The Weekday Morning Routine That Actually Increased My Happiness (& Productivity)

I only recently started working out of the house every day 9 AM – 4 PM, and after a lot of trial-and-error, I finally found a morning routine that seems to tick every box I need it to. I get everything done I need to, I find time to actually enjoy myself, and I get to work on time without feeling rushed, stressed, or exhausted.

And to be honest, it isn’t anything unrealistic or unattainable (although I guess your ability to have a similar morning routine would depend on your job, what time you prefer to wake up, and what time you need to leave for work). I personally wake up at 6:00 AM, and leave for work at 8:30 AM, which leaves plenty of time for me to do everything I like to do in the morning to set myself up for a happy, productive day. Here are the 10 things I do every morning that have changed the way I wake up.

1. Only set one alarm.

This is always something I’m going to find ridiculously important because unscientifically, it is my belief that having 10 alarms in the morning just fucks you up and ruins the last hour of sleep that you otherwise could have peacefully enjoyed if you only set one alarm at the time you had to wake up. I only set one, and I don’t feel “unsafe” because I have been mentally prepared to understand the fact that if I miss my one alarm, I won’t make it to work. If you’re someone who loves to sleep in and sets a ton of alarms, try training yourself to wake up to just one alarm, and set it at the time you’d normally set your last one (you know — the one that you have to wake up to). That way, you get to enjoy all that extra sleep uninterrupted, and you’ll still get up on-time.

2. Have coffee pre-set to automatically brew 10 minutes before my alarm.

This has been the single biggest game-changer for me in the morning, especially during the time when I was waking up at 4:30 AM every day. Knowing that I just have to function enough to make it a few feet out of my bedroom and to the kitchen to pour a cup of coffee feels so much more achievable in the morning than the prospect of making it when I’m still feeling half-asleep.

3. Light a candle, and/or turn on twinkle lights.

A weird step, sure — but I recently found that treating mornings more like regular at home time and less like a rushed affair to get out the door makes it feel so much nicer and more relaxing — like I’ve gained an extra two hours in my day. Even though I won’t be home for long, I like to light a candle, turn on the pretty twinkle lights I have around my apartment, and “settle in” so I can relax, get ready, and enjoy my coffee happily before the workday picks up.

4. Do some yoga.

This one does or doesn’t happen, depending on how much of a jerk my dog decides to be when he wakes up in the morning. Sometimes, Gaston won’t hear of his mother doing yoga for 20 minutes in a room without him, so if he’s feeling extra, I skip it and spend more time playing with him. When I do get a chance to do it, it is my way of waking up my body and reminding myself that I’m a person with muscles that I’m going to have to use all day to function in society — also, it feels good.

5. Splash face with cold water, moisturize.

I recently became a night showerer, which is the single best thing you can do for your mental health in the winter IMO, because cold weather and dark mornings make it feel impossible to get out of bed. Knowing that I don’t need to put a ton of effort in to get ready and can just kind of apply deodorant and slip right into my outfit for the day makes my morning tasks feel much less daunting. I also don’t wash my face in the morning anymore, as per some information I found on the internet about how dry-skinned people can skip the morning cleanse, rinse with water, and go straight to moisturizing and applying makeup. It has actually changed my skin dramatically, and helped me knock one more “task” off my getting-ready routine.

6. Apply makeup while listening to music or watching a fun YouTube video.

Instead of sitting in sleepy silence while getting ready, putting on a playlist of music that gets me excited, or a fun YouTube video, or even an episode of something light and fun on Netflix. It takes me about 15 minutes to put on makeup and fix my hair, so I just watch/listen for the duration it takes me to get ready, then move on to the next thing. 

7. Play at least 15-20 minutes with my puppy.

I have the neediest puppy on planet earth. I’m not kidding — he hates being away from me for even a second. He follows me into the bathroom, perches on the side of the tub when I shower, and sleeps curled up between my legs at night (which, yes, is extremely uncomfortable). I know he dreads the moment I leave in the morning (even though he loves his dog-sitter/walker/best friend who comes to play soon after) but I try to calm his nerves by giving him at least 15-20 minutes of attention in the morning to throw a ball around or scratch his little ears. 

     

8. Cook or prepare a real breakfast.

I’m one of those people who literally wakes up feeling famished. The second I open my eyes, my stomach hurts and my very first thought is “feeeeed.” Not everyone is a breakfast person, and that’s totally cool — but I’ve accepted that I am. And I’m not really even a breakfast person who can get away with a single slice of toast or a bowl of cereal. Breakfast is a production that tends to involve at least a couple different food groups, and I religiously budget my morning time to allow for this to be a part of my daily routine. I tend to not really eat much during the day — mostly just morning and night — so making sure I have a satisfying breakfast is a productive and essential part of my day. I also happen to really enjoy it — cracking eggs and smashing up avocados and spreading them on toast is fun as hell.

9. Pick out an outfit.

I’m totally not a “pick your outfit the night before” person, although sometimes I have a vague idea of what I’d like to wear the next day, which definitely does make it easier. I have so much fun with clothes that it is a really exciting thing for me to see what ~fashion mood~ I’m in that morning and pick the outfit then. It also gives me something focused to do in the morning before work that feels relaxing and enjoyable.

10. Sip coffee and do nothing — or everything.

After all of my daily stuff is done, I spend the last little bit drinking the rest of my coffee and just hanging out. I’ll sit on the couch and scroll through Twitter or sit on the floor and play more with the dog. Sometimes, if I was particularly messy the night before, I’ll putter around and pick up the house, or load the dishwasher, or whatever other tasks I feel like accomplishing so I don’t have to do them in the evening when I get home. Overall, having a morning routine that is 50% doing shit and 50% enjoying life before work starts has changed the way I go through my day (and made me way more excited to get up in the morning — even on Mondays).

Mary writes every day for TFD, and tweets every day for her own personal fulfillment. Talk to her about money and life at mary@thefinancialdiet.com!     

Image via Unsplash

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