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The Best Way to Start Your Day

I can’t think of a better way to start a fall day than being curled up on the couch in a quiet house, ready to watch the sun come up. Most often there’s a blanket on my lap, coffee in my hand, and a diffuser going next to me!

Sound Hygge-ish? It is. But I find the best way to start the day is more than simply setting the mood for a cozy morning. That’s inspiring, of course, but even more important is that I began the day with intention.

You see, I’ve always struggled with daily routines. I love the idea of keeping a calendar, a schedule, a planner, a housekeeping routine, an exercise routine, a quiet time routine (SQUIRREL!)… but years ago I finally mastered a few daily habits (my four daily routines) that changed my perspective on how important routines are in our life.

Over the years I’ve figured out quite a few seasonal and daily rhythms that have really helped me to feel more in control of my time, my to do list, emotions, my mindset and more.

The Best Way to Start Your Day
My Slipcovered Sofa Details and FAQ

You may have read about a few of the successful habits I’ve adopted, mastered and many that I am still working on (I’ve shared some of them here on the blog and in many of my books such as Love the Home You Have, Make Room for What You Love, and in my new book, Dwelling.)

Years ago I made a list called 20 Little Attitudes of Gratitude with various attitudes I wanted to emphasize in our home while my son was still young. I found that list to be so powerful in shaping the atmosphere and attitudes in our home that I wanted to incorporate something similar into my own daily habits.

Even though I tend to be more of a glass half filled gal, it’s amazing how deadlines, pressures, or stresses can start to negatively shape how you feel, how you view your circumstances and even how you approach your day.

The Best Way to Start Your Day

Starting the day with an “attitude of gratitude” is clearly important, but there are other benefits to making this a regular morning ritual.

I discovered that if I don’t set the intention for my morning the night before, it is easy to start the day with mindsets, routines and habits that are not successful for me.

If I wake up and let myself go into “thinking mode” or “productivity mode” or even just “social media scrolling mode” the whole trajectory of my day will be off track from the very beginning.

Keeping a commitment to myself that I will start the day with intention–which for me can include a quiet time for prayer, reflection, silence, and my gratitude list, will change nearly everything about how the rest of my day (and how my mindset) unfolds.

The Best Way to Start Your Day
Cute Mug Roundup

If you struggle with having a morning routine, or want to start off your chilly fall mornings curled up with a hot cup of tea or coffee, a positive mindset, and a bit of quiet time, try this morning ritual:

Get yourself a pretty journal or notebook.

Then every night when you go to bed, set your intentions for the morning.

If you don’t routinely wake up early on your own, set an alarm for earlier than you need to get up to get ready for work or taking kids to school or whatever else you need to do each day.

Then in the morning, before you have a chance to hit snooze or grab your phone and scroll, leap out of bed (carefully LOL!) and grab your gratitude journal.

The Best Way to Start Your Day
Diffuser Details

Go to a quiet corner of the house. Do whatever simple thing you need to do to set a cozy mood (engaging as many senses as possible will make the morning experience so much more inspiring!). You might want to curl up with a blanket, have a flickering candle or a lamp, make a cup of tea or coffee, or set up your diffuser (click HERE for my autumn diffuser oil recipes with the oils and diffuser I recommend!).

Then, sit down and start your gratitude list! It doesn’t need to be long. Try picking five or ten things your grateful for each morning. What do you see around you that you are thankful for? Who is in your life? What are some recent circumstances you are thankful for? What are some circumstances that aren’t ideal, but that you can find something to be grateful for in them anyway? What are you grateful for in regards to your health? Your goals or dreams? What are you grateful for in your career, in your family, in your community?

Make your list.

Repeat the next day!

Do you have trouble sticking to an early morning routine? Simply go back to setting your intentions the night before and be prepared to keep your commitment when your eyes open in the morning. Don’t give yourself the option of doing anything else in the morning until your gratitude list is complete!

If you’re new to daily routines (or trying to get into or stay committed to a morning one), trust me, I think you’ll find setting your intentions for the morning will inspire you to get out of bed every morning.

Keeping this morning commitment to yourself and writing your daily gratitude list will make a positive difference in how you feel all day long!

Do you start the day with intention? Do you have a gratitude journal?

The Best Way to Start Your Day

Looking for fall decorating inspiration? Click HERE for fall decor posts on the blog!

The Best Way to Start Your Day
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More on The Inspired Room:

Four Cozy Fall Morning Routines

Catch up on this year’s Fall Nesting series (and get inspired by past year’s posts!) right here!

One Thing I Do Every Day to Be Happy

How to Have a Happier Home

20 Little Attitudes of Gratitude

My Decorating and Homemaking Books

Create Your Happy Place at Home

Shop My House Sources


  1. Renee

    Sitting quietly after breakfast and before carpool time (while teeth, hair, face, potty chaos is upstairs) is a must!

