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Balance365 Life Radio

Jan 9, 2019

Free Morning Routine Habit Tracker!

Annie and Lauren chat with Makenzie Chilton of Love Your Mondays about the morning routine she suggests for her clients. Learn about positive psychology, mind-body connection, screen time limits and how just twenty-three minutes (or less!) can transform your day.

Mornings can be tough but they don’t have to be. Annie and Lauren chat with Makenzie Chilton of Love Your Mondays about the morning routine she recommends for her clients. In just 23 minutes, you can effect positive change on the trajectory of your day. Find out more about simple steps you can take starting tomorrow to make all of your tomorrows better.

What you’ll hear in this episode:

  • The scientific benefits of routine
  • What is positive psychology?
  • If you can only do one thing, this is it
  • The power of gratitude
  • Why you shouldn’t reach for your phone first in the morning
  • Strengthening neural pathways for positivity
  • The practice of daily journaling
  • The mind-body connection
  • Movement in the morning – why it matters
  • Multitasking vs monotasking
  • Acts of kindness
  • Tim Ferriss’ approach to a morning routine
  • All or nothing mindset and morning routines
  • What implementing the morning routine for 60 days felt like
  • Seinfeld’s Chain Theory
  • How your brain responds to checking things off  your to-do list
  • The Ta-Da List – what it is and how it works
  • Managing your screen time and the anxiety of disconnection
  • Removing obligations to respond to things before you are ready


Sean Achor TED Talk

Tim Ferriss Morning Routine

Seinfeld’s Chain Theory

The Ta-Da List – Makenzie’s Instagram Post

Love Your Mondays Website

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Annie: If you’re like Lauren, Jen or I mornings can leave you feeling a little frazzled. Whether you wake up to an alarm clock or like mine, your alarm clock has two legs, stinky morning breath, needs a diaper change and is demanding breakfast, mornings can often feel chaotic and adding one more thing to your am to do list might not sound so doable but on today’s episode career coach and productivity specialist Makenzie Chilton shares a short and sweet morning routine that is scientifically backed to amplify positivity in the brain and optimize productivity throughout the rest of your day because let’s be honest, the first hour of your day can really affect the tone for what follows. Plus this only takes 20 minutes and you can include your whole family if you wish. After chatting with Mackenzie on today’s episode Lauren and I have already started to change the way we start our mornings and I think after listening you might be excited to explore it as well.

I’m excited to share that we’ve got a super sweet freebie for you. You can download and print this routine and habit tracker off at Mackenzie, welcome to Balance365 Life Radio, thanks for joining us. How are you?

Makenzie: Good, thanks for having me.

Annie: I am so excited to have you because we’re going to talk about morning routines. Lauren, you’re with us today, do you have a morning routine, Lauren

Lauren: No, well, I tried to implement one and my son just doesn’t cooperate so I’m excited.

Makenzie: To be honest, like, I know that I’m like “Everybody do this routine” but I’m super not perfect at it and my morning routine is coffee, nonnegotiable.

Annie: I can get on board with that.

Lauren: Oh, I have that.

Makenzie: Yeah, yeah. Anything beyond that I’m just like “These are enhancing things” you know.

Annie: Yeah, I could totally get on board with that, you’re not like “Do this or die, comply or die” it’s like, “I said these are going to make your day better” but before we get into that can you tell us how you got into morning routines?

Makenzie: Yes. So, I’m a career coach now at Love Your Mondays and my background is in psychology so I feel like my story is not super unique in the way about a lot of people have experienced kind of like my path but my education is kind of unique. So I, typical, like went from high school right to university. And I didn’t know what I wanted to do, which, I feel like it’s a common theme for however old you are, 18, when you go to university. It’s still mind-boggling to me that we’re supposed to like have that figured out.

Annie: I know, we’re babies, right?

Mackenzie: Yeah and then I had taken psychology all the way through and I’ve always been super fascinated in people’s behavior and you know, why people do things, what’s the motive behind it and then I took this really awesome class in 4th year and it was forensic psych and I thought forensic meant death.

Annie: Same.

Lauren: Same, right?

Makenzie: Yeah. It means, like, the study of Law. So it’s anything to do with law and psychology. At first, I was like,  “How am I going to analyze dead people?” But it’s anything, essentially, with crime and psychology so that’s like the psychology of policing or jury selection or serial killers or mass homicide and those are the things that I focused on because I really found it fascinating how people could behave so differently than the norm, essentially.

Then I worked in the prison system here in Canada for 3 years and I absolutely loved that job, like dream job, so I felt very lucky, I still feel very lucky to have experienced a dream job in a way because I felt like I was helping people that nobody wanted to help and I was getting like real progress with these like very violent criminals. But then I got laid off. Yeah, budget cuts, they cut our funding. And I got laid off and I was like “What I do with my life?

