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I've been called the OG of copywriters for creatives, wink—I hook up women with words as a launch copywriter & brand strategist. Even while raking in more than 7-figures since I've been at it, I believe working from a place of rest (not hustle) IS possible—and I want the same for you.
 
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August 14, 2020

My Productive Morning Routine: 7 Things I Do Every Day

Reading time: 8 min.

Let’s talk about daily morning routine ideas! And let me preface by saying I’ve ALWAYS been a mornin’ bird—way back to Limited Too inflatable metallic chair days reading my teen devotional Bible (at age 12—so naturally I felt SO grown-up).

I still love mornings, but do you know what? I’m sick of starting mornings and feeling like I’m already behind … like I’ll never make peace with my day’s to-do’s … and like I’m insufficient.

Every. Morning. that I wake up is a gift from the Lord, and his mercies are NEW each day … and they SHOULD be carried with us throughout the day. James Wedmore gave a great podcast episode about your morning routine—because if you’re not carrying it into your day and instead, keeping it silo’d, you’re probably doing it wrong.

I believe very firmly in stewardship of time, talent, treasure and story. So let’s talk about time starting with your morning routine. I know I share a lot of how-to’s over here, but I also wanna be an open book. Sometimes I think people imagine I have a little bit of a more polished morning routine than I *actually* do.

By the end of this post, you’ll know all about my morning routine, what I’m up to in the morning and during the day ( which I guess is a litttttle creepy when I say it out loud).

As we get started, whether you love the idea of a morning routine or hate it, just know this, you already have a routine, even if you don’t think you do.
You could look at this 2 ways: 1 as a list to try to do everything, or as a menu to choose from … I’ve done both.

Here it is!

 

how-to-batch-your-workday-ashlyn-writes


 


The P.R.E.S.E.N.T. Method

One of my FAVORITE books I recommend to everyone is Design Your Day by Claire Diaz-Ortiz. She’s the one behind this idea, and it’s brilliant.

Cued from Claire, I have these 7 letters written across the top of each day in my Emily Ley Simplified Planner. They stand for:

Pray

Read

Express

Schedule

Exercise

Nourish

Track

 

Emily Ley Simplified Planner review from Ashlyn Writes

I started this morning routine in 2016 and it’s gone through 5 a.m. wake up calls to preganncy/newborn life/ momlife where I FOR SURE don’t wake up at 5 most days anymore. 🙂

I don’t go in order, so here, I want to walk you through what I do during each part of the PRESENT routine … but actually in order that I do them.

When I have PRESENT mornings, everything’s just better!

Let’s jump in!


Morning Routine Step: Read

I have to be a *little* bit quiet here because my child is asleep around the corner(dogs too ’cause if they wake him up 🙄) but we have a little nook in this upstairs room that I use for my little quiet time. I’ve got three different study Bibles, my old journals, some pens, a bunch of books that I’m working through or wanting to take more notes in.

I have only read through the Bible one time and it was 10 years ago, so that’s one thing I’m reading this year! Once I read what’s on my little schedule for that, I start on my other books—I read a chapter in this and half a chapter in this.

Two books I’ve been reading are  “Up from Slavery” by Booker T. Washington and “How to Destroy Americans in Three Easy Steps” by Ben Shapiro.

I love reading at night (& really anytime!), but sometimes books like these I have to process and I need to read them in the morning.

There’s  a book called “Lit!” by Tony Reinke  that was really helpful to help me understand how to mark up a book well and take good notes. I’ve used that process for years and it’s been so so great.

How to read more efficiently and effectively_AshlynWrites

I read about 4-5 books a month…. I knowwww , I know but hear me out:

First: I do at least one audio book a month and I count that.

Secondly: it’s taken a lot to turn off the TV and actually try to read one book a week. I’ve found though, when I read in the mornings, I’m a little bit more focused, if I could just read for 20-30 minutes, that helps knock out books like crazy.

Related: click here to read my post where I wrote about how to become a better reader as an entrepreneur.


Morning Routine Step: Express

Next up is E for express. The way that I interpret this on the menu of P-R-E-S-E-N-T is journaling. This has looked totally different over the years.

I really enjoy journaling through prompts I’ve learned from Michael Hyatt and John Lee Dumas.

