How To Create A Morning Routine You’ll Actually Stick To

How you begin your morning can set the tone for the rest of the day. Find out how Senior Editor Maggie starts hers.

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From countless articles on how #bossbabe CEOs spend the early hours of their days to entire YouTube videos on how bloggers bounce out of bed, morning routines (and finding out the details of other people’s routines) are definitely a Thing.

And they have been for a while. Take Princess Margaret, for example. When it came to morning routines (and a lot else in life), she had the right idea. Unlike the power routines you’ll see from people on Forbes’ front page, though, she didn’t actually do much until about noon.

No wonder articles (yes, like this one) about morning routines are still popular; Her Royal Highness’ morning breakdown is more than 60 years old and people are still reading it. Finding out minute-by-minute details of how others make their mornings work makes sense, though: Not only are we all inherently creepy (blame social media), the routines of influencers everywhere always seem to involve a whole lot of lemon water and soothing yoga flows—pretty idealistic.

How your mornings go, on the other hand, might be a little frantic in comparison. But let’s say you want to get from here (rolling out of bed bleary eyed and getting ready in a daze) to there (singing like a Disney princess to baby birds while sipping coffee): How do you do it?

With a morning routine.

By the way, morning routines aren’t just for show. The National Alliance on Mental Illness has explained their benefits, proving that there is some scientific backing to starting your days off right. A routine can increase productivity, energy, and inspiration. And a routine makes you hold yourself accountable: You decide how you’re going to spend those first minutes out of bed.

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And to make it work, you just do it—right? Well, sometimes! If you’ve read countless features detailing every minute of your social media girl crush’s morning but still can’t make it happen for yourself, that might be because you’re just recreating someone else’s day instead of developing a routine that actually addresses what you need.

Here’s how to sort through your routine so you can crush your mornings.

First Things First: Find your why.

Why are you so interested in a morning routine in the first place? Is it because you see them all over social media and you’d like your mornings to be equally as beautiful? Is it because you’ve read about the routines of super successful people and you, too, would like to be a super successful person? Is it because being a morning person seems like something you probably should be at this age? Is it because you have a lot of shit to get done and before work is the only time to do it? Is it because you’re constantly rushing around and end up being late to work three times a week? What is it that you want to change about mornings? What is it that you want to change about your life?

Why do you want a morning routine, sis?

Think about this question for a minute, then come back. I’ll wait.

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Note that all of the motivations I listed are completely valid. No matter the reason for wanting to have a morning routine, it’s just important that you have one.

Having a why will be what you think about on those mornings when staying in bed for just 10, 15, or 20 more minutes feels incredibly appealing.

Figure out what’s already working.

Believe it or not, you already have a morning routine, even if you didn’t plan it out that way. Think about everything you do each morning: get out of bed, brush your teeth, get dressed. The list goes on. That’s a routine. Now think about which of those things you have to do. Those need to stay in the routine.

Besides the basics, is there another thing that you do every morning? Do you enjoy doing that thing? Then keep doing that thing. Just because a thing was not in Princess Margaret’s routine (and not much was) does not mean it can’t be in yours.

On the other hand, let’s say you do not like that thing. Unless it’s truly necessary, ditch it.

At this point in your life, you probably know what you don’t want. (What you do want is a question most people can never fully answer and is a topic for another article.) If you don’t want to get up at 5 a.m. to go to the gym, don’t do it just because the founder of your favorite skincare company does. If you hate coffee, don’t drink it just because you think you need a caffeine jolt.

This is your morning after all—design it for you.

Set your goals.

You’ve got your why, and you’ve got your list of things you need and want to do—and the things you want to cast off. Next up in creating a morning routine that really works for you is to set goals. Everyone’s mornings look different because everyone’s priorities are different.

For instance, do you want…

… To focus on nutrition? Get your day going by jump-starting your metabolism: Drink a full glass of water as soon as you wake up. And don’t skip breakfast!

Make it impossible to forget about your newfound water habit by keeping a carafe and glass set on your nightstand. After breakfast, it’s time to caffeinate: Save some money and take your coffee on the go—ban.do’s travel mugs never fail to put a smile on my face.

… To get moving? Throw down a yoga mat and start flowing. Go for a quick run (pre-shower, please). Try some HIIT workouts to get your heart rate up.