So I started using the psychology I had and I went into, I worked in management for a while and combined those two things and started Love Your Mondays and so with that became, like, learning about all these, like, productivity things and how to be your best self and a lot of, I call them like, behavioral enhancements or motivators, right and so that’s where the morning routine kind of slid in because I’m not, I don’t thrive on routine, I have like a balance of like, like, chaos a little bit because it’s creative for me and but I also like cycle back to like really needing a morning routine sometimes.

Annie: Fascinating. I, all of my, like, side note: murder mystery podcasts like memories are coming back to mind, like, I wonder what she thinks of that which we’ll have to chat about later.

Lauren: Yes I was thinking of a lot and I was thinking of the murder podcast and like crime shows, Orange Is The New Black, I’m like-

Makenzie: Yeah.

Lauren: Let’s just talk about that stuff.

Makenzie: Honestly, like, have you seen MindHunter?

Lauren: No.

Mackenzie: It’s on our Netflix, I think our Netflix is different than yours in the States but, he like goes into prisons in the seventies and he’s the guy that came up with the term serial killer. But that was like, essentially, my job for a while.

Annie: Oh, fascinating.

Makenzie: Talk to these. Yeah, it’s great.

Annie: And now you’re on a podcast helping women with their routines in the morning.

Makenzie: Right.

Annie: But it’s all connected.

Makenzie: It’s a cycle. It’s all behavioral.

Annie: Yeah. So you have a routine because this is what you do now, you help people with productivity and starting their day on a little bit more positive note, as you said, like enhancing their day, enhancing their morning. You have your own routine that you shared with other people which is actually how you got connected to us because I think Jen found your morning routine and was like “Let’s talk about this” because so many women I think listening, myself included, are, in the mornings especially, trying to get themselves ready, get kids ready, manage schedules and it can feel like chaos and you’re just like clawing your way through it and it’s just like survival mode but there are some benefits to creating some routine regardless, I know you were going to get into some elements of the routine that you would recommend but there is some science about benefits of routine, right?

Makenzie: Yeah, I mean, it’s structure, right, so it’s like a repeatable behavior that we can kind of eventually do without necessarily thinking about it that gives us structure and flow, especially in the morning for setting the tone for the rest of your day.

Annie: Gosh, that sounds familiar, Lauren, huh?

Lauren: Yes.

Annie: We talk about habits all the time and how especially as busy women our motivation and energy and time are just like commodities that are so precious to us and if you can get into the habit of doing things or routine of doing things you can hopefully find yourself in a position where you don’t have to exert large amounts of willpower and motivation and determination and effort to get the results you want to get throughout your day or throughout your lifestyle or your fitness or your food or whatever it is we’re talking about. Hopefully, the idea is that with some of your tips listeners can implement some of those elements to their morning and have a better day overall, right?

Makenzie: I want to, like, I’m not a mom, I’m an auntie, a loving auntie. But I do want to acknowledge that I understand that this isn’t maybe something that can be implemented all at once or all together or consistently every day and so I actually met Jennifer in person. And then she was watching my stories where I was talking about this routine on Instagram and she was like “Listen, when I get up in the morning like a truck ran over the cereal bowl and I spill coffee everywhere and I have 3 kids and it’s not happening” and I was like, “OK, fair.”

Lauren: It’s kind of like, “Well, what kind of routine can you have when you wake up to a child screaming at you every day?” and I do really like morning routines and I try my best but I just have to remind myself like a lot of times it doesn’t happen or doesn’t happen consistently like I would like it to and I have to remind myself that like this is a season of my life and it’s not going to be this way forever and so I just have to do my best and let that be OK and realize that I’m not going to probably get my morning routine every day until my kids are older and like there’s just, maybe you have some tips for me but it may just be, like, that’s how it has to be for now.

Makenzie: Yeah and I honestly, I really like that aspect of looking at it through a non-judgemental lens, right? Because some people will be like, “Well, I should, I should, I should and-”

Annie: Or if I can’t do this routine start to finish, perfectly, all day, every day, then I’m not going to do any of it and I’m guessing you would say, like, “Pick what you can do.”

Makenzie: Pick what you can do. Pick what you can do and find space even if it’s throughout the day, even if you complete these, it’s 23 minutes total. So when I was talking to Jennifer I was like, “Involve your kids in the morning if you can for certain things, depending on the age, obviously.”

Annie: Yeah, well, now, you know, like 23 minutes it’s like, “OK, let’s get going now, my interest is piqued even though I already, I already know what’s in your routine, I’ve looked it over but I’m sure our listeners are like “OK just tell us the routine.”