  • The date and where I am
  • What the weather’s like, because if it’s good enough for first graders to mark on a felt board each morning during circle time, it’s good enough for me. It’s also fun to look back and remember when there was a snow storm or sunny beach day.
  • 2 things that rocked yesterday
  • 2 things that didn’t rock yesterday
  • 2 ways I can maybe change those
  • My scripture for the day I’m studying or notes/thoughts  on what I’m reading
  • My mood
  • Then, I pick 2-3 of these: what I’m learning from a book, things I’m excited about or nervous about, goals I’m working on, a story I want to tell, my favorite verse from the Bible study I’m working on, my focus for the day, the 3 things I want to have done by the end of the day

Morning Routine Step: Prayer

Like I said, I’m not going in order of P-R-E-S-E-N-T. 😉

I’ve done a video before where I talk a little bit more about what my prayer life looks like, but I believe so much in spending time with the Lord every morning in prayer and talking to him.

It feels counterintuitive sometimes, especially when I’m busy and I have a ton going on, but it’s like that Martin Luther quote. He said: “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” 

I don’t wanna make any decision apart from the Lord and His guidance and His wisdom. I lean on my prayer time and I love it.

My FAVORITE tool for prayer is from my sweet friend Val Marie Paper. I use her prayer journal every morning to help me stay focused, keep a record of prayers the Lord has answered, write down and work on my scripture memory, and remember prayer requests. Val’s entire blog is a GREAT resource on prayer—don’t miss the chance to shop her journals! 👇👇

val-marie-paper-prayer-journal-review-from-ashlyn-writes

If I sit in one spot, on my knees, head down on the floor with sheets of paper in front of me and a weekly guide so I don’t forget what I want to bring to his feet, something magical happens: I focus on Jesus. Soo … that’s why I do the war room thing.


Morning Routine Step: Exercise

This looks veryyyy different at the moment—we’re in quarantine and we have turned into people who exercise at home and ~love~ it!

Before I had my son, I loved going to the gym. I went religiously for years and then I had a baby— anyone else?! 😉 So working out looked a lot more like going on walks.

Then quarantine happened and we totally canceled our gym memberships because we couldn’t justify the extra expense, and we can’t go to the gym.

Now, about five months in, we invested in a Peloton.😬 😬 I didn’t wanna like it, but I *loooooove* it.

I live in Atlanta, traffic is awful. It used to take an hour and a half just to go to the gym and take either like a 40-minute class. That’s hard to justify when you’ve got a kid…

Now, I do a 20-30 minute workout—cycling & some weight lifting stuff…it’s amazinggg 🙂


Morning Routine Step: Nourish

Workout done, now it’s time to eat! I love making a quick smoothie, I tend to do that *most* mornings, then I’m gonna head up—at this point, everything’s been done in the house, not in my office, the next two letters that are remaining I do in my office.

At some point around here, since I’m a mom, there’s been a time where I’ve gotten up and spent time with Tal and enjoy just mom, son, dad, hangout time before we’ve gotten him ready to go to nursery school. Now it’s time to walk out the door, go to my office and do the final two steps of my morning routine.

P.S.—For good meal ideas, I lean on my friend and mastermind sister at Simply Real Health, Sarah. I pick apart her Pinterest boards and blogs constantly!


Morning Routine Step: Schedule

Scheduling comes next—or typically, the night before. That helps me grease the slide!

I write out on my calendar how long things will take me and time block. I pick 3 big things to do … the rest is fluff. I also have batched days:

  • Sundays: Personal Growth
  • Mondays: Marketing
  • Tuesdays: Client Work
  • Wednesdays: Product
  • Thursdays: Client Work & Meetings
  • Fridays: Admin
  • Saturdays: Rest

That takes the guesswork out of any task that comes on my plate … it just goes on the docket for whatever day it fits. If it’s a full day that day, it goes to the next week.

Does this mean I say no to a lot of things? Yup. Does this mean I can be a hardliner about telling people when I can get them things? Yup. But clients pay me to do A+++ work … not do it overnight. And my husband married me — not an LLC. So, for someone that’s struggled with clinical depression & anxiety, I have to stand by these rhythms to not just serve Wes well, but deliver top-notch client work (’cause I only take on 4 at a time max).

Here’s a quick video I did about how I set up my planner and pick those 3 things each day.

 


Morning Routine Step: Track

Kinda more of a through-the-day step, but I do track my time on a pad of paper next to me during the day. At the end of the day, I load it into Toggl (my whole team uses this to keep track of our hours).

Be a maker in the morning, and a manager in the afternoon. Click To Tweet

I try really hard to hack the first 4 hours of your workday. “Be a maker in the morning, and a manager in the afternoon,” I’ve heard.

