Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
12 Feb

Why You Should Have a Morning Routine

Morning stretchLet’s consider a tale of two mornings.

The alarm blares. You have exactly seventy-five minutes to be out the door. After relinquishing fifteen of those to one “snooze” period and a few minutes on your phone (e.g. checking email, Facebook), you’re up. You put together coffee, feed the dog and let her outside, get the kids up, and help everyone grab something to eat. Within ten minutes, the clamor and chaos of the morning rush has taken over your thinking – in addition to the nagging reminder that you still have a few emails to send out before the first meeting at 9:00. So much for easing into the day… Even with the tag team approach made possible by a partner, it’s still a major production to hit the shower and get ready. There are bags to be packed, bills or homework to be gathered and final goodbyes to be said as everyone heads out the door. When you get to work, it’s a dash to fit in several tasks before 9:00. Somehow you keep waiting for a quiet moment to pull your thoughts together, to breathe and catch up with yourself, but the chance keeps further distancing itself like a teasing mirage in the desert. Later, you say. At lunch? After work? At night? Wait a second… I forgot my lunch again, didn’t I?

Now let’s look at a better way.

Second scenario… The alarm goes. This time you have two hours and 30 minutes. No snooze at this hour (especially if you want to stay in the good graces of your partner). Before anyone else is up, you grab your ready-made coffee (gotta love pre-programming options) and slip quietly into a remote corner of the house where everything you need is already there. Your phone is off limits except for music to help wake you up (consider it a sound cue to support your circadian wake cycle). After reading or journaling for a few minutes, you do some meditation perhaps and some light yoga or dynamic stretching and get ready for your a.m. workout. You’re enjoying the quiet around you and the focus on your movements. As you take a few minutes afterward, you write out your master list for the day. Following a hot shower, you’re calm and ready to organize the rest of the brood and face your day.

Moral of the story here: drive your day, or your day will drive you. Direct, or you’ll be put in a constant position to react.

While few if any of us get to choose everything that will happen in our days, the morning, in particular, has the power to determine who/what will be leading the way and how much we give to our own interests versus simply responding to others’ as the day progresses. As psychologist Roy F. Baumeister suggests in his well known book, Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, our willpower is greatest in the morning – before we’ve had to fend off the slew of issues and choices that come our way. In other words, if you struggle to keep a given commitment to yourself/your well-being, you’ll likely be more successful making it part of your morning routine as opposed to holding off until later in the day.

From a physiological standpoint, too, the morning hours offer some extra benefits. Working out in a fasted state, research shows, offers better benefits for fat burning and insulin sensitivity. There’s also the advantage of the natural a.m. cortisol surge. That means extra energy – to offer the day’s workout or to tackle the most challenging tasks. How many of us postpone our exercise and certain responsibilities as long as we can – only to face them during our least energetic and driven hours of the day. By that point, it takes seemingly ten times the physical and mental wherewithal to make ourselves follow through (e.g. the thousand pound workout bag).

What’s more? You’ll be more invested in making healthier choices throughout the day if you’re already on a roll with an a.m. workout, meditation time and/or other positive behaviors. You’ve already got some skin in the game for living healthily that day. You also won’t be subject to that nagging sense of restlessness that can dog us all day. Our bodies are waiting to move and ready to stage an uprising at having to sit at a desk for eight hours first. Our minds likewise grumble at having to wait to get some personal time – to do something they enjoy as opposed to what they must do to collect a paycheck and go along to get along.

We tend to view our deferment as self-discipline. I’d call it self-deprivation.

Why should we put off what all that we want in our day? Why should we come last and not first? With this and other posts’ messages, I know I come off sometimes as promoting a selfish revolution, but the solid fact is, life works better for everyone when our needs are taken care of. We work harder. We play better with others. We eat less crap and can be healthier for it.

Developing a morning routine allows you to assert your own authority over the day. You take charge of your own work-life balance by, in effect, paying yourself first. Too many of us do it the other way around and are left with no time and energy to invest by the time we get to ourselves. As a result, too many people end up feeling at the mercy of their work and family demands. Responsibilities overwhelm, and they end up continually stuck.

When you lead with your own peace and well-being, however, much more is possible. Something essential changes when you begin directing your day rather than responding to it. However we choose to design our morning routine (as long as it truly feeds our needs – and more than just the mundane logistical check-offs), we stake our claim on the day before anything/anyone else can. Our actions – and the pattern of action over time – can effect a powerful shift in our personal sense of self-efficacy and fulfillment.

