No matter how much truth there may be to that old saying about the early bird getting the worm, we can’t all be morning people. There’s a rumor going around that early risers are more productive than the rest of us, but bed is just so comfortable… and that obnoxious alarm is just so, so terrible. We feel you on the whole “Can I stay under the blankets for just a few more minutes?” thing, but we all have to begin the day eventually. So why wouldn’t we want to put our best foot forward? In hopes of getting you more motivated to start the day with a good attitude, we consulted with creatives and lifestyle experts who have spent years honing their own morning routines for maximum inspiration. These suggestions should give you a serious boost of fresh ideas and productivity: We dare you to hit snooze once you start giving them a shot!
1. Engage in a moving meditation. Your morning routine is more than just the process that takes you from bedhead to beautiful. Make the most of it by doing some mindful multitasking. “Treat your first waking hour as a kind of moving meditation,” says leadership expert Steve Farber. “While you’re brushing your teeth, taking a shower, [and] pouring your coffee, don’t think about what’s ahead. Don’t think about your tasks, deadlines, pressures, or calendar. Let your thoughts and awareness move to the people and things in your life that you’re grateful for.” This tip is especially perfect if you’ve struggled with more traditional forms of meditation.
2. Shower. In all likelihood, a shower is part of your morning routine anyway, but if you start thinking of it as part of your creative process, you may find your whole day transformed! Creative entrepreneur Nadine Russell takes advantage of those precious shower moments by using the time to get centered and start brainstorming the ideas she wants to take action on throughout the day. Certain studies have even shown that a morning shower can spark creativity.
3. Avoid social media. We know, we know — people are always suggesting that taking a break from social media can be the solution to, well, everything. But hear us out! Getting intentional about starting your routine with something other than what you can scroll through on your phone can really set you up to be more positive and creative throughout the day. “By forcing myself to keep my phone charging in a different room overnight, when I wake up in the morning, I’m alone with my own thoughts,” explains certified financial coach and entrepreneur Emily Shutt. “I have much greater mental clarity and an enhanced ability to pursue creative endeavors because I’m not bogged down by reactions to other people’s social media posts.”
4. Listen to your vision board. Yup, you read that correctly. Artist and clothing designer June Cruz recently incorporated this habit into her morning routine, and she’s loving it! Rather than creating a physical vision board made of magazine clippings and photographic inspo, Cruz recorded herself talking about her ideal, most productive day. Each morning, she listens to that recording as a reminder that achieving her goals and being creative are within reach.
5. Don’t check your email. Your inbox doesn’t need to be your first destination. When you check your email early in the day, you end up planning the next few hours based on what other people want and need. By the time you start working on your own priorities, the day is almost over! “By not checking your email… until you’ve spent at least an hour regrouping with yourself, reflecting upon a gratitude list, enjoying your coffee, or whatever brings you more spaciousness, you’ll find that this amplifies your creative spirit to move forward with what you want to do, rather than what you think you have to do,” encourages entrepreneur and mastermind leader Judy Tsuei.
6. Take a walk. Erica Bramham — a musician, composer, music teacher, and podcaster based in Australia — makes a morning walk a priority, which she says is especially critical since she works from home. “It opens my mind to new ideas and helps me sort out what I really want to do with my day.” Bonus points if you leave your phone at home!
7. Pay attention to your dreams. Writer and certified dream expert Tzivia Gover reminds us that dreams are anything but arbitrary. Start thinking about your dreams as a starting point for your creative endeavors. Keep a pen and paper next to your bed so you can immediately make note of any middle-of-the-night revelations that feel particularly inspiring.
8. Meditate. “Meditation not only helps us relax and destress, but it also gives us all sorts of unexpected perks and gifts, like increased mental strength, focus, and creativity,” say Elizabeth and Sukey Novogratz, authors of Just Sit. CEO and co-founder of content innovation studio WP Narrative_ Tricia Clarke-Stone echoes the importance of meditation in her own experience: “Meditation is my way to clear the mind and make space for things that aren’t right in front of me.”
9. Practice morning pages. Inspired by Julia Cameron’s famous The Artist’s Way, author and life coach Diana Fletcher engages in a daily journaling habit that’s proven instrumental in her own creative growth over the last two decades. Curious? Set your alarm 20 minutes earlier than absolutely necessary and put pen to paper! “You just start writing,” Fletcher says. “It can be boring, trivial, or complaining. The point of this is that you clear all the mundane stuff out of your mind, clearing the way for creativity and creative thoughts.”
10. Enjoy some quiet. Resist the urge to immediately turn on the news or your favorite podcast. Instead, “allow your thoughts to flow and develop,” suggests Lori Robinett, writer and founder of WriteScout. “You’ll be surprised how energetic your own voice can be when it isn’t drowned out by louder voices.”
11. Peel oranges. We bet you didn’t see this one coming! We didn’t, either… but now that we understand why a little morning citrus can be a creativity lifesaver, we’re totally on board. According to Michael Perman — head of creativity for mindful innovation firm C’est What? and former head of creativity and innovation for Gap, Inc. — oranges stimulate many of your senses. “Their color, fragrance, texture, and flavor all excite your mind and awaken you to new possibilities,” Perman shares. Plus, you can eat them!
12. Ease into the day. Actress-turned-health-coach Carey Peters has a preferred set of early morning activities, but they aren’t her very first priority. “A morning habit won’t inspire creativity if it feels like another item on a never-ending to-do list,” cautions Peters, who co-founded the Health Coach Institute. “That’s why my first morning habit is to not put pressure on myself to have any habits for the first 90 minutes of the day.” The first thing she does after waking up? Gets in quality time with her daughter. When her daughter leaves for school, then it’s time for Peters to start her morning meditation and writing practices.
13. Try breathing exercises. Creative entrepreneur Casey Moran kicks off her day with visualization and intentional breathing. She starts by laying down and breathing normally, then begins paying closer attention to the sound of her own breath, her heartbeat, and her surroundings. As she hears the sounds of the room around her, she begins to visualize where they’re coming from. She then brings awareness back to her body and breathes increasingly deeper in a slow and controlled manner. “[This] allows your senses to become aware of yourself and your surroundings, which allows you to start your day mindfully,” Moran says. “The visualizing stimulates the creative part of the brain, as you are creating visuals from sounds. Finally, the breathing oxygenates the cells in your brain and body.”
14. Work out. As if you were looking for one more reason to get moving! International Academy of Wedding and Event Planning CEO Kylie Carlson gets her morning exercise in with anything from a bike ride to a gym sesh to a walk with her dog, but regardless of the specific method, she finds the mere act of movement to be critical to her daily routine. “The very act of doing something other than sitting at your desk working, combined with the endorphins firing through your body after a good workout, really sends your body into overdrive,” Carlson says. “Add a bit of sunshine into the mix, and there really is no telling what ideas will come spilling out of my head.”
15. Set your intentions. Music manager and Whitespace + Wellness founder Tiffany Napper wakes up 30 minutes earlier than necessary and uses the extra time to lay in bed and visualize the success she hopes to have throughout the day. Then, she writes down what she’s grateful for as if it’s already happened. Kicking off each day with the end of it in mind is a great way to be your own inspiration.
What part of your morning routine do you swear by? Tweet us @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)