The past six months have been a time of great change in my daily routine. With Benedict now walking and the weather starting to get nice outside, everything about my routine has evolved. I'm thankful to finally be able to walk in the morning again and also that the pace of my work is picking up. All of these changes have had a significant impact on how I plan out my day, although Benedict ultimately holds a veto over the schedule. Essentially, I've found that getting my morning started with just the right mix of prayer, work, and family gives me the best chance of feeling satisfied when I lay my head down at night.
For me, everything comes down to the morning. If my morning doesn't go well, or if I get distracted early on, the day is in trouble. I've established many times the importance and value of quality sleep. If your sleep isn't a priority, the rest of your day will go poorly. At the same time, the earlier you wake up, the more productive hours you'll have during the day. Engineering an early waking, not at the expense of solid sleep time, is crucial.
Your morning routine starts the night before. In the Winter, Benedict and I would do our daily walk in the afternoon when the temperatures were slightly warmer. That was a bad schedule for me, because I hate taking two showers in a day, so I'd simply push my shower to the afternoon. That meant I had to go through the entire morning work session feeling grimy from the day before. Honestly, it slowed me down. I prefer being ready for the day as early as possible so that I can be clean, dressed, and productive throughout the entire work day. It’s been my experience that being clean and properly dressed can make a huge difference in my mindset and lead to greater productivity.
Your morning needs prayer time. A good mix between 15 and 30 minutes will help to frame your day. Turning your attention back to God and growing in relationship with Him in the morning hours is another tool to keep your day on track. I vary my morning prayer time activities. Lately I've been reading the Gospel of Luke while during my reading time (later in the day) I'm reading a Gospel commentary. These two together make my prayer time more enriching.
If you're up at 5:00 and your family doesn't get moving until 6:30 or 7:00, you may find that you have time to do a little bit of work. I don’t necessarily mean work for your employer, but rather, some type of passion project. Of course, you could do some work for your job if it means you'll get to come home earlier, but I'd much rather you do something that you're really excited about early in the day. Quick wins will energize you and keep you moving forward throughout the day.
Lastly, when your family stirs near the end of your morning routine, have some time with them. Eat breakfast together or find some activity that you can all enjoy in the morning. Make it something that you'll all look forward to. As your schedules diverge for the remainder of the day, it can be nice to have bookend family time, a little in the morning, and some more in the evening.
The morning is the biggest opportunity to keep your day on track and leave your to-do list checked off. Make time for prayer, work, and family, and you'll find yourself getting further, faster.