What would it mean for the rest of life if you devoted a morning routine to your own interests? How would your relationships change if you began your day in ways that brought you joy and health? How would it impact your attitude at work if you started your job with a solid two hours of time invested in yourself?

Won over yet? Start brainstorming ideas.

Do something for your physical health.

First and foremost, exercise comes to mind here. That said, you can fold in other prospects, too. I always make sure I get outside in the morning. The light helps naturally wake me up (easier as we head toward the equinox now), but I also feel more invigorated getting in a morning walk or run if it’s outdoors. Also, keep in mind that you don’t have to move your entire workout time to the a.m. if that doesn’t appeal. Do a short stint or a leisurely stroll in the morning and save the rest for later. The idea here is to do something – some kind of movement (e.g. yoga, walking, weights) in addition to what else you feel would fuel your physical health that day.

Do something for your mental equilibrium.

Again, yoga might fit the bill for some people, as would time outdoors. I know people who have their coffee or breakfast outside, and just that simple action makes a huge difference in their day. Other people meditate for anywhere from 5-30 minutes. Other people read from certain books or journal to center themselves. Some people use it to indulge in self-care. Maybe it will something different every day. Only rule: it’s whatever works for you.

Do something toward your personal vision.

I think this is key because it speaks to the direct-react issue in a more expansive way than a single day’s schedule. How many of us have larger visions for our lives – things we’d like to try, careers we’d like to shift, hobbies we’d like to enjoy, areas/ideas we’d like to study BUT never do. Let’s face it: if you’re waiting until 9:30 each night or that magical “free” weekend, you can file it under “never gonna happen.” Be brazen and actually give a portion of the day’s best energy to your vision – whatever it is. Maybe it’s fitness. Maybe it’s a creative endeavor. Maybe it’s building a portfolio or networking to shift professional tracks. Maybe it’s learning a new language. Whatever – start your day with it. If you stick with it each morning, you’ll be amazed at the progress you can make.

Do something toward the day’s productivity.

As with any of the above ideas, this can mean different things to different people. I’d suggest making a master list for the day. That doesn’t mean dump fifty ideas on a piece of paper. Choose 5 at most, and make sure you do the most challenging or important among them in the morning. Beyond that, take on a chore that will make a difference in the next few days ahead. Batch cook a couple Primal dishes, or devote a condensed and efficient hour or two a week to financial planning/record keeping.

Finally, experiment.

A morning routine literally should be YOUR time. It should be at the whim of no one but you. Put police tape across the door if need be. So few of us are accustomed to giving ourselves this much – or this quality of – time. Putting yourself first in your day can feel disorienting. The fact is, you may not immediately know how to fill the space, or you may feel overwhelmed by how much you’d like to do. Just start and feel your way as you go. If you stick with your routine and use to genuinely nurture your interests, you’ll eventually wondered how you ever lived any other way. Use it for the good Primal life and personal vision you deserve.

Thanks for reading, everyone. Do you have a morning routine that takes you beyond the logistical race for the door? What has it done for you and your well-being? Share your thoughts and suggestions, and have a great end to the week.

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You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. A few years ago I got into the great habit of waking up around 5-5:30 a.m.. It gave me so much extra time to get stuff done before work that I was otherwise putting off. Working out, cleaning/organizing, prepping food for the day. It was hard at first making myself get to bed so early but the payoff is so worth it.

    Erica wrote on February 12th, 2015
    • Ditto on the early morning advantage. I get up between 4 and 4:30am (no alarm I just set my mental clock). I drink a big cup of hot water and then do a 15 stretching routine that opens up my spine, loosens my shoulder and gets the blood pumping. Then I fill three, one-gallon jugs full of hot water white I eat my chocolate Larabar. Take a quick dump, load the bottles into the car, and go surfing for two hours – mostly in the dark. I have some friends that join me and they all know to grab a glow necklace from the tube I put on the windshield before I paddle out. This way we can all see each other. After I’m done I pour the hot water down my wetsuit. Takes the chill right off. Change, go home and then eat 4 eggs, sunny side up with hot sauce, a sweet potato with cinnamon and coconut oil, and a handful of pistachios. I finish it up with a cup of green tea. Then I work my butt off for the next 8-12 hours in my home office ( there’s some lunch and snack in there as well).

      I do that every single day. Having a predictable routine is not constricting or boring…it’s liberating. A solid, predicable foundations allows you to get a lot done and frees your mind. You can’t improvise all the time. That’s just chaos.

      And ditch the snooze button. Just commit. Snooze you loose!

