The internet has been beating us over the head with productivity tips since dial-up, but one thing hasn’t changed: most of it is totally unrealistic.

Maybe a morning run through the forest and homemade green juice IS the best way to start the day, but so is getting eight hours of sleep and arriving to work on time.

I scoured the internet in search of two things:

  1. What I REALLY needed to do every morning to be at my best for the day
  2. And how to actually make it happen

Here’s what I found out.

We Talk Ourselves Out of Things All the Time

In Mel Robbins’ book, The 5-Second Rule, the author makes one crazy simple point that’s sabotaging most people’s success: we are way too good at talking ourselves out of things.

I should get up. But my body is tired, so I just need to sleep, right? But I got eight hours, I should definitely get up. But no way, I’m listening to my intuition. I need sleep, so that’s what I’m doing.

So you might snooze.

Robbins points out that most of the time, we KNOW what we need to do to be productive, we just create a lot of compelling excuses for not doing it.

Her advice? Don’t give yourself the chance.

When you’re faced with a decision and you KNOW what you need to do but are fighting it, stop thinking, and count backward from five. Then make your move — don’t think even one second about it.

Sit up. Swing your legs over the edge of your bed. Turn off your alarm. STOP overthinking it.

Know What You Need to Do BEFORE You Wake Up

One thing this recovering control freak has learned over the years is that planning your whole day is an exercise in futility — nothing ever happens the way we expect it to.

That said, a foggy morning brain will sit in a daze for 20 minutes before realizing what needs to be done. The morning hours are precious, so don’t waste them wondering where to start.

Your morning routine should be simple enough to remember, but write it on a dry-erase board anyway — anywhere you can see it as soon as you get up. Know what you need to do, at least for the first hour of your day, before you hit the hay the night before.

Go to Bed On Time

For those of us who are raising tiny humans, the notion of having any say in how much sleep we get is downright laughable.

That said, don’t sabotage yourself, regardless of what’s keeping you up at night. Sleep deprivation is linked to all sorts of mental health problems, ranging from anxiety and depression to migraines and mood swings.

Tell your partner to take a shift with the baby, turn your phone on Do Not Disturb, and don’t even THINK about turning on Hulu. Get to bed on time so that you’ll actually want to wake up in time for a morning routine.

Start With Something Simple and Build On It

If you’re like me and get your jollies from planning things, it’s easy to get sucked into setting up a really elaborate morning routine.

It’s fine if you wind up there, but one of the best ways to stick with a routine is to keep it simple in the beginning. Think about what puts you in the best mood for the day and start with only those essential pieces. 

Prep the Night Before

Having a morning routine isn’t supposed to make you frantically busy in the mornings, it’s supposed to set the pace for a calm, positive, productive day. Make it easy to get things done, without having to scramble.

Anything you can do to simplify your mornings is going to make it easier to start the day productively. Order a programmable coffeemaker if you have to! Set your clothes out the night before or put your journal on your nightstand.

And just try to not get sucked into folding laundry or some other distracting busy work.

If You Have Kids, Adjust Your Expectations

I’m an entrepreneur and mother in an industry filled with coaches, courses, and books all saying one thing: morning routines are game-changers.

And guys, it makes me a little nuts sometimes, because for me (and other moms like me), it usually just isn’t realistic.

What I’ve learned is that as a mom, you have to let go of expectations. Unless you have a nanny who starts her shift at the crack of dawn, you’re going to have to deal with kids who wake up at 5 am for no reason sometimes.

Bye-bye, consistency.

The key here isn’t to beat your head against a wall trying to meditate while toddlers climb on you and pull your hair — it’s to do what you can; when you can.

If your kids wake up early and mornings aren’t always all that quiet, let go of the list and focus on the feeling instead. 

You are calm. You are positive. You are focused. 

And you are watching Peppa Pig in your pajamas.

And you can work with that.

Your Grab Bag of A La Carte Morning Routine Additions:

So what does a morning routine even look like? 

What you decide to make of yours is super personal, so don’t get caught up on templates and best-ever routines.

Decide what makes you feel good first thing in the morning, and add it to your list. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Cardio — releases endorphins, improves focus, and reduces cortisol (stress hormone) levels.
  • Making your bed — reduces stress and clutter-related anxiety.
  • Gratitude — make a list of what you’re thankful for and put yourself in a positive state of mind.
  • Meditation — reduces cortisol levels, calms and centers the mind.
  • Bulletproof coffee — improves focus and gives a burst of energy.
  • Reading — gives a sense of accomplishment early in the day.
  • Journaling — declutter your mind and do a worry dump so you don’t spend the day feeling anxious.
  • Goal visualization — get clear on what you want, and write about it every day.

What does your morning routine look like? Share a photo from your morning happy place with us on Facebook or Instagram and tag us in the post! @AvocadoMattress

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