There’s a saying that goes, “the early bird gets the worm.” However, getting up early is only one tip for a successful start to your day. An effective morning routine can boost productivity, reduce stress, improve your motivation and drive, and make you an overall more successful and positive person. One study found that people with consistent morning routines earn $125,000 more a year than people who don’t stick to a morning routine.

Chanel Dokun, author of “Life Starts Now,” says that the idea of reclaiming your morning came to her after a recommendation from her pastor in New York City. Dokun said, “It was to address the noise and what it means to live in an aggressive environment like New York City. His intention was for us to spend that time in prayer or Bible study, but I started realizing this had a larger impact in my life.” Dokun said it became a practice and has transformed into setting aside the first part of her day to check in with her voice and refocus on her life purpose and her intentions for the day. Dokun also said it was the most critical part of her day.

There are numerous benefits to an effective morning routine. These benefits include feeling prepared for your day and reduced stress levels. Perhaps you’re trying to learn how to develop and enhance your current morning routine, or you’re wondering how to get started productively organizing your mornings. Here are some ways to reclaim your morning routine.

Simple preparation.

Contrary to popular belief, reclaiming your morning routine starts with the previous night. Essentially, a morning routine can only be as good as the condition of the rest you get. Most people know it’s hard to be an early bird when running on fumes. For the best sleep hygiene, you should sleep six to eight hours a night, stop looking at screens an hour before bedtime, avoid late-night carbs, lower the temperature and lights in your room, and be consistent with your bedtime routine.

If you want to take your evening routine one step further, it may help to set time aside to plan out the next day before you start winding down. Setting goals the night before increases your success rate and helps reduce decision paralysis and stress by knowing what you’re working on the next day.

Wake up earlier.

The next step to reclaiming your morning is to wake up about 30 minutes earlier than you typically would to carve out some alone time. If you usually wake up early but spend your time mulling around, you can keep waking up at that same time. The key is to wake up with a purpose in your heart. It doesn’t matter what time you wake up, so don’t criticize yourself if you don’t wake up by a specific time. All you have to do is wake up 30 minutes more than you usually would to have some time without anyone bothering you. This time is solely for you to get yourself together and start your day.

Start your day by writing out your thoughts.

Once you’re out of bed, Dokun advises you to make your way into a space where you can write out anything on your mind. If you don’t know where to start, you can write that down as long as you write down something. There’s no wrong way to start it; you can start writing and let your mind wander to wherever you want it to go. As you continue this practice, note where your writing takes you. Are you constantly thinking about old things or harping on new things in your life? Don’t judge what you’re writing; instead, take note of your content.

Avoid stimulating substances before you write.

Dokun also says that you should avoid stimulants before starting your writing process. Avoiding stimulants looks like avoiding sugar and coffee until after you begin writing. Coffee is the highlight of most people’s day. However, for Dokun, she said she noticed that sugar and caffeine would stimulate her mind too much, making it harder to write out her thoughts. However, you should try this out for yourself and see how it affects your morning routine. If you feel like you’re mentally scattered and struggle to focus, perhaps you could replace your morning cup of coffee with something else.

Empty your tank before you fill it up.

Incorporating an educational, spiritual, or physical aspect to your morning routine may help if you want to make it longer. Dokun says that some of her clients couple their journaling exercises with meditation, yoga, stretching, or reading a book. However, Dokun says you should journal first to empty your tank before refilling it with anything new. The purpose of journaling is to hear your voice first before taking in what the world has to offer.

Make your bed.

Once you’ve written down your thoughts, you should make your bed. The benefit of making your bed in the morning goes past having a nicely made bed to get into once night comes. Scientifically, starting your day with minor accomplishments increases your motivation for the rest of the day. Setting an objective for a goal and completing it releases dopamine, which fuels your drive to complete more tasks.

Simply put, saying you’re going to make your bed and then doing it makes you feel good about yourself. It’s a simple way to begin your day feeling organized and accomplished, putting yourself in a positive headspace to slay the rest of the day. Your morning is the best time to have silent moments to yourself and focus on what you need to do for the day.

As for what Chanel Dokun wants women to gain from “Life Starts Now,” she says, “I hope that women feel both validated and affirmed in the misery that they’re feeling, that somebody would actually call it out and say you’re not crazy, so I hope that women feel validated and recognized that they’re not alone in their experience. But I also hope that they take practical action and move forward in their lives. We’re not intended to stay stuck; this is your life, so let’s start living it.” To learn more about Chanel Dokun and "Life Starts Now," click this link.

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