For many of us, dragging ourselves out of bed after hitting the snooze button three times is our greatest daily achievement. Our morning routine then consists of stumbling into the shower, shoving food or a caffeinated beverage into our face (and often the faces of our loved ones), scrambling for the car keys, missing left shoe and hastily packed lunch, then stepping out into the world. We arrive at our destination poised and fabulous, of course, but those first few hours are rarely the stuff of Julie Andrews' movies.
Yet, we’re bombarded with blogs, books, podcasts and social media posts proselytizing the magical cure of the ‘morning routine’. Mornings were elevated to rock-star status by Hal Elrod’s ‘Miracle Morning’. Elrod advocates six steps for morning enlightenment: meditation, affirmations, visualization, journaling, reading and exercise. Apparently you can do these for as little as 1 minute each (so a 6 minute miracle) or preferably for an hour as soon as you wake up.
I’m all for people being super productive and fresh in the mornings. More power to you. But I feel that having a morning routine has become a new marker of ‘success’ and comparison. How many times have we read a ‘things successful people do each day’ article and one of the first things on that list is “get up at 5 am”. Whether I’m reading about productivity, business,minimalism, or self-improvement, I’m told that I won’t reach my ‘full potential’ unless I have a morning routine.
Well I’m here to say, what a load of rubbish. Those of us mere mortals who just roll out of bed in the morning and start the day properly at around 10am (after faffing, drinking coffee, talking with colleagues etc), are not doomed to fail. I’m an advocate of the Gingerfinch ‘just get on with it’ morning routine. Here’s why:
- I prefer the evenings to mornings. And that’s ok. My early-riser friends love to tell me how much they’ve done before I’ve woken up. But guess what, when they start to crash at 4pm and are fast asleep by 9, I’m still working and playing. Our schedules are different but we are equally efficient, effective and ‘successful’.
- I like to meditate. I think it’s healthy for my brain and it helps me clarify priorities and maintain perspective. But I don’t like meditating in the morning because the ‘good juices’ are washed away by lunchtime. So I meditate at around 4 or 4:30pm. That’s the time of the day when I start to lose momentum and creativity. Afternoon mediation also gives me a sugar-free power boost that washes away any work-related grumpiness.
- I know that exercise first thing in the morning is great because it’s then done and dusted for the day. But I feel dehydrated and ill if I go for a run or do hard exercise as soon as I wake up. My body hates it and so do I. So I use exercise as a ‘break’ when my productivity drops off. Go for a walk or run at lunch time and it’s amazing how much more you can do in the afternoon.
- I don’t care for ‘affirmations’ or ‘visualisations’. I don’t believe the universe will give me something just because I nag it enough. Starting the day with this sort of positivity may help some people, but I just feel silly. I’ll stick with coffee.
There have been a couple of times when I have suffered jetlag and have woken up early and got loads done. And, I’ll admit, I did feel incredibly impressed with myself. But I was crashed out on the couch watching children’s television by 4pm. Every action has a reaction. If you’re on fire in the mornings, well done. But if your morning routine consists of nothing more than successfully getting out of the door each day, then that’s quite all right. I’m a night owl and I’m not a bad person. And neither are you.