      Clay wrote on February 13th, 2015
      • Wow, impressive and inspiring! I am about as far from both coasts as a person can get, and love my warm snugly bed. Hate getting up in the morning. But I am always craving more “me” time and too tired in the evenings to accomplish much. You and Mark are on to something… Thanks for sharing.

        Sialia wrote on February 14th, 2015
      • Fantastic routine – I will learn from this.
        I aspire to have a morning routine like that. WELL DONE :)

        Nikki wrote on February 19th, 2015
  2. Cursing the alarm and all of creation is my morning ritual. My lady really appreciates it :)

    Groktimus Primal wrote on February 12th, 2015
    • I’ll never forget hitting that snooze bar on the clock radio (about 3 decades ago), then having the clock come back on playing the deep exhale noise from Tina Turner’s “We Don’t Need Another Hero.” It was like the clock radio was pleased we’d hit the snooze bar!

      Today, there’s a small travel alarm, and only 2 chances to hit the snooze alarm–after that, it won’t allow any more snooze alarm hits. At that point, you have to get up and turn the alarm off.

      Wenchypoo wrote on February 12th, 2015
      • I have an app on my tablet that serves as my alarm. Makes me solve math problems to turn it off.

        M.

        MEversbergII wrote on February 12th, 2015
  3. When the kids were little, I used to get up every morning at 4:30 for my easy jog before getting everyone off to school and work. It was a great time to have just for myself. Now that I’m retired, my husband gets me up to join him for his morning walk. You’ve inspired me to be less grumpy and more cheerful about it – maybe do a little yoga, too.

    Pen wrote on February 12th, 2015
  4. What a great idea, I used to get up at 5:30 for that extra hour before my kids got up. Now they are gone and I started sleeping later. Time to reclaim that routine again. Early to bed, early to rise, really is a happier life.i love the idea of just doing things you like, alone. I don’t like to chat in the a.m so its perfect time to do the meditation, journalling, I am learning to draw so this is great practice time. I used to practice my musical instrument way back when before I went to school, I think this is a great time for practice of all kinds. Great post!

    Heather wrote on February 12th, 2015
    • Thinking about the morning solitude, what do you think about the idea that faces and conversation with others is a part of waking up and it boosts energy levels and starts our circadian rhythm, as Seth Roberts’ research suggests?

      Zach wrote on February 12th, 2015
      • Zach, I have to get some caffeine and turn on the tv news every morning. No kids at home and my husband has to leave WAY early…I NEED something talking to me- that sounds awake!
        I wish I could just get up, strap on the trainers, and go for a walk, but I need that 30″ to come to life- no matter what time I get up, or what I have to do in that day.

        RenegadeRN wrote on February 12th, 2015
        • Oh. I thought you were saying you were going to try to do more things alone, which goes with what Mark is suggesting but seemingly against what Seth recommended. I just wish I could conduct ROTC training at a normal time, not 0550!

          Zach wrote on February 12th, 2015
  5. Fantastic post! I’ve been thinking about this issue a lot, as I work from home and have a very demanding job necessitating lots of time in front of the computer. I get tons of sleep so naturally wake up between 5 and 6 and never set an alarm to get up, which I adore. I’m naturally the most creative and productive in the early morning so have been trying to fit in my writing projects during that time, then meetings and emergencies take the rest of the day. However, I consistently fail to get around to the things I say are important to me to do daily – a little bit of yoga, a walk outside, short meditation/visualization, and EFT. At the end of the day I don’t ‘feel’ like doing them, and have considered just putting all the things I want to do first thing in the morning and then starting work after that.

    starmice wrote on February 12th, 2015
  6. I like that between 5 and 6 am is so quiet. No messages, no e-mails poping up, no phone calls. I make coffee and turn on the radio. That is also the time when I feel more creative and I can write or make notes for later.

    Alma wrote on February 12th, 2015
  7. My dad used to have a saying (and a doing): “Spend each day preparing for the next one.” To us kids, that meant showers, wardrobe selection, lunch packing, backpack filing of needed items for school, etc. THE NIGHT BEFORE. Since he was both retired and divorced, it meant little things (that we noticed) like clearing the table after meals, then immediately re-setting it for the next meal, or laying out the non-perishable ingredients of tomorrow’s dinner on the counter–I’m sure there was more, but we were in school all day, and didn’t see it.

    He was Air Force, so that’s where he learned to be super-organized. To his dying day (well, almost his dying day), you could bounce a quarter off his bed after he made it.

    Later, I used his words of wisdom in the workplace–I took a 40+ hr. job week and honed it down to 32 hrs. of actual work, and realized the rest of the time was spent putting bureaucratic fires out, fetching and carrying for lazy management, and playing Mrs. Answer Man on the phone for other employees.

