| Written By: Dewey Wilson, Ph.D.|
Most of us truly are creatures of habit. Especially when it comes to our morning routines. In fact, certain statistics show that the average wake-up time for most people is approximately 6:30 am and that 61% of these individuals have followed the same routine for over one year. Some of you might ask, “What’s the big deal with having a routine”? Having a routine is not necessarily a bad thing – unless the daily rituals within the routine aren’t exactly producing positive outcomes.
People tend to be the most productive in the first 2 hours of the morning. Unfortunately, the natural tendency for most is to spend the majority of these 2 hours doing things that either require little cognitive abilities, or prime our minds to be in a reactive state for a large portion of our day.
For example, 60% of the people surveyed reported looking at their cell phones immediately after waking up. Once this happens, the brain begins to respond chemically in such a way, it makes it difficult to reposition the person’s thoughts and actions. In a similar manner, 48% admit to checking e-mail right after waking up, which naturally puts the mind in a reactive or management state, also making it tough for us to shift back into a more positive state of mind.
If you find yourself stuck in a morning routine you'd like to change, here’s a few things for you to consider:
- Don’t give yourself permission to immediately engage with e-mail or social media after waking up. In fact, consider moving your phone away from your bed, possibly even to another room. Now, for those of you also using your phone as an alarm, the solution is simple . . . buy an alarm clock!
- Within moments of waking up, try not to immediately role-play yesterday’s events in your mind, or become overly anxious about today or tomorrow’s responsibilities (Matthew 6:34).
- Wake up earlier. Almost all highly effective people wake up early. Many of them much earlier than the average mentioned above. Plus, there’s just something about having sufficient time to control the events of your morning. Most people who rise early profess doing so allows them to do what really matters most. Remember, getting up earlier also means going to bed earlier!
- Fuel your body and your mind in a healthy way. Most effective people, who are also Christians, give testimony of the importance of reading Scripture, working through a devotion or journaling early in the morning. Starting each day with God not only pleases Him, but also brings His favor to us (Proverbs 8:33-35). It sets the tone in our minds for how to manage the rest of our day. Healthy eating does the same for us physically.
- Exercise in some way. Burning calories early in the morning can sometimes be a daunting task. However, just like eating healthy and inputting positive thoughts into your mind each day, not only will exercise strengthen your muscles and your heart, eventually you will feel much better overall.
- Spend quality time with family. Having adult children, I can truly say I know just how quickly our children grow up. Being married for over 35 years, I can also tell you time seems to fly by in marriage as well. You can’t go back and recapture time already spent. And yet, I can't remember regretting the time I spend with Lynne, our girls or our grand-baby over work.
So, how intentional and productive are you early in your day? Even King David realized the value of early morning intentionality (Psalms 143:8). Should you need to change some of your morning routines, just remember you need to create a plan with reachable goals. It will likely take time, but if you want to make it to the other side of the street, you must be willing to step off the curb and start walking.