Why I’m Taking Back My Mornings

January 9, 2017

Why I'm Taking Back My Mornings (and You Should Too)

Last week, I shared my plans to conduct a year of slow living experiments, rightly dubbing it The Year of Slow. The idea was born after noticing how much anxiety I was experiencing seeing article after article after article come out about resolutions and goals for the new year. Get more done, make more money and do all the work! It’s not that I don’t want to do any of that. I’ll be doing all the work this year. But in between all that work, I also want to do something else: enjoy my life.

I want to sip my coffee rather than gulp it down. I want to taste the food I cook instead of swallow it up. I want to walk more and really breathe in the air – especially when it is as fresh and crisp as it is here in Squamish. I want to find my favourite spot on the couch and sink into it with a good book. I want to remember how it FEELS to work towards and achieve a goal. And at the end of the day, I want to curl up in bed and notice the weight of the blanket over me.

What I don’t want is to work so hard and for so many hours that I mindlessly get to the end of the year wondering how I did it all. I don’t want to be on auto-pilot. I want to be more present. And while it would be nice to think we could practice being present during every moment of our lives, I’m not sure that’s possible – at least not where I’m at right now. So, I’m starting slow. Each month, I’m going to experiment with slowing down in one area of my life. This month, I’m taking back my mornings.

My Oh So Many Morning Routines

I’ve made changes to my morning routine many times, over the past few years.

For the first half of 2013, I had no morning routine at all. I was working remotely for the last company I was with, and had quickly fallen into the trap of thinking I needed to be online and available at all times. Because they were three hours ahead of me, I also felt that I should start at the same time as everyone else. My morning consisted of waking up at 5:30am, leaning down and picking up my laptop off the floor, and opening my email. There was no time to waste. I dove right in.

Nobody forced me to do this, by the way. I remember my boss explicitly telling me I did not have to start working that early. She handed me a permission slip to choose a more fitting hour. But I didn’t take it. “It’s fine!” I always said. “I’m a morning person, so it’s easy!” For six months, I actually believed this. I believed I liked opening my laptop as soon as I woke up. I thought working from bed was “great”. And then I had a panic attack, which served as my first reminder that I needed a healthier routine.

For the next two years, I experimented with my morning routine until I finally found something that worked. Each morning, I would wake up around 6am (usually without an alarm, but I often had one set for 6:30am in case I slept in). Some days I would shower right away, others I would wait until after exercising (which I did after work). Then I would make coffee and check-in on my favourite blogs, until 7am, when I opened my work email. This was my routine until I quit in June 2015.

Good Morning, Self-Employment

Since working for myself, my morning routine has been all over the place. Sometimes I start work right away, sometimes I’ll wait until 9 or 10am, and sometimes I don’t work at all (Adventure Tuesday!). Some days I eat breakfast before work, and other days I forget and don’t think about it until my stomach starts to grumble. The only two things that have remained consistent are that (1) I still wake up naturally (without an alarm) between 6-6:30am, and (2) I make coffee before work.

In some ways, this kind of freedom and flexibility has been great. Well, it was great in 2016, when I spent the latter half of the year slowing way down, doing a fraction of the work I had done in the first half of the year. But too much flexibility won’t serve me in 2017. I’m craving a little more structure. I don’t just need it to help me get more work done, I actually want it. I want an 8am start time. I want to be the kind of person who only checks her email twice a day. And I want a daily to-do list again.

The strange thing is as soon as I realized that I needed to build some more structure back into my life, a bunch of old bad habits seemed to come back instead. I started reaching for my phone first thing in the morning, and found myself scrolling through email in bed, thinking about everything I would have to do that day. I rushed to finish my breakfast, like there was no time to eat, and pounded back two mugs of coffee. But why? I work from home and I only have two clients right now. I am not in a rush.

Sure, there is work to be done. The first draft of my book is due in three weeks, and there are still chapters to be written and edits I want to make. I’ll be spending the majority of this month staring into my computer screen, and there’s nothing I can do to change that. But what I can change is how I start my day. What I do from the minute I wake up to the minute I decide to start writing is in my control – and I want to enjoy it. So, here are my intentions for January…

Experiment #1: Slow Mornings
  • wake up naturally
  • make the bed
  • eat breakfast
  • enjoy my coffee
  • read a book (audiobooks work too)

Please note that these aren’t meant to be productivity tips. It’s not about getting off on the right foot so I can have the most productive day ever. I’m also not forcing myself to workout first thing, or eat a specific type of food within a specific amount of time from the specific minute I wake up. I don’t even care if this routine lasts an hour or a mere 15 minutes. It’s not about any of that.

My goal for this experiment is simply to allow myself to fully wake up, and to enjoy some of the things I love at the start of my day. It’s to get out of the habit of checking my phone first thing, and know that everything can wait for a few more minutes. Email will always be there. Social media will always be there. The work will always be there. And I’ll have my head down in it for most of January.

But what I do with the time in between the moment I wake up and when I start the work is all mine… and I want to enjoy it. That’s my time. You have it too. Again, whether you have an hour or a mere 15 minutes, you can decide what you want to do in those moments before you connect with your work and with the rest of the world. What are you going to do?

I’d love to hear about your morning routine. :)

PS – A Simple Year 2017 is open for registration! Join Courtney Carver, Tammy Strobel, Brooke McAlary, The Minimalists, Marc and Angel, Anthony Ongaro, Colin Wright, Jules Clancy, Erin Somerville and myself, as we guide you to make 2017 a thoughtful and simple year. Register by January 22nd! And if you want to learn more about it first, we’re hosting a live Q&A webinar Thursday, January 12th at 3:30pm PST!

PPS – If you want to read about other morning routines, here are a few of my favourites: Chris Guillebeau, Courtney Carver, Grace Bonney, Paul Jarvis and Tammy Strobel. Also, I’m feeling extra grateful this morning because I am able to call three of those wonderful people my friends.

