My 10-Step Minimalist Morning Routine

I used to pride myself on being able to leave the house twenty minutes after getting up, but in the last few months I have come to appreciate the benefits of an earlier start, and the space to spend time intentionally on the things I value doing most. Now that I have taken the time to decide what I want to prioritise first thing in the morning, I swear by my morning routine.

  1. I get out of bed at 6am (on the weekend I set my alarm for 7am). On a typical day I wake up naturally, some time between 5am and 5.45am, so I spend the rest of the time before my alarm goes off doing some progressive muscle relaxation in bed, or dozing. I also say an ‘awakened heart’ prayer, wishing for everyone I know to be well, happy and peaceful.
  2. While Dillon makes the bed, I turn on the lights, open the blinds, and store my ‘night-time worries’ notebook on the shelf.
  3. Once I have cleaned my teeth and washed my face, I get dressed in clothes that I laid out for myself the night before, then I put on my make-up and brush my hair. I use concealer, eye shadow, mascara, and an eyebrow tint, and I wear a single pair of earrings and my wedding ring. I think that I could stop wearing all but the concealer, but I will keep using the others until they run out to avoid waste.
  4. I put my lunch and snacks for work in my rucksack, then I eat a banana and drink a glass of water. I also take a magnesium supplement for anxiety management, and a multivitamin designed for vegetarians and vegans.
  5. I complete my morning exercise routine: crunches, hula-hooping, wall push-ups, and weights, as well as face yoga. I never thought that exercise would be something I enjoyed, let alone first thing in the morning, but creating space and time for a morning routine can lead to surprising benefits!
  6. I write in my journal, starting with completing my habit tracker for the morning, followed by a body scan meditation, and finally I write my gratitude pages. I make sure to stay off my phone and not to open my laptop.
  7. Before I leave for work, Dillon and I sit on the sofa together under a blanket. I have a cup of chamomile tea and he has a coffee, and we enjoy some quiet time together until it is time for me to put on my shoes and coat, and leave for work. From getting out of bed to leaving the house, this takes about forty minutes.
  8. During my commute, I listen to an episode of one of my favourite podcasts. Typically, I like to listen to a guided meditation or a motivational interview. I work hard to pay attention to what I am listening to, and not to think too much about the day ahead.
  9. The podcast usually ends by the time I reach my stop, so on the walk into work I like to watch the sunrise and appreciate how the natural scenery around me changes with the seasons.
  10. I usually get into work between half an hour and forty-five minutes early, so I pour myself some water, eat my breakfast snack, prepare everything I need to do for the day ahead, and answer any emails, without the need to rush around or worry.

I really enjoy reading about other people’s morning routines so leave me a comment and let me know what you include in yours.

Busy Boycott Challenge Week #1

Recently I have noticed that things seem to be falling into place just when I need them to. Maybe it’s simply that I’m paying more attention to what I need to hear. Maybe this is my wake-up call.

I was re-reading Courtney Carver’s wonderful book Soulful Simplicity earlier this week, just as my ability to tolerate my impending sense of burnout has reached its limit. Let me start by saying I know I am not alone here. I am busy. We are all busy. My case is not special. But just because everyone is busy, does that mean I should accept life the way it is?

Here’s my situation: since late August, I have been working solidly. I haven’t been taking any breaks during the day. I work through my lunch. I arrive early and leave late. I get a lot done, but there is always more to do. For everyone I help, there are more people who want my help. I rush through every moment of every day. I try to smile and be friendly to others but I am not present in my interactions with them. I dread seeing what is in my inbox, yet it is always open. I cannot appreciate or find value in the work that I do with my colleagues or the children I teach – often I can barely remember it. At the end of each day I feel depleted, frustrated, and often sad, despite typically getting a huge amount crossed off my to-do list and not struggling badly in any tangible way. I want to enjoy my work. I would like to feel fulfilled. I would hope to look back on my working life and feel the effort I put in was worthwhile. So I am going to tackle these feelings of burnout and follow Courtney Carver’s advice to boycott busyness.

Using some articles I found online at Harvard Business Review to guide me, I have decided to try to change two or three things per week. These are the habits I have chosen to focus on this week:

  1. I will only check my email during times when I can feasibly reply to anything I may have received.
  2. I will take a walk outside during my lunchbreak, and eat my lunch away from my desk.
  3. I will treat the people around me like actual human beings, not hurdles in the way of my next commitment.

Wish me luck! I’ll check in again with an update on my progress later in the week.

Emily x

Decluttering my self-image: how a bullet journal broke my notebook addiction.

I used to be one of those people.

The kind of person with a shelf (or two) dedicated exclusively to notebooks. Notebooks were my weakness. As a teenager, whenever I was out shopping with my family, I would dive into Paperchase or Waterstones as soon as I could, drawn like a magpie to something shiny, in search of the one perfect notebook that had so far eluded me.

Looking back now I think I hoped that I would finally find the one notebook that would give me the confidence to write about everything that I was holding in at that time in my life. I was searching for someone I could talk to, someone I could trust, and I hoped I could find it in those bookshops and stationary stores on Saturday afternoons in Welwyn Garden City or Cambridge.

Nothing gave me more pleasure than to wander up and down the aisles of those shops, or around the beautifully organised display tables, taking each notebook in my hand and skimming through it, imagining that it was mine, as I decided whether the front cover quite represented my personality, whether the gaps between the lines would suit the size of my handwriting … and on and on it would go.

Will this be the purchase that heals my heart? I seemed to be asking myself. Can I buy safety, connection, love?

Unfortunately, I would seldom, if ever, use these notebooks. The blank pages were frightening. I felt unworthy. Resigning myself to not trusting even silent, private pages with those things I could share with no one else, the notebook would go up on the shelf with the others. While decluttering my childhood bedroom this summer, I found countless notebooks with only one or two pages (if that) used. If you had looked at my shelves at that time you would probably have thought I was the creative, artistic type, full of ideas – and I was. But my fear prevented me from putting pen to paper and doing anything with them.

All this changed in May, when I started my bullet journal. It is teal green, with a monkey on the front, and it is possibly my most cherished possession. You can watch this video to see how I use my bullet journal to track my expenditure during my No Spend Year challenge; hack my healthy habits; reduce the waste I produce; and reflect on what I am grateful for in my life today. I feel confident to write about this now because I am so glad to have kept my journal going for six months strong, and I have no plans to stop any time soon.

Emily x

I am always really interested to hear from people who read my blog. Do you use a bullet journal? Leave me a comment and let me know what you use it for!