On Creating Routines

There is something to be said for habits. I have always been fascinated by how habits can help or hurt us without us even realizing it. I tend to collect bad habits like they’re going out of style but find it a little more tedious to get into good habits like continually tidying up, planning out my day in an organizer, or forcing myself to practice something difficult (Spanish Rosetta Stone I’m looking at you).

People often say that the hardest part of any change is taking the first step. Personally, I have always found this to only be semi-true. The first few days of any routine seem easy enough. You’re filled with motivation and excitement. Getting up early, making healthy food choices, working out, tidying up regularly. All of these habits are easier for me the first few days. Then, at the first wrench in my plans, I find that I haven’t actually made a real habit. I’ve just made a temporary change and immediately fall back into the old routine.

I’ve taken some steps recently to try to really form good habits, since I know that I can easily make bad ones. I started listening to the “Happier” podcast while getting ready for work in the morning. The podcast features author Gretchen Rubin and her sister Elizabeth discussing forming healthy habits to make your life easier. I also checked Gretchen’s newest book out from the library (hello free!). While I have found the podcast interesting sometimes, the book was not compelling enough to keep my interest, so I gave up on it which was actually a win in and of itself. Wasting time doing something that doesn’t make me happy isn’t a good habit to be in, so I returned the book and moved on.

The podcast though provided a few good tips. I’ll mention the best tip later this week, but one of the tips I’ve found most helpful is setting a sleep alarm. A few days a week I get up early to workout, but then I was allowing myself to sleep much later on other days (think 5am v 7am or 7:30am). That constant bouncing back and forth was wrecking my internal clock and making me miserable by the end of the week. Now every night at 9pm I get an alarm on my phone reminding me to start winding down for the day. By 10pm I should be in bed to make sure I can wake up within an hour of wakeup time everyday (meaning I adjust to 5am on workout days and 6am otherwise).

There are lots of reasons to wake up early beyond trying to stop a whiplash effect like I was getting. Forbes has a list of reasons to get up early. The Daily Mail (take that for what it’s worth) also wrote recently about the health benefits of a consistent sleep cycle – namely a smaller waist. I have to figure that if I’m getting up early to workout some days in the week to ensure I fit it into my schedule, I may as well try to not counteract it by sleep rebounding the next day.

It’s a new habit but one that I am trying to really nurture this month. I’ve noticed that I’m finding it easier to ignore the call of dumb tv shows and get into bed when I am consistently waking up early. With that said, I have yet to figure out a routine for how to spend my time once I’m up since I’m really only on day 5 of this experiment and I didn’t do terribly well over Labor Day (1 our of 3 days). I also have to be on the quiet side since the Mr. and I share a pretty small living space currently and I don’t want to force him into my wakeup schedule. I’ve been utilizing the scheduler on the coffee maker and trying to read and enjoy the morning quiet. I’ve also considered throwing in a low key yoga routine some mornings. Trial and error should show me what works best for my morning routine but I’m hoping that extra time in the morning can translate into a happier mindset, an increase in health, and more creative pursuits to showcase on the blog!

What is your morning routine like? Could it use some tweaks as well or do you have insight to share?

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