My Morning Routine FAIL

May 2, 2011 — 49 Comments

Back in March I suggested you ‘Spring-Clean Your Routine’. It all sounded great in theory right? But perhaps it was too vague for people to really get their teeth into. I know I struggled to keep focused. I wanted to start the following:

My ideal morning routine

  • 6:30 am – get up – do 20 minutes of yoga
  • 7:00am – write 750 Words
  • 7:30am – breakfast, shower
  • 8:30am leave for work

I completely failed to achieve this.

I did realise that although I thought my behaviour was fairly haphazard, I was actually following a routine of sorts, which is really a series of long established bad habits:

My real morning routine

  • 6:30 – hit snooze. repeat until 7:30am
  • 7:30am turn on iPhone. Read email, Twitter, Facebook, RSS feed. Wait until girlfriend leaves flat (flat is very small so we always get in each other’s way if we’re both trying to get up at the same time)
  • 8:30 get up, put on music loud (Kanye West or Britney Spears), sing along whilst getting ready/showered
  • 9:00 breakfast. Read more blogs. Iron shirt.
  • 9:30/10am Leave for work (I’m on flexi so can usually get away with arriving late)

Of course, to have a successful morning routine, one also needs to have a successful evening routine.

My ideal evening routine

  • 8-9pm prepare for next day (iron shirt, plan to-do list etc)
  • 9-10pm read
  • 10pm go to sleep

But what can I say?

The reality: No routine whatsoever

Several times I went out and got drunk instead, or stayed up too late watching TV. Ensuring that the morning routine was NEVER going to happen.

So now I’m aware of the problem. I need to change my bad habits. But I also want some kind of social life.. hmmm a tricky dilemma..

What about you? Do you have a morning/evening routine? Are there any habits you want to change? What do you recommend to help me improve my self-discipline?

Let me know in the comments!

PLEASE NOTE: Next week I’m attending a local music festival,the weekend after I get married, and after that I’ll be on honeymoon in New York. So posting on this blog will continue to be irregular during May – I’ll try and post once a week but it may be less frequent up until the beginning of June.

Milo

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This article was written by Milo McLaughlin and published on www.clearmindedcreative.com. Milo is a copywriter, multimedia content producer and creative coach based in Edinburgh Scotland. He is the founder of Clear-Minded Creative, which provides inspiration, support and practical advice to help talented people forge a new path in life.

49 responses to My Morning Routine FAIL

  1. I hear you, Milo. I recently hit a rock bottom plateau and efforts to revitalise my otherwise dwindling enthusiasm to even hit snooze have thus far been fairly poor. However, today brought a wind of change for no apparent reason and I have compiled a to-do list long enough to fell a small Amazonian rainforest and I’ve already scored out three tasks and it’s only…well, almost 5pm. Still, it’s three more than this morning and things are looking well to continue in a similarly productive vain. Sunshine, however, is a killer to productivity so I’m currently investigating whether moving my router to the window so that I can sit on the grass outside and still be on wifi is an option. What? Of course that’s valid…

    An entirely depressing yet remarkably effective way to encourage productivity is to watch Channel 4 news at 7pm and realise that you have the ability to achieve almost anything you wish and there are millions upon millions in the world who couldn’t even form that sentence, so get on with it, buster. This is why I got rid of my TV which seemed like a great idea at the time but has removed the American Dream spirit and yet again diminished my enthusiasm. Bugger!

    • Hi Dave, that’s great – interestingly quite a few people advise tackling only 3 tasks per day, as that seems to be a manageable number. I hope you manage to get the rest of your list sorted during the week! Yes being able to enjoy the sunshine is a must at this time of year, I agree though it makes it hard to sit inside on the computer..

      Good point. I try and avoid the news altogether myself, far too depressing! Apparently doing a daily gratitude journal is a good way to increase your enthusiasm though, as I agree with you that we seldom realise how lucky we are.

