You can improve your morning within the current time frame you have (try any of the ideas that follow), but if your mornings tend to be a frenzied rush, it really is worth it to get up a bit earlier. Half an hour is long enough to feel as if you’ve gained a lot of time, but not so much that it requires a huge shift in your schedule. If you are a parent, those extra 30 minutes before your children get up could be the only time you have to yourself all day — certainly worth the effort!
As the first sound you hear in the morning, your alarm can begin your day on a positive note … or a not-so-positive note. Try starting your day to a favorite song or nature sounds. Also, if you use your phone as an alarm clock, it can be tempting to immediately check your email and social media when you wake up, but screen time first thing isn’t likely to make for the most positive morning experience. Try switching to a plug-in alarm clock, or try one of the new apps that allow you to limit access to online distractions.
While waiting for your first cup to brew, use the time to center yourself: While taking long, deep breaths, close your eyes and imagine you are in a very peaceful place. Allow any thoughts that pop into your head to drift by like clouds. When your coffee is ready, take one more deep breath and open your eyes.
Rather than grabbing your cup and immediately rushing off to begin your morning routine, take a moment to really notice and savor those first sips. Sit down, relax, stare out the window — just let yourself be for a moment.
Write in Your Journal or Read a Few Pages of Your Current Book
If you’ve been trying to keep up a journaling habit, first thing in the morning is a good time to fit this in: Make a practice of writing a few pages, simply getting your thoughts onto paper to clear some space for the day ahead. Alternatively, reading a few pages of a good novel or a great poem can inspire you and uplift your mood as you begin the day.
If the weather is good, bring your coffee or tea outdoors for a few minutes. Inhale the fresh air and feel the sun on your face. If you have a garden, you could wander down to have a look at the plants, or just sit on the patio and listen to the sounds of the world waking up.
Get organized by writing down a quick list of things you want and need to get done today, but keep it short and manageable by prioritizing. An easy way to do this is to ask yourself, if at the end of the day you felt really accomplished, what three things would you have done to make that happen? Those are your three must-dos for the day.
Squeeze fresh juice, make a smoothie or simply enjoy a bowl of perfectly ripe fruit. If you normally have plain oatmeal or a bowl of yogurt, sprinkle some nuts and berries on top, or swirl in some honey, agave or maple syrup. If you usually have a pastry or muffin, take the extra moment to warm it in the oven.
The beauty of getting up a bit early is not having to rush through your getting-ready routine at light speed. Put on some music you love (or savor the silence), slow down and focus on the most pleasurable parts of getting ready: the scent of a delicious soap, smoothing on a wonderful cream, wrapping up in a fluffy towel and robe after your shower.
Feeding your creativity before you go to your “real” job is a wonderful way to prioritize what is really important in your life. Pull out your sketchbook and draw, paint a small watercolor, fire up your laptop and work on a scene in your novel, knit a few rows or grab your camera and step outside to snap a few photos in the beautiful morning light. It’s easy to think that you don’t have “enough” time to devote to your art or craft, but you can accomplish a lot even in 10 minutes — if you squeeze in those 10 minutes every chance you get!
Marinate some chicken for dinner, start a load of laundry, make the beds or run the dishwasher. None of these tasks takes very long at all, and coming home at the end of the day to freshly made beds, clean dishes and dinner prep that’s halfway done is a very positive thing indeed.
It’s true that to have enough time to get to the gym in the morning, you would likely need to get up more than a half hour early — but even with limited time, you can still do a few yoga poses or a set of strength exercises, or even fit in a quick run in your own neighborhood.
If you tend to drag on weekday mornings, it could be because you feel as if (unlike the weekends) there’s nothing especially positive to look forward to in your day. So change that! Make plans to stop by your favorite bakery, pick up fresh flowers for your desk, meet a friend at a cafe for tea in the afternoon or take in an art gallery on your lunch break. Just because it’s a workday doesn’t mean you can’t have fun too!
It’s easy to love weekend mornings (who doesn’t love a leisurely start to the day?), but weekday mornings don’t need to be rushed through. In fact, by reclaiming a bit of time for yourself in the morning, your workdays can begin on a note of inspiration, creativity and pleasure. The sun is up, the birds are singing and the French press is full and hot — pick from these 14 ways to make the most of your mornings, even if it is Monday.
This content was originally published here.