83 Comments

  • Reply Rob January 9, 2017 at 4:28 am

    Good morning Cait! :-)

    Like yourself, I naturally wake up at 6:30 am every morning, weekends included. This was the time that I would wake up when I was still working, before I retired a few years ago. But you know, as I get older, I find that I am getting less sleep at night, off and on, waking up during the night and then falling back to sleep, I average 6 hrs sleep a night. I dunno, I guess that’s normal.

    After getting up, while all is dark outside and quiet, I then usually spend an hour on my computer, checking emails, but mostly scanning activity and doing some selective reading on the over 100 blogs and news sites that I subscribe to on Feedly.

    Then it’s out the door to walk over to my neighbourhood Tim Hortons to grab my coffee to go and then head back home.

    Next it’s getting breakfast and sometimes taking an early morning phone call from our daughter as she drives into work (slowly at times – lol) on the Gardner Expressway here in Toronto. Better her than me, I often think – especially during these cold winter months! :-)

    After all that is done, and my wife has then got up as well and had breakfast, we’re usually out the door to head off to our Seniors’ club where we do volunteer work, as well as often also participating in various activities that they offer their members.

    So that’s my morning routine, Cait. Everyone should have some structure built in to their day, whether you’re an early bird (like us) or instead someone who likes to stay up late into the night.

    • Reply Cait Flanders January 11, 2017 at 7:43 am

      Your morning routine sounds lovely, Rob! I knew about the daily walk to Tims + the reading of blogs, but not the rest. I do agree we should all have some amount of structure built into our days, no matter the hours it is contained. :)

  • Reply Tyler January 9, 2017 at 5:17 am

    Awesome post Cait. I don’t always get to do my morning routine but I typically start with coffee and reading. It’s such a simple thing but the days I don’t get to do it I can tell a major difference. The morning is when I read what I call “deep books” legit usually the Bible. Throughout the day I may listen to audio books of the latest fictional book I’m reading or the newest financial or business book but first thing is when my mind is working the best so I hit the heavy stuff then.

    • Reply Cait Flanders January 11, 2017 at 7:44 am

      I think there’s something to be said for reading the heavy stuff first thing, Tyler. As our days go on, it’s easier and easier to say “I’ll do it later”. What if you’re so tired at the end of the day that later never comes? Which would you rather have read? I’d go with the heavy stuff too. :)

  • Reply Penny @ She Picks Up Pennies January 9, 2017 at 5:21 am

    As someone who just had the exact opposite of a slow morning, I can’t tell you how much I love this. I try to always wake up before my alarm, have time for tea, and really get set for the day ahead. I get to work an hour before I need to in order to allow myself to have time to enjoy my classroom and take care of things that help me be more present (and less hurried) during the day. But since this is the first day after a two-week break, it kind of went right out the window ;)

    Thanks for the peek into your routine and the reminder of just how essential this part of the day is!

    • Reply Cait Flanders January 11, 2017 at 7:45 am

      Haha, well I can certainly appreciate how hectic the first day back at school is! Hope the students were kind to you ;)

  • Reply Full Time Finance January 9, 2017 at 5:26 am

    Our little munchkins wake us every morning around 6:30. The first hour of each day is spent trying to coral them out the door. Then I get myself ready, answer a few posts, and try to get to work by 8:30. The kids are the real monkey wrench. I was never late for anything until them. No stress though, at least not of the work variety.

    • Reply psychsarah January 10, 2017 at 6:30 am

      This! I was thinking how lovely this routine sounds, and then I remembered that I have two small humans over whom I have little control. :) I have started setting my alarm a bit earlier, so that I have a few minutes to collect my thoughts before the onslaught begins. This is helping me feel more patient with the small humans :)

    • Reply Cait Flanders January 11, 2017 at 7:46 am

      I think what I love most about both of your comments is they show how much we can gain from just having a few minutes to ourselves/our thoughts! It’s like taking 10 deep breaths or having a hot shower. Little things :)

      • Reply Tiffany @ HappyThankfulHopeful January 12, 2017 at 9:23 am

        As another mother with young children (1 and 3) I thought I’d chime in to say that once I’m alone in the car, I have the radio off and enjoy the drive. I notice the gorgeous sunrise or the snow on the trees, and I take a few breaths.

        I’ve learned to notice the things that were unintentionally present in my life (like the radio, which turns on once the car is started, or stuff tacked onto the fridge door because it seemed important at the time, but is really irrelevant) and intentionally turned it off, to give me more time to myself and turn the radio on when I want it on or find the information when I need it.

        We live in such a convenient “information pushed to us, vs. needing to be pulled” environment, that I think it’s a novel concept to have to search out information.

        Another tip with kids is that it’s most enjoyable when we figure out the stress-triggers and combat them proactively. It’s not about productivity, it’s about being the happiest and most present you can be when you’re with them.

        For me, that’s included having them pick their clothes out the night before (vs. 10 min finding them in the morning when there’s no time to spare), setting a clock-radio alarm (vs. having a tantrum that her parents were annoyingly waking her up) and doing crock-pot meals so when we come home after daycare/work I can spend 30-60 minutes playing with them, not chopping up vegetables & frantically trying to pull together a meal, while I’m chastising them to stay out of trouble.

        Sometimes (especially with kids) you need to plan to make life more enjoyable, to be able to seize the unexpected play opportunities, and to be more present in the moment.

  • Reply Kalie @ Pretend to Be Poor January 9, 2017 at 5:33 am

    I go back and forth about wanting routines. I am actually a too-rigid person. Through two little kids in the mix and I can get too uptight if and when the routine gets thrown off. But I do enjoy having a few minutes to myself in the morning and usually spend it drinking coffee, reading, and praying. Then checking my favorite blogs, too. Thanks for sharing about your routine and that it’s about enjoying life, not maximizing productivity!