    I’m glad I no longer work–Hubby tells me it’s much worse nowadays. Now, it’s more like 32 hrs. spent putting out bureaucratic fires, and the rest playing Answer man on the phone. There’s no longer any time to fetch and carry for lazy management, or do the job he was originally hired for.

    Wenchypoo wrote on February 12th, 2015
    • +1

      Getting everything ready the night before makes the morning routine much calmer. I sometimes go so far as to lay out all my clothes and put my wallet and keys in the pants pocket so I don’t have to go looking for them and have the belt already in the pants loops.

      Between that and having my mason jar salad all ready in the fridge, my morning is peaceful and pleasant!

      Jacob wrote on February 12th, 2015
      • Same here!
        I love having everything in check and prepared for the next day the evening before. That gives me the possibility to “slowely” get myself going in the morning and prepare for my workout – without any hectic or stressful things to do. I’m usually a nightowl but I love getting up half an hour earlier
        to stretch a lot after working out and enjoy a calm breakfast. 😀
        On weekends, though, I usually sleep until I wake up and do my sports in the evening. For some reason I love to switch up my routine during the week/end. :)

        kiwi wrote on February 12th, 2015
      • As a Buddhist it is often taught to not prepare things for the day that follows as we don’t know if we shall wake from our sleep, as all things are impermanent and subject to change. I have followed this routine for the past few years, however, still early to bed and early to rise for me so if I do wake I have time to prepare for the days events. :)

        Ash wrote on February 12th, 2015
  8. 07:50am.

    My brain knows that 07:50am is the very latest I can feasibly get up, get ready and reach work in time.
    No matter what time I go to bed or how eager I am not to have the crazy morning rushing or all my good intentions to get up even just 10 minutes earlier (so I could perhaps make getting dressed and brushing my teeth two separate activities), no… my brain knows. It knows it’s still only 07:40am… I have 10 more minutes and still make it and there’s nothing in the world will make me get up until 07:50:01s

    A morning work-out? Hah!
    A decent breakfast? No way.
    Pre-work meditation time? You’ve gone mad.

    An insane rush that results in bumped toes and wardrobe mistakes (last week I managed mismatching shoes) + cursing my stupid self for not getting up before 07:50am? Yip. Every morning.

    This site has helped change a lot about myself, but I know that my morning routine isn’t going to be one of them :)
    Good luck to everyone else though!

    Stevemid wrote on February 12th, 2015
    • Deciding that you cant/wont do something is why it wont happen. If it is something that you want to tackle, the Miracle Morning, By Hal Elrod will give you a great blue print…. One idea from the book is, that your last thought before bed is often your first thought upon waking….Set your intentions in positive way before bed…ie “i will wake up energized and ready for the day after the 7 hours of restful sleep before me…” Sounds Woo Woo but it’s true, as opposed to going to bed thinking you only have X amount of hours to sleep and the next day is going to be rough, and then waking up and your first thought is that you only got X amount of sleep and you are so sleepy. Food for thought anyway.

      Ryan wrote on February 12th, 2015
      • Thanks, I’ll look into that.

        I have good intentions. I have laid-out my gym clothes and had 100% full commitment to getting up and doing something when I go to bed, but my evil brain does not want to be disturbed in the morning and it KNOWS that it has until 7:50am before it must reluctantly relent.
        The only thing that can get me up before then is the knowledge that I will be late if I leave it just one more minute, or a smoke alarm.

        It’s like the paradox with (older) kids – you struggle and fight to get them to go to bed, but in the morning you must struggle and fight to get them out of bed.
        …except in a 42 year old. 😀

        Stevemid wrote on February 13th, 2015
  9. Sadhana.

    Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on February 12th, 2015
  10. The best move I made after years of hitting the gym on the way home from work was to retire. I do bodyweight stuff whenever I want and rarely miss a day. :)

    Granny Gibson wrote on February 12th, 2015
  11. I often had to be at work at 5 a.m. Out of necessity, I refined my preparations to the bare minimum–a 5-minute shower, throw on some clothes, grab some food to take with me (put together the night before), and get on the road. Allowing extra time to do yoga, meditate, work out, etc. was out of the question since I was lucky to get 6 hours of sleep as it was. Not all jobs allow for a laid-back morning.

    Shary wrote on February 12th, 2015
  12. I love waking at 5.30am during the working week. However, I can spend so much time relaxing that I still end up rushing out the door! No matter though the peaceful hour before the hurley burley starts is very precious.

