Over the years a few concepts continue to elevate themselves as life-changing. One that keeps on coming up in conversations is the practice of a morning routine. Most people get the concept but struggle with the practice. I get that. A morning routine has been core to my days now for many decades, but the specifics of that routine have varied wildly. So many people who want to implement a morning routine want to get it right, but what does that mean? Is there a definitive handbook on the morning routine to keep us from messing up?

To this end, I want to offer a few guidelines that have stood the test of time for me in my practice of a morning routine. I offer these lightly because even these principles are just one person’s experience. What I feel strongly about is that a morning routine is incredibly valuable for a large majority of people. A morning routine is centering in the midst of days that pull us in a thousand different directions. This alone makes the practice worth our time. What helps make a morning routine the best it can be?

  • Adequate Time – This is the first place that trips people up. How long should a morning routine be? The answer? Enough time. Personally, I would recommend no less than fifteen minutes, but even that may be too restrictive. Season of life dictates much of what we can and cannot do. Parents with young children burn the candle at both ends. Morning routines are hard in those years. Later years may open up more time for unrushed reflection. Our circumstances and even personality impact the amount of time we choose to spend. What I know is that if I feel rushed, the time is diminished. One suggestion is if you have less time than you would like, choose to do less. Perhaps, include only one thing in your morning time rather than trying to cram ten things into ten minutes.
  • Inviting Space – This is huge! Finding the right place, or I should say, creating the right place, makes all the difference in the quality of time. As with all aspects of a morning routine, this is very personal. Some people are extremely sensitive to their environment, others just need a quiet place. Consider where is the best place for your time.
  • Clear Purpose – A mistake I have made over the years is trying to do too much in my morning routine. At various times my routine has included prayer, reading, writing, journaling, planning, Bible study, and meditation. A full day wouldn’t have been enough time given all that I wanted to do. This resulted in my precious time being rushed, which defeated the purpose. A help in this regard is to identify the one primary purpose for your morning routine. Perhaps even name the time. It may be your Quieting Time, Centering Time, Prayer Time. As I do this, I am then able to discern what should be a part of my time. While I plan my day in the early morning, I wait until after I have spent my Quieting Time to do my planning.
  • Structured Flexibility – Once I have my clear purpose, flexibility is essential. If I want my morning routine to last over the years, then creativity and variety must fit within structure. My routine changes many times each year. There are core elements, but even how I practice those elements change over time. I read the Bible every day, but I read it differently from one month to the next. Feel the freedom to resist the rut.

Many people across the world do not have the luxury of a morning routine to center their days. Life is survival. Therefore, enjoy your morning routine, whatever it looks like. Throw out the rules and savor a few minutes of quiet.