  2. yeah i really can’t figure this out. i have a tip in this blog post here about doing some kind of training the night before.

    i also have an alarm clock that beams out a really bright light (therapy light), so that when it’s really early in the morning it simulates the sun a little bit.

    http://mrtunes.ca/blog/495/wake-up-early-and-crush-it-in-the-studio

    nonetheless, i find even when i’m super motivated about something, i really can’t peel myself out of bed. i think it’s related to a procrastination illness, which is related to begin creative. we don’t like a rigid lifestyle.

    • Excellent post Elliott, glad I’m not the only one who struggles with this. The light therapy sounds good. I have to say that I did manage to rise early when I had a job that demanded it – I had to be there for 7am and I used to put the alarm clock at the other side of the room and not get back into bed, like it recommends on that 99% article you link to. But if I don’t *have* to, then I really don’t like getting up early!

      Still, I’ll keep trying. As you say, getting up early does seem to be something that successful creative people have in common.

  3. Usually I wake up about an hour before my girlfriend does. What I don’t do is get out of bed. I just keep lying in bed, next to her, and let my mind wander. More often than not I’ll start thinking about whatever I’m working on and usually I get some good ideas for a story or find a solution for a problem which seemed unsolvable yesterday. You could say the hour before I get out of bed is my most productive time of the day :)
    So my advice: stay in bed just a little bit longer. It’s great to get up feeling you already accomplished something for that day…

    • Hi Gilliom, wow, it sounds like you’re impressively clear-minded first thing in the morning. Trouble is I tend to fall back to sleep.. but it’s great that your unique approach works for you!

  4. This post resonates a lot with me – I profess not to be a morning person but on the rare occasions I actually do drag myself out of bed more than 30 minutes before I have to leave for work I get a lot done.

    I have got to the point now where I am actually in the process of timetabling the coming week so that I make sure to get in reading, writing and other stuff time. Can’t imagine it’ll last long, but I think it’s the only way!
    Ali George recently posted..Mister Grumpy

    • Hi Ali, you must be fairly organised to be able to write so much! Clearly it doesn’t have to be done in the morning, it just seems like a good way to ensure things get done before the distractions of the day take hold.

  5. Ha, this is my favorite routine to fail at! :)
    I would say: Continue with the drinking (as long as it’s not affecting your liver, that’s for sure! ;), but skip TV. Establish a morning routine in 3 to 4 out of 7 days.

    The alternative: We are really talking about 50 minutes for yoga and 750words – why not establish an afternoon/evening routine after work?
    Fabian | The Friendly Anarchist recently posted..Good Reads- Spring Abundance Edition

    • Hi Fabian, I think you’re right I should be aiming for 3 or 4 days throughout the week instead of all 5 working days. And yes, I could alternate it – if I don’t manage morning then I could do afternoon/evening. That just isn’t a high energy time for me after a day stuck in the office!

  6. 5am/530am Wake up call from the little one. Feed her. Pretend she doesn’t really want to get up for 30/45 mins. Engage in battle of wills with other half as to who gets up with the little one and the big one at around 6am/630am. More often than not lose aforementioned battle of wills. Trudge downstairs.

    Spend next hour or so trying to a) shovel yoghurt/toast/cheerios down both little & big one; b) scrape above off floor, table, clothes; c) wrestle both little & big one into clothes; d) pack spare clothes, nappies, snacks for nursery (if a nursery day, skip d if not); e) in meantime attempt to get washed, dressed ourselves (this involves identifying suitable items of clothing for work that don’t have dried yoghurt/custard/snot/dribble/jam on them … it can take some time & even if you think you’ve found jam free trousers, you usually discover that you were mistaken in thinking they were clean at some later point in the day); f) put kids, bags, selves in car at approximately 815am; g) drive to nursery (drop off other half by the bin at top of Easter Road on way); h) arrive at nursery at approx 845am (abandon children); i) walk to work, arrive approximately 915am; j) make coffee.

    At the end of the day, repeat steps a-i but in reverse :)

    Milo, you need the discipline of CHILDREN (at least two). The downside is, you have a very structured routine, but you will require extra discipline to carve out space to be creative, beyond play doh, sponge painting and play acting with various dollies/teddies/etc …

    Lx

    • I don’t know how you do it Laura, I would need a wee sleep after all that. Oh, and I have the jam problem with my own trousers!