Lauren: Just tell us what it is.

Annie: Yes, so tell us the secret. OK. So what do you do? You wake up and what? Do what?

Makenzie: Well, I wake up, I used to be, I’m not going to use the words good or bad but I use to just check my phone right away. And I’ve tried to not do that because in my world it just means I immediately have, like, a list of 10 things that I have to do and it takes away from doing this so I like to, what I say, set myself up for success so I know that first thing in the morning, the only thing I have to do is the morning routine and then I kind of continue on with my day.

So this routine, I didn’t come up with but I love it, it’s science-based which I’m a super fan of if you can tell, I’m kind of a nerd in that way, so it’s based on the work of Shawn Achor and he’s a positive psychologist, he has like a really, really funny TED talk.

Annie: I watched it this morning. We’ll have to link that in the show notes. He’s super entertaining.

Lauren: Oh I want to watch it. I really like positive psychology. I took a class on it once.

Makenzie: Yeah, it’s amazing and so for people that maybe haven’t heard of positive psychology before it’s, the focus is more on like future, it’s future-focused behavior as opposed to a lot of other types of psychology that can be very diagnostic and past focused. And it looks at kind of, instead of, and he talks about this in the TED talk, instead of looking at the average, he wants to look at those outliers, so those people are operating at like a higher level of either happiness or ability to learn or whatever, whatever the marker is, they actually look at the outliers-

Annie: In hopes of moving everyone up with them.

Makenzie: Exactly.

Annie: Yeah, so it’s, like, you’re, what are you doing well that everyone else can do well also so we can all do well together?

Makenzie: Yeah, exactly, so we could all do well, instead of what happens a lot in, like, data science is that they try and figure out what the average is doing within a margin of error so they can prove it or disprove it.

Annie: Yeah and sharing is caring, right? So-

Makenzie: Exactly. Yeah.  So what he found was that these 5 things and I’ll highlight the one specific thing, if you can only do this one thing then that’s the thing you should do but he found through his research that over 21 days it’ll change the wiring in your brain to make you happier, which is awesome, right?

Annie: I’m in for that.

Makenzie: Into that but what else he really, really drives home is that when we’re happy our brain operates at an up-level, so as opposed to negative neutral or stressed. So right now you might just be, you know, neutral which is better than being stressed but you aren’t able to think of creative solutions and your brain isn’t operating at a higher capacity like it does when it’s happy.

OK, so the morning routine. So the first one is the thing if you can only, only do this one I suggest to people: write down, we’ve all heard this kind of before, but write down 3 things that you’re grateful for and get really specific with these things so thing, like I’m really grateful for my friends, is good but I’m really grateful for my friendship with Naomi because she always makes me laugh and so we see how much how much more specific that is, correct?

Lauren: Right.

Annie: Yeah.

Makenzie: And so the benefit of doing this is that your brain, instead of noticing the negative things in the world first, it’ll train itself to focus on the positive.

Annie: Which I really like that, because kind of circling back to the contrast of opening your phone the first thing that, I mean, that’s exactly what I do, I put on my glasses and I grab my phone from my nightstand, I unplug it and I’m opening up email, I’m checking Instagram and almost instantly I’m like, like, it’s just like this wave of, like, this cloud comes over me that’s like, “Oh my gosh, look at all this I have to do, look at all this I have to respond to and then here’s this chick, she looks like she’s just crushing it in the gym and her kids already ate this healthy breakfast and this girl already went for a run and I’m feeling like I’m just I’m already in catch up mode, before my feet even hit the ground I’m already like, “Oh my God, I’ve got to get going” and your suggestion is like don’t touch the phone, wake up and write down three things you’re grateful, three specific things you’re grateful for, so you start already, start focusing on the positive.

Makenzie: On the positive.

Lauren: I really like that part too because I think we know, I think we’ve talked about before, like, the more you can, you’ve got to create that neural pathway in your brain, right, where like when you think a certain way thoughts that are like that come easier to you, so like I always talk about it in in like, like, body image, right? Like you already have this, a lot of people have this negative thought process going and going and going and thinking like one time one nicer thought about your body, it’s going to feel really hard but the more that you do that the more you strengthen those thoughts. So yeah, I think that’s great and I just see a lot of parallels with a lot of different elements to that.

Makenzie: And like this, if anything, if this is the only thing that you can do it still will improve your brain to be-

Lauren: Yeah.

Annie:  And that takes, what? I mean 3-5 minutes at the most, if that. I mean, some days might be a little bit easier, might be able to come a little bit easier than others, but I mean, that’s not a huge time investment.

Makenzie: And I think it’s really interesting when you do it, especially for about 10 days, around the 10-day mark you’re like, well, I’ve already said all the things because at first, it’s like, “Yeah!”

