A good morning routine is the difference between a good day and a bad day, says entrepreneur and business owner Monique Knight.
Knight, who worked for many years as a psychotherapist, says, "Without a morning routine, your body, mind and emotions don't have time to meet the day. Everyone has a routine, even if they think they don't. Not having a routine is a routine. So chaos can become a routine.
"The problem with chaos is that it means you start every morning on the back foot."
She says it's important to know what type of person you are.
"If you're not a morning person, you're probably going to need more time, therefore your routine is going to be even more important.
"If you are a morning person, you're probably up-and-at-em more easily. So your own internal flow needs to govern what you need."
She says: "When I was about 18, I had a job about three minutes from my flat. I had my shower time and getting ready down to seven-and-a-half minutes so I could push the snooze button three times, then it took me three minutes to get to work.
"When I got to work, it would take me half an hour and a cup of coffee. I'd sit at my desk and wonder about my day and look at my work. So actually, my employer was paying for my morning routine. But it was still a routine. Now I get up earlier, because I actually need about an hour. That hour is taken up with a routine of relaxation so I can gather my now older self for my day."
She says, as with everything, we grow and change — and we need to look at how we manage ourselves in the morning at any given time in particular.
"For example today I have an extremely busy day. So my morning routine actually started the night before. Yesterday, I filled up with petrol because I knew it would be stressful to do that this morning. And I updated my diary before I went to bed. I could sleep well because I'd been organised, and did not need to worry about all I had to do. I could take my time to have a relaxed morning, because I knew I needed it."
There has been recent research on the benefits of a to-do list for sleep. "Definitely writing a to-do list before you go to bed allows the brain to rest rather than thoughts coming of: "don't forget to get the milk, don't forget to email so and so … causing a level of worry and anxiety".
As to what is needed for a relaxing morning routine, Knight says that's something people need to figure out for themselves. She says, "For me a pot of tea in the morning means I've got my fluid for the morning, some may judge the fact that it's tea — but it works for me.
"I have my breakfast, I have my shower and makeup routine. I have a way of having my breakfast. I'm sitting down in quiet or there's family around — whatever it is, it's not work time. Then I'm ready to transition into work mode. I used to walk in the morning for 25 minutes — that was great. Because my job has changed I don't do that now It's about making decisions about your life and health.
"If I organise the things I have control over, then when things are unexpected it's easier to deal with that.
"When you're in a place of everything being last minute, we get to a point where life happens, quickens and can be chaotic."
Of course for many people, an individual morning routine needs to consider others — particularly when there are children involved.
"When we have children, we need to get things achieved quite quickly. From the outside it can look like chaos.
"It's about getting the children dressed, hair done, fed and off to school.
"There's also the school lunches. It may feel like you've run a marathon every morning.
"Is there a way to streamline that process? For some people, if there is a zero routine, and things don't happen in an order and they feel constantly in a mess, there's constant conflict and turmoil."
Knight says, "I wasn't a morning child. My mother was a morning person. Every morning I'd have this chirpy person driving me nuts; what I needed was silence so I could get on with my routine. It was awful."