I have often fantasised about having one of those super chilled and invigorating morning routines that are frequently recommended in the personal development and wellbeing space. You know, where you wake up naturally, basking in warm sunlight, switch on a guided meditation, slip into your stretchy pants and do some gentle exercise, have a healthy breakfast, read a few pages of a book, and then journal until your hearts content…
While I have been able to incorporate some of these things into my morning routine, the reality is that during the week I am a mum of two, and the beginning of the day mainly involves making sure that both of my kids are out of the house on time (hopefully with everything they need for school) and making myself look fairly presentable before I tackle the school run!
Once I’m back from dashing up the road and back again, and have wiped my brow from all that physical exertion, I know that I need to make the most of those precious hours before the kiddos are back home and the whole evening routine begins (cue after school clubs, cooking the dinner while refereeing sibling disputes, homework dramas, and getting everyone to bed at a decent time.)
Before I start ploughing through my ‘To Do’ list, I have been getting into the habit of taking a bit of a pause first so that I can approach my day with more clarity and intention.
I have used the prompts below as part of my morning journaling routine. They have helped me to clear my head after the school run, get myself organised and gain back some control over my time. I write in my morning journal once I am sat down with some breakfast (and ideally sipping a cup of tea in peace…) and the whole process usually takes me about 10-15 minutes.
If you are keen to establish your own journaling routine, grab your notebook and pen, or download the free morning journal template below, and give these 5 morning journal prompts a try.
1. How am I feeling right now?
Every time I contemplate this question it feels like I have just taken a deep inhale and a long, slow, releasing exhale. It gives me a chance to just ‘be’ for a minute, to acknowledge what is really going on for me, and provides a space to let it all out!
So, first things first, take a moment to check-in with yourself both physically and mentally and bring your attention to how you are feeling right now. Try to be as specific as possible when you name your feelings (check out this feelings wheel for some suggestions) and then get compassionately curious about why such feelings are coming up for you (for example, consider what it was about certain situations that might have triggered those feelings within you.)
You can do this when you are feeling good and, of course, when you are not feeling so great! Knowing the things that trigger different feelings within us can be very useful data for our personal development.
Based on the feelings that you have identified, have a think about what your needs are today and jot down some positive and constructive actions that you can take to get your needs met.
2. What can I do to take care of myself today?
I know that this can be easier said than done at times but please ensure that you put yourself on your list of priorities for the day! Bear in mind your response to the first prompt and any needs you may have identified.
Think about all the things that relax and re-energise you. How can you make some time today for at least one of those activities? It may be taking a short walk while listening to your favourite music or podcast, going to the gym, spending 5 minutes reading a good book, taking a break, eating a healthy lunch or dinner, having an uninterrupted bubble bath in the evening and, importantly, watching that self-talk and being kind to yourself.
Whenever I have noticed that my self-care activities have been side-lined I have asked myself ‘What am I prioritising instead?’ I then challenge myself to determine whether it is absolutely necessary that I do those tasks today and if it really would be the end of the world if I just left them to another time while I do something beneficial for my wellbeing.
3. Today, I am going to focus on… and success will look like…
Write down what it is that you want to accomplish in the time that you have available today. As we all know, there are only so many hours in the day, so narrow down your task list by identifying the activities that, once completed, will make the most difference and will help you to move forward in some way. These are the sorts of tasks that will enable you to meet an imminent deadline, generate substantial results, maintain important relationships, and, ideally, achieve at least one of your personal or professional goals.
To prevent overwhelm and stress I do not schedule any more than 3 of these core tasks per day especially as I will be managing my usual household chores and childcare responsibilities around them. Also, by breaking each of my goals down into smaller tasks, and assigning them some deadlines, I have a ready-made list of activities that will move me towards my goals (which then makes it much easier to select and prioritise my daily tasks.)
Now that you know what you are going to focus on, you can get more specific about what you are setting out to achieve. Consider what your measure of success will be for each of the activities you have planned today.
For example, you could ask yourself questions like:
- How long do I want to spend on this task today?
- How much of this task do I need to get done today? What would I like to get done as an absolute minimum?
- What is the end result that I intend to come out with?
Also, think beyond measuring outcomes and ticking off all of your tasks. You could include certain habits that you want to establish and maintain such as honouring your boundaries and making time for yourself. After all, there will be those days when success is giving yourself a break and putting your feet up!
At the end of each day you can look at what didn’t work out (and why) and then decide what you are going to do about it. You may be able to carry a task over to the next day, break a task down so it is more manageable, delegate things that someone else could do, reprioritise tasks and alter your schedule accordingly, and, if necessary, renegotiate some deadlines.
It can be so easy to look back at the tasks you have written down and feel rubbish because you have not accomplished every single one of them. If this comes up for you then be your own best friend here. Speak to yourself kindly and remind yourself of all the things you did manage to get done (no matter how small they may seem) and yes, taking time for self-care also counts!
4. What might prevent me from achieving my goals today and how can I overcome these challenges?
This prompt will make you stop and consider any potential challenges, bad habits, distractions, constraints and personal barriers that might present themselves as you go about your day. Bringing the possible obstacles into your awareness now will give you the opportunity to put some plans in place so that you can address them and stay focused.
In addition, put some thought into how you could set yourself up for success today:
- What resources do you need to get hold of before you begin?
- What support do you need today? Who could help you in some way?
- Have you been realistic about the time your tasks are going to take or do you need to make a few tweaks to your schedule?
5. My words of encouragement for today are…
Create an affirmation that you can take with you into your day to keep you motivated and to remind you of your intentions!
You can do this by taking a minute to sit quietly, tune into that inner coach of yours and listen to what the compassionate and supportive voice inside of you has to say to you today.
If you need to help that voice along (we all have those days!) or want a bit of inspiration then keep a set affirmation cards nearby. A quick Google search for positive affirmations will also generate plenty of ideas. Just pick out an affirmation that really resonates with you. You can always amend the wording of the affirmation to make it more meaningful and applicable to you today.
I like my morning affirmations to capture whatever it is that I want to feel or create that day. Some of my favourite affirmations are:
- I treat myself with kindness and compassion
- I am focused and committed to achieving my goals
- I let go of perfection
- I am calm and capable
- I choose rest and rejuvenation
- I am on my own, unique journey through life
Write your affirmation down and put it somewhere you will see it throughout the day. You could pop it on a post-it note and stick it to your laptop or bathroom mirror or set it as a reminder in your phone.
As you have been going through the journal prompts you have made space for your feelings, thought of ways that you can take care of yourself, identified your core tasks for the day, visualised what success will look like for you, anticipated anything that could get in your way and, finally, given yourself some wonderful words of encouragement.
Now, go forth and make it happen!
While I hope that these prompts have served as a useful guide, you should aim to create a morning journaling routine that is suited to your individual circumstances. Feel free to adapt or replace these morning journal prompts until you find what works best for you.
*Free Coaching Offer*
I am halfway through studying for my Transformational Coaching Diploma and need to complete 20 hours of coaching with volunteer clients. If you are curious about coaching and would like to give it a try then please get in touch. I can currently offer my volunteer clients up to three 90-minute coaching sessions for FREE. Contact me if you would like to take up this offer and to discuss how we can work together over the next few months.