Early in the morning, before my kids rise, I have a precious hour or two to read my Bible, pray, journal, exercise, and plan my day. Getting consistent with this little ritual has transformed my walk with the Lord and my productive output. It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it. There is just something really special about rising before dawn and giving God the first fruits of my day.
I’ve had the unique privilege of helping thousands of Christians refine their own Christ-honoring morning routines. And there are certain patterns that show up again and again with those who are struggling to stick with a routine like this. They all boil down to one thing: Lack of preparation.
If you’re somebody looking to start a morning routine, or maybe you have tried and failed to stick with one; hopefully, these three preparation tips can help you put the right pieces in place to create a God-glorifying morning routine that you will actually stick with.
1. Write Your Plan
It was about 12 years ago that I first started experimenting with different morning routines to see what worked best for me.
- What activities should I include?
- What time should I wake up?
- What time should I go to bed?
I eventually settled into a rhythm that works best for me. But even though I’ve been practicing generally the same plan for years now, there are mornings I wake up feeling groggy. And on those mornings, I can completely forget about my plan. Was I supposed to read the Bible? Was I going to exercise first? Or was that second?
Personally, I follow a routine called POWER Mornings which stands for:
- Reading and Writing
It’s just five elements, and it’s easy to follow. But even though I’ve been doing this plan for years, I still keep a written copy of it handy. That way, on the days I wake up feeling muddled, all I have to do is follow the plan.
And writing your plan is even more important if you’re new to building a morning routine.
2. Prepare Your Space
Our environment shapes our habits.
For example, you remember to brush your teeth because the toothbrush is right beside the sink. It’s hard to forget to do it when you’re forced to look at the toothbrush every night before bed. But if you kept your toothbrush out in the garage and every time you needed to brush, you had to get out of the ladder and go up into the loft of the garage and get your toothbrush down, you probably wouldn’t stick to that habit very easily.
When seeking to cultivate good habits, we can use the influence of our environment in our favor. We can prepare our space to make it conducive to doing our morning routine.
For example, I read my Bible and pray in the same chair in my home office. I’ve tried to optimize this space for maximum morning routine performance likelihood. My Bible and notebook, the books I’m reading, and my morning routine schedule are right next to that chair. I don’t have to go hunting for them. When I sit down in the morning, all I have to do is reach over and grab those things.
One way to keep your morning routine space prepared is to take the extra minute to reset it at the end of your routine. Turn your Bible to the next page in your reading plan; put the books back on the shelf, reset the blanket and pillow, etc. Make the space ready for tomorrow.
3. Have a Bedtime
I fell into having a morning routine quite by accident.
When we first got married, my wife and I made the commitment to go to bed at the same time every night. The problem was my wife went to bed really early! So I would go to sleep at 9:30/10 with her, but suddenly I started waking up at 4:30/5 the next morning. I wasn’t trying to wake up early; I just went to bed earlier, and my body started waking up earlier.
I tell this story to illustrate what should be an obvious point: if you want to wake up earlier, you need to go to bed earlier. You need to have a bedtime.
But as obvious as they may sound, when I talk to people struggling to stay consistent with their morning routine, almost always the problem lies not with their plan for the morning but with their plan for the night before. Specifically, they don’t have a set bedtime.
Waking up early to spend time with the Lord and perform other helpful habits certainly requires discipline. But it isn’t the discipline of sacrificing sleep. It’s the discipline of regularity. If you want to become disciplined in how you spend your mornings, you need to exercise discipline in how you spend your evenings. You need a bedtime.
The easiest way I’ve found to do this is to set an alarm on my phone that goes off 30-45 minutes before I want to be in bed. That’s my cue to start winding down and preparing for sleep.
Morning Routine Planner
I hope these tips will help you create a more consistent morning routine for yourself. I also created a PDF planner that walks you through all of this a little more step-by-step. You can download it here.
And if you want a serious deep-dive on how to create a POWER Morning for yourself, check out our course.