Lauren: Oh, right.

Makenzie: You know what I mean? And then after you’re like, I’ll just plant.

Lauren: Can I repeat?

Makenzie: But so then it becomes, like, a really kind of, like, fun exercise to try and find things, you know?

Lauren: Yeah.

Annie: Yeah. And I just, on a really simple, like, way of, like, looking at it, it’s like, the more you pay attention to the stuff the more you tend to see it, it’s just like the power of suggestion or whatever, you know? Like someone or when you’re pregnant, like suddenly everyone’s pregnant it’s like, like when you start looking for good stuff, the more good stuff it just seems to naturally appear.

Makenzie: And that’s what we want to focus on, especially right as you’re starting your day.

Annie: I love it. K, cool what’s next?

Makenzie: Next step is journaling about one positive experience that you’ve had in the last 24 hours. And so the science behind this is kind of that your brain is reliving that positive experience and your conscious brain can’t tell the difference between a memory and between reality and so we see this a lot in people that have post-traumatic stress disorder because they’re reliving a terrible event right and their brain doesn’t know if it’s real, if they’re in a threat or not and so we kind of want to capture that and flip it into reliving a positive experience interest.

Annie: So how much do you have to journal or is that up to the individual, like, set a timer or just?

Makenzie: Yeah, so I think it’s like the first one, so the gratitude write down 3 things is about 3 minutes, this one I do just about 2 minutes, so even if it’s like a cute older couple I saw when I was on my way to the ice cream store, you know, I’ll try and remember if it was raining outside, if there are any smells and you go through kind of all the senses.

And it can be as small as you witnessing like a loving glance between a really cute older couple or something like that, so it doesn’t have to be a big thing that necessarily happens to you even, it could be your witnessing of an event but just reliving like a one of those warm and fuzzies, you know.

Annie: OK, because I’m over here thinking about like this like Dear Diary journal entry. Like 4 pages in your best handwriting where your hand starts to cramp.

Makenzie: I mean, you can.

Annie: But like, don’t overthink it, like, it could be something that you witnessed.

Makenzie: Don’t overthink it.

Annie: Okay.

Makenzie: And you want to be like an easy yes, right? So like an easy behavioral habit that you can create for yourself.

Annie: Got it. I love it.

Makenzie: The next piece is, so Shawn Achor says exercise for 15 minutes, I say move for 15 minutes, any type of movement because I feel like that feels less daunting. For me, like, when I’m going to work out it’s like for 45 minutes to an hour and it’s like a thing and I’ve put the clothes on and you know I’ve to go out and do it and that’s what feels like a lot in the morning for me to do.

Annie: Are you a Tim Ferris fan at all? So have you seen him share his morning routine? I guess, I don’t know if he has, like, a cooler name for it but he’s, that’s what it is, he probably has of like cool marketing term for it.

Makenzie: Probably, it’s probably like super optimized and super, yeah.  

Annie: Like, be 10 times cooler in the morning with these 5 things. But he has something similar in there, he just says do 5 to 10 reps of something and he notes that getting into his body even if it’s just for 30 seconds affects his mood and I think he noted in this particular article that he just does like push-ups right now, like he does 10 push-ups and so, you know, maybe somewhere in between, you know, 10 pushups and 15 minutes or whatever you can give but just this idea that you’re like just getting into your body, you’re priming your body, so to speak, you’re embodying your body can get some endorphins going.

Makenzie: Get the endorphins going and improves your, like, mind-body connection, which is such a real thing, like it affects your intuition, it allows you to listen to your body when you’re making decisions. And it’s teaching your brain that your actions matter.

Annie: Yes.

Makenzie: That’s kind of the link and that’s what we’re trying to get in the morning so it doesn’t have to be this daunting, you know, I’m training for a marathon or whatever it is, not that there’s anything wrong with that but I feel like for people that maybe have kids, this is a way that you can incorporate, depending on the age of your kids, like have a dance party for 15 minutes, like how great would that be, you know? For your little guys in the morning.

Lauren: I think that would elevate everyone’s mood, right?

Makenzie: Mhmm.

Lauren: Yeah.

Annie: For sure and it’s not, again, goes back to not a huge time investment. I think we meet a lot of women that are in a spot in their lives where they’re just saying no to exercise period because they can’t commit what they feel is worthy of an exercise routine, you know, like 45 minutes to a half hour, so it’s like, “I can’t do the whole thing so it’s just not good enough. I’m not going to do it at all. Kind of what we were talking about at the beginning with routines, like, I can’t do the whole routine so I’m not going to do any of it but this is, like, just 5 to 10 minutes, like, you know 15 minutes if you’ve got the time or whatever, but if you don’t have 15 minutes, like 5 minutes is better than nothing.