  2. Melanie Plumb

    I do have a gratitude journal that I try to write in several times a week in the morning. It reminds me to be grateful for all things, big and small. I like the idea of adding a candle though!

  3. Leslie W

    I have to agree a quiet morning is my favorite time of day and since I’m the only early riser in my house I usually get this time all to myself. A new day holds such promise and I love the idea of starting it off by being grateful.

  4. Andrea S.

    I love this! My mornings are hectic because I have three children in grade school. I need to start a better morning routine before I wake them up!

  5. Debra

    I’ve let my morning routine get a little sloppy, thanks for the reminder!

  6. jen s

    I have to be honest, during the week when I am working I dont set aside much time for myself But on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday I love getting up early. I usually get on my cough with a coffee and read my bible. I did try to start journaling this year for New Years but I have not kept up very well.

    • Margo

      Don’t judge yourself. You don’t need to write page after page. Instead, try writing the date and just one thing you’re thankful for. It’s less than a minute. As you go along, you’ll find that some days a number of things pop into your head. Journaling can be helpful especially if you don’t have someone to confide in but you should feel good about any effort you make.

  7. Kelly

    I have a journal, but in the morning, I hide in my closet to get quiet — if an alarm goes off or footsteps happen, my youngest is on me!

  8. Brittany Romero

    I love this! It’s almost exactly what I do every morning, minus the gratitude journal, and i think it’s time to add that in!

  9. Isabel Z

    This is a good reminder to myself to spend some time in the morning reflecting and I especially like your advice of taking some time the night before to plan ahead.

  10. Helene

    I have found that I too like having a rhythm to my day, so I get up usually around 6:00:and make my first cup of coffee. I sit on the porch with my now 14 year old pooch and have my quiet time (enjoy nature, read my Bible, and pray). Then I walk Tucker before it gets too hot here in Florida. When we return, I turn on my diffuser with a second cup of coffee and read a bit longer after which I check my emails (and here I am). Starting my morning this way….with a quiet, spiritual focus, I believe has improved my overall quality of life.
    I also have a bit of an afternoon routine: I enjoy a cup of green tea between 2:00 and 3:00 and have a piece of dark chocolate! :)
    Have a great day!

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      I love this, Helene! The more “routines” the better! They can slow us down on a crazy day, give us a sense of grounding in our schedule, or even a sense of accomplishment in what matters to us! Love love love.

  11. Bonnie Stoltzfoos

    Hi Melissa! I love this post… thanks for sharing that morning plan step by step. It’s so easy to over complicate it but I love the gratitude journal idea. :) I love mornings and having a quiet start to the day with some creativity, quiet reading, or journaling prayers. I am going to incorporate the gratitude journal to take charge of my mindset and focus on the good things God is doing not what I’m worried about. Also, your living room looks so beautiful and cozy! I love that corner with the chair and little stool against the slatted cabinet. :) and the lanterns by the boat feel like they tell a story! Hope you have a great day.

  12. kerry

    I love this – I do not currently have a gratitude journal, but I need one. I jump out of bed every morning and jump into productivity mode. I need to take the time to focus each day on the good surrounding me and not just on what needs to be done.

  13. Nancy

    It’s easy to get cozy…write a post how to remove yourself from cozying in the am and get ready for work. I think most working people don’t have a problem wanting to stay at home and write in their journal etc. write a post geared to us who have to wake up and get ready for work in an office, how do we get motivated once we are in our cozy corner?

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      It’s hard! Even though I work from home! In fact, I think I was far better at this when I had to leave the house to take kids to school or get to work on time. That gave me a deadline. When I have “freedom” to choose how to spend my time it’s so hard to stop being cozy and “get to work” when I’m already where I need to be. I think no matter what our day looks like, that’s where being “intentional” comes in! One commenter shared the idea of being grateful for the day, before we even open our eyes. I think even if we only have a few minutes on a busy day or if we wake up, we can be intentional with what we spend them on.

  14. Kit Kirkland

    I’ll need to think about this a bit before I’m ready to comment. (But I don’t disagree!) I’m just a few steps behind as I’m just now ready to comment on “cozying” for fall:
    I like to hold on to summer as long as possible, and it is this time of year that we have the nicest weather here in the Bay Area of California.
    But the morning air has enough chill in it that it’s time to start changing up the decor. My house is decorated in blue, and orange is a fabulous accent. A few years ago I realized that it’s worth the effort to switch out to the orange mugs, couch pillows, and throw blankets as they’ll be appropriate until after Thanksgiving, in other words, for the better part of three months.

