How I make my morning routine work for me

I struggle to do a morning routine.

In my head, my morning routine is perfect: twenty minutes of yoga, twenty minutes of writing, twenty minutes of meditation before I start the day. There's a steaming cup of tea, a sunny window, a book if I'm feeling leisurely. This is all in my dream. In my dream, I also don't check email at all before I finish the routine, and I head out the door to work sunny and refreshed.

Reality check.

Some mornings are as blessed as the picture above. But many—if not all—of my mornings are a lot different. Some mornings I'm up and out to an early breakfast meeting; other days I'm on deadline and trying to get something out by 10AM. Those days, I often wake up thinking about work, checking email, proofing my deliverable, and hastily get ready to go out the door.

Some mornings my hand cradles my iPhone in bed, and before I'm even halfway awake, I drool over my Slack, Facebook, Email, and other notifications from the comfort of my Pajamas.

And some mornings I want to spend all of it writing.

Sometimes I look up from my computer and realize I haven't exercised in three days.

Rather than give myself crap for not being able to execute a perfect morning routine every day of the week — and I'll probably laugh at this post in the future when I have kids and/or I'm trying to do other crazy things — instead, I just try to do one minute of whatever it is I want to do in the morning. My morning routine flexes to meet my morning, and by giving myself permission to do "just one minute" I can stay in touch with the things that I want to be doing more of. Over time, my habits build in the direction that I want.

One minute at a time.

Just one minute of yoga... means I take the time to exhale, bend forward, touch my toes, and let my head hang. One minute lets me reach up to the sky, arch my back, and lean over to the left and then to the right.

Just one minute opens up my back body, my side body, and the backs of my legs.

Just one minute reminds me to breathe.

Just one minute of writing... means that I open up my document, peek at the clock, and think, maybe I can actually do five minutes. It means I type furiously and say,

"Here's the state of the day, in one sentence: running off to my breakfast meeting, still stressed about all this hormonal acne that's popping up on my jaw line, and been craving a lot of sugar lately. Stress signals are high! I want to schedule some down time later today. Maybe if I'm heading in so early I'll leave by 4pm and head home! Also spending a lot of time thinking about organizational structure and interpersonal dynamics. Reading an awesome book called Managing Humans recommended by a colleague of mine. 200 words is good enough for today!"

(That's actually a post from this week. I'm being honest here).

Just one minute of meditation... means that before I dart off into a land fueled by coffee and excitement, joining other New Yorkers in their epic quests for excellence (or insanity)— I get to sit down and touch base with the idea of doing less.

Of doing nothing. Of just being.

Meditation has been a bigger challenge for me, as a person who likes to run at full sprint ahead before the race has even been announced.

It's hard for me to sit still.

The first several months I tried meditation were difficult. Sitting still felt incredibly uncomfortable. It's been a couple of years now of flirting with meditation (I just finished my third series in the Headspace app!), and I'm finally comfortable with 20 minutes of meditation. Some days are easier, some days are harder.

I much prefer guided meditation and music-led meditations than sitting in silence with my extremely loud, chattering brain.

In time.

Just one minute.

We begin again.

When I let myself start, things begin to open up. When I remind myself, even for just a moment, of the things that I love and enjoy, it gets easier. When I stop and return to the things I want to do, the practices that I want to cultivate, it makes the next day even easier to begin again.

Every day, we begin again.

"Just keep touching it," my friend says about writing my book. "Just keep going back."

It's the same with my yoga, writing, and meditation practices. We just keep showing up, even if it's a second or a minute at a time.

The more you show up, the more it surprises you.


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