      This does put it into perspective though – how hard can it be to do a bit of yoga/writing in the morning??

  7. hi fabian, yes i am more concerned with the routine after work too (way too easy to drop on the couch).

  8. I am not a morning person, plus I don’t have the option of establishing any kind of long-term daily routine due to moving around so much. So my strategy is to just not beat myself up over it. I can’t write to order anyway – which is why I am thankful to have fewer externally imposed deadlines nowadays – so if I made time every day to sit and stare at a screen or notebook and write things I thought were rubbish, I would resent the whole thing. When I have a clear idea of what I want to write, I make time for it. Maybe I can’t get any space to myself for a few days but I put it together as soon as I can.

    Plus I think that my inspiration comes from being out there, doing things and interacting with people. Hell, half of my stories begin with going out and getting drunk. Consider it research!
    Nine recently posted..Everywhere and all over

    • Hi Nine, that’s the kind of research I like! You are living an interesting life and documenting it so your methods make a lot of sense. Whereas I am dreaming of living an interesting life, which is why I stay asleep in the mornings ;)

  9. Have a child – that’ll get you up early doors ;-)

    On the writing front, I find that setting aside one evening a week helps immensely. I play football on Tuesdays, but due the adreneline rush and mentally reliving all those missed open goals I know there’s no danger of me getting to sleep at a decent time so I sit up for a few hours and write/tweak my blog. I’m rarely in bed before midnight and often a little tired on Wednesdays, but rather than than gazing at the telly or lying in bed cursing that squandered chance over and over….

    • Not a bad idea Stu (I mean setting aside one evening a week, not having a child!). I imagine the exercise/adrenaline helps with generating ideas too.

  10. I seem to resist routine more and more as I get older. I’ve settled for aiming to accomplish a set number of tasks over the course of a day – some days I’ll get more done in the morning, some days I’m more productive in the afternoon.
    Lesley recently posted..Public sector blogging in Scotland

    • Makes a lot of sense Lesley, I think my productivity changes depending on the day too, but having to get stuff done outside of work means needing a certain consistency or it would never get done!

      A lot of it is just committing to getting the tasks done though I suppose, regardless of when you do it.

  11. Reading this post, my natural reaction is that if you’re not a ‘morning person’ then it seems pointless trying to force it. I was always a fairly early riser (by most people’s standards), so getting into flexi-time (over four years ago now) and making the conscious decision to get up at 5.45/6am every day for work wasn’t a huge leap.

    That said, there have been and still are mornings when it’s REALLY difficult, but I always know I’ll feel happier getting the day’s work out of the way – the commute is better for a start, and it’s more satisfying going home before everyone else. But that works for me.

    I can’t say I have much of a social life in the evenings, but since January that hasn’t worried me too much because I’ve been exploring my new found outpouring of blogging and poetry (and trying to get it in before going to bed ready for the next early start!).

    I still see people at weekends (surprising how just the fixture of doing a pub quiz every Sunday can be enough to look forward to), and I’m gradually starting to get a more equal balance of socialising and creativity. But now I’ve moved in with my girlfriend and suddenly the whole routine needs to be adapted again, so all of the above might be meaningless!

    I don’t know if any of that’s useful, or just quite a boring biography; I think what I’m trying to say is that trying to push yourself too far beyond what comes naturally doesn’t seem to work. Or maybe I’m blessed with more self-discipline than I realise!
    Paul recently posted..“AND IT’S GO GO GO!!”

  12. Hi Paul, it sounds like you’ve got a routine that works for you well established. Congratulations on the co-habiting, I’m sure the benefits will outweigh any disruption to your finely tuned regime ;)

    I think the point is that I’m awake for quite some time before work, but I’m not using the time wisely. I do have a morning routine, just not a productive one! So I should either go in earlier, or at least achieve something first!