  15. Rachel

    I love the idea of starting your morning routine the night before – genius!

  16. Lura

    Great idea! I plan to be more intentional with my morning routine including attitude for gratitude!
    One question, can you please give details on the chunky cream throw in the cute mug round up picture? Did you knit it? I would love to know more. Pattern, yarn type, needle size???? Thanks and have an awesome day

  17. HeatherB

    Not wasting my quiet time has been a struggle…I think “I’ll just do this one thing” or “I’ll just check on this one thing” and next thing I know, the time is gone, the Bible and journal not yet opened, the coffee not yet brewed, and everyone else is waking for the craziness to begin. Yes, I NEED to be intentional about this time.

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      I find that to be true for me, too! Even though I have will have less craziness with my last little leaving me for college, as a stay at home entrepreneur having so much freedom doesn’t mean I have time to waste!! It’s the “intentionality” that saves me from myself :).

  18. Patty

    I probably really do have a morning routine without even realizing it is a routine….coffee and reading my blogs. But once we retired, I enjoy no routine….take life moment by moment and no calendar to tie us down. Ahhhhh……..

  19. Alissa

    I have a morning ritual that I love too. And it gives me such a centered and peaceful attitude the rest of the day!

  20. Claire

    My parents taught us that the first thing we should do the minute we open our eyes every morning, is to thank God for the night’s sleep and for the beautiful day. When you’re young, thinking the day is beautiful even before the blinds/curtains are opened, seems like a strange thing, but, it sets your mind in a positive “groove” and then the day goes along, most of the time, just grand. Thanking God for all the amazing people you know, your family, home, as well as job, etc. also makes my day start out on an “even” keel. While most mornings are quiet, there are some that aren’t, but just knowing that God has given me another day, well, that just is the best thing ever.

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      It’s so true!! Love the idea of being thankful before we even open our eyes! Even on days that are crazy or we wake up late, we can do that!!!

  21. Diane

    I really like the idea of a gratitude journal! Keeping our focus on all the ways God has blessed us is a great way to start your day!

  22. Veronica Nightingale

    I do have a morning routine and used to keep journal of gratitude.Hmmm -maybe should go back to that.?

  23. Christine

    Wonderful suggestions that I am going to incorporate into a morning routine!! Thanks so much for this post because I really needed it. Waking up to watch the sun rise is beautiful, along with coffee and prayer. Thanks again. I also am looking into your four daily routines.

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      You’re welcome, Christine! I need reminders, too. Even when I know what’s right I still tend to gravitate towards what seems convenient and pressing in the moment. Setting intentions really does help me! xo

  24. Lila Piercey

    The first thing I do is feed the critters because you know if you don’t there will NOT be any quiet for anyone. Next I open the shutters to let the morning sun peep in when it’s ready then devotional (s)! I’ve ask my husband to leave the TV off until I’ve finished. Bliss!

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      LOVE IT! I have to ask my husband to not talk for a bit LOL! I used to ask him to not turn on the TV but once we moved the TV downstairs that hasn’t been such an issue. But I do like my PEACE & QUIET time :) so he’s been gracious enough to try and save the conversation until later! But Jack, our pup, he’s another level of loud and has no shame ha.

  25. cindy

    morning ritual that includes a quiet time is something i struggle with and have been really thinking about. i think the missing piece for me is setting my intention the night before (and sticking to it!)
    thanks for this!

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      You’re welcome, it’s HUGE for me! I’m the worst in the morning if I don’t have a definite plan for what I am going to do when I wake up!!! Let me know how it goes!

  26. Mary Stewart

    I’ve taken on a new hobby…junk journaling! I have my coffee and jump right into playing with my beautiful scrapbook paper, laces, coffee dyed papers and bits and pieces of craft and sewing supplies that some might call just “junk”. My friends and I are working on several different types of journals and we are swapping supplies and learning as we go. It is costing us nothing and we are loving it! I Love your blog. It is a pleasure to read and calms my spirit which is always a good way to start my day. Thanks for sharing and as always, have a BLESSED day!

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      What fun!! I’ve never heard of that but it sounds delightful! Thank you for your sweet comment and inspiration, Mary! I’m grateful for your contribution!!!

  27. Leigh

    Oh I love this. I’m going to write down these 20 gratitudes for the kitchen while I still have kids in the house. Hopefully my teens will still pick up on it :)

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      They will….some are a bit slower to catch on LOL but I promise, they’re learning from us (and hopefully we’re modeling what we want them to learn haha!)!!!

  28. Sharon

    This post is just what I needed today! Thank you! Can you please clarify for me what you mean by “setting your intention” the night before? Is it just to determine that you will get up and have your quiet time or is it making your to-do list that you will tackle after your quiet time? Thanks again!

