I’ve seen a lot about the “miracle morning” recently. It seems to be everywhere.
Basically, the idea is that you wake up an hour earlier than normal. You spend that time journaling, meditating, and exercising. The miracle morning is a pretty cool concept. I like it in theory:
- Get up
- Set your intention for the day
- Exercise to take care of your body and mind
- Eat breakfast
- Start your workday energetic and focused
The result, of course, is supposed to be getting more done overall. Increased productivity through a better start to your morning — all by getting up an hour earlier.
But what if it doesn’t work?
I tried the miracle morning — and failed.
In an effort to wrest control of my life back from my schedule, I thought I’d give the miracle morning a try. After all, it’s supposed to transform your life.
An hour a day to change everything?
Sign me up!
However, it didn’t go as I expected. First of all, getting out of bed an hour earlier proved almost impossible. I tried going to bed earlier, to no avail.
My son’s activities and the realities of having a teenager didn’t mesh with going to bed as early as I needed to in order to get up at a miracle morning time.
On top of that, when I did succeed in getting up an hour earlier, it didn’t actually help me with my productivity. I often wake up ready to work. It was hard for me to spend an hour journaling and meditating. Plus, about the time I finished with my miracle morning regimen, it was time to get breakfast and eat with my son.
By the time my son was off to school, my day was taken over by meetings and phone calls and unexpected little issues drawing off my attention. I felt just as harried as ever.
So I decided it was time for a new approach. Rather than focusing on my morning routine, I decided to look at the way my internal clock functions. I know you can shift your clock over time to become a morning person, but I was tired of trying to fight it. So, I didn’t.
Check in throughout the day.
First, I started by paying attention to how I felt at various points during the day. I noticed that I often woke ready to get something done. On top of that, my afternoon slump effectively made me useless for work.
As part of this exercise, I factored in time with my son before he left for school, as well as our afternoon and dinner commitments and obligations.
I kept notes about how I felt throughout the day, and when my work flagged. Additionally, I paid attention to when I had standing meetings and when others were most likely to interrupt me. With this information, I was able to identify patterns.
After about two weeks, I had a pretty good idea of when I was likely to work most effectively — and when it was better for me to just stop trying to force it. I was also able to figure out which times were likely to be good times for things like exercise and self-improvement.
I was ready to take a new approach to my days.
Starting work first thing.
My first main change was that, instead of trying to exercise or meditate first thing in the morning, I would just get to work on the most challenging item on my to-do list.
Because my son changed his school schedule recently, there are now three days a week when I basically have two hours in the morning before I needed to start breakfast. The other two mornings, I have about an hour.
My new morning routine looks like this:
- Wake up
- Sit up and stretch in bed
- Drink some water
- Use the restroom
- Take three to five minutes to do a little “wake up” yoga
- Immediately start work
My whole get up and get started takes less than 10 minutes.
And I get to work immediately on the most challenging thing I have to work on that day. Essentially, I follow the advice in the book Eat That Frog! However, while the book assumes you’ll be at work after a morning routine, I’m actually getting my biggest “frog” out of the way before I really start my day.
After getting some work done, I then turn my attention to breakfast and seeing my son off to school. I get dressed, and then start in on the rest of my day.
Now, though, meetings and phone calls aren’t pulling me away from the big thing on my plate. It’s already done by the time all these other things start demanding my attention.
Scheduling exercise in the afternoon.
After getting my new morning squared away, I decided to schedule exercise in the middle of the day. It’s true. I head to the gym between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.
Before, this was time spent in a stupor as I either tried to power through the afternoon brain fog or gave up and took a nap. Of course, the nap usually ended up being longer than it should have been and resulted in sleep inertia — making me feel worse.
Now, though, I have my exercise scheduled on my calendar. It’s an item I’m reminded of and that is blocked off so that appointments can’t be made during that time.
Instead of trying to make myself be productive during a time when I’m not really wired for productivity, I use the time to reinvigorate myself with exercise. Usually, when I’m done, I’ve received enough of a boost from the activity that I’m ready to tackle items that require a bit of thought (although they aren’t as energy-consuming as what I work on in the morning).
At times I feel a little tired and sleepy after my workout. On those days, I meditate in the afternoon. In fact, I find that meditation helps me most just after lunch, or soon after a workout. I still meditate most days, just not in the morning.
Creating my “excellent evening.”
Rather than a miracle morning, I’m working on creating an excellent evening. While my son is getting ready for bed, I answer a few final emails and finish up some of my loose ends.
Once he is in bed, it’s time for my own wind-down routine. I put the phone and laptop away, done with them for the day. If there are things still bothering me about the day, I write them down. I also take this time to identify my first move in the morning. It’s a great time to decide what my first focus should be. I tidy my work area and get things set up for the next morning.
With everything resolved on and ready for the coming day, I engage in 15 to 20 minutes of gentle stretching yoga. Then I take my shower and go through my bedtime routine. Often, I read a book for pleasure during this time. It’s a great way to relax and unwind and get my mind ready for sleep.
Finally, I can just go to bed. Sometimes, if I’m struggling a bit to fall asleep, I use a guided meditation designed to help.
Do what works for you.
Maybe the miracle morning works well for you. I know a lot of people really like it. Getting up early and centering themselves ahead of the day is perfect for them. I even know folks that get up at 4:30 a.m., do the whole miracle morning routine, and then get started on work sometime around 6:00 a.m.
And that’s fine.
But that’s just not going to cut it for me. I’ve tried.
Instead, it works better for me to get up around 6:30 a.m. and immediately get into my work. I suppose I could get up at 5:00 or 5:30 and still accomplish much the same thing. But until I’m able to go to bed much earlier, that’s not practical in terms of making sure I get enough healthy sleep each night.
Rather than getting hung up on what everyone else is doing with their morning routines, think about what makes your day better. Consider a schedule that makes sense for you. Maybe it’s more work at night, or perhaps it’s exercising after dinner (like my parents do).
The important thing is to pay attention to your own internal clock and the realities of your situation so that you can create a schedule that works around your various commitments, your family, and helps you start working toward your goals.
What helps you in the morning? Or the evening? Have you tried arranging your schedule around your internal clock? Let us know in the #Adulting community on Facebook.