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The Phone-Free Morning Routine: How Your Phone is Ruining Your Mornings (& How to Fix It!)

July 9, 2021

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I believe that taking care of yourself should always come first. So, my job is to help you create a slow and mindful life that aligns with your values and goals so you can finally go from a state of constantly doing to peacefully being.

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phone-free morning routine

Get this: I don’t look at my phone until I’ve been awake for an hour. Sounds insane, right? (I thought it was crazy at first, too!) But now, my phone-free morning routine is the foundation for the rest of my self care practices and truly helps me set the tone for a stress-free, productive day.

You can – and should – create distance from your devices first thing in the morning. So if you’re the kind to pick up your phone as soon as you open your eyes, keep reading! I’m here to help you cut the (metaphorical) cord.

Why You Should Go Phone-Free In The Morning

You probably already know why excess screentime is bad for you – blue light, the overstimulation, the distraction – but why is using your phone in the morning particularly bad for you?

More than anything, it has to do with setting the tone for your day. Our devices are some of the greatest distractions in our lives, and when you start the morning with your phone in hand, everything else becomes secondary. Instead of taking time to start your day with intention, you get bombarded with to-do lists, messages, emails, and social media notifications. Your attention immediately shifts from taking care of yourself to keeping tabs on others. Your morning should be your own!

I’ve also found that the content I consumed in the morning took a huge toll on my mood. Think about it! When you check your phone, you usually see nothing but negative junk: sad news stories, emails you’ll have to respond to later, Aunt Helen’s latest Facebook rant. You don’t want those things to set the tone for your day! Instead, start with positivity, self-affirmations, and activities that bring you joy.

My 3 Personal Rules For My Phone-Free Morning Routine

Take ’em or leave ’em, these are the three rules I stick to (and recommend to my self care coaching clients) when it comes to phone use in the morning.

RULE 1: Use an analog alarm clock.

Back when I used my phone as an alarm clock, it was nearly impossible not to end up lying in bed scrolling for half an hour before I got up. Set yourself up for success and buy an analog alarm clock. (I love sunrise clocks like this one.)

Not only does this delay that “first touch” with your phone in the morning, but it also makes it possible for you to charge your phone outside of your bedroom. I charge my phone in my office. That way, I’m never tempted to check my notifications or scroll Instagram before I actually feel ready to start my workday.

RULE 2: Stay off your phone for at least an hour.

Yep, you read that right. The first hour of my day is entirely screen-free. I get up, drink a glass of water, move a little, and get on with the rest of my morning routine. Admittedly, it was hard to create this distance with my phone at first. But now, I’ll sometimes go half the day without checking my phone. (I’ve also been known to go radio silent for entire weekends. Let me tell you, it’s a game changer!)

When you’re just starting off, set a smaller goal! Try staying off your phone for the first 10 minutes of your day this week, then increase to twenty minutes next week, and so on. Before you know it, you’ll be so used to your phone-free morning routine that you might forget to check it until lunch!

RULE 3: No other screens, either!

Look, I know it’s tempting to hop on your computer to check emails or scroll through Facebook first thing in the morning. But all those negative affects of early morning phone use – the overstimulation, the blue light, the negativity – also apply to your other devices. So don’t open your laptop, don’t check your Apple Watch, and definitely don’t turn on the TV.

How to Build a Morning Routine Without Your Phone

Ready to craft a more relaxing, enriching morning routine without your devices? Here are the steps!

STEP 1: Prep the night before.

The key to a phone-free morning is setting the tone the night before. Charge your phone in another room, preferably your office (if you have one). If it’s in the kitchen on living room, you’ll have to walk by it as you get ready for your day, and you’ll be tempted to check it.

If you’re really struggling with willpower, you can also leave yourself a little note for the next morning. It’s easy to slip back into old habits without thinking (check out my free habit tracker here), so a physical reminder – as silly as it sounds – can be super helpful. Grab a sticky note, write an affirming message (“You’re creating more balance with your devices!”), and stick it to the wall next to your bed.

STEP 2: Get up as soon as your alarm goes off.

Easier said than done, right? You might be surprised!

Often, we’re not actually “stuck” in bed, we’re “stuck” on our phones. By eliminating screentime first thing in the morning, you basically bore yourself out of bed. No phone means no stimulation, no distraction, and no reason to lay about.

If you’re a perpetual snoozer, I’ve got tips for you, too!

  • Place your alarm clock on the opposite side of the room so you can’t snooze from bed.

  • Sleep with your blinds open so you see sunlight as soon as you wake up.

  • Leave something next to your alarm clock (like a glass of water or a book) so you’ll have something to do as soon as your feet hit the floor.

STEP 3: Move a little!

This is a great step for any morning routine, but especially if you’re trying to declutter your digital life. Whether you take the dog on a walk, do some light stretching, or commit to a full-on workout, moving your body lowers cortisol and adrenaline levels (which stress you out) and releases endorphins (which make you happy). When you’re in a good mood, you’re less likely to turn towards quick-fix distractions like social media or Candy Crush.

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STEP 4: Replace scrolling time with a more enriching activity.

How much time do you waste scrolling on your phone every morning? (Check your screentime if you want to get spooked.) Replace that time with some self care! Go for a walk around your neighborhood, read a book, pick up a new craft, or take some extra time for your skincare routine. The key to eliminating negatives in your life is filling the void with positives. The better you feel without your phone, the less tempted you'll be to go grab it.

STEP 5: Go check your phone (but limit yourself).

When you feel like you're ready to get on with your workday, go ahead and check your phone! Just be sure to check with intention. Set yourself a time limit (I give myself 20 minutes in the morning to check emails, reply to messages, and skim the news). Once that time is up, get a move on!

Ready to fix your relationship with your phone?

Now that you're committed to phone-free mornings, why not create more balance in the rest of your day, too? Go download my free 4-Step Phone Detox Guide to start fixing your relationship with all your devices (because a little distance will do you good!) or grab my "Break up with your phone" e-Book to learn how to become more mindful with your phone so you can be more present and reduce your screen time. 

Get my 4-step process with journal prompts and templates to help you stop mindless scrolling so you can be more present and productive. Get more info here.

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London-based multi-passionate Lifestyle designer for busy female entrepreneurs, lover of Golden Retrievers, skin care obsessed, & proud plant mom.

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