    • Reply Cait Flanders January 11, 2017 at 7:49 am

      I’m with you on going back and forth on wanting routines! I am the opposite and don’t like a rigid schedule (but I also used to be the opposite of THAT and had my whole life planned a week in advance lol). Now I am always desperate for the flexibility to be spontaneous. But I can’t deny that some amount of routine has helped me many times. Even if that routine is just taking a timeout for a few minutes. Enjoy your coffee! :)

  • Reply Jane January 9, 2017 at 6:06 am

    Our mornings are pretty hectic with trying to get 3 kids out the door to two different locations, but there are also special moments with the kids each morning. Waking up earlier is not going to happen, as we’re at a place where we have kids waking up every few hours through the night, whether it’s the baby needing to nurse or my oldest having to pee. Nights on end of broken sleep with wake-up around 6 every morning is just life at this point. What I truly relish is my first half hour in the office before the bulk of my co-workers come in. I pour myself a cup of tea, savour the first sip, and think about the moments that my kids made me laugh that morning.

    • Reply Cait Flanders January 11, 2017 at 7:51 am

      Thank you so much for sharing that, Jane! It gave me a visual reminder of when I used to be the first one at the office too. I definitely enjoyed that first cup of coffee in silence. Enjoy your morning :)

  • Reply Snailtobasic January 9, 2017 at 6:27 am

    Love this article. I do have some sort of a morning routine. Wake up at 6am & get ready to leave the house by 6.45am to avoid traffic jam. My me time (morning routine) start upon reaching office at 7.30. Have breakfast & catch up on reading books with a cup of coffee. I am a person who need 8hrs of sleep & if i dont get sufficient sleep, i get grumpy early morning which will than spoilt my morning routine. Hence going to sleep by 10pm is an area i need to work at. Thanks to your article, i will slowly built “sleep on tume” into a routine in january….🙏🏻

    • Reply Cait Flanders January 11, 2017 at 7:53 am

      I think that’s a wonderful idea, and is actually one I’ve been thinking about more and more since working on my morning routine: my bedtime routine. I’ve had spats of insomnia since I was only 14 years old, and can feel it coming back. I’ve been going to bed at 10pm, not falling asleep until almost midnight, then naturally waking up between 4-5am and not being able to fall back asleep. Some of my slow mornings have been 100% necessary, simply so I can feel more rested for the day. We’ll chat more about bedtime/sleep soon! :)

  • Reply DB January 9, 2017 at 6:31 am

    I truly love your site, Cait :)

    I’ve been getting to my office at 8 AM since starting a new job in October 2016. Typically, I’m the first person in for 30 minutes to an hour. I really cherish this time- I make some coffee, open up the office, turn on my computer, and move slowly and purposefully before the office fills with people and the day whizzes by with work, work, work.

    Something that has been very helpful has been using 5 minute guided meditations on YouTube. After the coffee is brewing and the lights are on, I sit at my desk and listen to a short meditation about calmness and/or confidence. I still have some anxiety about this new job, even though I truly love it.

    The meditations help slow me down, refocus me, and start the work day from a place of purpose instead of busy-ness.

    My current favorite: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i50ZAs7v9es

    • Reply Cait Flanders January 11, 2017 at 7:58 am

      Thank you so much, DB! :) And I’m loving reading about people’s morning routines in the office. Honestly, I can’t imagine a better place to meditate and find your centre first thing :) thanks for sharing the link to your current fave! (That voice is amazing.)

  • Reply Carrie B January 9, 2017 at 6:32 am

    I remember slow mornings. Especially before having a kiddo and working for a start up, life could be slow. Self employment allowed for that. I’m a desk jockey again with debt (paid off another account last week, yay!), a four-year-old, a husband, and a home with a cat and a dog. Most mornings aren’t slow. But the days that can be slow, I savor. They don’t look like my idea of a “slow morning” (get up, move about, drink some tea or coffee, peruse some mind food, stretch, etc.) very often, but sometimes they are Just A Bit Slower than normal and it’s a good thing. One tip I use for myself to set a less hectic morning when I get to the office? Write out my 3 MITs (most important things) and plan out the trajectory of the day. I’ve also been trying to leave my work laptop at work most nights, locking up my office to keep it safe. Creating that boundary helps.

    • Reply Cait Flanders January 11, 2017 at 8:00 am

      I love that you used the word boundary in your comment, Carrie, because to me that’s what any kind of slow/intentional movement is about: saying “this is what I need right now” and doing it. :)

  • Reply Hanna @ minimal marathoner January 9, 2017 at 6:37 am

    Oh man. Dare to dream. If anything my mornings are a little too slow, being a natural late sleeper and, despite my best efforts, not much of a morning person. My morning routine basically involves sleeping until the absolute last minute I can wake up and not be late, lol!

    This time of year, one thing I do like to slow down and enjoy before I rush off to work is a hot beverage, be it a cup of coffee or, these days, a cup of tea. I don’t really do anything or think anything while I sip, besides let my brain start to wake up (again, not a morning person!), but just this one thing somehow makes my mornings a lot more pleasant and often times the thought of it is enough to pull me out of bed while I’m struggling. Slow mornings are a GREAT start for your slow year!

    • Reply Cait Flanders January 11, 2017 at 8:02 am

      Hehe, well your “too slow” mornings are equivalent to my “too slow” evenings. I could spend the last couple hours of the day in bed, without hesitation!

  • Reply Manon Ham January 9, 2017 at 6:55 am

    Lovely post, Cait! Good luck with your slow mornings and with finishing that first draft. You can do it!

    My morning routine has changed quite a bit since I’ve become unemployed in September: I find that I sleep way later than I mean to. But, then again, that might just be Lady Winter messing with my sleep pattern, as she tends to do. I do always take time for a slow morning, even when I have to set my alarm: wake up, have breakfast while I play a game on my phone and cuddle with my cat, then write some morning pages and get ready for the day.
    While I would love to wake up earlier, I find that it actually creates more stress for me: I live with my mum and she wakes up at 6:15 to go to work at 7:30. I like to take my time and not talk to anyone for a while, but she’s an extroverted whirlwind and I find that difficult to deal with early in the morning. So I actually prefer waking up after she’s left, even though that may not be my natural preference. Ah well!

