Monday, February 22, 2016

How to Make the Most of your Mornings by Creating a Plan

When I was in college, oh so many years ago, I became a master of scheduling my time.  I poured over the course catalog and class times in order to get the schedule that I wanted, I created a plan.  Either all morning Monday/Wednesday/Friday classes; or classes that only met on Tuesday and Thursday. 

Why would I try so hard to do this?

The reason was because I wanted to make the most of the time that I had.  Using my mornings effectively helped me to accomplish my goals.


If I knew that I had four classes that I needed to take, why wouldn’t I try to complete all of my classes by noon MWF?  My friends were always amazed at how much “free” time I seemed to have because I loaded all my classes into the mornings, instead of having an 8am class, a 2:30 class and a 4pm class.

The difference between my friends and I was that I had a plan that worked for me.

As I have gotten older, married, and now have three little ones, the desire to have a good plan in place never went away, but the variables changed quite a bit, obviously.


When I had my second child, I went through a period of time where I couldn’t get a handle on anything.  It was all so overwhelming; a toddler and a newborn can do that to a person!  I didn’t have a schedule, my kids refused to be put on one, so instead I started a rhythm, but it was still difficult for me to get anything done with all of life’s little emergencies.

Instead of making things happen, I was letting things happen to me.

That isn’t a great way to go about life, and you certainly won’t be able to accomplish anything if you are going that direction.  Of course, being in the new baby years, there is always a lot of room for change, and you have to go with what is given to you for a large portion of that time, and that is OK.

However, I realized that I needed to attack my days with the same precision that I exhibited when I was in college, albeit with a lot more variables.

I started waking up early.

I wasn’t always a morning person, far from it.  I remember growing up, my window faced the East and the sun would stream in every.single.morning.  Living in Maine, it was quite the early sunrise in the summer.  That, coupled with my mom, who never seemed to sleep, getting ready early, and I was always woken up, not by my choosing. 

I'm still very crabby if someone else wakes me up in the morning, which is why I made the decision to wake up earlier than everyone else.

If I have the determination to get up early, I feel like I can accomplish a lot during the day.

What helps me?  Having a plan.

My kids are extremely early risers.  When I see parents talking about dragging their kids out of bed for school, I envy them.  My oldest daughter, Emma, has always gotten up super early.  Most days she is up by 6am and ready for the day.  That means that if I am going to get up before her, I need to be up super early.

I start my days around 4:30 or 5am, knowing that if I don’t get up that early, one of my children will be the thing that wakes me up, and then I am not a happy camper.

I do not want my day to happen to me, I want to make my day happen.

I realized that having a plan was the key.  Knowing that when I wake up, I will go downstairs, start the coffee pot, brush my teeth and then sit down to read my Bible, journal, and plan out my day – that routine has made my mornings more effective, even if my kids are getting up early.

I don’t want you to think that this goes smoothly, far from it.  Take this morning for instance.  I got up at 5am, I came downstairs, made my coffee, brushed my teeth, and at 5:15 Lucy woke up.


It used to be incredibly frustrating to me.  How is it possible that I put so much work into having a great morning routine, actually get up early, and then right when I am ready to be productive, the baby wakes up, or one of the kids needs to use the bathroom and then wants breakfast? 

Having those interruptions was difficult for a long time, but I realized I needed to change my thinking.  I need to make my plan work, even when there are interruptions.  My life is not only my life, I have four other people every day that I am with, and who impact every part of it.

Changing my thinking was the key.

Lucy woke up, and I had done just about zero things on my morning to-do list.  But I, of course, went upstairs, nursed her, and got her settled again.  While I was doing that, I read my Bible on my phone.  Not exactly the way I like to read my Bible (I have an entire set up that includes multiple journals and pretty pens), but I was still able to get my Bible reading done, while I was settling Lucy back down.

Having a plan in place, and then having a back-up plan when the first plan doesn’t work is what has helped me.

I can’t get frustrated because I have three kids that need me in the morning, when all I want to do is drink hot coffee.  Instead, I need to joyfully greet the day (and my family).  It doesn’t always happen that way, but often it will, and those are the best days for me.

Creating a morning plan was hard.  I have so many things that I want to get done, it can be overwhelming, so I had to simplify.


On a good day I am able to get a lot done, but on most days I have to scale it back.

My morning plan goes something like this –

Wake up, start coffee, brush teeth, read Bible, drink coffee, create before I consume.

That small routine is able to start my morning right, and can be done even if there are a lot of interruptions.  Of course I have a lot that I need and want to accomplish in the morning, but being realistic about what I am able to do helped with the disappointment when I am unable to check those items off the to-do list first thing in the morning.


Do you attack your mornings with a plan?  Have you attempted a routine but outside factors throw you off?  Can you simplify?

31 comments:

  1. Idea of "create before I consume". I'm a planner to the core, I get so much more accomplished! Im definitely a morning person and an early riser who gets the most accomplished first thing. When I don't have a plan I feel like I'm catching up all day long!

