Overthinking a Morning Routine

morning routine. or lack thereof

Let me start by saying this: I am not a morning person. I am not excited about getting out of bed no matter how important or interesting my plans are. While I’m still wrapped in a cocoon of warm blankets and soft fuzzy cats, I couldn’t care less what a new day brings.

It’s been this way all my life. For as long as I can remember, having a morning routine has always been an uphill battle. When I was in middle school, I had to wake up at 6 am to get to school by 8.30 am. The road itself was taking about an hour and a quarter on a good traffic-free day, so leaving the house by 7 am was mandatory. It was common for me to give up breakfast (oatmeal that I had to make for myself, 20 minutes to cook and eat) so that I can sleep in till 6:30.

As soon as I was in control of my schedule, I made it so I could sleep in as much as I wanted. I had semesters when my classes would start at 2.30pm and go on till 8pm, with extra curriculum activities like musical rehearsals lasting till midnight. After that, homework would have to be done – usually till 3am, or overnight if a big project was due. And if I did go to sleep, I wouldn’t bother waking up till noon.

My college years are way past me, but I did retain some of the habits of those years. I still think that best work out time for me is in the evening – I do my yoga routine exclusively past 11 right before going to bed. My creativity and productivity spike up around midnight as well – that is legitimately the best time for me to plan out next week, as well as come up with new creative ideas for work. Also, I still can sleep till noon if I turn off all alarms, despite going to sleep way earlier nowadays.

If the alarm is on, I refuse to accept its authority. Funny enough, I don’t use a snooze button. Instead, I preemptively set up 3 to 5 alarms that give me a range to have a nice, chill morning routine, or push me to brush my teeth and lace my shoes all at the same time. Most days I tend to do the latter.

You see, I can’t say that I don’t have discipline. I tend to be pretty organized and on point about things that I’m excited. I’m consistent when it comes to executing some things that can be boring but are necessary to achieve bigger things that I am excited about. I just don’t seem to fit ‘getting up earlier’ into those things.

I’ve read a few motivational books on this matter. Mel Robbins’ 5-second rule straight up doesn’t work with getting up. It works with boring but necessary chores like cleaning the bathroom or doing the laundry, but it fails with getting out of bed every single morning so far. Looking forward to a delicious breakfast doesn’t work either – I’m usually not even that hungry till 11 am. Also, I  don’t find breakfast foods to be that exciting, and no amount of Parks and Recreations re-runs will ever change my mind.

Devising an exciting morning routine kind of worked, but honestly, I’m just so much better at doing all these things in the evening! Planning for a day ahead is way more productive in the evening when I’m fully awake. I covered exercise earlier – even simple stretches and my beloved yoga feels so much more satisfying when I do it in the evening. On top of, exercise tires me immensely, and it makes me want to lay back down. Out of habit, all my body craves after a workout is a warm shower and sleep, and I don’t mind keeping it that way.

So I went the opposite route and decided to make my morning routine as simple as it gets to take the pressure off my sleepy morning self. This is what my ideal looks like right now:

8am: Up!

8-8.30am: Shower, brush teeth, get a glass of water with lime, set up french press for coffee or tea kettle for tea.

8.30-9am: Morning pages and revision of daily tasks.

9-10am: Have breakfast, get dressed, watch 1 episode of comfort TV or leave for work (depending on the day of the week).

I devised this routine 2 weeks ago. I had 3 good days out of 14. I feel shame about it.

Things get complicated by the fact that I live a seasonal life. I have a workplace to go to in the summertime (well, May through November), but the rest of the time I work from home, and it’s entirely up to me when I get up and how much I accomplish during the day. Funny enough, my productivity does not get hit by me getting up later – I just finish my tasks later in the day, and I usually work faster and better in the evening than I would in the morning. I still try to go to sleep around midnight, which is supposed to give me comfortable 7.5 hours of sleep a night given that I wake up on time, but that obviously isn’t enough somehow.

another blissful morning ritual that i never follow

When I do have a packed schedule, I can turn on a survival mode. Need to get up at 5.30am to catch a bus? No problem. Need to go to sleep really late for work reasons and get up on time for work for several weeks straight? Will be done. However, I will crash. November, the end of Cape Cod season is known as hibernation month. My workload drops from 60+ hours a week to mere 20+, and I sleep all the time. I take a nap after dinner at 7pm, I wake up at 10pm and go back to sleep by midnight. Then I sleep all the way till 9am, and I still feel tired as hell every day. That is not healthy, and most of my Novembers are a blur. I even started scheduling trips that include changing a time zone to force a reset of the sleep schedule, but it didn’t seem to work too well, plus adjusting when coming home was still brutal.

Sorry I’ve offered no solution with this post. This is just me overthinking the role of the morning routine in my life. It is me accepting that morning is the time of the day that I have the least amount of control over, and that I might need some good ideas on how to make it better. If you have any tips on how to improve a morning routine, I’m all ears! Please leave them in comments, I’m excited to try anything and everything to this point!

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