morning routine

My Quest to Find a Morning Routine (Part 2)

Just about two months ago I posted a blog explaining my want/need for a better morning routine, namely on weekdays. I have long been a chronic snooze pusher, and am often completing my morning responsibilities at somewhat of a jogging pace, and so I thought it was about time to do something about it.

To prepare, I did some research and found a handful of recommendations I could try and add to my routine in order to make it more productive, more efficient, and perhaps even *gasp* more enjoyable?

The suggestions were as follows:

1) Stop pressing snooze/try using “SmartWake” on Fitbit

2) Dream Journal

3) Stretch

4) Review your schedule/to-do list for the day

5) Do a crossword puzzle

So, let’s see how we’re doing.

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1) Stop pressing snooze/try using “SmartWake”

I won’t waste any time in telling you that I have absolutely not stopped pressing snooze. Which is a grim opener, I realize. I did turn on the SmartWake feature on my Fitbit, which is supposed to track your heart rate and use it to wake you up between sleep cycles by vibrating on your wrist. This is a very strange sensation, and it constantly confuses me. And while it was supposed to act as a bridge to no longer pressing snooze, it has instead become a bit of a crutch, in that if my alarm goes off before my SmartWake, I decide I can probably go back to sleep.

It should be noted however, that in the last week or so I changed my alarm tone from the obnoxious pre-loaded selection that came on my phone, to a song I actually like called “Tilted” by Christine & the Queens.  It has a slow, breezy start, and it wakes me up gradually rather than shockingly, and since I changed it I have not only pressed snooze less, but I find that I wake up feeling far less attacked, and thus, slightly more ready to start my day. So that’s something.

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2) Dream Journal

To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever looked at a pen, let alone a journal in the opening minutes of my morning. In fact, if someone arrived at the side of my bed and demanded I write down what I dreamt about or face the pain of death, I’m honestly not sure if my morning motor skills would provide me the ability to stay alive.

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3) Stretch

I have been trying to do one big stretch as a way not only to start my morning, but tell myself that we are getting up now. I will admit though, this demand from myself usually makes me annoyed at myself.

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4) Review your schedule/to-do list for the day

I still like this idea, and I have been doing it as a part of my morning, but not necessarily the first part, and that’s okay with me. I am someone who will continue to remember things I want/need to do as I move around—it’s what makes me such a tornado when I clean. So I like getting to my to-do list after I’ve been up and moving for a while. Oftentimes once I get to work I will pull out my notebook and jot down some ideas for things I want to get done once I am off, and that has been working for me.

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5) Do a crossword puzzle

This one is just a no. I love crossword puzzles and I love the fantasy that I could sit up, stretch, let out a yawn and then crank out the LA Times daily crossword before I get ready, but that’s just never going to happen. I can add this one to my afternoon to-do list, and see if maybe I can get it done before/while I cook dinner, but it’s just not going to happen in the morning.

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So all in all, while I can’t say I have a solid morning routine, I have definitely taken some strides—my favorite being the alarm tone change. My brother is the one who suggested the change, explaining that his friend makes it a point to set his alarm to a song he likes because “it’s like your theme song and it’s what starts every new episode”—which slightly blew my mind and ultimately made me change it immediately.

My Quest to Find a Morning Routine (Part 1)

I am not a morning person.

Well, I shouldn’t say that. I am not a weekday morning person. I am a weekend morning person—but that’s only because I often get to wake up without an alarm and do anything I want with my day.

Those weekdays though. They are brutal.

Even when I put in the effort to get a good night’s sleep beforehand, when my work alarm goes off, I feel like death—often provoking me to press snooze. And while yes, I know it’s been scientifically proven that pressing snooze is not good for you and ultimately makes you feel more tired, I do it anyway. And when I wake up 15 minutes later feeling 100% more tired than I did before, I press snooze again, and again, until I have left exactly enough time (as long as there are no missteps or tangents) for me to get ready, make my lunch and get to work on time.

It’s a viscous cycle, my friends. One that I’ve been wanting to break for a long time now.

And so, finally, that is what I am setting out to do.

For the month of March, I’ve decided that I am going to try to find a morning routine that will encourage me to break my snoozing habit and start each morning on a better note. I want to find the energy for weekdays that I have on weekends when I wake up with the sun and blast old Marah Carey songs on Spotify. I want Saturday morning Kim to become every day Kim. It is a lofty goal, but I am willing to try.

Before I dive in, I thought it would be helpful to write out the “routine” I have now, so I can get a realistic idea of if/how much time I have to fit in anything new, or if perhaps my real goal should simply be to figure out how I can do what I already do, without pressing snooze and forcing myself to get ready at a near jogging pace.

So, as of now, this is what my average morning routine looks like:

-6:30 a.m. Work alarm goes off.