Drill down those first 4 hours to zone in on your biggest, hardest task, or your craft (so writing copy or whatever it is for you. Stephen King spent 4 hours a day writing before calling it quits and Jerry Seinfeld wrote jokes for four hours a day).

Then, track your time to see where it goes. As it turns out, you may not be working as much as you think. ???? Download my free time tracker here, and put Laura Vanderkam’s books on your reading list.


So that’s it, you know all about how I worked through my day and move into the big projects. Now, what about how I wrap up the day and go into my evening routine? You can see all about my “work to rest winddown” routine by clicking here!

Annddd don’t forget to grab your batch day freebie below!! 👇👇

how-to-batch-your-workday-ashlyn-writes

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How I plan my morning routine | Ashlyn Carter of Ashlyn Writes copywriting and calligraphy

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comments

  1. Nicholette von Reiche says:

    I love seeing how you start your day. And your batched out days is just perfect. I’m going to try that for sure. Thank you for sharing lovely.

  2. Eveline Shum says:

    Super structure. I love how your days are focused. Big takeaway for me. Thanks for sharing and giving us a glimpse of you.

  3. Meg Simone says:

    I love reading your blog posts! I’m so glad I met you at Camp Wed 🙂 Thank you for sharing your routine! My friend gave me the Theives Oil and Theives lozenges from Young Living and I swear that’s why I haven’t (knock on wood) been sick all year! Totally bonkers!

    • Meg, that makes me so happy! I’m glad I met you, too—-and I’m right there with you. I rub Theives on my feet every night, and I’m starting to believe its mystical powers, too. 🙂

  4. KyAnn Molina says:

    This blog post was SO incredibly helpful, Ashlyn!! Thank you so much for all of your tips! I am refreshing a lot of things in my life after a year of burn-out last year and my daily routines is one of those things. This was so helpful to see a perfect outline that helps start the day with all of my top priorities (time with Jesus, exercise, business planning, taking time to reflect and be grateful, etc.). I am going to implement this right away and I even took notes and went ahead and applied some of your tips to my Powersheets! I will definitely start using the PRESENT acronym idea asap because I love it!! I also hadn’t heard of this prayer journal before, but I went to check it out and even though the yearly versions are sold out, I’m ordering the undated version today because this is exactly what I need to center my prayer life. Thank you so much again for all of your help!!

    • KyAnn … well aren’t you just the sweetest. Thank YOU for encouraging me. I’m so glad you’re taking those bold steps AWAY from burnout. It’s the worst, and has no place in our lives. You’re doing great! xo – Ash

  5. Peyton Flowers says:

    Thank you for taking the time to detail out your mornings! I am so excited to start this system for myself. I have only Bible studied with just my Bible, but noticed you mentioned workbooks. I am really interested in starting this! Do you have any additional recommendations on study workbooks? Thank you. 😀

    • Hey, Peyton! YES! Okay, I LOVE recommending Jen Wilkin’s studies. The podcast is free (Flower Mound Women’s Bible Study) on iTunes, and you can find the links to the workbooks through those. I’ve bought a few of her studies on Lifeway, too. She’s a go-to for me because she teaches SO scripturally based, and starts with the Word itself. I would really recommend her book Women of the Word, too!

  6. Lisa says:

    Hello! Just found this today as I’ve been focusing on coming up with the best morning routine for work from home days and work at work days, which I’ve been struggling on since moving homes and getting married in the last year. One thing I’m not sure I understand is the “E for Express”. Could you elaborate on this?

    • Hey Lisa, we’re so glad you found this, and we hope it was helpful for you! The “E for Express” is part of Ashyln’s beloved “PRESENT” method, and E for express is the time she sets aside for journaling and expressing herself — she lists out some of what she’ll write about in the middle of the post. Depending on the day, “E for Express” can be more of a brain dump, just getting things out of your head and onto paper, or it can be more reflective. Just depends! But, there’s a lot of research out there that shows journaling and processing your thoughts/emotions daily is very healthy for managing things like stress and anxiety! xo. Team Ashlyn Writes

  7. Jaylyn says:

    Hi Ashlyn! Thanks for this post, I really enjoyed seeing a morning routine from a Christian woman entrepreneur. Its encouraging to see other women still putting Christ and time in the Word first. Thanks for a practical ans encouraging post.

  8. I love this! Definitely going to implement some of these ideas…

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