Take Control of Your Mornings

"I am not a morning person.”

If you have made this statement as many times as I have, I would encourage you to keep reading. You will discover that getting the most out of your mornings is not at the mercy of your genetic predisposition, but rather a skill that can be learned. 

I am typically very groggy in the morning while more awake and alert at night. Throughout college and the majority of seminary, I did of my projects and assignments late in the day. But in the last year of seminary my life underwent some dramatic changes. I married a wonderful woman with whom I want to spend every waking moment. I got my first full-time job, which entails about two hours of commuting daily. Combined with classes, staying active in church, and a (somewhat) social life, suddenly I was thinking more seriously about how I use my time.

I realized that if I am going to be proactive and more productive with my time, I am going to have to take control of my mornings. No longer can I roll out of bed with just enough time to get ready and leave for work. If I do that, it will be about 7:00pm before I can stop to think about what I want to do with my day, and by that time the day is practically over. Every day I was letting my circumstances dictate what kind of day I was going to have. I was frustrated by a lack of spiritual growth and felt like I was not making any progress toward my goals. Something needed to change. I would like to share my morning journey to help you take control of you own mornings and take steps toward leading a proactive lifestyle instead of merely reacting to what the day throws at you.

Finding Motivation

Having a morning routine allows me to focus on what is important before the day gets away from me. By waking up earlier, I can set the tone for the entire day. However, for a morning routine to positively impact your life, you need to establish a motivation. I am motivated by the desire for Christ and the gospel to penetrate my thoughts, marriage, work, and church life. A secondary motivation is to get more organized so I can do things that are important in the long run but are not necessarily urgent. You need to clearly articulate your own motives before constructing a morning routine.

Getting Started

Once you have motivation for your morning routine, you need a game plan. It is highly unlikely that at the start of this process you will suddenly begin waking up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at the crack of dawn based upon willpower alone. To establish your morning routine, you will have to think hard about what you want to accomplish. If you are a Christian, the first thing that should come to mind is the importance of starting the day spending time with God. There are a few other things you may want to incorporate into your routine: eating a healthy breakfast, exercising, reviewing your calendar and to-do list, and setting goals for the day. I recommend brainstorming a list of practices you think would be useful.

After you have a list of things you would like to do in the morning, select the top two to four things you deem most essential. Most people will have a difficult time jumping right into a complicated routine, so keep it simple. For example, I decided to start reading Scripture, praying, and journaling every morning.

Next, pick a manageable amount of time to spend on your morning routine. It is tempting to get overly-ambitious here and aim to start with an hour or two, which is unreasonable. I started with 15 minutes a day, choosing to read for five minutes, pray for five minutes, and journal for five minutes. More specifically, I chose to read one page of the Bible, pray through a list of four items, and set a goal or two for the day in my journal.

If you’re not a morning person, the following fact may be sobering: You will need to set your alarm clock early enough to allow time for your morning routine and time to get ready for the day. In other words, make sure your mornings have time carved out specifically for these new practices. When choosing your time, don't pick an arbitrary one that sounds really early and impressive. Just do the simple math and figure out what time you need to get up to fit everything in.

Adjusting Your Routine

Before long you will probably think of ways to change your routine. I got really excited and wanted to make it longer and started adding in Scripture meditation and extended my prayer time. As counterintuitive as it sounds, you need to resist the urge to rapidly expand your morning routine. Stick with your initial plan for at least three weeks. Once the routine is ingrained into your lifestyle you will be able to add extra time and new activities without overwhelming yourself and causing sudden burnout. After three weeks you can start slowly expanding and adjusting your morning routine. Personally, I increased my time to about 25-30 minutes within 6 weeks.

Starting a realistic, well-structured morning routine based on godly motivation can make a real difference in your life. In less than two months I have already seen how my time with God in the morning has impacted me. The events of the day carry more significance after I have put life in an eternal perspective in the morning causing me to think about God’s kingdom a little more often. If you are like me and dread getting up early, you should consider how taking charge of your morning could change things for the better.

Maybe you should try a morning routine.