-Snooze alarm (twice) until 6:55 a.m. (Oops.)

-Make bed

-Brush teeth.

-Wash Face.

-Apply Moisturizer.

-Turn on a podcast.

-Get dressed (I’m just realizing I always put my socks on first, is that weird?)

-Put on makeup and try my best with my hair

-7:20 a.m. (on a GOOD DAY) Head downstairs to make lunch, fill water bottle, take vitamins and grab a breakfast to go.

-7:30 a.m. Leave for work.

Okay, so it’s clear that I consistently leave myself time to do the necessities and absolutely nothing else. Thus, if I even want to have a chance at adding anything new (or making any corrections) I first need to stop snoozing my alarm. This comes as no real surprise, but I was also secretly hoping I would determine I was perfect and call it a day.

I have often tried to correct my snoozing habit by grabbing my phone to scroll through social media (while still laying down), thinking it will wake me up. But this almost always puts me back to sleep—phone in hand—until my alarm goes off again. For the last few months however, I have been using Downtime on my phone (which I mentioned in this favorites post) and that keeps almost all of my apps locked until 7:20 a.m. As a result, with little ability to check anything except my email and the weather, I just hit snooze and go right back to sleep. Then, when I ultimately wake up late, I feel frustrated with myself, and when I follow that up with 30 minutes of frantically getting ready, I don’t really give myself a fair shot at starting the day off right.

Which brings me to the Internet.

I currently have about 10 windows open, each primed with tips on how to perfect your morning routine. In skimming through them, I’ve found that most recommend a combination of the following:

-Eat a good breakfast

-Exercise

-Meditate

-Recite affirmations and/or set intentions

-Connect to gratitude

-Read and/or journal

Of these, I only consistently (read: ever) do two.

I love this overnight oat recipe and almost always have a few made ahead in my refrigerator—making the “grab breakfast on the go” portion of my morning much easier. I also always turn on a podcast to listen to while I’m getting ready. But while the other suggestions are wonderful, and undoubtedly beneficial to some, to be honest, most of them don’t interest me.

To quickly run through them: I personally prefer to exercise in the afternoon and journal/gratitude check at night, I would 100% fall asleep while meditating and/or reading first thing after I woke up, and though intentions and affirmations are wonderful, my brain (especially my weekday brain) needs time to warm up.

Some other suggestions included having a cup of coffee or tea (neither of which I drink) and talking to a friend or loved one (which I sometimes actively avoid first thing in the morning.) So while I’m looking for some advice, I’m also trying to be realistic about what would benefit me and what wouldn’t.

I’m also trying to avoid giving myself a to-do list. As a lover of lists, I know the pressure I would put on myself to complete one, and the regret and devastation I would feel each morning when I didn’t get it done. So instead of giving myself a list of chores to complete, I am really trying to hone in on the word routine. I want to find a routine that feels natural, that flows, makes me feel good, and doesn’t make me yell threatening things at other morning drivers—or, ideally, makes me do this less.

With that in mind, rather than trying to convert my routine into one that is identical to those that are “scientifically backed” or “used by successful billionaires” I only wrote down ideas (especially from this article) that interested me, and I’m going to see if/how they can fit into my already established “routine”.

Here are a few ideas that I liked:

Dream journal: I am prone to strange and vivid dreams, and I have often wanted to keep better track of them, both because I’m curious and because maybe I should be studied.

Stretch: I often feel stiff once I get to work, and then I spend the day sitting at my computer, making me feel more stiff. So I’m thinking a low-key stretch routine that I can do in my pajamas might help start me the day on the right foot.

Review your schedule/to-do list for the day: For this one, it is recommended to write out a schedule or ideal to-list for your day the night before and then review it when you wake up. I like this idea because it takes a little while for my brain to warm up in the morning, and oftentimes I’ll find myself scrambling through my mind for things I may have forgotten. This could serve as my own personal recap, similar to the way television shows replay scenes from the previous week’s episode. Previously on Kim’s thought process…

Do a crossword puzzle: The New York Times app has a small, daily crossword puzzle that I like but often forget about, and I think it could be a good way to get my brain working—as long as I sit up to do it.

Try SmartWake: I often wear my FitBit Versa to bed, and it has a setting called SmartWake that you can turn on with any alarm. Once set, it will wake you up between sleep cycles within a half hour of your desired wake up time, making it less likely for you to wake up groggy and tired.

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So, this is my jumping off point.

Over the next month, I will try out these ideas/strategies and see if/how they affect my morning routine. I will also continue to do research to see what other ideas are out there.

Here’s hoping one of them can get me up without hitting snooze and, finally, let me (at least kind of) take my time in the morning.

I’ll keep you posted.