Makenzie: Yeah, exactly and that’s, like, one song, like that’s how I kind of do my thing for the morning, I’m like, “OK, these are my 3 pumping up jams and that’s about 9 minutes or whatever it is, right?

Annie: Yeah. Oh, I love that.

Makenzie: I think it’s good too to just, like, notice where your things are that you want to work on so when you are talking about that it seems daunting to go work out 45 minutes, that’s me, like, I still have issues with consistent exercise because it seems like such a big deal by the time I, like, get sweaty and then I have to shower and so that’s why I do like this in the morning. Because it is easy.

Annie: Yeah and you’re still getting benefits of moving your body.

Makenzie: Yeah.

Annie: Absolutely.

Lauren: Can we go back to what you said before, you said, “It trains your brain that your actions matter” is that what you said?

Makenzie: Yes.

Lauren: Can you expand on what that means?

Makenzie: So it goes back to that mind-body connection, right, so if you are noticing differences slowly over time and say your energy or in your ability to focus, your brain will be like, “OK this matters, it matters that I do this” and so an alternative examples of that is kind of and I still do this sometimes but someone said this to me and I don’t know where I read it or saw it that when you hit the snooze button, you’re essentially like lying to yourself first thing in the morning, like you’re teaching, right?

And I love the snooze but you’re teaching your brain that you can change what matters in the morning right away and that’s how you’re starting your day and so someone said that and I was like “Oh my goodness. Wow.” So I was like, “OK, I don’t want to lie to myself first thing in the morning. But so this is kind of the reverse of that, that even if it’s, so it’s a dance party or it’s a quick 15 minute walk with your dogs or the push up thing, those small things even will teach your brain that what you’re doing is important because you’ll feel the energy, you’ll feel the increased endorphins, you’ll see the ability to focus and your brain will connect that to your body.

Lauren: Gotcha so like you’ll want to do it. OK.

Annie: Those become the part of the positive reward that follows the movement, in habit speak, yes. Awesome. OK, So, so far we’ve got, just to recap real quick, we have gratitude: writing down 3 things that you’re grateful for, then a little journaling reliving a positive experience and then exercise, 10 to 15 minutes, move your body whether it’s like dance party, a yoga, some squats, some pushups, a walk with the dogs, a run, whatever it is.

Makenzie: Whatever it is.

Annie: And then what’s next?

Makenzie: So this one is both a buzzword right now or maybe for a little while but it’s meditation and I first found this like really daunting and I expected to be sitting in like, you know, typical yoga pose and like become enlightened real quick and the best description I found for meditation is, because I thought you were supposed to clear your mind, right, I thought that was the purpose and you are, but it’s focusing on your breath which is the key point number one and then letting your thoughts pass through without judgment and so I think that’s something that isn’t necessarily always taught in meditation classes that I’ve taken or certain apps that you can just download without any kind of background but my meditation teacher was, she said that and she was like “We’re just noticing that you’re really wanting coffee” and then you let it pass and then you go back to focusing on your breath. And so we’re only going to do this for 2 minutes in the morning.

So 2 minutes breathing in, breathing out. Some people are really visual, so what I found super helpful is to breathe in and imagine you’re breathing in the color blue through your nose and then you’re breathing out the color red. And that like allows me to actually focus and do it. My thoughts will still come in but then I always, you just always kind of come back to the breath.

Annie: I wonder how many people are breathing in blue and flowing out red right now because I’m pretty sure I was and I really, like, I really, I can picture that like-

Makenzie: Yeah.

Annie: And there’s I don’t know if this was intentional but the color association with, like, blue is, like, invigorating and light and airy and like, positive and red feels a little bit heavier and I don’t want to say bad but like negative.

Makenzie: No. Right.

Annie: So to breathe in the good stuff and exhale.

Makenzie: Exhale yeah. I see that red stuff as like “I’m a dragon, like, power!”

Annie: Oh I kind of like that too. But and I love that you say, like, 2 minutes, start there.

Lauren: I was going to say is there a reason behind, like, the order and the time frames because I have recently gotten into meditation and I’m trying to be consistent and I’m not super consistent right now but I’m working on it and I know that I always try to do at least 10 minutes and I don’t know why, I just think I should do at least 10 minutes for some reason.

Makenzie: I think that I’m sure there’s probably, like, research out there that shows like optimal whatever but I think there’s, like, certain people like Sting, I think he meditates for like 8 hours a day or something. Just like I don’t know what else he does. But I think, for me, there’s no way I could do 10 minutes. Which maybe says something about the where my brain is at focus-wise. So I don’t, I don’t really know how to answer that, I’m sure there is something out there, maybe I can do a little poking around.