    Wendy Hay wrote on February 12th, 2015
  13. Great reminder.
    The mommy guilt can really take the life out of you. If everyone is awake, it’s nearly impossible to take time for yourself. The choices stink: hire an expensive sitter, ask your overworked husband to come home early, ignore the fact that the kids might be burning the house down while you take a min. behind a closed bedroom door.
    I’ve been studying online at night after the kids go to bed (so that’s up too late, too long staring at a back-lit screen). Maybe it’s time to shuffle that up to the beginning of the day?
    Put myself first. Such a foreign mommy concept!
    It’s so crazy it just might work! 😉

    Beth wrote on February 12th, 2015
  14. This post hit me square in the jaw this morning. I plan to get up 30 minutes earlier and build a richer morning routine that includes going outside first thing, doing a dynamic stretching/workout, and getting centered on me before my workday begins. Thanks, Mark!

    Curtis wrote on February 12th, 2015
  15. Thank you for the very timely post, Mark. I have been creeping towards this, one tiny increment at a time, for a while now. Thank you for putting together the whole picture. I only need the alarm for early work a few days a month, and then everything is laid out the night before. Otherwise I work at home in my robe most of the day. I have been needing to capture my mornings and set the tone for a more peaceful and productive day. An hour or so of meditation and journaling after a brief walk is my goal. Then 4 hours or so of work/workout studying Katy Bowman’s alignment classes as part of her new 2 year certification program. The rest of the day for my other business, designing, silversmithing, shipping orders, working on website, social media (yes, for my work), etc. With a break for my standing date for a walk in the woods for an hour with neighbor and dogs in late afternoon. Without setting the tone in the morning the whole day so easily gets away from me and I have accomplished little by the time my walk rolls around.

    I am one of the folks who have discovered “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying” and this sense of calmly organizing your day fits right in with the tidying magic.

    CaveWoman wrote on February 12th, 2015
  16. If you have trouble getting up early despite efforts – grab an appliance timer and have a light come on by the bed an hour or so before the time you want to wake up. After several days, this will shift your body’s clock and make it waaay easier to get up! I HAVE to have my light come on at least an hour before waking up, or I feel like I’m getting woken up in the middle of my sleep every morning.

    Randy wrote on February 12th, 2015
    • That is an awesome idea! I’m very light-sensitive & find it easy to wake early in the Summer. Winter, not so much! This sounds like the perfect solution. Thanks!

      Paleo-curious wrote on February 12th, 2015
    • I have a very low watt bulb (7 watts I think) that comes on and that works for me. It is very subtle it seems until that morning click on and then it seems bright.

      2Rae wrote on February 12th, 2015
  17. Interesting. I already get up and go to work well before sunrise, but that is just part of living in Alaska in the winter. I have a fairly relaxed morning routine, but morning workouts might be worth a try. I have considered them before, but never wanted to actually get up earlier. I guess there is no time like the present to give it a try.

    Eric Evans wrote on February 12th, 2015
    • As a fellow Alaskan, I’m thinking this would be great thing to try….in the summer. When it’s light out and I’m typically much happier. 😉

      Stacie wrote on February 12th, 2015
  18. I actually use my phone to help me wake up in the morning – the email/Facebooking/etc. exposes my eyes to enough bright light that I feel awake afterwards.

    meepster wrote on February 12th, 2015
    • this works for me too, i recently found. i bought a philips wake up light and that in combination with my phone helps prevent me snoozing

      Jason wrote on February 12th, 2015
  19. Finding the balance between sleep, exercise and personal space time as a mommy to young children is quite daunting sometimes. I do best if I wake up at 5:40, exercise (yoga or cross-fit-like class) from 6-6:45, dawdle with the kids (if they’re awake yet), or chat with my husband until 7:30, and then have breakfast at 8:00 and school/work people out the door by 8:25. If I exercise first thing I am more likely to ride the bike to pick up my daughter from school, toss my toddler around 100 times (or as many “agains” as needed), go outside and garden, walk to the library and engage in other kinds of movement throughout the day. If I don’t exercise and sleep until 7:30, then I start to feel sluggish later in the day and I don’t want to keep moving (even though it’s the counter-intuitive thing I likely need to do).

    Jennifer L. wrote on February 12th, 2015
    • Heh. Toddlers are great personal trainers. I think “again” is the first word my oldest learned.

