I used to believe I was allergic to schedules and routines. (Funny, given that when I was younger I was a dancer, and dancers' lives are totally built on routines! Perhaps when I stopped dancing I rebelled and wanted nothing to do with routine...?)
As I've gotten older I've experimented with adding more ritual into my days, and what I've discovered, much to my surprise, is that I actually thrive with a lot MORE ritual and routine than I had led myself to believe.
Over the years I've built up quite a morning ritual, starting small -- stretching in bed, for example -- then adding new links to the ritual chain little by little until my morning routine is now quite long.
I don't always follow it -- I'm not rigid about it. BUT what I can say is that the days that I DO follow my morning routine go much, much better than the days that I don't. I am, quite literally, setting myself up for productivity and focus. Whereas the days where I start off by checking email, or otherwise getting distracted away from my routine, I am quite literally setting myself up for a day of distraction.
My ritual chain changes and evolves as the circumstances of my life change and evolve, and that's okay. We are changing, evolving creatures! But what always works is incorporating things that I either enjoy doing (instant gratification), or that make me feel better immediately after doing them (almost instant gratification).
Here are some of the activities that my morning ritual currently contains:
- stretching in bed
- 10 minute meditation
- deeper stretches outside of bed
- journaling in bed
- doodling in bed
The process of gradually creating a morning ritual had the unexpected benefit of making it easier for me to go to sleep, because I look forward to my mornings!
(BTW, the doodling in bed started because creating for the pure joy of it (art, music, creative writing -- some kind of creative expression) is a huge value in my world, but at the end of 2015 I found I wasn't getting to my art table.
One thing I know to be true is the thing I do first is the thing that gets done, so I thought to myself, what can I do first thing, in bed?
Clearly I can't throw paint around, but I could doodle with markers in a sketchbook!
So that became a daily practice! And my daily doodles from 2016 ended up illustrating my book, The Creative Sandbox Way, which came out at the end of the year.
The point is, figure out what works for you, and work that puppy! You never know where it will lead. )