    • Reply Cait Flanders January 11, 2017 at 8:03 am

      Morning pages. So many people emailed me about morning pages. I’ve been journalling a few nights/week, but this might need to be yet another monthly experiment for me. Something to think about. And I can totally relate to your wanting to stay in bed a little longer and have a quiet morning to yourself! No need to wake up early. Wake up when it’s best for you :)

  • Reply Michele January 9, 2017 at 7:19 am

    Hi Cait. I work office hours and have done for years. My morning routine hasn’t changed. I’m up about 6.30. I set an alarm. At the moment, having had two weeks holiday over Christmas and New Year, I need my alarm but when i settle back into the working week I’ll usually wake up early. I make myself a cup of tea and then take about half an hour to sit, drink my tea and feed my cat before I get on with my morning. I like to walk to work (unless it’s raining) so I set off about 8am. My weekend mornings are the same but I don’t get up at 6.30 and I usually take longer to drink my tea and get moving. It’s my evenings that need a routine. They tend to get taken over by cooking tea and telly. Maybe that’s what I should work on this month.

    • Reply Cait Flanders January 11, 2017 at 8:06 am

      I think working on your evening sounds like a great idea, Michele! That’s certainly one of the things I plan to work on this year. Might I suggest tracking your time, even if only for a few days? Like write down how long it takes to cook/clean, then how many hours you watch TV. I might also write down all the things you keep thinking/saying you’d like to do in the evenings. Putting it down on paper has a way of showing us what we do vs. what we say we want to do. Can’t help but find places to make changes, when you see that stuff :)

  • Reply Mrs. Mad Money Monster January 9, 2017 at 7:27 am

    I love the idea of a year of slow! My morning routine consists of getting our little 7-year old ready for the school day, as well as getting our 2 dogs and 2 cats fed and watered. We doubled our animal supply when we decided to get married. It makes for a very hectic morning, especially since we’re also trying to get ourselves ready for the work day. We need to implement a slower morning routine – ours is stressful. Maybe waking up earlier could take care of this…hmmm. You’ve really given me something to think about! Enjoy another slow day! And thanks for the post!

    Mrs. Mad Money Monster

    • Reply Cait Flanders January 11, 2017 at 8:08 am

      With a lot of mouths to feed/take care of first thing, maybe your mornings won’t ever be truly “slow” – but perhaps you can find some pleasure in a few little things? Like taking your shower, or petting your cats/dogs. :)

  • Reply ChooseBetterLife January 9, 2017 at 7:29 am

    Cait, you seem so, so happy! And I’m so happy for you in Squamish.
    My mornings are either a mad rush to be out the door at 5am on days I have to work early, or they last until afternoon as I read blogs and articles and try to psych myself up to get my ‘real’ day started if I’m not working in the ED until later or if I’m working on my blog from home that day.
    I love the second type better, of course, but I should probably set a time limit and stick to it.

    • Reply Cait Flanders January 11, 2017 at 8:09 am

      Aww, thank you friend! I AM so happy these days. Loving it up here, so far :) and yes, too much freedom comes with too many options, and is easy to fritter away… am I right?

  • Reply Ms. Montana January 9, 2017 at 7:30 am

    I just spoke to a group of moms last week about cultivating rest. =) After designing a life that allows for rest, my next suggestion was creating routines for rest. I have a morning routine that helps me kick of the day with some sanity. Cup of tea, reading, reviewing goals for the day, then 9 minutes of exercise. 9 minutes is really about all I can give the exercise, but it really helps wake up my body and lower any free floating anxiety. Last resort (and very applicable to moms of little kids) find 60 seconds. 60 seconds for exercise or deep breathing. Sometime with 5 little kids running around like crazy, 60 seconds is all we have to work with. =)

    • Reply Cait Flanders January 11, 2017 at 8:10 am

      I hope all the moms read this comment, friend! Enjoy your 60 seconds of peace :)

  • Reply zolar January 9, 2017 at 7:37 am

    Still great Cait.. I wish I could do some slow morning like you. No driving to office and looking at same face again and again untill I’m getting older.
    I would like if my morning, after prayer.. I’ll do an hour running, exercise.. reading newspaper, send my child to school .. going to farm and open laptop at 11 o’clock.. and then cooking my own lunch..
    that’s my dream.. still work and find the way to catch the dream.

    For me, you need to focus on your daily routine and get some rest . Take a holiday about a week and do some travel vacation. You could refresh your body and mental too..
    Hope you can have a nice day Cait..

    Zolar, Malaysia

    • Reply Cait Flanders January 11, 2017 at 8:25 am

      Your ideal morning sounds lovely, Zolar! Dreams serve as good motivation :)

  • Reply Dayle January 9, 2017 at 7:39 am

    My morning routine has also changed over the last couple years. I used to shower in the morning before work and I did not eat breakfast at home (ate it at work or while driving).

    Currently, alarm rings 4:45, sometimes get up right away (if I need to deal with my hair haha) or snooze once and up at 4:55. I take about 20 minutes washing face, teeth, dealing with hair, getting dressed, etc. I go downstairs about 5:20, start getting lunch together (mostly prepped the night before) while the kettle boils and pan heats up to cook eggs. After lunch is ready to go, I prepare breakfast, and usually within 15 minutes I am sitting down by 5:35 to eat and drink my tea. That’s about 15 minutes, then I am out the door around 5:55 after cleaning up quickly from breakfast. I drive about 40 minutes to work and I start at 7am but am usually at least 15 minutes early (need to leave time in case of traffic).

    I like my routine other than the fact that I am usually on social media while eating and drinking my tea. During my social media free month last year I would read a book instead during that time. I know it would serve me to experiment with not filling that time with anything else. It would be interesting to try. I’ve also starting listening to podcasts on my drives to and from work so I am definitely consuming a lot of media in one form or another.

    I enjoyed reading about your routine and can’t wait to see how you feel about it at the end of January.

    Happy New year – talk soon!!

    Dayle

    • Reply Cait Flanders January 11, 2017 at 8:27 am

      Slow media/technology is HIGH on the list of experiments for this year, friend! So I’m right with you there. I’m still bad for checking social media too early, but am getting into a habit of turning on an audiobook and listening to that while I eat breakfast/drink coffee. It’s better fuel for my mind, especially because I write first thing then deal with admin-type tasks later in the day!

