My Favorite Hack to Create Habits | Digital Masters

Episode #50

My Favorite Hack to Creating Habits that Improve My Business (and Life)

crating a morning routine

Have you been wanting to add new habits to your daily routine and you’re just absolutely struggling?

I’ve always been a routine person. I’ve been taking daily asthma medications since I was 16 and if I don’t follow the same basic routine every day, I might forget to take that medication.

But even though I like routines, adding new habits that I know will help me can be hard.

Creating healthy daily habits can aid in growing your business, getting your mindset right, and even improving that little thing we all neglect – work/life balance.

Today, I’m going to walk you through the trick I recently used to create an entirely new morning and evening routine, help me getting better sleep, and start my day not already stressed.


The Absence of Smart Habits

Before I dive into the how, I want to quickly talk to you about the why.

I work from home, but I have a very nice home office set up. Having a designated workspace, even though I live alone with my husky Mac, gives me the ability to mentally shift to work mode when I walk in my office and hopefully turn it off when I leave for the day.

I like to be working in the office by around 8am. I find keeping standard business hours helps to keep me focused and helps me tackle the bigger projects better.

The problem?

I was waking up at 7:30 or later, rolling out of bed, making a quick breakfast, and then often taking that breakfast straight to the office to start working. (I shower at night.)

What was happening as I consumed my smoothie and then Monster energy drink was that I was consistently starting my day stressed.

I wear a Garmin watch that tracks my stress levels. By 8:30 or 9 every day, I was getting the “Let’s do a breathing exercise” notification.

Sound familiar at all?

It Affected Everything

It’s hard to recover your day and stay productive and focused when you start your day in stress.

I would maybe be able to relax after taking the dog for a walk around lunch time and taking a real lunch break, but often my entire day would be a struggle to think through a brain fog.

I’d end up working later than I’d wanted to or working for “just a bit” after I ate dinner to make up for the lack of productivity during the day.

I’d struggle to fall asleep because my mind was still racing and stressed.

There was no space in my life for that break I knew I needed, but I wasn’t sure where to start.

A New Morning Routine

I’m not sure honestly how I pinpointed that my specific problem was that I rolled out of bed and straight into my day. After weeks of reflection and talking to my best friend about it, I finally got there at least.

He had long been pestering me to keep a “Positivity Journal” (I trend a big negative naturally and he’s basically a golden retriever of positivity). I had struggled to add that into my life because I had no space in my day for that.

Between wanting to incorporate that and some stress, I started to craft what my new morning routine would look like:

  • Get up
  • Do not touch my phone until work time.
  • Do 10-15 minutes of yoga (thanks YouTube!)
  • Wash face, tone, moisturize and get dressed
  • Eat pre-made breakfast – at the table!
  • While/after eating, fill out the morning side of my journal (more on that in a bit)
  • Clean up, load dishwasher
  • Start work!

It’s not fancy by any means, but it was a lot of new steps from where I was (wake up, make breakfast, work).

Starting my day with some movement, intention, and reflection also helps to put my brain into the right space to do the creative work that I need to.

Crafting Daily Habits

I’ve been following this morning routine for almost two months now, and it’s been second nature from about the second week. I think I’ve only skipped yoga on a weekday once or twice and I even make sure to journal on the weekends.

Once I’ve got a routine set, it’s easy for me to keep following it, but crafting that into daily habits can be hard.

So how did I go from what can look like 0-60?

I literally just added one thing at a time.

The Journal

Before I’d decided to add yoga, I’d already been using a Panda Planner journal for my priorities and my day. I knew that I was missing the reflection on the day piece, so instead I crafted my own setup with a bullet journal.

On one half of the 2 page spread, I took the Priorities pieces that I liked, added a column for 3 things I’m grateful for, 3 things I’m “pumped” for, how I planned to move each day, and an inspirational message I would find thanks to Pinterest.

On the second half of the pages, I added a place to track my mood that day (a trick my therapist taught me), a place to add something good about the day, and then a journal prompt question. This could be something super simple that I can answer in a few lines. At the bottom of the page, I have a spot to free-write about my day.

I found that I needed the space to write about whatever I wanted so that I could reflect on my day and how I felt about what I was doing that day. Sometimes I write about the business and the things I’m doing to improve my company, and other days I write about personal things only.

