Have you ever felt like the first hour of the morning sets you on a direct trajectory towards the rest of your day?
You’re either “up and at ’em” and ready to conquer the world, or you’re…well…you’re physically present, but your mind is somewhere else.
Whether it’s still asleep or just dreaming of your future vacation days, you just cannot seem to focus.
No matter how you feel when you wake up, do you maintain a normal morning routine?
As a writer, you may not tend to think in a “routine” way. Rather, you are likely to think out-of-the-box or creatively.
You probably like to take a few unexpected turns throughout the day and even fear to fall into a predictable set of behaviors.
However, successful writers know that implementing a morning routine often makes you more productive when it comes time to sit down and write.
So, what’s a good routine and how strict does it have to be? It can certainly be flexible; it’s important to find a routine that’s right for you.
Not every routine is perfect for every person, and not everyone is on the same schedule.
Here are five of the best morning routines to set you up for a successful and productive day:
1. Wake Up
Of course, you have to wake up—but only after you’ve gotten enough sleep to allow you to be mentally present all day.
Like many writers, you may work from home. This allows for a flexible sleeping schedule where you sleep until your body is ready to wake up.
Try to get into the routine of waking up at the same time each day (and going to sleep at the same time each night), so you don’t accumulate sleep debt.
Once you understand your sleep habits and how much sleep you need to be productive the next day, try to plan around that.
If you need a few extra minutes of sleep every now and then, that’s okay.
The key here is to commit to being awake once you’re out of bed. Don’t continue to wish you were still asleep and don’t count down the hours until you can take a nap.
Be excited to be awake!
Remind yourself how lucky you are to have the ability to get up and write—to live your passion—for the bulk of the day. Not everyone is so lucky.
2. Start Writing First Thing in the Morning
Even if you’re just jotting down ideas, do it as soon as you wake up. Did you know your brain is the most active when you first wake up?
It’s true—this is when your prefrontal cortex is up and ready-to-go, and your mind is thinking creatively.
Before the sun rises, while everything is quiet around you, take time to be alone with your thoughts.
This tranquil part of the day will not return until the following day, so take advantage of the slow pace of the world before things become rushed.
With this in mind, take the thoughts that have built up in your mind overnight and get them down on paper. They don’t have to be written in any sort of neat fashion.
Actually, some say that the morning is the best time to write and the afternoon is the best time to edit, as the analytical part of your brain becomes more active as the day goes on.
3. Take a Shower
As soon as you have gotten all of your initial thoughts out on paper, get up and move. This is a great time to go for a walk or head to the gym.
Do not skip the shower! Taking a shower will boost your energy and allow you to wash away your stress.
Your muscles can relax in the warm water while the stimulation increases your blood flow and perks up your senses.
If you need a serious boost in the morning, turn off the heat and end your shower with a blast of cold water.
A cold shower can help further energize you and improve your circulation. Rumor has it that cold showers may boost your immunity, which may save you from taking a sick day or two.
While taking an ice-cold shower might not sound too appealing in the morning, you can start slowly by ending your shower with a cool blast of water for a few days and work your way up to all-out frigid.
Showering will help you to feel fresh and ready for the next stage of your writing process. It will also give you some alone time with your thoughts and ideas.
The shower is often one of the best places to brainstorm about your writing projects.
Use this time to run through different ideas and scenarios.
For example, you may have recently considered taking your writing in a new direction. Think about the possibilities of where this could go.
Showers may also act as an evolution period where you can think about new ideas and possible outcomes and then let them sit in your subconscious for a time before making a decision.
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4. Get Settled
Grab a cup of coffee, check your email one last time, do whatever you need to do to be able to settle in and work for a few hours.
Don’t allow anything to linger in your mind. Finish all of your personal things so you can focus solely on your writing without distraction.
Getting settled may also include getting one big task out of the way that you normally put off.
If you can accomplish something first thing in the morning you don’t want to do, it will open the door to a higher level of productivity throughout the day.
Additionally, you won’t have that task hanging over your head while you’re trying to concentrate on writing.
It is also important to put on clothes that you will be comfortable in all day. Don’t bother wearing anything that will make you fidgety or cause you to adjust in your seat every few minutes.
Wear clothes that allow you to move around freely while you think and write.
You may even need to turn off your phone and computer and make the commitment to spend a few hours with just a pen and paper.
No matter what you have to do in order to pay attention to your writing—finish a project, turn off all distractions, get comfy, whatever—do it before you really settle in to start writing.
5. Tidy Your Workspace
Get rid of any extra papers from the day before or trinkets that may be on your desk.
Start with a clean slate for the day by only having the things you need in front of you.
Get rid of anything that might be distracting or irrelevant to your goals for the day.
Just looking at a messy desk in the morning can increase your stress levels. A mess can also make it difficult for you to find items you need, which could slow you down.
Having a neat and organized atmosphere will decrease your distractions and allow you to focus on your writing, not your mess.
Having a lot of white space gives you the opportunity to look around the room without causing your thoughts to drift away to another task or a distant memory.
Keep the distractions to a minimum and try to keep the purpose of your desk strictly work-related.
Successful Morning Routines
If your mornings tend to be the toughest part of your day, start incorporating these five tips into your routine so you can make it a positive time that sets the tone for the rest of your day.
Mornings should be an exciting time to start fresh and look forward to a day of creativity.
While not all of these tips may be right for you, adopting some of them could be the trick you need to get going in the morning.
Try adding one of these routines to your morning each week until you find what works best.
Once you get a solid morning routine in place, you will see the benefits of starting your morning off right when you want to have a successful day of writing.
What works for you? Leave a comment and let us know which ideas you’ve adopted or tell us what works for you.
Perhaps your tip will help another writer create the perfect morning routine!