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  2. I'm a morning person. Simply because mornings and me have never had any issues. Plus, you can go to the grocery store when it opens, and that's always nice ;)
    I thoroughly enjoy being up before anyone else in the house is up. The Mister likes to sleep in as long as he can, and the dogs stay in bed as long as he will let them, so on Mondays, if I'm back by 7:30 from the grocery store, I'm almost guaranteed about 2 hours of quiet. And then everyone is up and people need clothes and dogs need going-out and everything comes to a halt. That part I'm not so fond of!
    But it's also nice, because I know I can't get too involved in anything before they are all up, so it normally means smaller tasks that I can hopefully finish beforehand, so I don't actually end up having to get interrupted by cranky people and/or pets ;)

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  3. Oh yes! I couldn't agree more. We have a routine that we follow around here every day & things always run smoothly!

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  4. This is right on target for me. I even planned me classes as early in the day as possible when I was in college. I know this is what works for me, but I have a family of night owls that keep me up and then none of us are willing to rise up in the morning. It's still best if I can make myself get up and get going,though my husband prefers I stay in bed with him. It's a struggle for me.

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  5. I need to come up with plan. I need to get up earlier. I have been sleeping til noon. Jumping straight to Facebook. When I should drink a cup of coffee and start blogging. Hmm, maybe I need to start setting an alarm.

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  6. I agree, if I don't wake up early then I don't have the motivation to do anything and that is not good when you need to work. I need to start making lists again!

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  7. A plan is essential. No better way for me to start my day than with the Bible.

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  8. A plan can be awesome in so many ways, but I think it is also important to be a little spontaneous too!

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  9. I love how you wrote about how you were, how you recognized your it state and condition and them fixed it, took charge of your life ! Life changing attitude !

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  10. I'm a long time morning person. It's when I feel my best and I'm the most productive. The bonus is early morning is almost guaranteed to be uninterrupted me time.

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  11. I envy those with normal sleep/wake hours! I work 12 hour night shifts as a nurse in a busy hospital so my sleep wake cycle is awful. My mornings start at 3pm sometimes! I recently went to part time at work in hopes to balance my life and i've already started to see a big improvement! So, now I can implement some of these things you mentioned!

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  12. It helps me if I wake up before the kids. I feel accomplished and productive. If not, I'm a big mess.

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  13. I personally don't have a routine. I just go with the flow. I wake up and I do things as the day goes on. However I think if I had a plan things would go so much smoother.

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  14. Great tips! As much as I love to plan, I let me mornings happen to me almost. I don't think I need to be more playful but at least be more deliberate and intentional in my morning actions

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  15. If I don't plan time for me, it doesn't happen. I need to be more diligent about it.

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  16. This is such excellent advice. Yesterday I made a real plan for the first time in a long time and I accomplished so much more than I do when I wing it!

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  17. I always have people ask me how I do all that I do and I always respond, "It's all about time management." That's all it is!

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  18. Knowing that this stage of life is just going to be busy and that the to do list must be scaled accordingly was a game changer for me. Realistic expectations made all the difference in my attitude.

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  19. I would not survive without my morning routine. It keeps me on time and from forgetting ever5uthing.

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  20. I am def a planner. I hate when unexpected things happen. It throws me for a loop. I'm still not a fan of waking up early but I do love accomplishing more.

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  21. I love all these tips! I do make plans, but sometimes I just live by the flow. I highlight the point "I do not want my day to happen to me, I want to make my day happen".

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  22. The key to mastering mornings is for me to have at least an hour to myself before everyone else wakes up. When I do, I feel like I can handle anything. When I don't, it's not a good picture for anyone involved.

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  23. Kids taught me to be flexible. I like to wake up early and attack my to do list. But today my daughter woke up at the same time as me... I felt so cheated ... but ended up sitting in front of the window holding her in my arms and it was so peaceful... the best laid plans...

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  24. I certainly have to be flexible with having kids. But I also have to make sure I have myself organized to be able get some stuff done.:)

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  25. "Create before I consume"- I love that. Having a morning routine is key I think, especially after adding children to the mix. For me, its not only having a routine but then having some flexibility with that routine that has made all the difference.

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  26. I am not a morning person either, so I know the feeling of having someone else waking you up, it's terrible. Good routine though.

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  27. I love stacking my college classes! Last semester I did the same MWF, this semester I have Monday + Friday classes and 5 free days! My brain definitely works "the best" in the morning so going to class before I want to take my afternoon nap is vital.

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  28. I'll admit that I'm not much of a morning person. However, I do agree that having a plan makes a morning run more smoothly.

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  29. I know that coming up with a plan, and writing it in my planner really helps me. I get so easily distracted that if I didn't have something like that to keep me on track I might never get anything done.

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  30. I am also a morning person. I am up at 5:00 and my kids wake up at 7. Those two hours are so important to me, and makes a whole lot of difference.

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  31. New to this website. Hoping to get more energized and organized in my life. My biggest problem is motivation. My kids are grown. I am a morning person as well. Love all your ideas! Thanks!

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