  • Reply Alyssa @ GenerationYRA January 9, 2017 at 7:40 am

    Ah – I love this, I love this! I also can’t wait to hear about the books / audiobooks you take on in the mornings. :) Nothing gives me more feeling of possibility than a cup of coffee & a great book to kick-start the day. I’ve been a creature of habit with my morning routine for quite some time, and a lot of it was learned & developed by watching my parents. Growing up, they were ALWAYS morning people and I saw how much they felt accomplished before I even rolled out of bed. In order to build in a relaxing morning, I always wake up (at the least) 2 to 2 1/2 hours before I need to take on the day. I make coffee, read news / content I am interested in, a book, or just plain lay around to create the slow start. I then have around 45 minutes to shower & get ready before leaving the house. I’ve spent several years doing this that I’ve never taken on a day by feeling rushed, or agitated. Thank you for sharing your Slow Mornings details – I am very excited to hear how it goes!

    • Reply Cait Flanders January 11, 2017 at 8:29 am

      Your morning routine sounds like my old routine when I worked for the government! I was always up around 5:30-6am and didn’t have to leave for work until 7:45am. I showered first thing, but then lazed around and enjoyed a very slow start to the day :)

  • Reply Mrs. Picky Pincher January 9, 2017 at 7:42 am

    Neat! I like how you’re trying something different each month to fit in with your yearly theme.

    I’d love to wake up naturally every morning. I still have a 9-to-5 so that does mean I have an alarm set for 5 am each day. Urf. But I do make sure to fit in a nice, structured morning every day.

    I wake up at 5 am to work out and shower. At 6 am I cook a homemade breakfast (most components are cooked ahead of time and frozen). Then I get dressed, brush my teeth, etc. After that I have 20 minutes to do various things around the house. I make our bed, sweep, and start the dishwasher. It does mean my mornings are ultra-productive, but oh boy, do I love coming home to a house with all the chores already completed. After all, who wants to do dishes at 7 pm??

    • Reply Cait Flanders January 11, 2017 at 8:30 am

      Not this girl! I’m pretty good about doing dishes as I use them, but hate the idea of coming home to a sink full of dirty ones. No thank you. Your morning sounds both productive and enjoyable!

  • Reply Amanda @ centsiblyrich January 9, 2017 at 9:00 am

    Thanks for sharing, Cait. This is great inspiration for me. I’m feeling the need to reclaim some of my time and actually enjoy the coffee and the good book.

    My morning routine varies – depending on whether it’s a weekday or weekend. Weekdays, I get up, make sure kids are awake and lunches are packed, have coffee while reading email, then make the bed and myself ready. It’s all packed into an hour, so it can feel rushed. I have no routine on the weekend. What I need to work on the most is a consistent bed time, so I can get up earlier.

    • Reply Cait Flanders January 14, 2017 at 7:45 am

      Interesting you say that, Amanda, as I’m realizing my morning routine is totally dependent on my nighttime routine/sleep. I also wouldn’t pressure yourself to get up earlier if you don’t want to. But if you do, welcome to the club :)

  • Reply Kate Nelsen January 9, 2017 at 9:18 am

    What a great and inspirational post, Cait! I love the idea of taking back the morning and living it slowly. The majority of my morning is spent running around trying to just get out the door on time, but when I envision what I want my future mornings to look like I see a lovely breakfast that’s cooked at home and eaten off of plates, not wrapped in a paper towel during out commute. I see time to enjoy coffee and chat with my family, rather than sniping about how we’re going to be late. I recently decided to try and incorporate meditation into my morning routine to varied levels of success, but even 5 minutes of stopping the madness and creating space to breath has been wonderful and has made me feel like my morning moved slower (even if it didn’t!). Like others have suggested, the biggest hurdle is getting to bed earlier so that I can get enough sleep so that I can get up earlier to accomplish the things I want to accomplish. I’ll be anxious to hear your thoughts on this experiment at the next check-in!

    • Reply Cait Flanders January 14, 2017 at 7:48 am

      Instead of waking up a lot earlier, I’m also wondering what people could do if they woke up even 10 minutes earlier! It removes the stress of feeling like you need to wake up an entire hour earlier, but 10 minutes could be enough time to cook up a quick breakfast. :)

  • Reply Laura January 9, 2017 at 10:13 am

    Great post – there is something about having a bit of time to enjoy a coffee or tea in the morning that makes all the difference. I’m still commuting to my office, but I’m ok with that. I’m up at 5:30 – mostly without an alarm now – there is a labrador retriever that helps with early wake-ups. I take an hour to go out with the dog, breathe in some fresh air, look at the stars (this time of year there are still lots of stars that early) and then enjoy a cup of coffee before heading off to work for 7:30. I used to spend time reading blogs in the morning and checking email, but the coffee and fresh air is better than more screen time, since I’m at my computer all day.

    • Reply Cait Flanders January 14, 2017 at 7:49 am

      Oh my gosh, that hourlong walk with your dog sounds like the absolute best way to start your day, Laura! :)

  • Reply Amy@MoreTimeThanMoney January 9, 2017 at 10:42 am

    My morning routine is dictated by the needs of my small child. I could get up before him (I used to and that worked great), however he seems to doze in the mornings now and if I’m up and about then he hears me, gets up too soon, and all manner of grumpiness ensues for the rest of the day! This is just the stage our family is in and I’ve come to accept that and adapt. Instead of the morning mindfulness meditation I’d do on my ideal morning, I set a one word intention for the day before I get out of bed. I try to shower without interruption (even if that means some less than ideal TV time), and I don’t eat or have a cup of tea until the morning hubhub has died down so I can do it slowly and enjoy it. When I had a killer morning commute, on top of all this family stuff, I dedicated the 10 minute bus journey before my train journey a precious time for thinking and no phone. A few little changes here and there can make a big difference.

    • Reply Cait Flanders January 14, 2017 at 7:51 am

      Yes, quite a few people have mentioned setting an intention for the day – I like that! And showering without interruption is important, Amy. Give yourself that without any guilt. :)

  • Reply Chris @ MindfulExplorer January 9, 2017 at 10:51 am

    Good Morning
    Thank-you for sharing this with us. I have unknowingly enacting these changes in my life. You have probably noticed less instagram posts from, less posts on my facebook page and a few other dealing back of things. I have stayed away from my laptop at night and not answering emails.