    Also I think the problem is that I am in a way trying to juggle two conflicting lifestyles, one that is sensible and aimed being more creative/productive, and one that is more about partying and being part of the local music scene (most of which happens at night-time!) I guess I just need to balance them a bit better. Maybe sticking to weekend socialising as you do, is my best bet.

    • Would your morning be more productive though – albeit in a different way – if you just set the alarm for 7.30am? I can’t speak from any kind of experience, because I’m not the sort who finds it easy to drop off again once I’m awake, but would it benefit you more (physically and mentally) if you just slept through the self-imposed disappointment of hitting snooze for an hour?

      If, on the other hand, you’re not waking up/falling asleep in ten minute cycles, but just lying in bed and not getting up, then I can see where the frustration lies (pardon the sort-of-pun). What I’m getting at is whether an extra hour of quality sleep in the morning could be ‘offset’ in the evening? It’s such a personal thing though, and I certainly wouldn’t envy someone who feels they need to sleep 12 hours a night to be at their best!
      Paul recently posted..“AND IT’S GO GO GO!!”

      • Possibly Paul. I can report that I got up at 6am this morning though, so maybe writing about it has cured me?

        Also, for the freelance work I’ve been doing I have to be there for 8:30am and I manage it every time, so it’s maybe a motivation thing. I’m one of these people who needs a deadline to get me moving!

  13. jeanette kulick May 3, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    The only way I have found to jump start my mornings is with exercise and music. I have the CD The Best Latin Party Album in the World Ever in my player and I reach over to click it on when I wake up. A little salsa dancing first thing in my pajamas leads me right into my exercise routine. Hey, it’s worked for me for the past three years in a row.

  14. Brilliant Jeanette, I like your style, start each day with a Latin Party – now you’re talking! You must be ultra fit doing that for 3 years :)

    • jeanette kulick May 16, 2011 at 2:43 pm

      Thanks! Not exactly ultra fit but I did manage to lose a total of seven inches in the past two years. Trying to get a creative bent on my fitness. I could never manage to stick with going to a gym.

  15. I moved to Chennai in India for a year, that soon sorted out my writing routine as there is so little to do here (in Chennai, not India as a whole). In the last 10 months I’ve completed one YA novel, finished the sequel and hope to complete the first draft of a new series.

    Conclusion – move somewhere really dull.

    It’ll be interesting to see if my routine continues once I return to Edinburgh at the end the June – I’m assuming it won’t.

    • Hi Adam, thanks for commenting. It does sound like you’ve been able to achieve loads in Chennai. Hopefully you’ll keep up the good work when you return to Scotland!

      I’m not sure I’m ready to leave the city just yet, but it might be a good thought for the future, I’d love to write a book someday..

  16. Thanks for admitting your failure here Milo. I’ve tried many times to create a morning routine and most of the time it fails, or lasts for a few weeks and dissolves some way or another.

    One thing that’s helped me quite a bit is having an accountability partner where we have a 10 minute call each morning. This is a daily call every weekday where you meet 10 minutes after the time you want to wake up, and tell each other what you want to accomplish for the day. We’re both usually a bit groggy (as to be expected), but it helps a lot to know you’re going to let someone else down if you don’t wake up. If you try it let me know how it goes.
    Jonathan Mead recently posted..Your Freedom Means Nothing burn the maps

    • Now there’s an idea. I’ll see if I can find a willing victim – I mean partner for this, I can definitely see how this would fire you up for the day!

      Thanks very much for the advice and for commenting Jonathan :)

  17. I’m capable of snoozing at least thirty minutes too. I hate it, try to change it all the time, and never succeed more than a couple of days in a row.

    And my evening routine is nonexistent too ;)

    On the other hand, I do truly enjoy those thirty minutes very very much :D
    Maaike Quinn @ A Gorgeous Life recently posted..Why You Want to Stop Thinking and Start Kicking Some Serious Ass

    • Yes there’s nothing quite like those extra, stolen, snoozy minutes Maaike. Wait a minute this isn’t helping! ;)

  18. You are NOT alone!! it was comforting to read this bc i’m in the same boat! Been trying to establish the EXACT same morning and night routine and have yet to achieve it!! I guess the only tip for you and myself, since today is May 4th…

    Do or do not. there is no try – Yoda!! May the force be with us! :)

    • May 4th be with you too La Pham! I will try and channel the spirit of the little green frog from space for tomorrow morning!

