Morning Routines

Starting the day right

Morning routines allow us to develop a sense of regularity to ease our cognitive load. In other words, morning routines would allow us to go on autopilot mode rather than having to continually think every morning about what needs be done. Being in an autopilot mode helps us be more efficient. In addition to that, morning routines also help build momentum to our day as we begin it with a sense of control. This helps us cultivate self-discipline. In other words, we are being proactive rather than reactive to the situation. This could give us the motivation to continue the day in the same fashion and be more productive.

Certain activities are generally useful for the vast majority. For example, exercising in the morning helps get our blood pumping and “wake ups” the mind as it releases adrenaline. Research has shown that morning exercise is found to improve focus and mental abilities all through the day. In addition, it was found that it also improves the quality of sleep by increasing the probability of deeper sleep cycles. Similarly, morning meditation is also found to be universally helpful. It can be a quiet period to allow one to be more in-tune with their thoughts and also practice letting them go. This would help one learn to cultivate self-awareness and increase their ability to focus.

We might think that such routines are naturally easier for some, as a function of their personal identity. A chronotype refers to the tendencies for a person to sleep and wake at particular times, and is what we understand of “a morning person”. Longitudinal research into chronotypes and success from the 70s to present day have shown that getting up early was not associated with any health, socioeconomic, or cognitive advantage. A 2012 article in the psychology journal, Emotion, found those whom wake earlier may have indeed be happier than late risers.

Still, if we’d like to start early in the day we could make a list of things that we like and decide which of them would be the most fun to wake up to. For example, some people prefer to wake up to classical music while others prefer to wake up to hard-rock music.

Pair something enjoyable with the morning routine. For example, play your favourite song playlist as you do your morning routine. Keeping the morning routine short to about 30 minutes, we don’t have to wake up much earlier to complete the morning routine.

Written by Dr. Joel Yang