Teachers, Here’s How to Nail Your Morning Routine as a Keystone Habit

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05/06/2024

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05/06/2024

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Teachers Here is How to Nail Your Morning Routine as a Keystone Habit Blog cover

As teachers, you pour so much of your energy and passion into shaping young minds each day. We understand the challenges and the immense joy that come with this calling. But rushing into our fast-paced work-life without a healthy morning routine is a sure-fire route to overwhelm and burnt out. That’s why it’s crucial to establish habits that enhance your productivity and nurture your spiritual well-being.

overworked employee lying in front of laptop
Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich on Pexels.com

Today, I want to help you nail your morning routine as a keystone habit. A well-crafted morning routine can set the tone for your entire day, influencing your mood, energy levels, and effectiveness in the classroom. More importantly, for those of us who are followers of Christ, a morning routine can be a sacred time to connect with God, seeking His guidance and strength for the day ahead.

Let’s dive into how you can create a morning routine that anchors your day, enriches your spirit, and empowers you to fulfill your calling, both as a teacher and as a disciple of Christ.

First, what’s a ‘Keystone Habit’?

Charles Duhigg coined this term in his book The Power of Habit. A keystone habit is a foundational routine or behavior that leads to the development of other good habits. It creates a positive chain reaction that can transform various aspects of your life. For instance, a keystone habit like regular exercise not only improves physical health but also enhances mood, energy levels, and even time management.

A keystone habit is like the cornerstone of an archway – it’s one habit that supports and reinforces many other habits and behaviors. (Source: Wikipedia)

For teachers, establishing keystone habits is particularly beneficial. The demands of teaching—preparing lessons, managing classrooms, marking assignments, and addressing students’ diverse needs—require a high level of organization, mental clarity, and emotional resilience. A well-established morning routine can significantly help in managing these demands more effectively.

When you begin your day with a structured and purposeful morning routine, you set a positive tone that carries through your entire day. This proactive approach helps reduce stress, increases productivity, and enhances your overall well-being. Moreover, incorporating spiritual practices into your morning routine allows you to start each day rooted in God’s word and His promises, providing a sense of peace and purpose that can sustain you through any challenge.

By understanding and implementing keystone habits, you’re not just making minor adjustments to your daily schedule; you’re building a foundation for a more balanced and fulfilling life. This foundation is especially critical in a profession as impactful and demanding as teaching.

Why is a Morning Routine so Hard for Teachers like Me?

Morning routines have been touted as the keystone habit for a great day. Get the morning right, they say, and the rest of the day will be a breeze. I used to be a firm believer of this, having read the book “The 5AM Club” that convinced me of the power of waking up at 5am. For a few months, I diligently practiced this routine, and it worked wonders! I felt more alert, focused, and productive during that period. Heck, I even lost a few kilos as a bonus.

Alas, as life happened, I found myself struggling more and more to keep up with this early-rising habit. The culprit? Poor preparation the night before. I’d fail to exercise or journal, leaving the precious morning hours too short as I had to wake the kids and get them ready for school.

You might relate to some of these struggles as well:

  1. Early Bird Gets…Tired? Unlike office workers who typically start at 9am, we teachers need to be at school as early as 7am for our duties. 7.40am is pretty much the latest I can afford to report in.
  2. Work Never Ends: Grading papers, preparing lessons – we almost always bring work home, sometimes even burning the midnight oil to get it all done.
  3. Emotional Exhaustion: Teaching can really take it out of you. Dealing with classroom noises, multiple demands, and attending to the socio-emotional needs of kids/teens is utterly draining. By evening, I’m running on fumes.

Related: Teacher burnout

For Christian teachers like myself, this struggle is compounded by the desire to start the day with God’s Word. But how can we manage all this and still reach school energized and ready?

The challenges are real, but take heart. In the following sections, we’ll explore practical steps to craft a morning routine that not only energizes you but also aligns with your faith, helping you to start each day with purpose and peace.

Tips for Finally Nailing that Morning Routine!

One resource that helped me tremendrously to get back on my morning routine is Reagan Rose’s Redeeming Productivity. You might want to check out his podcast and article on How to Prepare for a Great Morning Routine:

Here are some tips that have helped me:

1. Prepare for Success the Night Before

  • Prepare What You Need the Next Day:
    • One of the key strategies to ensure a great morning routine is to prepare everything you need the night before. This includes setting out your clothes, prepping breakfast, and organizing your workspace. By doing these small tasks the night before, you reduce decision fatigue and streamline your morning.
  • Create a Designated Morning Space:
    • Having a specific area where you start your morning routine can significantly enhance consistency. This space should be clean and ready, with everything you need (like your Bible, journal, or exercise equipment) easily accessible. Preparing this space at the end of each morning routine helps ensure it’s ready for the next day.
  • Establish a Bedtime Routine:
    • A successful morning routine starts with a good night’s sleep. Establishing a bedtime routine that helps you wind down is essential. This might include activities like reading, prayer, or light stretching to signal to your body that it’s time to sleep.