Lauren: I’ll look into it.

Makenzie: But the idea is, you know, we come from such a society or culture where multitasking was like champions for so long. And I feel like it was, like, I always say that it was such a nineties thing that you’d write on your resume or likely early 2000 you know the “ability to multitask” whereas now you would write like “can stay focused on one thing.”

Annie:  Well and I think just in mommy culture that high productivity and multitasking is still very much, like, you know, I can cook dinner, I can have a baby on my hip, I can be listening to a podcast and texting with a girlfriend and change a diaper all at one time, you know, like, and that is just the reality of our lives but being able to really turn inward and focus on what your thoughts are, what your breath is and just having that moment where you’re just doing like just one thing.

Makenzie: Just one thing, yeah.

Annie: Just one thing can be really good too. Awesome. OK. So is there just one thing left on the morning routine? I feel like all this is like way more doable than I imagined.

Makenzie: Right? It’s less scary.

Annie: Yeah.

Makenzie: So the last thing is acts of kindness. And there are acts of kindness like everyone sort of random acts of kindness where you buy coffee for the guy behind you in Starbucks but I like to keep it super simple. And so this idea is you can either write a positive text message or just someone a quick email thanking them or saying how proud you are of them for XYZ which I really like and this is what they kind of talk about in that TED talk. But what I found is if you do this for longer than 21 days and I have a pretty good circle, I have a pretty decent network, but when you run out of people that you feel comfortable being like “Hey, I really appreciate you and whatever”, just that quick little message.

So I like to flip that into conscious acts of kindness, not random acts of kindness, it can be but it’s also just being aware that you’re doing something kind so if you’re holding the door open for someone you could think about it as “Yeah, whatever, like I know I learned my manners” or you could consciously think of that as an act of kindness.

Annie: I love this. Of course, when you said buying people coffee in Starbucks I swear I’m always the person that gets their coffee paid for and then feels obligated to pay for the coffee behind and they’ve always had like a $20.00 tab. But I do think, like, just a simple text message, it could be a really great place to start, again, low on the time investment piece so if you’re cramped for time in the morning and it already feels chaotic, it doesn’t take a lot of time but what’s the reason behind that? Is there, does that, I mean, selfishly what does it do for me to send a note to someone, I mean, I can imagine, it makes the other person feel warm and fuzzy but-

Makenzie: Right, well, it’s kind of putting the acts of gratitude and the movement and or exercise we do into an exercise, so it’s combining the two things and doing something that someone would be grateful for, so it’s again, creating action out of some of the other things that we tackled in the first four steps of the routine.

Annie: And so I think, Lauren, maybe you started to ask about this. Is there a reason behind the order of this or can you mix and match?

Makenzie: You know what? I’m fully for mix and matching.

Annie: OK.

Makenzie: I think that the first one, the three things that you’re grateful for, that has had the most research behind it to show an improved mood so if that’s what you’re going for, then, which I think everybody, if you asked them, like, “Would you want to be happier?” They would say, “Yeah. Of course.” Who would turn that down?

So I don’t think the order necessarily matters and some people really notice that the movement for 15 minutes makes their day better so they end up just doing that. Some people know that the meditation is what they need and so they just focus on that, so like best case scenario, we can do all five of these things. I don’t do all five of these things. I try to. I try to get as many in as I can.

Annie: When I was, back to Tim Ferriss, when I was reading his little article about it, he, I think he had a really great perspective, he had, I think, five or six elements to his morning routine as well and he said “I’m shooting for 2, 3, maybe 4 and if I can do some of this most of the days, I know that I am starting the day off on a good note and if I don’t get all five it’s not failure, it’s just, like, I didn’t, you know, like it’s kind of just like a point, like I’m just trying to check off a couple, you know?

Makenzie: Yeah, I love that.

Annie: Yeah, which takes the pressure off, like, again, going back to that all or nothing mindset like I can’t do the whole checklist then I’m not going to do any of it, like what do you have time for?

Makenzie: Right, what do you have time for and what did you find to work for you? So say you could do all five for a week but then you’re like, “You know what? I really like the acts of kindness and the exercise.”

Annie: Yes, so when you started this, Makenzie, did you do it all all at once or did you start with just one thing?

Makenzie: I went gangbusters and I did all five for 60 days.

Annie: What was your experience after 60 days?

Makenzie: That I realized how many barriers came up for me, so thinking of 3 things to be grateful for 60 days, I was like “Ugh. Am I ungrateful because I can’t think of something new?” you know and then you can spiral into this mindset that I could easily make excuses so it wouldn’t always be first thing in the morning.

