My friend Ryan Cote, the blogger at Morning Upgrade, has been talking to me about morning routines for almost two years now. Before I started talking to him, I wouldn’t have said I have a morning routine, but it turns out that I do.
Every single day when I get up, there is a full list of tasks I do without even thinking about it. My mom calls this “opening your house”. When I was growing up, she would tell me that there were would be things I’d do every morning to get my house ready for my day.
Unintentionally, I developed a morning routine where I get up and get my house in order so I can focus. This is a good thing, by the way, because it helps me be productive and see my home as a workplace (which it is).
But, the problem is that once my feet hit the floor, I’m off to the races doing all of these tasks without thinking about it. It’s not uncommon for me to get an hour deep in opening blinds, making the bed, loading the dishes, swapping laundry, straightening the couch pillows, etc…and I haven’t stopped to do anything to nourish myself mentally or physically.
The Morning Upgrade Cards Offer a Short Morning Routine
When Ryan started talking about his Morning Upgrade cards, I was really excited because I already knew the design would be perfect for someone like me. For one thing, I can do the majority of the morning routine from my bed. That’s a huge plus for me since the minute I get up, I start moving and don’t stop.
The other thing that drew me to the cards is that the routine is a maximum of 20 minutes long. I always thought morning routines had to be long and drawn out. Like an hour of Bible reading and prayer followed by an hour of exercising. But, this routine is only 15-20 minutes.
But Ryan takes the approach that a short morning routine can be just as effective as a long one because you’re more likely going to do it every day.
Morning Upgrade Cards Reminds Me to Think
I set the stack of Morning Upgrade cards on my nightstand so it reminds me to stop and take time to think, pray, and focus on God before I begin my day. And if I don’t write on the cards before I get up, I take one with me and carry it around the house to remind me.
I’m not great at thinking about things…anything really. Instead of thinking about what I need to do or what my priorities should be, I run ahead and do things. When something makes me upset or happy, I don’t stop and think through those emotions. I just keep doing things. I’ve always thought thinking would slow me down, so I avoid it.
The Bible has a lot to say about being intentional with your thought life. Romans 12:2 tells us not to be conformed to the world but to be transformed by renewing our minds. Philippians 4:8 tells us whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
This year I’ve been trying to be much more intentional with my thoughts. I’ve found it very challenging to use these cards each day because it makes me slow down and process. And it carries into the day because as things happen that bring up emotions in me, I have been allowing myself to stop and process more.
My Experiment With Using a Journal For These Prompts
Ok, so before I bought these cards, I wanted to see how effective it would be for me to use a journal for the prompts on the card. By nature, I’m a DIYer and tend to use the resources I have on hand before deciding to buy a product. So, I set a journal by my bed to see how often I would open the journal and answer the prompts. Do you know what? I set the journal there for two straight weeks and didn’t open it once. I never filled in the journal with the answer to the prompts on the cards.
But, when I got the cards, I did the routine the first day they were here. That day happened to be a Wednesday, which is the morning the only morning I have to leave at 7:30. I felt like that was pretty amazing to have time to add in a morning routine on my earliest day and I didn’t feel stressed or rushed.
All this to say, I feel like this product is worth it. I wanted to experiment and see how it went so I could decide if this was worthwhile to tell you about. And not to toot my own horn here, but I’m a very disciplined person, so I thought I’d at least be able to write in my journal at least a few times. Since I’ve had the cards, I’ve only skipped a few days. Whereas, with a journal, I didn’t even crack it one time and try to write the answers to what’s on the cards.
What’s On The Cards And How I Use Them
The Morning Upgrade cards are a front and back 4×6 card that has 5 writing prompts and two boxes to check.
Here is a look at what’s written on the cards:
- What is your #1 priority for today?
- What are you grateful for?
- What is your biggest win from yesterday?
- Who will you reach out to today?
- What is on your mind?
The two prompts are to meditate for 5 minutes and exercise for 5 minutes.
My Top Priority For The Day
This prompt usually isn’t too hard for me, because I end each workday knowing what’s on my list for the next day. I just write down the top 2 things that I feel most urgent about from that list. If you’re someone that has to look at your list in order to choose your top priorities, then you’ll need to make sure you have it near you when you fill this out.
What I’m Grateful For
I give thanks to God at every meal I eat, so I’m no stranger to gratitude practice. But, coming up with something different every day means I burn through the big things I’m grateful for. It’s causing me to be more in tune with how things make me feel.