  19. I can definitely relate! Have you tried to not do email, Twitter, FB until later in the morning? Because doing that will definitely get you distracted and next thing you know an hour has passed!

    Maybe you can do email, twitter, FB until right before you go to work. And set a time limit!

    See what’s the most important thing for you. If it’s write 750 words. Do that first thing in the morning, after waking up and yoga. Then only after you’ve done the 750 words can you play online. :)

    You can do it! :)

    • Hi Benny, yes, when I’m strict with myself and don’t check my phone then I can get up and get going a lot quicker, you’re right.

      Some mornings the temptation to check my email etc is too strong but obviously I need to strengthen my resolve!

      p.s. thanks for the encouragement!

  20. Oh yes I have tried and failed! I love to run and although I *know* that morning runs are better for energy and consistency I realised about 20 years ago that my body just isn’t ready for running at 6.30am.

    So I used to go early evening but now I run my own biz my favourite time is early afternoon – and of course now I have the freedom to set that schedule myself :)

    Great post.

    Cathy
    Cathy Presland recently posted..Customer Perspective- Going For Coffee With Lego

    • Hi Cathy, ah the sluggish feeling as you try to run first thing in the morning, I know it well from trying it a couple of years back. It felt similar to dragging a sack of potatoes through mud!

      I’d love to have that freedom too and am working towards going freelance full-time, though clearly running a business also means you can’t laze about in bed all morning!

  21. While I definitely struggle maintaining a routine, I also love planning new routines.

    I think in some way I expect that I’m not going to fully carry it out, but the added bonus is that then I get to plan a new routine!

    • Interesting Dawn. What is it you love about the planning side of things? I would say getting caught up in planning rather than doing isn’t necessarily a good thing, but if you enjoy it then maybe you have a real skill in that area so it’s worth exploring I think!

      • I think I like the idea of a fresh start. Don’t get me wrong, usually I am able to successfully do the routine for about as long as most people. So in order to freshen things up I look for a way to tweak the routine. That is what gets me excited, adding something new in.

        It’s good to change things up every once in awhile, otherwise we get complacent.

        • Yes I totally agree Dawn, it’s important not to get stuck in a rut. I actually enjoy doing things like moving furniture around and getting rid of clutter too, because it also freshens things up. But maybe I’m weird.. ;)

          • Not weird at all. About twice a year I usually rearrange my room. So I completely relate!

  22. Hi Milo

    Your ideal sounds like mine, but I often find it hard to keep it up too. I think trying, tweaking and seeing what works is good (and not being too hard on ourselves when we don’t manage it! :)). Great to discover your site.

    Jen

    • Thanks Jen. We do need to be compassionate with ourselves. And there are so many great tips in the comments here for me to try, surely one of them will work!

  23. I have a great morning routine. I wake up at 6am, do an hour of yoga. Then I make breakfast for me & the man – & we eat breakfast in bed while he catches up on the news & I catch up on Twitter & comments. Then it’s showertime, & walk to work.

    Sometimes if I wake up a bit early or shower like a ninja then I get a few minutes of writing done, too.

    It took me a long time to get this right. The way I did it was in baby steps but committing to one thing for around a month. I chose to practice yoga for 21 days. Then I was hooked. There was no way in hell I wasn’t doing yoga first thing in the morning.

    Maybe you could commit to going to bed with a book at 9pm for a month. Just see what happens. You might find that you go to sleep when you intend to – & then get up when you intend to rather than hitting snooze.

    That’s what worked for me, anyway.
    heartonsleeveweakatknees recently posted..It’s the little things

    • It’s great to hear a success story Raeeka, I also like the combination of exercise and relaxation/luxury – who doesn’t like brekkie in bed!

      I’ll try that. I’m definitely going to do a follow-up post to this because there are so many great tips to try out, I reckon I might be able to crack it ;)

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