I'll admit it — I'm not naturally a morning person. If I didn't have a family to take care of, my morning routine would probably look something like this: wake up when I feel like it, shower (alone without kids asking for breakfast), take supplements, drink coffee, go for a walk, eat breakfast, then start working. However, my current phase of life doesn't allow me to have such a leisurely morning routine.
I'm nowhere close to perfect at keeping a morning routine, but when I do, I definitely have a better day.
But because of my busy life, a morning routine is an incredibly important first step for a productive day. I sometimes get asked how I "do it all" (which is simple enough to answer, because I don't) but making the most of the morning hours goes a long way toward a productive and relatively stress-free day.
How To Figure Out A Realistic Morning Routine:
I'm nowhere close to perfect at keeping a morning routine, but when I do, I definitely have a better day. Of course, our days vary quite a bit depending on scheduled activities and just by the nature of having young children around, but I've found that a 30-minute routine in the morning is doable if I plan ahead.
I'm much more efficient if I have a pre-planned schedule and checklist for each day. Creating a rough daily outline enables me to focus on those items that are most important and assign chores to the kids to help get everything accomplished that needs to be done for home management. I keep all the information I need to run our household and stay healthy in one place.
So This Is How I Get It Done And Why I Find My Morning Routine To Be So Important…
Get Up Before The Kids
To actually accomplish this routine, I find that I have to wake up 30-45 min before the kids. I am definitely a happier mom when I get some time to focus and have quiet before the hustle of the kids' morning routine, and the early wake up is worth it. Upon waking up, I drink lemon water — an energy booster that helps promote good digestion and clear skin and flushes the body of waste that accumulates overnight.
Pray, Journal, Meditate In Natural Light
Focusing my thoughts through prayer, journaling, and meditation really helps me gain direction for my day and prepare for the chaos when the kids wake up. I've also tried the popular five-minute morning journal and it is a quick way to journal effectively in a short amount of time while focusing on gratitude. I try to do this outside in natural light if possible as it helps correct cortisol levels and balance the adrenals.
Movement of some kind helps get the blood flowing. For me, this varies by day and may be as simple as stretching, rebounding, taking the dog for a walk, or may be sprints or swinging a kettlebell. It just depends on the day.
I clean my skin and hop into shower (or do a sauna session with the hubby if time allows) then brush my teeth with Wellnesse Whitening Toothpaste (it took me 10 years and almost 100 iterations to perfect this formula, and I'm really proud of it). This is also when I make time to get some wave vibration and use my red light to get my lymphatic system functioning optimally. If I don't have time for a shower, I freshen up with Wellnesse Dry Shampoo!
Determine My "Most Important Thing(s)"
I always write my top three tasks for the day. Sometimes, they are as simple as finishing a few loads of laundry or writing a blog post, but writing these down really helps them get done.
The Kids Are Up!
By 8:00AM I'm cooking a homemade protein-rich family breakfast. After this, we exercise together then the kids focus on schoolwork followed by time outside barefoot to soak in vitamin D. Before the afternoon rolls around, we all complete our morning chores!
The rest of the day is still busy. of course! Filled with chores, work (team meetings, podcasting, calls, etc), school for the kids, and so on. I very much look forward to ending each day together as a family over dinner. When the kids go to bed, I make sure to carve out time for my husband and myself. Self-care is very important –– I love to relax with a bath after the kids go to bed or do another red light therapy session to wind down.
There Is A Lot To Juggle And It Can Be Challenging To Stay Motivated
I find it is often easier to "do it all" than to try to do some of it. It's easier to have a schedule and clean the house, teach the kids, cook three meals, blog, work outside, and read a book all in one day than to only get one thing done and have everything else looming over me. It's the reason that baseball teams are more likely to hit when they've already been hitting, and athletes are more likely to win if they've already been winning. Action breeds motivation, not the other way around. The journey of a thousand miles does begin with a single step, and sometimes that first step (in any direction) is the most important. An object in motion stays in motion (thanks, Newton), and it is easier to adjust the course mid-step than to start moving in the first place.