… To reflect? Journaling has proven benefits; whether you’re into the bullet journal craze or you want to focus on gratitude, post-dreamland contemplation can bring out the realest thoughts. Start your morning off slow with some meditation—when the rest of the world is rushing around getting ready, taking even five minutes to be in your own mind can set the tone for the rest of the day.

We know you’re busy, but take some time to write down your dreams, sleepy ideas, and a few things you’re grateful for in your favorite notebook: something cheeky like this one from ban.do or a customized notebook from Pop & Suki are hard to ignore! Inner reflection more your speed? Plop down on a pouf and open up Headspace.

… To be more productive? That might mean building in time for brainstorming for a big meeting or responding to emails. You can also multitask: Join a webinar while you do your makeup to stay up-to-date with industry happenings.

To stay informed? Podcasts are a busy girl’s best friend. Depending on how much time you have, I recommend NPR’s Up First (10 minutes), The New York Times’ The Daily (20 minutes), and Crooked Media’s Pod Save America (60-90 minutes). Or go old school and actually pick up a paper. (Print media is dying; it’s up to us to save it!)

… To have flawless skin? Girl, I hear you. Build in time for a skincare routine that beauty bloggers ’round the world would envy. A sheet mask is a quick way to indulge yourself—and start your day off hydrated as hell. Don’t forget the SPF!

My morning skincare routine isn’t complete without my Foreo Luna mini 2—the gentle scrubby action combined with my ultimate fave cleanser, Pacifica’s Sea Foam Complete Face Wash, is a refreshing way to start my day. As for SPF, I always turn to sunscreen queens Supergoop! and Coola. Supergoop!’s SPF 40 Unseen Sunscreen before my makeup and Coola’s SPF 30 Makeup Setting Spray after keeps me protected and hydrated.

Make it happen.

Deciding how you’re going to spend your mornings and actually putting those things into practice are two very different things. Here are our top tips for making your morning routine work.

Start small. Rome was not built in a day, and neither were the best morning routines. You can’t expect to go from a typical morning to something that would hit the Instagram Discover tab in just one day. Pick one or two new steps to incorporate into your morning routine and master those first.

Multitask where possible. Even the most dedicated morning people can struggle to accomplish everything in the time between waking up and making it into the office. That’s why it’s key to multitask: If you’re committed to hearing about the news every day, listen to a podcast in the shower. If you don’t have time to sit down to breakfast, grab something you can eat in the car. Make it work for you and the amount of time you realistically have.

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Start the night before. Preparation is key! Lay out your clothes the night before, meal prep your lunches, and take off your makeup. When you start thinking of your morning routine before you’re even in bed, you’re that much more likely to be successful.

Be gentle with yourself. You’re going to have mornings when you sleep in or mornings when you feel like crap or mornings when you just don’t want to do your routine. That’s okay. The whole point of building a morning routine is that it works for you as an individual, and if that means skipping it sometimes, you’re not a failure. You’re just a person.

My Morning Routine by the Minute

6:45 Rise and shine! I drink a glass of water in bed and check emails or any pressing social media notifications—a lot of people say not to check your phone as soon as you wake up, but I like to catch up right away.

6:55 Out of bed and into the kitchen to make a cup of tea. While it’s brewing, I pick out a quick meditation on the Headspace app.

7:00-7:10 Meditate. Though it’s only five minutes, this is my quiet time—no lights on in the house is key.

7:10-7:15 Quickest shower ever. I wash my hair and shave my legs at night, but I need a morning refresh to wake me up. This is when I put on a punchy playlist for a jolt of energy.

7:15-7:35 My morning skincare routine and makeup. I typically switch to a podcast at this point—usually Who? Weekly or the newest Crooked Media pod.

7:30 Wake up my 6-year-old daughter. This often takes a few minutes and always ends with a “good morning” song! Thankfully, she can pick out her own clothes, brush her teeth, and generally get everything she needs for school ready on her own.

7:40 Get dressed! This is generally pretty easy for me because HealthyWay HQ is v casual so I can really wear whatever I want.

7:50 Make sure my daughter is ready to go and gather any last-minute things.

8:00 Out the door and on the road.

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