We’ve all heard (time and time again) that the first minutes of your morning shapes your entire day.
Right now, it seems like this advice is everywhere, from mid-morning talk shows (like Oprah and Dr. Oz) to articles on Forbes, Inc, Money Magazine, and more.
We can even Google examples of morning routines of successful entrepreneurs (like Elon Musk and Steve Jobs), so we can model our mornings in hopes of being over-the-top productive and successful like they are.
But what you don’t hear (and what you may be thinking, if you’re like me) is that these routines require way too much work and an unrealistic amount of sleep sacrifice.
Seriously, who wants to get up at 4 a.m. to have an hour of morning meditation before reading the newspaper in solitude?
And hands up if you actually want to try burning 1000 calories before dragging cranky children out of bed, prepping for a busy workday, or practicing for a presentation. Yeah, me neither.
Theoretically, I should be the first to volunteer for this type of morning sacrifice—I’ve studied positivity and happiness from scientific, academic, and individual levels.
Even though I know all of the things that I should do to set up my day for optimal success, it just isn’t that easy.
I have five kids, including two preschoolers. One of my youngest will almost always wake up during the night for some reason (or end up in my bed altogether), so my sleep quality usually falls somewhere in the “forever exhausted” category.
And because I’m an entrepreneur, I often end up working after my kids go to bed so I can get things done without sacrificing precious family time.
So when morning comes, I’m tired. I’m like a five cup of coffee, but still an under-caffeinated level of tiredness.
And that extra 10 (or 20) minutes of sleep will always outweigh the million-plus benefits to getting up the first time my alarm goes off.
In fact, I struggled, for years, in trying to force myself into a better morning routine—into not hitting that snooze button and being that perfect morning person—and I have failed in a million spectacular ways.
What I finally realized is that there’s a pretty nifty little work-around that can fit into almost any busy person’s morning.
It’s not going to (one hundred percent) change your entire life immediately (sorry), but it’s a powerful start, and it will make you happier during your day. And as an added bonus, it will eventually get you (a little bit) more incentivized to stop hitting that snooze button.
So, what about making a compromise, a sneaky kind of deal, if you will?
What if, instead of these crazy, complicated, early morning routines, you could start with just five minutes? What if you took just five little minutes and used them to set your entire day for positivity and happiness?
Think back to that big bunch of data out there that supports all of the crazy entrepreneur morning routine activities that will drastically improve your mood, your general well-being, and your life.
Most of these powerful morning routines include some combination of the following:
>> Waking up early (before sunshine exists at 4 a.m.)
>> Meditating or praying
>> Exercising or doing yoga (or both)
>> Reading something inspirational (like a self-help book or bible study)
>> Spending a few quiet minutes in solitude
>> Planning the day before it starts
All these require two things that many people just don’t have enough of in the morning—time and energy. I know I certainly have neither of those things in my morning toolbox.
So, if we wanted to set ourselves up for maximum success in only five minutes, we’ve got to make every minute count.
Here’s how to do it:
We know we’re not willing to sacrifice sleep to get more things done. We like the snooze button, am I right?
But once we hit that snooze button the first time, we usually just end up laying there trying to get back to sleep. So technically, we’re not sacrificing anything other than a bit of frustration by getting up five minutes earlier, right?
Make a promise to yourself that you’re going to be up and out of bed five minutes earlier than usual. Then, remind yourself that it’s only a few minutes of tossing and turning that you’re missing out on—not even close to real, restful sleep.
Why is this important?
It’s a mindset switch, and instead of laying there wishing we could sleep more, we’re making a deliberate choice to get up only five minutes earlier.
We’re exchanging a positive thought for our usual negative thought (feeling exhausted or needing just a few more minutes of sleep, for example), and we’re grabbing this positive thought right out of bed.
That, in itself, is super powerful because it sets the tone for our entire day.
This positive mindset won’t feel natural at first. You’ve got to actually tell yourself these things the first few days you get up.
Just repeat these words or better yet, write them down and tape them somewhere you’ll see from your bed.
I’m giving myself five minutes, and they will make my day happier and easier. I’ve got this.
Your mindset switch will come when you realize that you start thinking these things automatically without actually telling yourself anymore. It will happen, but it usually takes some time to become a natural habit.
Step one gets us out of the negative space of our first few moments and into a positive one instead.
Start with what you love.
What’s your favorite part of the morning?
For me, I love sipping coffee in my quiet, dark living room, scrolling through my Pinterest feed—It’s quite relaxing, actually.
Avoid the news and social media because of all the drama and negativity brewing there. I carefully crafted my Pinterest feed to only have stuff that’s positive, helpful, or creative, so it works for me.
Once you figure out what you love to do during the morning, see if you can squeeze five minutes of it into your morning.
Maybe it’s meditation or prayer. Five minutes is actually a perfect amount of time to do some quick, uplifting meditation. Or maybe you love watching the world start its day outside your kitchen window.
Maybe squeeze in a few pages of that book you never have time to read. Bingo. Now you have five extra reading minutes.
Whatever it is, do it exclusively for five minutes, but it doesn’t have to be the first five minutes of the day.
I generally go to the bathroom, wash my face, and down a jug of water right out of bed. Just make sure to squish it in there as early in the day as possible.
Don’t forget to take a second to appreciate the activity. Remind yourself that this is an activity you enjoy, and that’s it’s wonderful to get a little extra time to spend doing it.
The important part is being thankful for the time you spend on this activity because it will help you start your day feeling happier and more grateful. Boom. Another mindset switch.
Okay, so that’s it. Simple, right? It’s actually so simple that it almost seems like it couldn’t possibly work, but that’s the thing.
Sometimes it’s the simplest things that make the biggest impact. It’s the little things in life that mean the most.
So gift yourself this one little thing each morning. It’s easy, and it’s stupidly simple.
The only thing standing in your way is actually getting up to do it, right? Well, not anymore (wink, wink).
In a couple of weeks from now, you’ll feel ready to wake up five minutes earlier. Then you will have 10 special, peaceful minutes instead of five. Baby steps.
Once you nail this five minutes of amazing morning time, you can move your wake-up time forward by five minutes at a time, slowly creating the morning routine of your dreams.
Sacrificing five minutes of sleep each time feels easier and more natural. Amazing, right?
You are only five minutes away from the best morning routine of your life, so grab it and then enjoy—you deserve it.