    I need to work on my morning
    Leave the emails and Leave the phone alone
    Leave Facebook until later in the day
    Delete some apps from my phone maybe?
    Read my favourite blogs and maybe get back into books instead of online articles

    The possibilities are endless but as long as they all involve “slowing down”
    Have a great week Cait!

    • Reply Cait Flanders January 14, 2017 at 8:02 am

      Hi friend! Love that you’ve been pulling back a bit. It gives you time to recalibrate and find your focus and figure out how to use social media more intentionally. Deleting some apps isn’t a bad idea! I don’t have the Facebook app. I also moved email + Twitter into a folder, so it takes an extra step to open them up – as silly as that sounds, it does actually help stop me from opening them sometimes.

  • Reply Sharon @ A Journey of Steps January 9, 2017 at 11:20 am

    I have found since Christmas my morning routine has been out of whack. My body tends to crave some form of routine. I found I was checking my phone and social media almost first thing in the morning when my phone alarm went off. A habit I can see now has a knock on effect of how I get to sleep at night (is taking way longer than normal). Previously I started my mornings by rolling out of bed and doing some Headspace meditation, to get my brain to slowly enter the world. And it seemed to have paid off sleep wise. So back to using a normal alarm clock without having my phone too close at hand (avoid temptation) and before breakfast do some Headspace. Thanks for this, often need to reflect and figure out what is working best. Enjoy Squamish :)

  • Reply Annie January 9, 2017 at 11:20 am

    My mornings are not hectic but I can’t dawdle as I do have to catch my bus to work by a certain time. I enjoy my bus ride by settling into my seat and using my meditation app for about 15 minutes. I don’t think about or do anything work related while commuting so I can enjoy the sights and sounds around me after my brief meditation. Once I get to work I make myself some tea first and check email. I check my to-do list for the day and get started. I found making my to-do list for the next day before I leave at night to be helpful. I don’t have to spend that evening or next morning before work worrying about what I have to do as it’s already planned out for me.

  • Reply Bailey @ Becoming Bailey January 9, 2017 at 12:28 pm

    I DEFINITELY need to get into a routine! Since leaving my job in June (when I moved to get married), I have fallen out of a routine. I sleep in late and waste the entire day on my laptop and watching Netflix. Now that I have a new part-time job, I’m going to get back into a routine!

  • Reply Amanda @ My Life, I Guess January 9, 2017 at 12:54 pm

    I really do not have any routine at all, as my husband can start work anywhere from 5am to 11 am, depending on what shift he’s on. So it’s quite different every day!
    I’m trying to at least set a routine for myself when I get to work, now that I’m a Monday-Friday, 9-5er again. It at least helps me start my work day off in a predictable and somewhat “slow” way.

  • Reply Brittany January 9, 2017 at 1:24 pm

    I wouldn’t be able to function without my morning routine! It’s only breakfast, tea, shower but it makes all the difference in making me feel like a human. I too a contemplating the idea of social media free mornings- Instagram isn’t going anywhere!

  • Reply Sarah McDonald January 9, 2017 at 2:12 pm

    I love this. I think it is so important to stop and just be present in the moment. This is so hard for a lot of people (including me) as we get caught up in the business of our lives. Of course technology doesn’t help as it’s just so convenient. I am trying to become a bit more aware of this, so when I catch myself not living in the moment or on my phone. I will try to put it down and just do things. I came to this realisation as I found I was taking lots of photos of Lily as I want those memories – but in doing that I wasn’t fully present. Which isn’t fair on her and it just ruins the moment (she isn’t old enough to understand, but I don’t want to be one of those parents that is always on their phone). Obviously I will still take photos, but I don’t need to snap one every time she does something cute. Anyway, I wouldn’t say I have a specific morning routine, but I have a general one that may slightly change depending whether Lily sleeps for longer than I do. Enjo your day Cait!

    Sarah’s Abode -xx

  • Reply Mackenzie January 9, 2017 at 3:23 pm

    Because I have a school-age child, weekday mornings are not my own, lol :) Saturday and Sunday mornings are definitely for a slower pace. I like what you said about actually enjoying the coffee instead of pounding it back. Must. Work. On. This. :)

  • Reply Isabelle January 9, 2017 at 3:30 pm

    Ah…. how I wish! Mornings are a big source of stress for me. I have 2 kids (4yo and 7yo), with 2 different drop-offs, both places opening at 7h am. And I work 45 minutes away, at 8h am. So our mornings are basically getting up (with the alarm) at 5h45, getting myself and the kids ready (this involves A LOT of repeating myself for tasks to be done, despite charts on the wall and having talks about it with them). Then I have to get the kids in the car by 6h40, dropping off the oldest at school at 6h45 (where daddy is waiting with her for the school daycare to open at 7h, then he rides his bike year-round to work 13 km away). I then drive to my youngest daycare on time to drop her off at 7h, if I’m lucky I’m back in my car at 7h15 and then off to work.
    I really dislike my mornings, and how stressful they are on all of us. But I see no working around it. And I know that it won’t be like this forever, but it sure feels like it at the moment.
    So for all of you that have the luxury of slow mornings, please enjoy them to the fullest!!!!

  • Reply Jena January 9, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    I have been thinking that I need to re-think my mornings… I like the idea of slowing them down… But I also know that I have morning deadlines that mean I can’t take too long with the slow morning. I had a routine that I tried to put together for myself a couple summers ago, but life has changed since then, so I don’t follow it anymore… I think I might spend some time thinking about how I can join you with a slower morning. Thank you once again for the inspiration.

  • Reply Kate January 9, 2017 at 4:16 pm

    Love the year of slow living! My 2017 focus is on breath – that helps slow my heart rate and my mind.
    For me, a good morning starts the night before with a priority list for the following day. When I wake up, I flush my system by drinking 32-40 ounces of water. No matter what happens next, I know I’ve at least done something good for my health!

