Cultivating a new daily habit that benefits your mind, body, and soul like an intentional morning routine can be so alluring, but when it comes to practicing it, there are a lot of obstacles that get in the way. When it feels too difficult, we tend to give up or make excuses about how it just doesn’t work for us.

A couple years ago, I never thought I’d be the kind of person giving you suggestions on how to make the most of your mornings. I thought maybe mornings just aren’t for me.

I struggled day after day with getting out of bed early, but always put it on my to-do list as something I was striving to accomplish. There’s nothing more disappointing than setting a goal daily not accomplishing it before you even start the day. It’s possible to make the shift and go from being an anti-morning person to becoming the person you roll your eyes at for waking up before the sun rises.

I can honestly say that I am obsessed with my morning routine and look forward to waking up at 6am every day. Here are my tips to help you shift into a morning routine you love if you’re currently struggling to make it happen.

Wake up at least two hours before you have to be somewhere

I wake up two and a half hours before I have to be at work, and allocate 20-30 minutes of that time for getting ready. I love my mornings because they allow me space to think creatively without worrying about my to-do list. I leave enough space for silence, lounging, and enjoying my slow morning. It’s still productive and I get important tasks done, but it feels gentle.

Figure out what time that means for you on a regular basis. And make sure you can still get at least seven hours of sleep. I always get about seven to eight hours of sleep, and it makes waking up a lot easier.

Plan out your morning step-by-step

Set everything up for yourself the night before. I put out water, so I can go from my bed to water easily without much thought. On good days, I’ll shower the night before and sometimes put out clothes for the next day. I’ll plan my meals ahead of time, so I just have to remember to bring them. I put my devotional and journals out in my reading area. I purposefully designate an area for me to read in, and I make my bed, so I’m not tempted to jump back to bed.

A lot of my morning habits came from trial and error. The experimentation of a morning routine is essential. It’s amazing to get inspired from other people’s morning routines, but in order to make it work for you, you have to adjust to meet your needs and combat your silly quirks that hinder you from waking up early or from making the most of your morning.

Write down some of the things that are blocking you, and figure out what techniques might work for you.

If you struggle with the snooze button, maybe move your phone across the room or use an app that makes you solve math problems to turn off the alarm, so you have to get your brain working.

Set an agenda. What’s the first thing you will do when you wake up? Then what? Follow the plan. For your first couple weeks of waking up early, you’ll likely be tempted to fall back asleep but it helps if you know why you want to wake up and have a step-by-step formula for your sleepy brain to follow. For a long time, I wanted to wake up early, but I didn’t know what to do as my first step so when I had sleepy brain, I’d just fall back asleep. Make it clear that you will go straight to the shower or to the kitchen for water.

Make a wellness drink and breakfast

My go-to wellness drinks are superfood powders like spirulina mixed with orange juice or apple cider vinegar with hot lemon water. I also like wellness tonics and kombucha drinks or a good green smoothie. It’s nice to start your day off with something good for you and your health. You’re making a conscious choice to choose your wellness as a priority for the day.

I have two go-to breakfasts in the mornings and it helped a lot to think through what I would get excited about having. I used to go to Starbucks often to get breakfast, because I couldn’t figure out what to make or I’d forget to make something before I left for work. It was an expensive habit and so I finally made it a priority to always make breakfast at home.

Do some light cleaning

One of my favorite ways to keep my apartment clean, minimalist style, is to do a little each morning and evening. It only takes ten minutes to make a significant difference. You’ll be way less overwhelmed on your GYST (Get Your Sh*t Together) days.

My goal is always to have an apartment in a condition where I won’t freak out if someone wanted to drop by unannounced. By making sure I keep up with tasks like doing dishes, putting things away where they belong, making my bed, and wiping down counters, it’s fairly easy to have my studio apartment feel clean.

The way to make cleaning seem more appealing in the morning is to do it in sneaky ways like while you cook your breakfast or while you wait for hot water to heat up. Don’t make it overwhelming; ease into cleaning a little.

Set a focus and plan for the day

One of the problems with discipline and keeping up with your goals is simply forgetting about them. It’s easy to distance yourself from goals that don’t feel urgent in every moment. The progress is in the consistency, so it’s important to constantly remind yourself of how important your goals are to you.

I’ll set a focus in my planner, so I am reminded of my priority for the day. And I’ll try to schedule out my day to prioritize that focus.

Have quiet reading or journaling or meditating time

Quiet time is one of the main reasons that mornings feel so appealing to me. The world around you feels sleepy in a beautiful kind of way. I like to ease into my mornings, and I find that starting with calm activities feels right for me.

You can journal, color, read, visualize your day, or meditate.

A form of meditation can be as simple as laying down with your eyes closed, listening to all the noises you hear (like birds chirping or outside traffic) and pinpointing where they’re coming from. It’s rare to just sit and notice things as they present themselves.

Take this time to just relax. Enjoy your morning beverage, and appreciate the morning time.

Stretch or workout

Morning fitness is one of those things in every “successful habits” post. Personally, I prefer to do my workouts in the evening. But I totally get why starting your day with a workout is ideal. You begin your day already feeling like you accomplished something. I’d recommend starting a quiet morning routine before jumping into fitness morning routine goals if you’re newly trying to start a morning routine, especially if you don’t love working out.

I will keep my yoga mat out often, so that I am more likely to stretch or do some light yoga in the mornings. While it’s not the most consistent part of my routine, I find myself doing it so much more regularly when it’s there to remind me. Stretching feels so good in the morning and it’s a much more relaxing option to starting the day with a workout right away.

Get some education in your own way

Whether it’s reading your favorite email newsletters or reading the news or browsing your favorite blogs, it’s important to start the day with information that you’re consuming on your own terms. It’s easy to get sucked into news on social media, and to feel overwhelmed by it, but if you do it on your own time and in a way that you enjoy, it can be much more joyful to catch up on world events.

Get inspired

While I get ready, I’ll listen to a motivational podcast or YouTube video. It’s one of my passions, and I find it makes me feel positive and ready for the day ahead. For you, it might be a TED Talk or inspiring music. Do whatever makes you feel good and lights you up. I find that there’s so much you can consume that doesn’t actually serve you. I dropped anything I was consuming that felt like garbage. I stick with stuff that makes me feel good and adds value to my life.

What are you working on in your morning routine? What struggles are you facing and how will you change it up?

how to build an intentional early morning routine