Are you one of those crazy early morning people? You know – the people who rise before dawn and enjoy it? I am!
My favorite time of the day is early morning. And I mean really early when it's dark, still, and quiet. As a matter of fact, I wake up so early that I've seen a mouse scurry across our floor before. It was like living in a children's book. Then panic set in and the whole house was suddenly awake.
Waking up early is one of those things that comes more naturally to some people. They're the lucky ones, depending on how you look at it. However, whether you're a natural or not, it is beneficial for everyone to wake up with enough time to settle the upcoming day before it starts. This gets our minds focused on what matters most without interruptions so the spontaneous ones are received with grace.
Jesus is the best example of starting our day with what matters most. Mark 1:35 tells us, "And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed." This shows us that getting up early is a discipline that is worth it.
Here are 15 morning routine ideas to help you start your day on what matters most:
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1. Start planning the night before.
A productive morning begins the night before. It's important to plan how you want to use your early morning time. Otherwise, if you're like me, you'll jump on social media when you wake up and end up wasting all of those sacred minutes you could have been sleeping. Decide the night before how much time you need in the morning before your family gets up and how you're going to use that time.
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2. Take care of tedious tasks the night before.
There is nothing worse than yelling at your kids to hurry up because you didn't plan well. Trust me, I know from experience. In order to start your day off with what matters most, it's a good idea to do tedious tasks such as preparing coffee, ironing clothes, making lunches, and getting book bags ready the night before. This way you can use your early morning time on preparing your heart for the day's events.
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3. Do the most important things first.
I’ve found that it's a good idea to do whatever is most important to me, or maybe what I most dread, as soon as possible. For example: exercise. If I want to exercise, it's best that I do it first thing in the morning.
The night before, choose how you want to spend your time in the morning before your family wakes up. Maybe set two goals. My two goals are often to spend time with Jesus reading and praying, then exercise.
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4. Go to bed on time.
This is where the discipline comes in. As a mom and an introvert, I crave those minutes after my kids go to bed, where I'm all alone to have some time to myself. This sometimes causes me to stay up later than I should, which usually keeps me from getting up in time to prepare my day the next morning. Going to bed on time the night before is essential for a peaceful morning.
5. Get up before your family.
Again, maybe it's because I'm an introvert with small children, but getting up with my kids sends me into a tizzy. I can't do zero to 1,000 in a matter of seconds, and if you've ever had small children, you know that's what it's like. They pop out of the bed, start running around the house asking for food and drink and help with toys like they'd been up for hours. I have to get up before my family so that I can have some alone time and get my heart set appropriately for the day.
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6. Do not keep your phone by your bed.
How many times has your phone been sitting on your nightstand when the alarm clock goes off, and the first thing you do when you wake up is grab it, turn off the alarm, and check social media? Or you stay up too late following a social media rabbit trail, mindlessly searching people you knew 10 years ago? Please tell me I'm not the only one.
Our phones make life more convenient in many ways, but they're also a source of tremendous temptation when you're trying to use early morning time wisely. Here are two suggestions that may help with that temptation.
- First, move your phone to the other side of the room, so it's not right by your bed and you have to get up to use it.
- The other suggestion is to get an inexpensive alarm like the old-fashioned kind, and use that instead of the alarm on your phone. That frees you to put your phone in a different room in your house. You can still keep the ringer on high so that you can hear it if there was an emergency.
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7. Resist temptation to use your phone when you first wake up.
Similar to not keeping your phone by your bed, using your phone when you wake up is a source of tremendous temptation to waste time instead of doing what you were planning to do. This is why it may not be a good idea to use the Bible app on your phone if you're planning to read your Bible in the morning. Your physical Bible is best.
I also use prayer calendars in the morning from different websites, and I've started printing those and keeping them in my Bible instead of referring to my phone for them.
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8. Use a prayer calendar.
Praying is not always easy for me. I get easily distracted, and there are so many prayer needs that I get overwhelmed. A prayer calendar has helped me stay focused. For every day of the week, I assign names of people and prayer concerns that I want to pray over. Then I pray over those people or circumstances during my prayer time.
9. Read a Psalm and a Proverb.
Reading a Psalm and a Proverb is a great way to get in God's Word in the morning. There are 30 Proverbs, so you can read one a day for a month. And you can read through Psalms a few times a year by reading one Psalm a day.
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10. Read one chapter in the Bible a day.
The thought of reading the Bible is sometimes daunting. However, when we think of just reading one chapter a day, it seems much more manageable. Reading one chapter a day is a good practice because it allows you the time to truly digest what you're reading. Use your morning time to do this and then maybe jot down one practical application you learned.
11. Journal for 15 minutes.
I have journaled off and on throughout my life. It is a good practice to help you stay focused and on task. I've used a journal to write out my prayers. I've also used a journal to simply process what I'm thinking. Journaling is a good practice for early mornings to set your day well.
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12. Write a short schedule for the day and pray over each item.
Using your calendar, write down a short schedule of the places you plan to go throughout the day. Then, think about the people you will see at those places. Pray over those places and the people you plan to see – be specific.
For example: co-workers, teachers, cashiers at stores, family members, service professionals, and any other people you'll see. I have found this prepares my heart for people I might see who bring me anxiety or conflict.
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This is a hard one, but so beneficial if you can discipline yourself to do it - even for 15 minutes. And now there is really no excuse not to exercise at home with the wonderful YouTube videos available and other resources online.
Exercising in the morning will for sure help get your day started right.
14. Read a book.
If you like to read and have a list of "to read" books as I do, early morning is a great time to read a few pages or even a chapter of a book. Whether fiction or nonfiction, reading quiets your mind on something enjoyable before the rush of the day begins.
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15. Meditate or sit and think.
Sometimes I just sit in the dark and quiet with my cup of coffee and think. I enjoy the silence and my thoughts. Sometimes my thoughts move in and out of prayer, but sitting in silence is always helpful to prepare my heart and mind for the day.
Brenda Rodgers considers herself a “recovering single” after years as a single woman chasing after marriage instead of chasing after Jesus. Now her passion is to mentor young women to live purposefully and grow in their relationship with God and others. Brenda has been married for five years to a heart transplant hero and is the mom of a toddler girl miracle. She is also the author of the eBook Fall for Him: 25 Challenges from a Recovering Single. You can also read more on Brenda’s blog, www.TripleBraidedLife.com and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
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Originally published Friday, 14 December 2018.