  • Reply Jamie January 9, 2017 at 4:42 pm

    I love this! I work from home, and I have a huge problem with checking work email right away and not having any time to myself in the morning. My boss often sends emails early (she’s made it clear this is her schedule bc she has an infant and that I’m not expected to respond, but it’s so easy to get sucked in). For me, the best way to avoid this is to do something active – the gym (which is in my building) or a walk put me in such a good mood, and I can actually enjoy mornings to myself because I don’t check email while I’m moving! Then I make myself breakfast and just feel relaxed. I’ve let this slide lately, and I’m going to try to reclaim it. Thanks as always for the inspiration!

  • Reply Amy January 9, 2017 at 7:08 pm

    I began making a morning routine about 3 weeks before the new year and I absolutely love it! I wake up around 5.15am/5.30am, head to the gym for an hour, have a shower, eat breaky while putting my makeup on (helps me slow down my eating and appreciate it more) and then meditate for 10 minutes and after all that, I drive 45 minutes to work with my favourite music on. The affect this routine has on my moods throughout the day is crazy. I spent the first week of this year not following this routine as I was on holidays and ended up being the grumpiest person at work and towards my partner! Thanks for the inspiration to keep it up!

  • Reply Ashley @ The Small Town Foodie January 10, 2017 at 7:13 am

    I absolutely love this idea of slow mornings. My boyfriend leaves for work around 5 a.m. and I am always awake too, so it works for me to just stay up then. Instead of looking at emails or working right away, I usually drink a big glass of water then do a form of moving (some days it’s 30 minutes on the elliptical or some days it’s just stretching). Then, around 6 a.m., I’ll sit down and start working on my blog or writing for some freelance work I’m doing. I still work full-time, so I usually start getting ready around 7 a.m., but the hour of relaxing or exercise with the hour of work seems to start my mornings great. I feel relaxed and productive, and ready to start my day! I can’t wait, though, until I work from home someday and get to have a longer morning routine. Hope your experiment of slow mornings goes well! Loved this post.

  • Reply Caitlin January 10, 2017 at 10:10 am

    For me, the best mornings are when I wake up in the wee hours with my husband. He goes off to start his day (and the coffee maker), and I read sacred texts. He’ll come back into the room with coffee for me and we may chit chat about the coming day, or more likely, he’ll give me a kiss and head off to work. I’ll try to keep to the sacred texts, fighting the urge to check my text messages, and I’ll just allow myself to wake up slowly before our daughter wakes up. I try to get up, tame my bedhead, and get ready for work before heading in to wake up sleepyhead. I’m always greeted by a huge, limp hug, and her unconditional love. I’ll get her dressed and we’ll let the dog out to go to the bathroom. Then she’ll drink her bottle while I drink my coffee and we’ll read together on the couch.

    I don’t get my exercise in. I don’t even always get breakfast in. But I get centered and get my fill of love.

  • Reply Cassie January 10, 2017 at 7:41 pm

    Currently my morning routine starts whenever my son wakes up. It could be 4:50am, it could be 7:10am. First I change his diaper, then I nurse him for a little while. After that we go downstairs and he plays with some toys in his play pen while I make coffee and breakfast for the both of us. Lately it’s been panfried potatoes, eggs and fruit salad. We sit side by side at the table to eat – me with cutlery, him picking up tiny pieces of whatever I’m eating with his hands. After that I clear the plates off the table and we go play until he’s ready to go down for his first nap. Start to finish it’s about two hours.

  • Reply Ileana January 11, 2017 at 6:18 am

    My weekdays start at around 5:40am. I get dressed and take my puppy out for a walk around the neighborhood if it isn’t raining. I get back around 6:15am, play with her a bit, then hop in the shower and get ready for work. I wake my husband up when I’m done and we make cereal and give our puppy her breakfast while we watch whatever Netflix show we’re watching together. Then we have our coffee together and I leave for work at around 8:30am. I like our weekday mornings because we get to spend that time together before our days get hectic.

  • Reply Primal Prosperity January 11, 2017 at 8:55 am

    I don’t have a morning “routine”, but, like you, I like to wake up without an alarm and sip coffee and read before getting going.

    I also get anxiety over all the ‘to do’ lists that people have. I’ve written a lot about this topic on my website. I like the saying “don’t confuse activity with accomplishment.” Some of the greatest thinkers of our time, like Einstein and Benjamin Franklin, only did ‘busy’ work for about 2-3 hours per day. The rest of the time was spent pondering, discussing and tinkering. We live in a world where I think we feel that we aren’t being productive if we aren’t constantly ‘doing’ something, but that really detracts from our deep thoughts, which can lead to deep breakthroughs and deep successes.

    So, good for you for a year of slow. I’ll be there right there with you!

  • Reply Jennifer January 12, 2017 at 5:15 am

    Hi Cait, thanks for the post.
    I have often thought about what you have expressed here. When I feel bogged down with the commitment, I tell myself, “Look, work is only 8:30am to 5pm, you have an hour of free time in the middle of each work day. As long as you are at work by 8:30, you can do what you like”. I do I have a family of 4 to also keep happy once I get home, but I try not to rigidly follow a routine (only when getting the children up and when they go to bed)…otherwise, like becomes one huge routine. And that’s too much for me. Thanks again Cait

  • Reply HeatherLiz January 12, 2017 at 8:35 pm

    The best part of my morning routine is having quiet time in the morning. I’m a slow-to-warm-up morning person, while my husband is instantly (& loudly) awake and chipper…so usually he stays in bed and rests a little more while I go through my morning paces, which we both agree leads to more harmonious mornings. I drink water, start the oatmeal cooking, feed the dog and cat, take a quick shower, get dressed and have breakfast. I used to drink coffee at home, but have recently started to make a pot of coffee when I get to work (to share), so have it there. I usually get up in time to walk the 2.5 miles to work, and listen to NPR on my phone on the way. My introverted self is ready to start the day and work happily with people when I can do things quietly and slowly. Those years of getting the kids off to school were rough–parents of younger kids, hats off to you!!

