Earlier this month, at the suggestion of my amazing life coach Diana I began a time diary. Using the method from the book 168 Hours I diligently tracked my life in 15-minute increments. It was a lot of work, but the “aha” moments I had towards the end of the week were completely worth it.
One of the major themes I saw was a lack of structure in the morning. Every morning began drastically different and I saw a rhythm that how I spent my mornings influenced the rest of the day.
Over the past few years I’ve developed a strong habit of getting up every morning to spend time in God’s word. I’m so grateful for these quiet mornings of coffee & Jesus for fueling my day. But, there are other things I wanted to incorporate or get rid of to make my mornings intentional and focused.
After my time tracking study, I decided to commit to waking up an hour earlier Monday-Friday and refining my morning routine. I needed was a routine that could be flexible, something that could be savored, simplified, incorporated throughout the day depending on my schedule. I read a few articles, tried several methods and finally landed on this simple and flexible routine from “The Better Life” by Claire Diaz-Ortiz.
Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12
Pray or Pause
This is the most important step, to begin the day with what matters most. I recently switched my alarm off my phone to a traditional alarm clock so I had one less temptation to scroll through Instagram or check e-mail first thing. Sometimes I just sit in the stillness, go through my Val Marie Prayer Journal, list daily gratitude or I take a prayer walk around the lake. The important thing is to start the day with truth!
I brew a cup of coffee and pull out my Write the Word Journal, favorite devotional or a non-fiction book and spend sometime reading. Most mornings I read a few passages of scripture and a devotional. Lately I’m loving Pricilla Shrirers “Armor of God” and Savor devotional.
Journal my prayers, bible study thoughts or write out concerns & to-dos for the day. Journaling and getting my thoughts out on paper has been one of the most life transformative habits I’ve incorporated into my day. I often wait until the end of the day for this step and get the fears, worries, challenges out of my head before I hit the hay. I especially love Emily Ley’s Grace not Perfection Journal for this step.
Spending a few minutes on my schedule and preparing for the day allows me to refocus on the important and prioritize the urgent. I spend a few minutes reviewing my vision board and Powersheets tending list and my 3-most important things list that I wrote out the night before.
If I don’t have time to take a walk or go to the YMCA first thing in the morning, I make it a priority to schedule it in. I keep a stocked gym bag in my car and that way if I find I have some unexpected time I’ll go swim on my lunch break or visit my favorite hiking trail at the end of the day. Incorporating fun & intentional exercise into my morning routine has provided so much more energy for me to accomplish what the day brings.
When we take time to invest in our self-care, we are able to pour into others. I made a list of things that bring me joy and tapped it to my refrigerator and each day I try and incorporate one of those things into my schedule. Simple joys like heading out to the garden for fresh flowers, sending happy mail, making a green smoothie, painting my toenails or reading a fiction book on the porch restores me.
Don’t forget to track your progress!!! I use my Powersheets tending list to track my goals and recommend them for anyone who is looking for some added purpose and intention in their life.
The best thing about this routine is it’s more of a rhythm than a highly structured to-do list. The steps don’t have to be done in order or even in the morning, the important things is to figure out what bring joy into your day and make time for that. I share my routine not to give you “one more thing to do” but to encourage you to stop and consider how incorporating one or two of these items into your mornings may bring some extra grace & purpose into your daily life.