9 Ways Decluttering My Morning Routine Has Made Me Happier & More Productive

Photo: Twenty20

Every spring, I like to take a look at my life and release anything that’s not serving me. Whether it’s a toxic relationship, a certain food, a specific habit, even the way my apartment is organized—it’s all up for review. This year, taking charge of my health and well-being inspired me to make changes in other areas of my life, my mornings in particular. Mornings used to be rushed, frazzled, and stressful at best as I mentally played out my day while simultaneously wanding my hair, packing a gym bag, spending too much time picking an outfit, and trying to remember everything I was surely forgetting. Was I going to a workout? Could I afford to hit snooze for another 10 minutes? Did I need to bring food today? Did I need yoga clothes for after work? Or is tonight that dinner thing? I’m a forgetful person by nature, so living this way was a recipe for anxiety by 9 a.m., every time.

In the spirit of simplicity and well-being, I’ve changed up several touch points of my routine and I can say without exaggeration that mornings are completely transformed. I look forward to them. Starting with my new supplement regimen, Ritual, and ending with a clearer mind helps me start the day with a Zen lens, which in turn leads to increased productivity, better ideas, and overall improved mental health. I’m careful, though, not to lose anything that brings joy—that’s the key! Here’s a list of the things that make mornings happier and more productive:

1. Supplements.

Photo: @Ritual

This is a big one for me. First, I have a wellness confession: I’m not a smoothie person. I know, I know! And during the week, as much as I love the foods of breakfast, I don’t get to enjoy them as much as I’d like. Weekdays are, for better or worse, all about efficiency. But once again, I don’t want to fall into a life of all work and no play, all minimalism and no whimsy, so I obviously prefer supplements that are both fun and efficient.

For a while, I took a combination of vitamin D (I’m deficient), omega-3s, and a multi, but Ritual vitamins have all three. Plus, Ritual carefully selects ingredients that are most easily absorbed by the body by making them similar to how you’d normally encounter them in food, and they’re transparent about where they get these ingredients. Their branding is spot on, and the vitamins are a powerhouse. Did I mention that they’ll remind you to take your vitamins (in the nicest way) plus deliver the next batch to your door so you never run out? I’ve been feeling more steady energy, less anxiety, and seeing clearer skin since taking them. When it comes to supplements, the long-term impact is where results really shine, so it's important to simplify your morning routine to make the habit stick. Taking only one supplement helps me do just that!

2. A streamlined closet.

Photo: @Stocksy

It’s my life’s goal to curate a collection of clothes that look like they all belong together. With the exception of a few statement accessories, I want to be able to close my eyes, pick a top and a bottom, and look put-together no matter what I choose. I’d say I’m about 70 percent there, which is hugely helpful when it comes to selecting an outfit without much thought or effort. My go-to bottoms are almost all reworked vintage jeans, and I love tops from Everlane.

3. Workout calendar.

I live and die by my Google calendar. I schedule in my workouts, my me time, my events, everything I need to make it through the week. In particular, I decide whether my daily workout will be in the morning or evening, so I’m not wasting any time in bed snoozing or having a daylong debate about whether I need to hit the gym later. I’ve been feeling more energetic since taking a daily supplement from Ritual, plus it’s summer, so morning workouts have been increasingly the way to go.

4. Sunday decluttering.

Photo: @Ritual

Let’s be clear: You gotta live life! Spending all day every Sunday cleaning and organizing is no way to live. But for me, no matter what I’m doing on Sunday, spending some time decluttering the mess I’ve inevitably accrued during the week helps me feel like life is in order. This usually requires sorting recyclables, doing the dishes, shredding mail, putting clothes away, and vacuuming. Small things make a big difference!

5. A pre-packed gym bag.

The less thinking I have to do in the morning, the better off I am. I pick workout clothes, pack cosmetics—I’ve finally ditched foundation, and I credit the omega-3s in my daily supplement—and choose a work outfit the night before if I’m working out in the morning. It seems like a no-brainer, but it’s all too easy to say "Ah, I’ll do that in the morning," when in reality, it sets you back a good 10 or 15 minutes.

6. Watering the plants.

What do I do with all this extra time in the morning, you ask? Water and mist the plants. I’ve gradually grown a modest collection of houseplants—they brighten up the space and simply spending some time with them in the morning is grounding and reminds me of how much exists outside of my Google calendar, social media algorithms, and many screens.

7. A mindful morning walk.

Photo: Stocksy

I try to get outside as much as I can in the morning. There’s a subway stop a block away, but unless it’s freezing or raining, I’ll walk to one that’s farther away, about a half-mile. I do my best to keep my walk phone-free, knowing I’ll be on it on and off all day. Too much time on Instagram or reading emails before sitting down at my desk always puts my mind in reactive mode. But pulling my head out of my phone and into the world helps my body reset, especially if I tossed and turned the night before or am anxious about something during the day.

8. Noise-canceling headphones on my commute.

There’s nothing quite like walking outside to the melody of a jack hammer and then turning the corner to duck into the subway, where trains roar and babies wail. The good news? What you listen to is in your control, and putting on a pair of over-ear noise-canceling headphones can cut the noise and keep you Zen.

9. Meditation, movement, or reading.

I do one of these three things every morning to bring myself into the moment and clear my mind. I like to think it complements the brain-boosting omegas and B vitamins in my supplement, enhancing my mind’s ability to think creatively and stay "on" without fatigue.

You don’t have to be a minimalist to reap the benefits of minimalism. I’ve found that getting rid of things that don’t serve you and judiciously adding ones that do is just as transformative as a Kondo-style overhaul. Simplification without the sacrifice is the way!

Want to simplify your vitamin routine? Our partners over at Ritual.com want to make it easy for you to try your first bottle. If you aren’t loving it in your first 30 days, they’ll pick up the tab, no questions asked.

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