  • Reply Ula January 17, 2017 at 12:53 pm

    My day starts at 6-7am with my two boys as alarm clock. The morning and the day with children aren’t easy, but I need to eat my breakfast and drink my coffee or tea slowly before starting anything else. My mind needs to notice that I have eaten the whole meal, that it’s finished and I’m full. I just need it to not be mad at the whole world ;) and I take what I need.
    Cait, this blog is such a nice place :) Nice and with value.

  • Reply Rini January 17, 2017 at 11:20 pm

    I love this idea! I may even join in in this one. I’m not a morning persoon, to say the least, and hate waking up to jump right into my morning routine. As a result I mostly just ignore the alarm and end up being late and grumpy. Maybe slowing things down, giving myself the time to wake up while doing something that I love like reading might help me out of this funk and turn a bad habit into a good and enjoyable one. Enjoyable being the main word here.

  • Reply Gemma January 19, 2017 at 12:54 am

    Yes!!

    I recently started to do the same and have really worked on that weird guilt feeling of not diving straight away into a to-do list, and have found myself so much more productive AND (more importantly) at ease and enjoying my days more! Great post, something we all could do with implying daily : )

  • Reply Nina January 19, 2017 at 2:26 am

    I have just discovered your big Cait – and I LOVE IT! You are definitely speakng my language and I feel intuitively that your #yearofslow is going to be a game changer for me in 2017

  • Reply Ana Mo Shoshin January 21, 2017 at 10:25 am

    I’ve been formulating a plan to change my morning routine, so this was a great post to read!

    As of now, my husband works in the morning, I at night, so my morning routine consists of waking up around 8:30 to drive him to the train by 8:50. I feed the cats between that time.
    I return to the house at about 9 and get my coffee and sit down to read email, blogs, and start work on blog prep. At this time I usually fill in my Bullet Journal for the day before and add items for the new day.
    At about 10am I make something to eat, and start chores. That kind of leads me to the rest of the day.

    I’m hoping to incorporate getting up earlier and more creative work and less computer to the beginning of my day.

  • Reply Sarah January 22, 2017 at 6:18 pm

    My morning routine: alarm goes off at 6:45am but I don’t move for a while. Then meditation (6 minutes if I think i don’t have time, but prefer 10 minutes). Then yoga: surely I have time for one yoga move, if not the 15 minute sequence. Then shower, breakfast of a pot of tea and cereal. I either ride or walk to work. If walking I listen to a podcast. What I would like better: to get out of bed with enough time for full 10 minute meditation and 15 minute yoga. And not checking email and Facebook because I might then get to work on time

  • Reply David@MillennialPersonalFinance January 26, 2017 at 10:15 am

    This is great! I am still experimenting when it comes to my morning routine. My biggest problem is the need to feel productive on slower days, when I find myself jumping emails to my calendar stressing out over nonexistent tasks. Enjoying my spare time rather than rushing anxiously through it is my new goal.

  • Reply Daikuro @ SimplicityBlogger.com January 26, 2017 at 9:05 pm

    Mornings are the best time to plan your day and meditate about the past day. It is also the perfect time to exercise and take care of yourself with some yoga stretches. Plus, it sets the pace for the entire day.

  • Reply MoneyThumb February 1, 2017 at 7:15 am

    I just discovered your blog by Googling best personal finance blogs and ended up at Rock Start Finance, where you were on a great list of the best. I can see why, and it feels like serendipity that I landed on this particular post. As a freelance writer and pro blogger, I always have gotten directly from bed, made coffee, then began to work. I am finding, which is weird, that the slower I go the more I get done over more hours but spread out to enjoy my mornings more.

  • Reply Nathan @ Quiet Habits February 1, 2017 at 11:00 am

    What a great experiment. My wife and I wish we had the luxury of slow mornings. We do the best we can but it’s often a rushed, stressful mess that barely gets us out the door on time. Time to prioritize and try this experiment with you!

  • Reply FirstHabit February 2, 2017 at 11:47 am

    Here’s my “secret.” Make sure I have 90 minutes each morning for 3 things that build up my capacity for a good life. This includes basically health, wealth, and wisdom. For a busy person who needs to be out the door, it means getting up earlier than you may be used to, but as others have confirmed, you can train your body to do this naturally (you just need an earlier bed time).

    The benefits are: “starting slow,” enjoying the quiet, being fully present, and a feeling that no matter whatever else happens, I’ve already done what matters most to my future. It makes me feel good all day–like a natural high.

    In personal finance, it’s like paying yourself first, except in this case it’s a time investment. Though, the compound interest as the years go by is just as real.

  • Reply my messy world February 9, 2017 at 1:34 pm

    The thought of doing something in the morning that you really love doing never mindfully crossed my mind. I like the idea of it. I’m way too lazy to be getting up a bit earlier for that I presume, but I do have about 20min. Of commuting time every day which I usually fill with reading to pass my time. I shall look at that time differently and mindfully choose to spend it with what would fill me with most joy on each particular day. Thanks for the input 😊

  • Reply Lake Girl February 15, 2017 at 10:30 am

    I love mornings! I don’t have a typical day at work as I work a few different gigs! But typically I wake up between 6-7. I make my tea and then sit on the couch for 10 minutes of silence. I call it my quiet time – best part of my day. I feed and walk the dog and make breakfast for my honey. On days when I have to go to work in the morning, I do the same routine but it starts at 5:30 with a blaring alarm clock.

  • Reply Cal February 21, 2017 at 1:34 pm

    Oh I can totally relate to your previous morning routine when working remotely & feeling you need to be visible at all times. When I was doing that I’d be up & online by 8am (same time zone as the office) as I wouldn’t want anyone to think I was slacking. All it did was give me a good dose of anxiety. I’m sure there is an underlying personality type that causes that behaviour.
    Since October I’ve been contracting with my previous employer & am thankfully no longer in a leadership role, which mentally has taken the pressure off me around worrying about what others think.
    Gosh it has been lovely & I must admit my morning routine is not yet settled (& perhaps never will be) but your post has really got me thinking. I’m just rediscovering your blog & podcast & am just loving your message.
    My morning routine is just kicking in here in Australia, I’ve had my coffee & now I’m off to the gym before I settle into some work.

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