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Yes! Sorry I wasn’t clear. I guess I need to add some pointers What I mean by that is I determine that I will wake up at a certain time. I pre-decide that I will not grab my phone (other than to turn off an alarm) and I will not open social media. If it’s a real temptation I can remove the app from my phone so it’s not as easy to grab and scroll!

      I think through whatever obstacles or stumbling blocks I know I might face in doing what it is I want or need to do first. I make sure I remove as many excuses as I can. Like if I know I’ll be freezing when I wake up and want to stay in my bed and not get up, I’ll make sure to set my heat to come on 20 minutes before I have to get up so I’m not so chilly. Or I at least have a sweater and socks ready!

      If I know I’ll gravitate first towards my to do list instead of a gratitude list, it would be a wise idea to make that to do list the night before so I know it’s ready for me. That way I can remind myself that I don’t have to mentally start thinking it through, because I have set a designated time to get to it AFTER my morning quiet time.

      There’s a bunch of other things I do to ensure I make this happen (I need a lot of help to focus haha!) so I guess I need to write another post with tips, HAHAH! It will help me to write them all down too. It’s so easy to get sidetracked and not do what we know is best for us!

  29. Theresa

    I have been keeping a gratitude journal for a few years. I write in it in the evening, after work and everything is finished for the day. I work five days a week and have a morning routine, but I can see how writing in my gratitude journal can help set the tone for the rest of the day. I am going to try it tomorrow, thanks for the suggestion!

  30. Laurie

    I was literally just talking about this idea of a morning intention or gratitude list with colleagues over lunch today, then read your post. It must be a sign!

  31. Maureen

    I sit and knit in the morning. It centers me even if I am going to be heading off to yoga later. I also get a finished product out of it as well. I have not done a gratitude journal. I do write down things that happened that I want to make a memory .

  32. Carolyn

    As a new empty nester, I am trying to figure out a new routine. I work from home most days so my schedule is flexible. I like the idea of planning a to-do list the night before. I need to include yoga, a walk or elliptical time otherwise that is the first thing I will “forget” to do :) Thanks for sharing….your blog always inspires me!

  33. Mercedes

    I don’t use a notebook but I do use my watch app called breathe . It keeps me mindful , can be set to times during the day or just random for reminders . My list ends up being mentally checked off instead of written down . Love your ideas .

  34. Susan

    Always good to have gratitude, what a good idea to make it part of the daily routine.

  35. Paige

    Thanks for this post! I used to be so consistent with my morning quiet time, and now I let other things crowd it out. It’s harder for me to get up when I stay up later with my teens. It’s also worth remembering that the minutes I spend in the morning always seem to come back to me during the day because of better attitude, focus, and the Lord’s help.

  36. Kim

    Love this post. Know I need to set alarm, get up earlier and just do this!

  37. Angela G.

    Alone time in the morning with devotion, prayer and a hot cup of tea. Just wish it didn’t have to be so early. . .

  38. sandyc

    This is such a timely post. I’ve had a daily gratefulness routine since shortly after I moved into my house almost six years ago but, having recently resigned from four years of mostly tumultuous HOA Board service and working at meditation to release a lot of negativity with some health effects, I’m beginning to refocus on the goals I’ve had for my house and working at developing some exciting new ones. Thank you for the inspiration you instill in all of us, Melissa, your invitation to share our experiences and the wonderful responsiveness of our group. And what a perfect lead-in to Thanksgiving, just around the corner and my absolutely favorite holiday.

  39. Enjoy Canvas

    Hi Melissa,
    Thank you for sharing this article about the morning routine. It’s very helpful especially on starting the day right.

  40. Pamela

    I love the quiet time in the morning. It’s me , my coffee and a cozy throw to think about the day ahead.

  41. Carla Travaille

    I cherish my quiet time every morning. Intention is so important in our busy lives. Thanks for the encouragement!

  42. Alexa

    I’ve decided to use my yearly planner calendar notebook to list my ‘gratitudes’. I haven’t been using the daily ‘to do’ areas for anything, so the space is available and that way I can easily track my days for a year at a time.

  43. Lola

    I have been keeping a Gratitude journal for over 20 years! Each day I try to write 3 things im grateful for
    As for my mornings-I enjoy sitting on my deck drinking my coffee and having my pups enjoy the outside with me

  44. Beth

    My husband leaves the house at 6:10 each morning. After he leaves I settle into a cozy corner to enjoy my coffee and devotions.

  45. Shari

    I love pretty journals! Something about writing in a pretty journal makes me happy!

  46. Amanda

    My morning routine is definitely a disaster at the moment. Maybe if I think about what would make it pleasant, instead of only what would make it productive, that would help with motivation.

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