My bullet journal is by no means fancy. I’m not an artist with a pen, but it’s exactly what I needed personally.

It’s amazing what starting and ending my day with intention and reflection has done to open my mindset and expand my views of my day.


Luckily for me, it took me a few days to decide on what yoga mat I wanted and then of course, Amazon took 2 days to deliver it.

This gave me about a week to ground my new journaling habit into my routine without trying to add everything all at once.

When my mat showed up, I found a beginner’s 10 minute routine I liked on YouTube.

And I did the same routine for about 2 weeks straight.

The stretches were great and I liked the way I felt after, but mostly the repetition helped me to ground that habit into my routine even further.

I didn’t have to search YouTube for a new video. I just got up and did the same one.

Now, I switch it up on a daily basis, but it was far easier to start with something repetitive to make yoga an easy part of my routine.

After I’d been doing yoga about a week, I added in the skin care portion (the 10 minute workout did not make me sweat).

Adjusting as Needed

What’s great about building my own daily routine is that I can focus on what works for me.

I quickly realized that not touching my phone during my morning routine meant that I had a hard time remembering my priorities for that day.

Now, I try to sit down and decide on those priorities the day before as I’m ending my day.

It’s far easier to know what I’ll need to work on throughout the next day when I’m already in that mindset. I just reference ClickUp and decide what needs to go where.

Now in the mornings, the Priorities piece is already filled out and I just have to review that and then add the other pieces of my day.

I’ve been able to adjust and solidify my routine as needed without worrying about losing out on a piece.

My next goal as it warms up is to add a walk with Mac first thing and then yoga and on. (It’ll get too hot to walk him near lunch time.) That means I’ll have to get up earlier, but the rest of my routine can stay the same.

The Changes Over 60 Days

You might be thinking all of this sounds great, but what results have I personally seen from it all?

Well, for one, I sleep better. My sleep schedule has been rough for well, since college, so awhile. But journaling before I go to sleep and reading for a bit have helped immensely.

When you sleep better, your brain works better. Another thing my therapist taught me haha.

In the last 60 days though, I’ve completely shifted my mindset around my business.

I’ve always been a bit afraid to ask for help and have struggled to do things on my own as much as possible. When I started Captain Coder almost two years ago, I never wanted to grow it to a point that I needed employees or anything like that.

That’s totally shifted.

Just over a month ago, I hired my first online business manager. She’s been amazing already to shift my whole mindset about processes and getting things into place that I and my junior developer can work smarter, not harder.

Last week, I took the biggest risk and made the biggest investment I’ve ever made in my professional life (minus grad school) and hired a coach.

I’ve finally learned that I need that outside perspective to help me see my full potential. And it’s 100% OK that I need that help and instruction.

My Mental Health is Better

Mostly though, I’ve noticed a huge shift in my mental health.

I start my days more focused, require less caffeine (well…I’m trying to cut back….), and I’m getting more done in less time. I’ve gone from working 45 hours+ a week to about 35.

I’m wrapping up my Fridays at noon now and have officially changed my hours, which allows me to take more of my time back.

Do I still do some internal marketing on the weekends? Sure! But I’m creating space to give myself the breaks I needed.

My overall mood has shifted and I’m trending far more positively than I have in years.

Just don’t tell my best friend. He keeps saying “I told you so” enough already.

Create Your Own Habits

I highly encourage you to think about what you’re doing throughout the day that isn’t serving you and ask yourself – what can I do differently that will help?

I never though I’d say that I’m a huge proponent of morning routines, but I am!

I’m amazed at how much of a difference that’s made in my life and just how I feel throughout the day.

But I’m more amazed at how much it’s all opened up my mind to growing my business to a point I never thought I wanted. And making me OK with delegating and releasing some control.

That’s huge!

If you want to craft some new, healthier daily habits, just take it one thing at a time. Choose what you’re going to add ahead of time, add one piece in and when that feels easy, add in another.

It really can be that simple. You don’t need to jump into all of it either. Take it slow, find what works, and when you see something helping you, you’re going to be far more likely to keep at it.

Grab My Journal Pages

If you’re looking for a journal to start your own journaling process, I’m making 10 sample pages of my own available to you for free!

I’ve spent months finding the layout that worked for me, so hopefully this gives you a good jump start at the very least. It’s easy to recreate with any dotted journal, too.

Just fill out the form below for your copy:


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