      His Dudeness wrote on February 12th, 2015
      • “Again” is pretty fantastic. It’s a good early word to learn :-)

        Jennifer L. wrote on February 12th, 2015
    • Look in the dictionary under the word “Chaos” and I’m sure it mentions “children” somewhere…

      Storm wrote on February 12th, 2015
      • Chaos was my sons nickname until he grew into his given at about age 5.

        Jack Lea Mason wrote on February 13th, 2015
  20. This all sounds very pleasant, but I can’t help but wondering where those extra hours of sleep are going…

    M wrote on February 12th, 2015
    • Exactly, me too. I’m already down to 6, maybe 7 on a good day … that’s just life when you have a baby and full time job! I don’t think I’d be very relaxed if I cut it back to 5 hours so I could do “relaxing” things with the hour I could’ve been sleeping, ha ha.

      Kim wrote on February 12th, 2015
  21. For those of you that have kids, how do you make waking up earlier work and still get enough sleep?

    my 2 year old daughter sleeps 9 hours during the night, so i`d have to go to bed at the same time as her to get up one hour before her wake time

    Jason wrote on February 12th, 2015
    • I go to bed with my kids by 9:00. I don’t have “evening time,” but it’s okay since I am not very functional or fresh at that time any way. If I did stay awake, it is usually to veg out and read a book or something. I try to prioritize sleep and go to bed early and wake up early. The morning time is so much more peaceful because the house is (usually) clean and I can just relax without feeling wiped out!

      Jennifer L. wrote on February 12th, 2015
    • I’m wondering the same thing! Going to bed at 9:00 with the baby certainly isn’t an option. Who would do all the cooking, cleaning, laundry, and so on? It can’t all be done in the hours of 6:30-9:00 pm! I mean, sure, if you don’t have little kids to take care of. But if you do, you can’t just decide to not take care of them so you can get everything done that quickly.

      I’m thinking maybe it’s possible if you have a spouse who shares the load and you both work your tail off and don’t sit down for one second to relax from the time you arrive until you get into bed at night. Mine works late every night though, so it’s just me …

      Kim wrote on February 12th, 2015
      • We have enough clothes so the laundry piles up for the week, and we do it every Saturday or Sunday. Cooking done, eaten and washed by 8:30pm, and the cleaning – leave that for the Saturday or Sunday as well. Six kids in the Household so done the baby thing 6 times now – things will get better once the baby grows up a bit, only tip is to teach the child self-sufficiency as soon as possible…

        Storm wrote on February 12th, 2015
        • Man, you must be better at it than I am. I struggle with getting home at 6:30 pm with a cranky baby and an armload of groceries, and trying to figure out how to prepare something healthy while she’s screaming the whole time. Even if I ignore her and just let her scream until she’s a shaky sobbing mess, I still can’t get a healthy dinner put together and ready to eat in less than an hour (plus how do I not feel genuinely evil for ignoring my baby’s cries for so long?). :( I sure hope it gets easier because at 1 she simply won’t play happily on the floor next to me, or be happy with some food and milk in her high chair even if I pull it into the kitchen right next to where I’m cooking. She only stops crying if I hold her or sit on the floor with her. Please tell me it gets easier!

          Kim wrote on February 16th, 2015
      • Its a tough one – she is definitely vying for your attention. All I can suggest is put her in a position where she can always see you while you are working (I don’t believe in locking babies in a room and letting them cry – its hugely important that they feel part of the family). As long as she can see you, and in the same room – let her cry – let her know who’s boss, even begin to get her involved in the chores somehow. Don’t carry her – encourage her as much as possible to move her own body through space – it’s going to be a mexican stand off so steel yourself – but its a battle that the longer you put it off, the worse it will get – you are not being evil ignoring her cries, if fact, just the opposite. Cries of genuine hurt, yes, apart from that, you absolutely must ignore cries for attention or tantrums, they will get worse and worse the more you give in, you have to put a line in the sand and hold the line, no matter what – kids are smart, this is a battle of wills.

        Storm wrote on February 16th, 2015
        • Yeah, you are right, it’s not easy! It seems to be developmental stages to me. In her first year she’s cycled through times of being extremely needy and then being more happy and independent. Recently it’s been a streak of super neediness which has been very stressful! I generally do not give in to the crying unless I think there is a reason for it (sick or hurt) but talking to her calmly and not giving in yields no results. She just screams … and screams … and screams. I wonder how many months of how many hours of screaming every night you have to get through before the “ignore the screaming” tactic begins to work??

          Kim wrote on February 19th, 2015
        • “All I can suggest is put her in a position where she can always see you while you are working”

          Where I am from, we actually tie the baby to our backs so our hands are free to move around (and do chores) while the baby is still feeling reassured/cared for/in our presence.

