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  • Writer's pictureDarrell Stetler II

How to Build a Morning Routine – Part 2

There isn’t one “right” morning routine.  It’s built on your values and realities.  My reality is self-employed (pastor) and 6 kids.  Yours might look totally different.  But for some ideas and encouragement, here’s a walkthru of my morning routine, from start to finish, with tips of what makes it work better for me.

If you want to read the first post I wrote on this, you’ll need to go here: How to Build a Morning Routine In 7 Steps.

First 90: Getting Started Right

6:00 – Get up. My Morning Routine Alarm Clock for Android alarm goes off.  I head for the bathroom, brush my teeth, and listen to the alarm MP3. Better: Inspire yourself early.  I hate regular alarm tones.  They do the job of waking you up, but not helping you WANT to be up.  I think an alarm tone should help.  To help you understand, here are my 3 alarm ringtones that have been a part of my mornings over the last few months.

“Welcome to the Grind”

By the time I finish listening to that 3 minutes, I feel ready to go.

The other 2 alarm tones are also great and inspiring:

I downloaded these as MP3 with a Youtube to mp3 converter website, and installed them on my phone as alarm tones.

6:03 – Start the Bible. I scan the QR code to turn off my alarm.  (More about this below.)

morning routine 3

My routine alarm automatically opens my Audible app.  I Start the Bible playing.  I use the NIV Dramatized Audio Bible and play it quietly (on 1.5X speed) through about 20-30 minutes of my routine, which amounts to roughly 8 chapters per day. Better: Double your time by listening & learning. Since a good part of my morning routine is relatively mindless (Dress, brush, laundry, eat, etc.) I can double my time by doing something that supports my deepest values – listening to the Scriptures.

6:03 – Grooming. I dress & brush, etc.  I concentrate during this part on moving as fast as I can.  I only give myself 9 minutes to completely dress for th day.  I know — moving quickly in the morning is hard.  But I find it wakes me up and makes me feel zesty if I force myself to dress quickly. Better: Prep the night before.  I have an alarm in the evenings that reminds me to put my clothes for the next day in the bathroom.  If I do this, it takes decisions out of the morning, which is huge.  I hate standing in front of the closet and trying to choose clothes with 5% of my brain working.  This step saves mental energy and speeds me up considerably.

6:12 – Eat, Water & vitamins.  My routine alarm step 2 goes off.  I move to the kitchen, scan the QR code, and take vitamins, eat, and drink a large glass of cool water.  I eat something really simple and fast (usually a granola bar with peanut butter), take some supplements, and drink a large glass of water.  Your body is slightly dehydrated when you wake up, and water is necessary for good mental function in the early part of the day. Caffeine might be helpful to wake you up, but it is a diuretic and actually dries you out over the course of the day. Better: I drink cool tap water with only one ice cube.  If it’s too cold, I can’t drink it quickly.

6:17 –  Laundry.  My routine alarm step 3 goes off.  I move to the laundry room and scan the next code by the washing machine.  I move the current load from the washer to the dryer and start a new load.  If I have extra time, I fold or sort until my 5 minutes for laundry is up.  Then it’s into the kitchen where I spend 4 minutes clearing off the counter and table, especially of the things that need to go to my office, or that I left out yesterday. Better: With 6 kids in the house, laundry is one task that is never done.  I try to throw in a load before bed and then another in the early morning.  This little step lets the machines in my house be working for 2 hours while everyone is sleeping.  It’s 5 minutes that makes a difference for my wife and kids.

6:26 – Note for my kids & wife.  Alarm step 4 goes off.  I scan the code on the side of the drawer where I keep my kids’ notebooks.  I write a note to one child, rotating through the oldest 4.  I was blessed by parents who speech toward me was positive and full of praise.  I want to be that kind of parent.

morning routine 2

I also write my wife a note on a Post-It and put it somewhere where she will find it, usually on the bathroom mirror.

morning routine 4

6:34 – Work Out – I’ve never worked out regularly at any time.  My metabolism was high, I play basketball occasionally, I never get sick… but I’m 35, and I know it can’t last forever.  So I have started working out.  I am currently using the Android app Just 6 Weeks.  By the end of the 6 weeks, I should be able to do 100 pushups, 20 pullups, 2oo situps, 200 tricep dips, and 200 squats.  (My hands are trembling as I write this, since I’m still recovering from the exertion.  I almost didn’t make it through the sit-ups set for today.)

I usually finish a little early, and I relax and recover by blogging. 🙂

7:04 – Prayer – I am currently using a Pomodoro timer app called Pomodoro Challenge Timer to time out and track my work time.  I’ll write more about this in the future, if I feel it is helpful.  But at this stage of my life, I do a single Pomodor segment of prayer (25 minutes).  Honestly — Prayer has really been a struggle for me in the last year or so.  Everything is in league to fight against it.  But it is happening.

7:29 – Day Prep in ToDoist – I use the ToDoist app for workflow management.  I’ve tried several others, and it’s the only one I’ve found that was reasonably priced and as powerful as I wanted.  I sit down for 15 minutes and work over my list for the day.  I try to identify what’s most important for today, and make sure those things are on my list.  This is one place I’m less than happy with my routine… I’ve got to step up this area.

And that’s it.

After that, I do have a few more things, but they tend to bleed over into the start of the day. I write, I do my blog maintenance and promotion, I try to text someone and encourage them.  But this post is the core of my routine.  I’m going to close out this (LONG) post with a few random observations.

Your routine should be built on your deepest values.

  1. For me, that looks like:

  2. serving my wife and family

  3. spiritual enrichment

  4. thankful attitude

  5. Leadership development

  6. health and fitness

  7. intentionality, mindfulness and productivity

  8. giving back by teaching others

How to create barcodes to scan:

The only reason I use QR codes: it forces me to get up, because you can’t shut the alarm off without it.  Once I’m 3-4 items into my alarm, I’m dressed and moving forward.  I have enough momentum, so I don’t use QR codes for the last half of my routine.  But for the first few segments, it forces me to move quickly and efficiently and not go backwards.

morning routine 1

If you want to use the QR codes, you need to go here to create custom ones, save them as images, download them, print them out, and attach them wherever you need them to be:

Don’t get frustrated by comparing yourself to me or anyone else.

This is an “ideal day,” which means that it actually looks like this probably 1 morning in 3.  Most days I get 75% of this routine done, and some days crisis or other issues keep it from happening at all.  The morning I’m writing this, I delayed my alarm until 7 AM due to schedule issues.  Now, my kids are up and the day is starting, and I’ve had to leave off 2 steps of my routine.

The point is, I have a really clear target, and “if you shoot for the stars, you’re not likely to land in the mud.”  I got 75% of this done this morning!  That’s better than 0% no matter how you slice it.

Learn this verse: “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves… When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.” (2 Corinthians 10:12, NIV)

Then go create YOUR routine.

What if I’m not a morning person?

Here’s the thing.  I was not a morning person.  I like to stay up and work late.  I’ve been that way ever since high school.  I think that qualifies me as someone who isn’t a morning person.  I pretty much never feel like getting up when my alarm goes off.

See, I think you can become a morning person.  I will write on this someday, but until I do, read that post I linked to by Michael Hyatt.

I’ve had multiple people tell me that they can’t.  But whether you think you can or think you can’t… you’re right!

Whether you think you can or think you can’t… you’re right.

P.S. Would you do me a favor?  If this post is helpful?  SHARE it on Facebook or Twitter!

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