But I would still be proud of myself that I got it done and so what I did was I had just a square that had 60 boxes and Seinfeld did this, so he called it the chain or the link something like that and he would X off on a calendar, I think it’s the chain, how he would write every day and his goal was to never break that chain, right? And so I feel like for building a habit that you really want to create having something visual like that where it almost feels like you’re getting a gold star is, it’s helpful but since then, I don’t do all of them every day.

Annie: Yeah, it was just kind of you were running a test on yourself. Yeah, we have something similar in our  Balance365 program, we have habit trackers because that visual representation, like just marking it off-

Lauren: Just checking it off-

Annie: Can be really, really rewarding, like “I did the thing!”

Makenzie: I did the thing.

Annie: I did the thing that I said I was going to do and I’m going to check it off and that checking it off feels so dang good.

Makenzie: It does and like, lists, like, to do lists are real. You get endorphins. It’s the same. Your brain spikes when you’re able to check things off.

Annie: Yes, here’s mine, and I like to make little boxes, Makenzie, you’re on here and I love to check off the, like, gosh, that, there’s nothing feels better than checking off those boxes or crossing that list off, like sometimes I put things on there that I’ve already done just so I can cross them off.

Makenzie: Totally, I posted about this on Instagram the other day.

Annie: Did you?

Makenzie: I called it the Ta-da List.

Annie: Yes I saw that. Oh my gosh. I love that we need to reshare that because I remember reading that, now that you said that, and it was you said “Write all the things that you have done and now it’s called the ta-da list” and I was like “Ta da! I did this!”

Makenzie: And you feel so accomplished.

Annie: Oh yes and that feels good and really, speaking about, in the context of routines, doing something just really small and starting your day off, like, “Look, I said I was going to do this thing and I already did this thing” and it can just snowball, like “OK, look, I already did this one thing, I can do this other thing” and I think, like, for me that’s making my bed, that’s just part of my morning routine, like it, I cannot go in and out of my room without that like distraction, like, it’s just like a visual distraction to me so if I just make my bed and it’s like, “OK, see, look like everything just”-

Makenzie: Can’t crawl in now.

Annie: Yeah, I mean I can lay on top of it. Pull the covers over it. Yeah but I think again, just to echo, you have some really great elements in your morning routine, just to recap really quickly one more time. You start off with gratitude, making a list of things that you’re thankful for, being as specific as possible. Spend a few minutes journaling, reliving a positive experience throughout your day. Exercise 10 to 15 minutes, just move your body in a way that feels good to you, then start, do some meditation, focusing on your breath, your thoughts without judgment, even as little as two minutes is good enough and then acts of kindness, was there a number? Did you prescribe a number or was it just?

Makenzie: For acts of kindness?

Annie: Yeah.

Makenzie: I mean, I think that can be like a two-minute thing. Yeah.

Annie: Cool.

Makenzie: So it’s basically the 15 minutes of movement is the bigger one and the rest are like two to five minutes.  

Annie: And so you said, in total, this takes you about 23 minutes.

Makenzie: 23 minutes.

Annie: To be exact. Start to finish.

Makenzie: Yes.

Annie: And again, if you’re a woman in a position where you already feel like your routine or your mornings are just chaotic, don’t feel like you have to add all this in at once, you can, like Makenzie did, or you can incorporate your family in on it, maybe your family discusses acts of kindness or maybe you do the, you know, I’m just spitballing here, maybe you do the journaling, you’re reliving the positive experience as a family or as, you know, like-

Makenzie: I mean, get ideas from each other, like make it a group thing.

Annie: Yeah. Yeah. And so you, but you know, the other elements, really, as you said they’re small time investments but research has shown that they can have the power to rewire your brain to a more positive state of mind and as you said at the beginning, when you’re in a more positive state of mind, you can fire on all cylinders a lot more efficiently, like you can, you’re just, you’re more better at problem solving, you’re, I can’t even remember all the things that you listed and then that Professor listed as well in that TED talk, which again, we’ll link but-

Makenzie: It’s wild and that’s why I do really recommend, like, that I get my clients all do this routine. And they, you know, it’s like part of their first piece of homework is to implement this routine because I do believe it works because one, I’ve tried it but also because the research shows that it works so there’s a lot of information out there right and so that’s kind of how I operate in just because of my background, I think, in psych but how I seek to put the best information in front of my clients or out there is just to see what has been proven to work.

Annie:  Yeah and you know what else comes to mind, Lauren, is when we were in San Francisco a mentor of ours gave us the 5-minute Journal. Do you remember that? And I think it kind of combined the gratitude, I started off. Yes, there it is, you have it and that combines a couple of the elements in there for you and it just kind of lays it out and it has AM and PM, right.

Lauren: Yep.

Annie: It’s clearly been a while since I did, I did start it but-

Lauren: Same.