2. Use the P.O.W.E.R. Strategy to plan your routine

Source: YouVersion Bible App. https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/36185-power-morning-routines
They have a free 4-day BIble Reading Plan based on Reagan Rose’s principles.

Reagan Rose’s P.O.W.E.R. morning routine is a structured approach designed to help Christians start their day with God at the center. Here’s a breakdown of what P.O.W.E.R. stands for:

  1. PPrayer: Begin your day with prayer. Spend time connecting with God, seeking guidance, and expressing gratitude.
  2. OOrganize: Take some time to plan and organize your tasks for the day. Review your to-do list and set clear intentions for the day.
  3. WWord: Dedicate time to reading the Bible. Reflect on scripture and how it applies to your life and work.
  4. EExercise: Incorporate physical activity into your morning. Whether it’s a quick workout, a jog, or some stretching, exercise boosts your energy and mental clarity.
  5. RReading and Writing: Engage in reading a book or journaling. This practice can stimulate your mind and provide a space for reflection and personal growth.

Here’s My Ideal P.O.W.E.R. Morning Plan During the School Term

One thing to note is that this P.O.W.E.R. strategy is not meant to be followed rigidly in sequence. It is more of a collection of the 5 key elements in a Christian’s morning routine. Hence, I’ve adapted this to suit my current situation. As a teacher who needs to fetch his children and report to work by 7.40am, I need to leave the house by 6.30am.

To keep a quality 1-hour morning routine, I need to start by 5.30am.

As I will need 7 hours of sleep to function properly, this works out to be 5.30am – 7 hours = 10.30pm the night before.

Here’s a snapshot of my ideal morning routine:

Overview

  • 5:30am – 5:40am: Personal Preparation
  • 5:40am – 5:50am: Pray
  • 5:50am – 6:10am: Exercise and Word of God
  • 6:10am – 6:20am: Reading and Writing
  • 6:20am – 6:30am: Organize

5:30am – 5:30am: Personal Preparation (10 mins)

  • Wash Up and Hydrate: I spend the first ten minutes washing up, drinking water, and getting physically ready for the day.

5:40am – 5:50am: Pray (10 mins)

  • Prayer Time: I dedicate 10 minutes to prayer. During this time, I seek God’s guidance, express gratitude, and lay down any worries or plans before Him.

5:50am – 6:10am: Exercise and Word of God (20 mins)

  • Audio Bible and Jogging: I spend 20 minutes listening to an audio Bible while jogging or engaging in another form of exercise. Note that this is NOT a full workout. It is simply to help me get my heart pumping and my body ‘activated’, while setting my mind on God’s Word for the day.

6:10am – 6:20am: Reading and Writing (10 mins)

  • Read or Journal: I use these 10 minutes for personal growth through reading or journaling. I can read a few pages from a book or write in my journal about my reflections on the Bible reading.

6:20am – 6:30am: Organize (10 mins)

  • Review My Day: I spend the last 10 minutes organizing my thoughts and tasks. I review my to-do list, look through my calendar, set my priorities, and mentally prepare for the day ahead.

This list might seem a lot! But I am not beating myself up for missing a step or two. For example, it is not necessary that I must do my reading in the morning before rushing off to work. Sometimes I listen to audiobooks on my commute.

But the non-negotiables are there: Start with Prayer, Soak in the Word, and Organize the day. If you can’t do full POWER, at least give the morning a good POW!

Recommended Resources

This is how I plan to start the day. I hope you can find some takeaways that can help you stay centered on God despite our unique challenges as teachers.

For my Christian readers, if you wish to delve deeper into how to be more productive for the glory of God, Reagan Rose’s Youtube channel has tons of resources to look through. I’ve signed up with his Redeeming Productivity Academy and am currently working through his online courses.

Much of my content above takes reference from his course on Morning Routine:

Too overwhelming? You can take it slow and just sign up for Reagan Rose’s Redeeming Productivity newsletter here using my referral link.

I hope to hear from you! What are your takeaways? Do you have a morning routine? What has worked for you (and what hasn’t)? Share in the comments!

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