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Create an Ideal Morning Routine by Having Backup Plans

person sleeping at the kitchen counter with their coffee

Photo: New Africa (Shutterstock)

The ideal morning routine helps you start your day feeling accomplished, capable, and ready to tackle everything ahead of you. That’s a wonderful feeling, but you may not have the energy to do a complex routine every single day. A chill, minimalist morning routine has its benefits, too. Rather than trying to come up with the perfect balance, maybe you need more than one routine.

Redditor u/marlene-leonora suggests the solution to this problem is to have three routines, and I think it’s genius. One routine for when you’re low on energy, one for when you’re raring to go, and one for when you feel somewhere in-between. If you only have the energy to accomplish the bare minimum, you’ve still done something, and you won’t feel like a failure. You simply chose the routine that matched your energy for the day.

As a natural night owl, my first thought was for my own morning routines: If I sleep late or wake up groggy, my minimum is to brush my teeth, get dressed, make some toast, and spend a little time goofing off on social media. When I have more time, I go for a walk and listen to a podcast. And my ideal is to go for a run before breakfast, then return home with enough time to relax on the porch for a bit before I have to log in for work.

This works for all kinds of routines, though. Have trouble finding the time or energy for a workout? Divide your workout routine into essentials and extras; on those time-crunched days, only do the important stuff. Need to do a million things every morning at work? Make a checklist of the things that will get your workday off to a good start, even when you don’t have time for the rest.

Bedtime, too: when you’re exhausted, deploy a minimalist evening routine that winds you down and that will make the next morning better in at least one way (for example, washing a few dishes so the sink isn’t full and you’ll have all the utensils you need for breakfast). When you’re able to do more than the minimum, unleash a more ambitious version of your routine that allows time for you to take a bath and read a book—or whatever the ideal night is for you.

Routines build momentum, so after doing your low-energy routine for a few days, you’ll probably find yourself a little more interested in planning ahead to make time for the medium version, and perhaps even looking forward to the days you can do it all.

  

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