Annie: You know, what I’m really honestly really excited about is I’ve already decided I’ve already I’m committed to not picking up my phone, not turning on my phone until the kids or I get my kids dropped off at school because I know, I can feel it overwhelming me in the morning.

Lauren: Oh, that’s good. I might join you in that, so I’ve been wanting to put my phone on airplane mode when I sleep and then leave it like that and then I’m always worried like, what if something happens and people can’t reach me so I have to like deal with that-

Makenzie: That anxiety, yeah. And that anxiety’s real. Like, I before I lived here I lived on the Island, Vancouver Island, and where I lived I got American cell reception so I didn’t get cell reception unless my roaming was on and my power went out so I had no Internet and I had no cell reception and I was just like “Huh.” You know, it was like such a weird experience to be like fully unplugged and like, kind of forced into it. I was like a 30 minute drive to the nearest town. And so it was a really cool, like almost forced experiment to like sit with how that made me feel and then realize, “I’m very anxious and do I want to feel like I’m attached to my phone?” and that was the catalyst for me.

Lauren: I think the new iPhone update that I just got has like a, why are you shaking your head?

Annie: Because I know what you’re going to say and I don’t like it.

Lauren: You don’t like it?

Annie: No, but go ahead. It’s why I haven’t updated my-

Lauren: it has like a screen time thing but what it does is you can set screen-free hours so like you can set the hours where like all your apps won’t work and the only thing that works is like text messaging and phone calls and I think I might try that.

Annie: I just really like-

Lauren: You can override it, though.

Annie: OK, that’s what I would do all the time.

Lauren: Yeah, I know. I’ve done that.

Annie: All the time. I really do like the idea, though, of just, I think that’s a super simple change that I could make tomorrow. Is starting my day off in a more like proactive positive mindset, instead of being so reactive and I don’t remember where I was reading this but they were just speaking about how, you know, a lot of times we have this like urgency or anxiety about responding to emails right away or whatever and oftentimes it’s like a reaction to other people’s procrastination, it’s like, you know, they decided not to email until this time and now you feel obligated and it just sets off this whole like a domino effect where you feel like you’re just, like, “I’ve got to do all this right now” versus “OK, I’m just, like, I’m cool, I know I’ve got my stuff together and I’m just going to open my phone up when I’m ready to process all of it” versus process it and then like “Oh now, I’m going to start my day with you know”

Lauren: Just make sure you respond to my Slack messages, OK? I’m kidding.

Annie: You’ll probably just text me or call me if I don’t respond. That’s me, I joke that I’m Team No Chill so if I don’t get a response right away, you can rest assured that I will be trying to connect with you via Instagram D.M., Facebook Messenger, text message, phone call, FaceTime. Anyways, OK, Makenzie, this was so wonderful. I, you know, I think when we think of morning routines, we do think of things like “OK, we’re going to get dressed, we’re going to brush our teeth, we’re going to make our bed, we’re going to pack our lunch,” you know, that sort of stuff and this was on a much deeper level than that.

Makenzie: I’m all about that. Let’s go deep!

Lauren: I really appreciate that it was quick too, like, I think of morning routines, I think of, like, you need to journal 10 pages and that just like a hard pass for me but this seems doable, for sure.

Annie: Yeah.

Lauren: Even if I can’t do it all all the time because I do have a 4-year-old and a one-year-old and-

Makenzie: Right.

Lauren: They don’t always sleep until even six.

Makenzie: And I’m fully aware that like, Moms, you need your sleep, so I’m not in any way suggesting that but if you can incorporate the kids or you know, when they’re dropped off at the school then you dive into this stuff, I think it’ll, you know, I got shivers when you were talking about like maybe incorporating the kids to do that because just imagine how they’re going to walk through the world now, being grateful for things in the morning and if you start them doing that at like age 7, just imagine what they’ll grow up to be like, you know?

Annie: Yeah,

Lauren: Yeah.

Annie: I love it and so, you know, the big takeaway is make it work for you, like these were all really good ideas and suggestions and again, make it work for you and if you want to continue the discussion on morning routines and you aren’t already a part of our free Facebook group of Healthy Habits Happy Moms please do that because I think our community is, I know our community is going to have some really great additional ideas on elements to include or how they’ve made this their own or how they made it work for them so thank you so much. This was so much fun. I enjoyed it, we will have to have you back again soon but maybe we can discuss like murder mysteries. I feel like that would really go well with Balance365 Life Radio slash Murder Mysteries.

Lauren: Yes. It’s an obvious pairing.

Annie: Clearly. No brainer. OK, thank you, Makenzie, we’ll talk to you later.


The post Episode 48: Getting In The Habit Of A Morning Routine appeared first on Balance365.