Mary Kate McGowan
How My New Morning Routine Increases My Creativity
Updated: Feb 14, 2021
January is a month of beginnings, and I’m about to add one more. For the first time, I'm reflecting on what lessons learned and tips I’ve discovered this month.
Let’s dive into January 2021, a month of promise, turmoil, emotion and hope.
This month, I’ve been focusing on creating more clarity in my life and in my business. From establishing small habits to updating my systems to make data-informed decisions, January has refreshed my business.
I’ve been working hard this month to commit to small, daily actions to help me live out my story with more freedom and spaciousness.
After—sometimes unknowingly—resisting creating systems and processes for my business for several months, I reached the capacity of my short-term memory in January. Keeping everything in my head and relying on checklists and to-do lists became too much and too inefficient.
My initial resistance against routines and processes was born from a fear that systems would impede my creativity. I was wrong.
Taking a more structured approach actually increased my creativity. It also decreased my anxiety. Routines have created more bandwidth to devote to creative pursuits.
Starting My Morning Right
Establishing a morning routine was the most significant change I started this month. I’m a notorious hater of mornings. I don’t operate until I’ve had a cup of coffee and don’t even think of trying to talk to me before the sun rises.
Because I despised mornings, I used to roll out of bed, immediately start working and dive right into the day. Just a freefall into my day.
I would work hours in my pajamas and would wash my face during my lunch break. I was a mess. Because I was starting my day in a rush, I constantly felt behind. The rushed mornings created rushed afternoons that led to rushed nights. And that caused my anxiety to spike.
About a week into January, I had decided I had had enough of these anxiety-ridden, rushed mornings. I started a morning routine, which includes changing out of my pajamas. For the past few weeks, I’ve greeted the day by:
Changing out of my pajamas
Washing my face
...and then start the coffee and turn on my phone.
Starting the day by taking care of myself has been refreshing. I am less anxious and more productive. I feel lighter.
Because I don’t check my phone, I can start the day with myself and my thoughts before I invite others in. Journaling has been cathartic and has helped me uncover a few patterns. Because I am now writing within the first 15 minutes of my day, I am excited for the morning. I know that when I get out of bed and prepare for the day, I’ll be able to do something I love first thing in the morning.
Because journaling is a creative and emotional outlet, it helps prepare my mind for what’s ahead. I can prep myself for tasks and projects I’m working on. I can roughly estimate how long those will take, and I can fairly accurately predict how long I will have for some of my low-priority, but fun projects.
Knowing what my day could look like prepares me to tackle my day with more confidence. I feel more empowered when making decisions about my life and my business.
This change in my routine inspired me to stop avoiding a few things that were actually keeping me up at night, such as taxes and updating my bookkeeping system.
Knowing Your Numbers Gives You Clarity
It turns out knowing your business’ numbers gives you clarity. And when you have clarity, you can make a plan to accomplish your goals. More on that later.
While I don’t want every day to be the same, I want my body and creativity to align. By giving myself space in the morning, the rest of my day feels more spacious. I can better focus on creative pursuits and my mental and physical health.
Creativity is a balance of art and science. And my morning routine helps me create balance.
Fellow business owners and creatives, how do you start your days to set yourself up for success?