), and my productivity increased exponentially with my will and excitement to start my day….MY WAY.
When you ditch your morning routine, you have the freedom to do as you please. You’re no longer bound by the constraints of a self-imposed schedule.
This is a big one for me. As a freelance writer, my days are always different, and they both need and deserve to be treated as such.
Some days, I’m up at the crack of dawn because I’m inspired, and I’m writing, and not even the smell of bacon in a pan can pull me out of my writer’s trance, so there I will sit, naked in my chair, pecking away at my keyboard with unbrushed teeth and un-stretched limbs and an unmade bed in the other room.
Other days, I wake up extra tired because I spent the evening prior out with friends (read: using "dinner" as an excuse to get wine drunk on a Wednesday), and I need to take a little extra time for myself in the morning to lift me out of my haze. This might mean spending an extra hour in bed, or going to a yoga class downtown, or it might mean lighting a candle, drawing a bath and relaxing into my morning. When I’ve taken care of my personal needs, I’m able to fully show up for my work.
Other days still, I’ve got three client deadlines looming and can’t be bothered with anything but my business. Because I haven’t committed myself to a set-in-stone morning routine, I can commit myself to my work without interruptions or a guilty conscience over having missed my oil pull sesh, or my morning movement, or whatever.
When you’re no longer bound by the constraints of a self-imposed schedule and routine, you spend a lot less time worrying about being productive, and a lot more time actually being productive.
Life is unpredictable.
While routine provides us with the scaffolding to survive the expected, what happens when we’re faced with the unexpected?
I’m not even talking about extremes like a natural disaster, or family emergency, or the cat stuck in a tree type thing.
I’m talking about the everyday unpredictability. The mid-morning phone call from your mother. The doctor appointment scheduled bright and early. The house-guests. The last-minute errand you forgot to run yesterday.
I’m talking about life.
While it’s good to have habits and routines and systems, I’ve found that not having a morning routine has made me more adaptable to everyday life.
I’ve also learned that my creativity doesn’t come from routine. In some strange and backward way that likely drives my BF crazy, my creativity actually originates from normal, everyday chaos.
One week, I may be totally inspired by something that keeps me up all night. I’ll fall asleep in the wee hours of the mornings, effectively sleeping through my “morning” mornings. But that doesn’t make my day a failure. That doesn’t make me less productive than my BFF who wakes at 4 am every day to fulfill her morning routine. That makes me adaptable to the ebb and flow of my creativity, ultimately allowing me to capitalize on my most productive hours whenever they strike.
I'm not a creature of habit. Routine bores me and so does the idea of doing the exact same thing every single day of this already too short life.
The moment I stopped freaking the fuck out about NOT having a morning routine, was the moment I found my morning routine. (Another one of the universe’s hilarious lessons, right up there with how I learned to love myself and how I found someone to love me — more on that in the actual littlefoolbook book).
A list of some things I do on some mornings, in no particular order of importance:
- Wake up & get out of bed - I try to do this pretty much every day, but some days it's harder than others.
- Light a candle - more so in the winter, when getting out of bed is hard and I need to create a cozy atmosphere to work in.
- Make coffee - usually with my french press, but depending where I am, sometimes with a fancy coffee machine that brews 12 cups in under 3 minutes. Sometimes I drink it black with a tablespoon of coconut oil stirred into it, but usually, I drink it with almond milk.
- Oil pull - when my teeth look a little dull, or if I'm just in the mood to feel healthy.
- Yoga - I go through phases with yoga. I wish I were more consistent with it. But some mornings, I'll start my day with a 30-minute candlelit yoga session on the carpet of my bedroom floor.
- Be grateful - writing down things I'm grateful for is always a nice way to start my day. Especially when I've woken up on the wrong side of the bed — the practice forces me to focus on good and recognize all that I have to be grateful for.
- Drink a smoothie - I'm lucky. Most mornings, before I've even opened my eyes, my BF has made a massive smoothie with all the good things in it, and he leaves me a mason jar full in the fridge.
- Work - some mornings, when I'm feeling inspired or under a deadline, I get straight to work without even brushing my teeth or putting clothes on.
- Read - some days I'm starving for inspiration. When I can't find it on my own, I'll start my day by reading a chapter or two.
- Shower - my boyfriend always says the best way to start your day is with a shower. Sometimes I listen to him.
The TL;DR of all of this? It’s time to stop freaking out about whether or not you have a morning routine, and do what works for you.
How do you start your mornings? Leave a comment below & let me know what gets YOU out of bed in the AM.