          It could also be a good way to pacify him/her.

          Sula wrote on February 25th, 2015
      • Forgot to add – and this is the big one – you have to make sure that you and your partner apply the exact same rules to the child, there is no point you establishing the rules that tantrums get ignored, and then your partner gives in, you have to both give consistent rules to the child, or any attempt to fix the behaviour is out the window. If the child gets consistency, they will be less stressed, will know where they stand, and will know there is no point trying to play Mommy of against Daddy, etc.

        Storm wrote on February 16th, 2015
      • Any dietary changes lately ?, i.e., Gluten foods, Sugar that corresponded with the behaviour changes ? Also, I’ve had quite a bit of exposure to special needs kids, and not to ring alarm bells, just a standard observation, do some quick research on Autism/ADD traits, to familiarise yourself with any of the symptoms – just as a precaution, and it can’t hurt – being aware of what to look for. Its probably just normal development as kids are very testing on the boundaries, and it takes 20 continual days at least to establish a new habit, and break an old one – once you’ve eliminated diet or medical problems, you are good to go with project “ignore all tantrums”.

        Storm wrote on February 19th, 2015
  22. This sounds great… for winter, spring, and summer break. But what if I have to be at training at 0550 3x/week and 0630 2x/week? Since I am 22, that is already about 5 hours ahead of my natural biological clock and I can’t see waking up at 0250 as a good idea.

    Zach wrote on February 12th, 2015
  23. Two thoughts to include in everybody’s morning routine.

    This Forbes article may be of interest for all coffee drinkers:

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/anthonykosner/2014/01/05/why-the-best-time-to-drink-coffee-is-not-first-thing-in-the-morning/

    And for those who don’t already make your bed in the morning, here’s for you:

    University of Texas at Austin 2014 Commencement Address – Admiral William H. McRaven

    Kirk wrote on February 12th, 2015
    • Thank you for these links. Both interesting, but I particularly liked the commencement speech by the former Navy Seal and Admiral. Genuinely inspiring!

      Violet wrote on February 21st, 2015
  24. The best way to have a calm morning is to have an evening routine. There will be more time for exercise or other healthy activities if you get up with clothes chosen and ready to go, homework in the backpack, mail in the brief case and keys where they belong. Check out Flylady.net (I do not profit from it) for ideas of how to make your days run more smoothly.

    Gail wrote on February 12th, 2015
    • I love Flylady! She can be kind of cheesy (OK, really cheesy) but her ideas have made a big difference in my life and my attitude.

      Melissa wrote on February 12th, 2015
  25. About to go to my 12 y.o. son’s school conference…thinking about how I wish those poor kids could move implement some of these ideas: around more, get outside, do more than sit in artificial lighting and air for most the day. It’s like they’re being conditioned to lead sedentary lives.

    Tom B-D wrote on February 12th, 2015
  26. I was trying to find time in my day for workouts (which I needed badly for my health; I was overweight) If I did find time, would end up being in the evening when I was worn out and ready for sleep. I could make many excuses to skip and just go to bed, and I did on many days. I decided I would try a new approach and got up an hour earlier each day. It worked better. I got into more of a routine, but I was still running short on time. My mother became ill with Cancer and that extra time was then used to help with her care. I later decided that with all that was going on, I still needed time for myself to organize my thoughts and decompress, so I set my alarm for 4am. That was tough, but even after my mom passed, the routine stuck and I absolutely love, love, love it! I now have a blissful 2 1/2 hours of me time in the morning. Wake up, work out, shower, have breakfast, go through emails or whatever else I feel need to do; even if it’s just to stare off into space for a bit. When I go to wake my daughter up for school, I’m calm, content, and ready for the day. Early to bed (same time as my daughter), early to rise. I highly recommend it! Waking up with the sounds of nature and a peacefully quiet house does wonders!

    LLJF wrote on February 12th, 2015
  27. Can I start with getting up 75 minutes before I need to be to work? o.O

    Stacie wrote on February 12th, 2015
  28. I’ve journaled every morning for years. I actually keep multiple “journals”– one for art ideas & personal thoughts, one for health, & one that is a sort of amplified to-do list of tasks & goals. I write with a dip pen, which is calming to me & keeps my hand in practice for calligraphy & line drawing. The only downside is that if for some reason I have to skip my morning writing, I feel odd & unsettled all day!

    Paleo-curious wrote on February 12th, 2015
  29. One of my favorite side-benefits of getting a dog has been walking him every morning. I am a homeschooling mom of four – so my morning time is my only time to myself. I have found walking to be a great way to think (without interruption) and listen to music or maybe a primal blueprint podcast. :) It’s also great to get outside every morning before I’ve done anything else.