How does this cup of coffee feel in my hand? Does it bring me joy? Am I grateful?
What senses are awakened in me when I smell that burning candle?
How do I feel when the wind hits my face?
What memories come rushing to my mind when I hear the sound of the train horn in the distance?
Being grateful for what God gave you and the simple luxuries that are around you goes a long way in helping you feel at peace and happy.
My Biggest Win
This is a really challenging prompt for me. I’ve never been one to give myself a pat on the back for accomplishing things. Some of it is because I’m really worried that I’ll become proud and have it come back on me. Also, I don’t want to be someone that relives the glory days over and over. Neither of those things are good, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t recognize what I’ve accomplished in a healthy way.
In all honesty, I haven’t known how to recognize my wins but Ryan has been encouraging me and teaching me to do this. It’s not easy, yet, but I’m working on it.
Who I’ll Reach Out To
Actually, this has been a practice of mine most of my life. I’ve regularly taken the time to reach out to someone each day that lives outside of my home. However, even though this is something that I have done a lot, it’s still been challenging to me to write someone different every day. Not that I don’t reach out to the same people at times, but I try to mix it up.
One thing about this prompt, though, is that if you are someone like me that gives everything you have emotionally to the people around you…on your most emotionally drained days, you may want to skip this one. Or, only reach out to someone that fills you up.
What’s On My Mind
I almost never have anything on my mind. Remember how I said I’m working really hard at being more intentional with my thinking? It’s getting better. Some days I have a couple of things weighing on me and I write down what’s on my mind. But, every day, I write the verse of the day from the YouVersion Bible app.
Scripture is something that I want to intentionally have on my mind. Not only that, reading a verse and then going straight into meditation makes a lot of sense.
The Bible says a lot about meditation, both on God’s laws and his promises. Psalm 104:34 says “May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the LORD”. And Psalm 143:5 says “I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done”.
Some mornings I sit silently and dwell on what I just read. Others, I quiet my mind completely and push every thought out. It’s very important to train yourself to take hold of your own thoughts.
If I’m feeling really distracted one morning, I use the InsightTimer app to do a guided meditation for 5 minutes. I usually start out by looking for the book and chapter of the Bible that my verse of the day came from.
This is probably the part of the routine that I end up skipping the most. Once I get out of bed, I’ve got dogs underfoot that want to go out. And then as I mentioned, I end up leaving my bedroom and starting down the full list of things I do to open my house.
Usually, I end up exercising by putting on music and dancing around while I’m getting ready, straightening the house, or making coffee. It’s not always consecutive with the time I fill out the card and meditate. I just do the best I can to intentionally move as long as possible.
My Overall Likes About The Morning Upgrade Cards
For me, the Morning Upgrade cards have helped me be way more consistent with taking time to do something for myself in the mornings. Even if I don’t get to the cards before I get out of bed, I am reminded to take a few minutes to sit down and do them before I get my workday started.
It’s a Fast Way to Journal
I also like the journal aspect of the cards. As you know, I’m a writer, and as I writer I always think journaling has to be a lot longer than what it is. Call me crazy, but it just doesn’t feel right to me to only write a few lines on a blank page in a journal. I naturally want to fill up the whole page. This was one thing I was concerned about with the cards, that there wouldn’t be enough space for it to be effective. But, the truth is, it’s the right amount of space for me. I feel good because I fill up the lines, but I have enough space to get out what I’m thinking.
Easy to Write On In Bed
Since this is a flat card, it’s very easy for me to write on it while I’m laying in the bed. I can even keep my head on the pillow and write on the card if I use a journal or clipboard to bear down on. I try to stay laying down so the dogs don’t think I’m awake and ready to take them out.
Visual Reminder to Do The Routine
While a journal can be a visual reminder, the fact that I can read the prompts on the card sitting on my nightstand from my bed gets me thinking about how I’ll answer each question. Because I’m already thinking about what I’ll write, it makes it much easier to grab the cards and do it.
Easy to Carry With Me
If I have a morning where the dogs simply won’t let me do the routine before I get out of bed, I grab a card and take it with me. It’s a lot easier to carry it around than if I were toting a notebook. I’m sure the same would be true for me to take them on a trip with me.
How to Buy The Cards
If you want to check these cards out then head over to the Morning Upgrade Cards page and you can buy them there. They are sold in a three-month pack and you can either buy them a pack at a time or sign up for a subscription. If you go the subscription route, then you won’t have to worry about re-ordering when you get low. I hope my review of the cards help you make a good decision about whether or not these cards are right for you.