I'm much more efficient if I have a pre-planned schedule and checklist for each day.
So how do we apply this? Pick baby steps and take them one at a time. Don't try to change your diet, lifestyle, and schedule completely overnight. That's not practical and is completely overwhelming. Decide on one baby step and start there. Just make a small change and focus on that. To make sure it sticks, try tracking it with a habit app or in a journal. Once you've done that for a few weeks, introduce another small change. Make a list of the changes you eventually want to implement and work backward to implement them.
If At First You Don't Succeed, Try Again Tomorrow!
Everyone has a different routine that works best for them, and it took me quite a while through different stages of kids to find what's working for me now. Remain positive and optimistic, be patient, remind yourself what you are grateful for, and love yourself! Self-compassion is not the same as being easy on ourselves. It's a way of nurturing ourselves so that we can reach our full potential.
It is one thing to read and another thing to understand what you are reading. Not only do you want to understand, but also remember what you've read. Otherwise, we can safely say that if we're not gaining anything from what we read, then it's a big waste of time.
Whatever you read, there are ways to do so in a more effective manner to help you understand better. Whether you are reading by choice, for an upcoming test, or work-related material, here are a few ways to help you improve your reading skills and retain that information.
Read with a Purpose
Never has there been a shortage of great books. So, someone recommended a great cookbook for you. You start going through it, but your mind is wandering. This doesn't mean the cookbook was an awful recommendation, but it does mean it doesn't suit nor fulfill your current needs or curiosity.
Maybe your purpose is more about launching a business. Maybe you're a busy mom and can't keep office hours, but there's something you can do from home to help bring in more money, so you want information about that. At that point, you won't benefit from a cookbook, but you could gain a lot of insight and find details here on how-to books about working from home. During this unprecedented year, millions have had to make the transition to work from home, and millions more are deciding to do that. Either way, it's not a transition that comes automatically or easily, but reading about it will inform you about what working from home entails.
When you pre-read it primes your brain when it's time to go over the full text. We pre-read by going over the subheadings, for instance, the table of contents, and skimming through some pages. This is especially useful when you have formal types of academic books. Pre-reading is a sort of warm-up exercise for your brain. It prepares your brain for the rest of the information that will come about and allows your brain to be better able to pick the most essential pieces of information you need from your chosen text.
Highlighting essential sentences or paragraphs is extremely helpful for retaining information. The problem, however, with highlighting is that we wind up highlighting way too much. This happens because we tend to highlight before we begin to understand. Before your pages become a neon of colored highlights, make sure that you only highlight what is essential to improve your understanding and not highlight the whole page.
You might think there have been no new ways to read, but even the ancient skill of reading comes up with innovative ways; enter speed reading. The standard slow process shouldn't affect your understanding, but it does kill your enthusiasm. The average adult goes through around 200 to 250 words per minute. A college student can read around 450 words, while a professor averages about 650 words per minute, to mention a few examples. The average speed reader can manage 1,500 words; quite a difference! Of course, the argument arises between quality and quantity. For avid readers, they want both quantity and quality, which leads us to the next point.
Life is too short to expect to gain knowledge from just one type of genre. Some basic outcomes of reading are to expand your mind, perceive situations and events differently, expose yourself to other viewpoints, and more. If you only stick to one author and one type of material, you are missing out on a great opportunity to learn new things.
Having said that, if there's a book you are simply not enjoying, remember that life is also too short to continue reading it. Simply, close it, put it away and maybe give it another go later on, or give it away. There is no shame or guilt in not liking a book; even if it's from a favorite author. It's pretty much clear that you won't gain anything from a book that you don't even enjoy, let alone expect to learn something from it.
If you're able to summarize what you have read, then you have understood. When you summarize, you are bringing up all the major points that enhance your understanding. You can easily do so chapter by chapter.
Take a good look at your life and what's going on in it. Accordingly, you'll choose the material that is much more suitable for your situation and circumstances. When you read a piece of information that you find beneficial, look for a way to apply it to your life. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge isn't all that beneficial. But the application of knowledge from a helpful book is what will help you and make your life more interesting and more meaningful.