    What works for the dog is also working really well for me. Who knew!?

    Catania wrote on February 12th, 2015
  30. I agree wholeheartedly with this article. I’m a personal trainer and I always “fight” with my clients to schedule their sessions early in the morning. Once they try it, rarely do they want to switch back.

    There’s also some good research that suggests morning workout routines produce better results over time vs. afternoon/evening workouts. See http://makeyourbodywork.com/benefits-of-morning-exercise/

    Having said all this, it’s still easy to hit the alarm some days 😉

    Dave wrote on February 12th, 2015
  31. I get up at least two hours before I have to go to work. I have a nice alarm clock that wakes me up with light rather than with a strident BLEEP BLEEP BLEEP–being woken up slowly really helps me to feel refreshed rather than rattled. I either read or take a walk depending on the season before the make lunch/shower/blow-dry/dress routine. If I’m woken up suddenly for whatever reason I’m off-kilter for the rest of the day. I’m looking into meditation as well; my job’s gotten fairly stressful and I think meditation would help.

    Trish wrote on February 12th, 2015
  32. This is very well written, but I completely disagree with the premise that EVERYONE has more willpower / capacity to be productive in the morning. I am a night owl, not a morning person. That’s not a limiting belief, it’s a fact I’ve proved out over and over again. I hit my productivity stride from like 6pm-midnight. I’ve had a traditional 9-5 office job, and I’ve worked at home, doesn’t matter, I’m always more productive after lunch. No love for the nightowls?! :-p

    Roly wrote on February 12th, 2015
    • I can agree with that. For some jobs, I even had to take computer based personality tests that attested to the same. Although I think the major proof for me is when on vacations, or even weekends, I naturally progress to a more night sleeping pattern.

      Keith wrote on February 12th, 2015
  33. Eh, I think this is very subjective and should be based on personalities. Mark seems to like routines and patterns. I have people in my family like this, but personally, I absolutely loath it. I enjoy some chaos and not knowing what is going to occur. Further, “winging it” is much more enjoyable to me than a plan or pattern. The knowing of the predictable is what I truly loath in the morning.

    Keith wrote on February 12th, 2015
    • I totally agree. I don’t think this is a one-size-fits-all kind of thing. I’m kind of half way between what you describe and what the post describes.

      Matt wrote on February 20th, 2015
  34. Normally I don’t disagree with you too much, and in theory it’s sound advice, but honestly, option B sounds like hell on Earth….. unless you know of a well payin job that allows you to start at noon.

    Steve wrote on February 12th, 2015
    • Own Marks Daily Apple maybe and live on Malibu Beach!

      Thomas wrote on February 12th, 2015
  35. From what I’ve read – getting up way before the sunrise has as many implications as not going to sleep until well after sunset in terms of hormonal balances. I even read somewhere that in the really old days (maybe it was on MDA), people would go to bed early, and get up in the middle of the night and go walking around in the street, and even socialise at say 12:00am for an hour or so, and then go back to sleep until sunrise. You can “hack” the time window from either side I guess, but you don’t want to go to bed late and get up early, either way, we are tied to the planets rotation from a billion years of evolution…

    Storm wrote on February 12th, 2015
  36. I have an app called EfficientPIM on my desktop to remind me of important demos and time to check emails and etc. When I boost my pc in the mornings and I can check all the things that i have to do in the following hours

    Sce wrote on February 12th, 2015
  37. My internal clockwork is very on time. it knows exactly when it’s 15 minutes before the alarms goes. So I’m awake already and have had a snooze period.
    Once the alarm went off we take 10 minutes to spend in bed with the cats. They love the morning attention.

    Marielle wrote on February 12th, 2015
  38. I’m out the door no more than 10 minutes after I wake up, it works great for me, gets me to work early which lets me leave work early too and give me more time in the late afternoon.

    barry wrote on February 12th, 2015
  39. Great timing! Only this week I started to allow for extra time for yoga/stretching in the morning. It’s only short but totally worth it as I am so much more relaxed and awake afterwards! I have to get-up early for my job but plan for 15 minutes extra now. And even that little has already paid-off so much for me. Sometimes its done in little steps…

    Claudia wrote on February 13th, 2015
  40. Nice post.
    I get up early in the morning but pass my morning by playing games :/ After reading this post I am inspired much to make my morning routine.
    Really thanks for sharing. :)

    Zenin wrote on February 13th, 2015

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