Jun 22, 2018
Episode 25 of The Teaching Space Podcast explores how powerful a morning routine can be for teachers.
Welcome to The Teaching Space podcast, coming to you from Guernsey in the Channel Islands.
Hello. It's Martine here and welcome to Episode 25 of The Teaching Space Podcast. Today we're talking about the power of a morning routine for teachers.
Now, I'm not talking about the morning routine that happens with your learners in your classroom. I'm talking about you. Today's episode is all about you. The routine that happens from the moment you wake up until you arrive in your classroom.
Today's episode, I repeat, is all about you.
I'll give you a bit of backstory. Up until fairly recently, my morning routine was nonexistent. There was nothing resembling a routine for me in the mornings. I'd get up at different times every day. Sometimes I'd have breakfast, sometimes not. Sometimes I'd go to work early and do emails; sometimes I'd arrive exactly on time and start my day in a completely different way. There was no consistency.
For many people, this is absolutely fine. But I started to realise it wasn't okay. When I made the decision to start going to the gym regularly, I looked at my day and tried to work out when I could fit going to the gym in and I really couldn't work it out. I had a little bit of an inkling that the morning would be the best possible time for me but I wasn't sure, so I needed some help.
It was at this point I read "168 Hours" by Laura Vanderkam. You absolutely have to read this book. The significance of the 168 number is that's how many hours you have in an entire week.
After reading this book, I did something called a time study. It's something that the author encourages you to do. So, for an entire week, I logged what I did every 15 minutes. I had a spreadsheet sectioned up into 15 minute chunks, and I logged everything I did. Then I analysed how I spent my time.
The biggest thing for me was identifying how much time I was wasting in the morning. It was this exercise that made me realise I could fit in going to the gym in the morning and a routine would be the thing to really help me with that.
I'd now like to tell you what my morning routine looks like and I should let you know, full disclosure here, I've been doing this for a few months now. I think a few months is probably long enough to establish a habit.
I am definitely not the guru of morning routines. However, I have experienced many benefits from establishing this routine, and that's why I want to share it with you because I believe all teachers and trainers could benefit from having a morning routine. This is how my mine goes.
I wake up at 6:00 a.m. Often I actually wake up five minutes or so before my alarm, and that's one of the things that made me realise that my routine is now sticking.
As soon as I get up, I take my medication with a large glass of water because I want to be hydrated for going to the gym later. I have coffee. I will usually have a breakfast bar, something very quick and easy to eat that's going to give me a little bit of an energy boost for the gym. I steer clear of the high sugar breakfast bars. I go for something quite natural.
Then, I can't believe I'm going to say this; I'm really not this girl, I write in my journal. I use Day One app, and I've talked about this on the podcast before. (You can find a link to the previous podcast episode on journalling here.)
But I spend probably three minutes writing in my journal. I just have a couple of prompts. I set an intention or a goal for the day. I record how I'm feeling. I know it sounds really [woo-woo 00:04:35], but it's a really nice part of my routine. I do that.
It takes no time at all because I use a tool called text expander, so I type in a little code and my prompts just come up automatically, so that's a top tip there. I write in my journal.
Then I drive to the gym and I arrive at the gym just after 6:30 a.m. It opens at 6:30, so I'm there within 10 minutes of it opening. I do 30 minutes cardio and some stretching.
Now, this was a bit of a big thing for me to work out. Going to the gym doesn't mean you have to spend an hour there. In my head, I'd just come up with this thing that if you go to the gym, you've got to spend an hour there for it to be worthwhile. Well, I go to the gym every weekday, so 30 minutes is all right.
I should also add one of the reasons I only do 30 minutes is I have a bad back, I have a couple of slipped discs, so I have to be really careful with what I do. But 30 minutes of cardio every day and some stretching and probably some sit-ups and things like that and some back strengthening exercises, that's a heck of a lot more than I've been doing beforehand. I've been doing nothing beforehand, so 30 minutes is a big deal.
If you can only go to the gym and do 20 minutes, that's totally fine as well. It's a really important thing to do for yourself.
The gym isn't for everyone. The point of this episode is not to bang on about the gym. It's about having a little bit of time for yourself and doing something that is a healthy practice. Remember, of course, going to the gym was one of the things that sparked me into working out a morning routine for myself.
I get home by 7:30 at the latest. At that point, I have a shower, I get ready. Because I'm a wonderful wife to my husband, I tend to bring him a cup of fresh coffee. Then I travel to work and I'm at work by 8:30 at the latest. I officially start at 9:00. 8:30 gives me plenty of time to get ready for my day. That's my morning routine.
But I know what you want to find out. What are the benefits of having a morning routine? Why is having a morning routine such a powerful thing for teachers? I can really only speak for myself, but let me tell you a bit about the benefits I've experienced.
Going to the gym every weekday, for me, has been a big deal. I have a back injury and I've noticed improvements in my pain levels through exercise. It's also wonderful me time. I have my headphones on, so I'm usually listening to a book or listening to a podcast or sometimes I'll go completely headphone-less, usually, to be fair, when the Bluetooth isn't connecting or they've run out of charge, but then it's just thinking time, and that is really important, too.
I find the thinking time a bit more difficult, but I'm working on that. If, like me, you struggle with the motivation to exercise, get it done in the morning. It is more likely to get done. So, getting my exercise out of the way in the morning is definitely a benefit of having a morning routine.
I've also noticed, and this benefit kicked in very quickly, that I had way more energy throughout the day, and I didn't expect this. I know they say exercise releases endorphins and all that jazz, but I just didn't really believe it. But I definitely have more energy when I've exercised in the morning.
I'm also observing a more consistent bedtime because I know I'm up at 6:00 a.m., so I'm always in bed before 10:00 a.m. 10:00 a.m.? That would be weird. 10:00 p.m. I'm sleeping better and I'm finding the journaling process, the fact that its part of my routine, is doing wonderful things for my mental health. I feel really good about noting something in my journal every day.
Do you know what? The upshot of all of this? I think having a morning routine is making me better at my job. I think I'm really focused on achieving good things and it's making me a better teacher.
Gosh, does that sound cheesy? Well, it's true. I really believe it. That's why I think having a morning routine can be a really powerful practice for teachers.
Tell me about you. What do your mornings look like? Are they what mine used to be or do you want to get a morning routine? Tell me. I'd love to hear from you. One of the best things you can do is join our Facebook group and we'll have a chat in there. So, hop over to Facebook and join The Teaching Space Staff Room.
While I'm asking you to do things, because I'm cheeky, if you can find the time, I would love it if you left a positive review on iTunes for the podcast because it will make The Teaching Space podcast easier for teachers and trainers to find and listen to.
Thank you so much. I hope you've enjoyed this episode and I hope you'll tune in next time.