I never really considered myself to be a “morning person”. I’m the type of person who relishes sleep as much as she does sandwiches—so much that reading all these articles about successful people waking up at 5:00am nauseates me.
Because I could never be that type of person who wakes up at 5:00am…
…or so I thought.
Let’s be more gentle. Miracle of miracles—I am now a person who wakes up at 7:00am and does an actual routine before settling down into work. I try to exercise gratitude (and maximize opportunities, hehe) in every situation I’m given, and now that I’m working from home around 80% of the week, the situation has granted me more flexibility to kickstart habits for the better of my well-being and LIFE.
This comes from someone who could sleep straight until 2:00pm without an alarm on. And from someone who recently finished James Clear’s Atomic Habits (omg please read; so good), I was motivated to improve the quality and state of my life by doing tiny changes that would hopefully lead to remarkable results.
Old lifestyle looked something like this: wake up an hour before work/rush plan my day/frazzled/wonder if I could work out after work/eat at odd hours/binge eat/stress eat/coffee 3x a day/freak out/sweats the small stuff/turns off laptop/crash/eat chips/binge eat dinner/sleeps at 3am playing video games to reset my mind.
New lifestyle (BETA version): wake up at 7:00am / follow a morning ritual where I have 2-3 full hours of ME TIME / follow a work startup ritual / work / lunch / work / follow a work shutdown ritual / dinner / tie loose ends / a pocket of me-time / night-time ritual / sleep by 12am (OR EARLIER).
So I thought I’d share about how I sort-of rearranged my life a bit to welcome some *~good~* change! I’ll give you an idea of what my Morning Routine looks like, which what I do when I wake up (the hardest part).
1. So, I got a freaking alarm clock.
Wondered what took me so long to do this. Ah, screen addiction.
I used to rely so much on my phone for my alarm clock, so I’d bring it into the bedroom with me when it was time to sleep. If I couldn’t sleep, I’d soak up glorious social media for hours until my eyes got tired. My husband Andre is the same.
Now that I got an alarm clock, which, well, does the job of waking me up when I want to, Andre and I follow this no-phone and no-iPad-in-the-bedroom-before-we-sleep rule. I have my kindle beside me (or whatever book I’m reading at the moment), so I don’t have to rely on my phone.
One of the things I learned in Atomic Habits was “One item. One purpose.”. Of course, it’s all relative, but it makes sense for me because my phone is a Super Distraction. Having an alarm clock do the job and my kindle as my reading tool eliminates the use of my phone before going to bed. I sleep easy, and because I have to stand up to turn off the freaking alarm in the morning (purposefully placed on our bookshelf because snoozing is easy on the bedside), I’m forced to really, really wake up, stand up, turn off the alarm, and stop myself from looking back (at the bed and its inviting pillows and infinite cozy huhu).
I’ve also started setting a timer on our air-conditioner to turn off at 6:30am and the fan to turn on at 6:30am (also saves electricity after last month’s bill shock!).
It’s only been a few days, but guess who’s waking up at 7:00am now (sometimes even earlier because of the aircon and the SG heat)? M.E.
2. Toilet Time
I don’t need to elaborate what I do in the toilet whenever I wake up, but I do the essential things of having my potty time, washing my face, and brushing my teeth (guess I elaborated after all).
One thing I know about myself is that I am easily triggered by scents, which is why I am practicing this “commitment technique” of using scents to kickstart an action. Maybe you’re a scent person, too, so you could try this out!
My facial wash is THREE’s Balancing Foam, and it has a nice floral and herby scent that’s so distinct, it’s registered in my brain already that once I wash my face and am enveloped by my facial wash, I know that I cannot go back to bed anymore.
3. Changing into Workout Clothes
I used to go to the gym after work, but now with the coronavirus, I cancelled my gym membership and have started working out at home instead—alone or with my friend Kaye. I also used to work out after work, but I noticed that I’ve always had this temptation to slack off and just not work out completely because “I’m so drained mentally, I can’t even—”or “I’m so tired already, I can’t even—”.
So I moved it to the morning instead.
After my precious toilet time, I change into my gym clothes to signal to myself that there’s no turning back because legging can be a biyatch to wear when you’re aching to go back to bed. But no, I must be resilient! Which leads me to my next commitment technique
4. Rose Water
Another scent trigger to remind me to get my butt moving is a spritz of rose water. This refreshes my face, and the smell puts me in a mood to energize myself. Got this rose water in an amber atomizer at SCOOP for around SG$8!
5. Workout Time
They say the most difficult part of working out is actually starting. And they are right.
I do alternate workouts of Yoga and Qigong (as per my Mom’s advice) /HIIT because I want to focus on strength and toning. I leave my cardio to my office days when I get to walk to the train station and back. I’m currently using alo Moves, and I love it because of its variety in classes and instructors. Definitely sticking to this.
After I workout, I do a quick 5-minute meditation (also from alo Moves).
I learned that 45 minute workouts and 15 minute meditations intimidate me sometimes especially if I know I have an early workday. So I’d rather do 20-30-minute practices daily than 45-60 minute practices a couple times a week.
In this season, I am aiming for consistency and repetition over mastery.
6. Green Tea
After meditating, I brew a cup of green tea to give me an energy boost after my workout. I’ve been drinking more tea now than coffee, and I’m really enjoying it.
I like to shake up things every once in a while, so I’m trying this new green tea from Pukka since I’ve already finished up my Japanese Genmaicha.
7. Journaling and Planning my Day
I try to be more efficient with the time I spend planning now becaue what’s really important is getting things in action. Practicing over planning is what matters. There are days when I can daydream and plan and plan and plan, an nothing gets done. I catch myself now when this happens.
I used to delay doing things sometimes because I’d use to say things to myself like “I’m better working with grace under pressure.” But really, they are all excuses to delay failure. I’ve been practicing how to plan better now so there’s more progress.
Journaling, on the other hand, has always been a vital part of my life since my Mom gave me my first diary, so it will always be there.
After journaling and planning, I clean up and get dressed in my day clothes. This signals that it’s time to get my day started (as in, work, lol).
My last scent trigger is my perfume (currently finishing up this one from Lush), which triggers me to set down and get in motion. I have another work startup ritual that I’ll share with you another day.
It must be highlighted that this is my 8th or 9th day practicing this routine. Two things that really left a dent in me after reading Atomic Habits were:
1. Don’t break the chain.
2. Never miss twice.
It also must be said that really, if I could do it, so. can. you. I don’t mean to degrade myself, but trust me, I could live in the bed. I can sleep for 14 hours straight if you let me.
I hate giving into clichés, but some of them are really true. It’s humbling to know that some things are just tried-and-tested, and all you have to do is make a decision and stick to it. Always easier said than done, and for me, I just think of this as a way to show up for myself more. Because, well, it’s about time that I did.