3 Ingredients of an Effective Morning Routine

morning routine

At the start of the year, I revamped my goals. I added blogging to my busy life of wife, mother, small group leader, and part time Occupational Therapist. I felt like I needed a road map or I would get lost. I read Crystal Paine’s, Say Goodbye to Survival Mode and it was like the clouds parted and the light came through. I started down the road of 2015 with clear direction and a plan.

Half-way through the year, my road map resembled the one in the glove box of the family station wagon–the one with tattered edges, resistant to being folded the same way twice. Rebellion in the form of paper. I found myself disappointed with the lack of progress I made toward my goals when I reviewed them each month. I lacked direction.

Crystal Paine to the rescue again! Crystal recently released Make Over Your Mornings, a 14 day online course designed to help participants “revolutionize your morning productivity, learn how to set (and achieve) goals, prioritize filling your soul before launching your day, and more” (Crystal Paine, Make Over Your Mornings).

I completed the course, took notes, scribbled in my planner, and I now offer the three mainstays of my morning routine.

1. Bedtime Routine

A killer morning starts the night before. I determined a few things that tangled me up each morning and figured out a way to get a head start the night before.

Dishes: I hate waking up to a sink full of last night’s dishes. My mornings work better if the dishwasher is loaded and ready to either empty or “accept donations,” as we call it at our house, the night before.

Lunches and snacks: The morning rush is a fertile ground for forgetfulness and emotional outbursts. Preparing lunches and snacks the night before cuts down on the morning scramble in our tiny kitchen.

Look ahead: When I take a few minutes to preview the next day, I know the gameplan when my feet hit the floor in the morning. Because I have a hybrid life of a stay at home mom and working mom, it is crucial for me to know what the next day holds. It also helps to lay out essentials like signed forms for the kids, or a book for me to read on my lunch break.

2. Determine the Essentials and Non-Essentials

I am an overachiever. I wouldn’t flinch at a to-do list that spans the front and back page of a legal pad. I am also a perfectionist. I have a sense of failure if I do not accomplish everything on that list. To combat this, Crystal recommends listing out a few essentials and add the rest to a second list of non-essentials to address when you have the time.

My essentials for each morning include:

  • Bible study and prayer
  • make my bed
  • start a load of laundry
  • empty/load dishwasher
  • thaw dinner ingredients
  • wipe kitchen counters/table and sweep floor
  • tidy up living areas

I feel more at peace with an orderly environment. I can generally get these things finished quickly when I am not distracted by my toddler, husband, or kids. Even with distractions, it is possible to get them done in the first few hours of my mornings. The list is short enough that I can usually get through them on work morning, too.

morning routine

I have a few essentials that are not a part of my morning routine. They include exercise, writing, and blog management. When I review my planner each night, I determine the best time to fit those 3 into my schedule. That might mean an early morning (4:00 a.m. and I are close friends) or capturing the quiet while the baby naps. The point is to plan for what is important so that it gets done.

I have a list of weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly household tasks. I also keep a running list of errands and incidentals that come up. Once I finish my morning routine, I start on that list. Most can be completed in 15 minutes or less. I can accomplish them in one marathon cleaning session or take them in small bites, depending on the schedule for the week.

3. Grace

Because I am a perfectionistic over-achiever, empty checkboxes at the end of the day spell F-A-I-L-U-R-E. This is why the non-essential list has been the difference maker for me. I cannot possibly do everything I set out to do every single day. I can, however, finish the essentials and a few of the non-essentials.

The weeks when I don’t check everything off the list, I am learning to give myself grace. “Pick the best among the good,” Crystal Paine advises. If I get the best things finished, it is good enough. Everything else is a bonus.

When it comes down to it, my morning routine is about my people. I love having the mental and emotional space to enjoy my husband and children. By setting the pace for my day in those first few hours of the day, I become the pace-setter for my family. A morning void of rush and panic is a gift I give my family.

The process of making over your mornings is not easy, but it’s also not hard. It takes thoughtful consideration, a little planning, and sustained effort. If you feel like the morning hours are more chaotic than peaceful, or that your goals are sitting in a dusty notebook on the shelf, please consider Make Over Your Mornings. Fifteen minutes a day for 2 weeks can help you find the essential ingredients of YOUR morning routine!

Do you have a morning routine? What is essential to your morning routine? Share in the comments or join the conversation on Facebook!

Recommended Resources

Follow my goal setting process and monthly updates here.

Read more about Crystal Paine’s morning routine here. It is a “week in the life” of sorts that will inspire and encourage you. I appreciate her transparency in this series.


Tools4Wisdom Planner, my anchor for setting and keeping goals. I love so many things about this planner. It prompts my goal setting and prioritization. It provides a month at a glance as well as a daily schedule. There is a section in each week to break down goals into bite-size pieces. It is my personal assistant with a snazzy cover.

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17 Comments

  1. Ben & Michelle Kelly June 22, 2015 at 2:40 pm

    Grace. My favorite, but hardest to remember essential ingredient! Thank you for this simple encouragement and reminder!

  2. Thanks for this. I got up so early this morning and followed my routine, but I still feel rushed, harried and discouraged.

  3. Such great information! Being an almost empty nester and having all the time in the day to do whatever I want, mostly, I still find it challenging to get things done. It was harder when my kids were younger for sure but perhaps it’s not as much time management as it is mental management. ?? Regardless, I love Crystal’s Makeover tips. Thanks for recommending it to me!

    • It’s the lazy days that get away from me, too! I am sometimes most productive when I have things pushing in on me. Give me a Saturday with no deadlines, and I don’t get a single thing done!

  4. Pretty valuable word. I need a lot of the grace part. 🙂 This is such good info and encouragement. Thank you. Cheering you on from the #RaRalinkup on Purposeful Faith.

  5. This is good, I have seen a lot of praise from this course… I might just have to cave and carve out time for it. Thank you for sharing!! Visiting from RaRaLinkUp!

  6. Bonnie Lyn Smith June 26, 2015 at 1:13 am

    Thank you! This is awesome! I appreciate you sharing your takeaway from that course. Your blog post really helped me think some things through. Blessings from Espressos of Faith via #RaRaLinkup! Pinned! Tweeted!

  7. Make over your mornings is a great course. It has really helped me, too! I have a similar morning schedule. I typically try to fit more in a day than I can handle and need to work on doing the important things first.

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