Let me ask you a question: How do you usually start your day? Like on a regular day, what do you do? Do you jump out of bed immediately after your alarm goes off? Are you maybe one of those people who don’t need an alarm because you are awake before you have to get up? Are you and the snooze button best friends?

And then after getting up, what do you do? Do you jump in the shower, do you make breakfast, do you turn on your coffee machine, do you read the newspaper, do you check you emails, do you hop on social media?

If you own a phone, chances are that it is the first thing you interact with in the morning. Maybe, because you use it as your alarm clock. And then hey, it’s in your hand anyway, might as well scroll through Facebook or Instagram real quick. Anyone else does that? Put your hands up.

And this is exactly what this post is about: what you do first thing in the morning, and how it can make or break your day – and your happiness.

Any phone addicts out there?

Man, I was a real instagram junkie in the morning. My alarm went off, and after a few rounds of snooze, I’d pick up the phone and scroll myself awake. But then I started to think about the fact that how I start my day determines how the rest of my day goes, and I realized that starting my day with other people’s thoughts and drama probably wasn’t the best way to set myself up for a sparkly day.

Think about it this way: When you sleep, your mind rests and your head becomes empty, which is a pretty nice feeling considering that most of us have too many things on our minds anyway. So, when you wake up, there is this big white space up there, waiting to be filled with ideas, and thoughts, and plans, and to dos. If the first thing you do is pick up your phone and look at what other people say or do, this beautiful white canvas in your head gets painted by others, not by you. Which means that what you do that day and how you feel that day is very much influenced by outside forces, not by yourself.

And that means, that your day isn’t YOUR day anymore, but someone else’s. You end up reacting to the things that you read or saw on the internet or in your inbox. Your mind becomes occupied with that email your colleague sent you late last night, or with Donald Trump’s latest transgression, or with that disastrous video about global warming. And while all of these things may be worth thinking about, they don’t need to be taken care of first thing in the morning, and especially not before you took care of yourself.

You decide how your day goes

Now, that being said, let’s see if you can find a more intentional way of starting your day. You know, a way in which you actively shape the day in front of you. A way in which YOU decide what you want to do, and how much mind space you want to give to different topics.

Think about how your life would change if you didn’t touch your phone for the first few hours of your day. Are you up for the challenge to try it? I hope you are because it will make such a big difference in your well-being.

So, my challenge to you is to put your phone down immediately after turning off your alarm. Or better yet, get yourself an alarm clock, and don’t even have your phone in the bedroom. Put it some place in your home where you don’t see it immediately after getting up.

Don’t get caught up in other people’s business

When I started doing that, I would have never guessed in a million years what a difference it would make to my day if I started it with intention instead of technology. And being totally honest, in the beginning I didn’t really think I could do it, because I was just so used to picking up my phone first thing in the morning. One might even say I was addicted. But I’m always up for a good challenge, so I tried. And it turns out it was a freaking good decision. Now, I still use my phone as an alarm clock. But once I turn off the alarm, I don’t look at my phone anymore for at least an hour. Some days it stays in airplane mode until noon. And that feels really good.

Not getting caught up in everybody else’s business is such a relief. Such a refreshing start to your day. Because then YOU get to choose, YOU get to create. You don’t just react to what happens in the outside world.

Getting up and NOT immediately picking up your phone allows you to tune in, and think about what you want to do that day. How you want to SHAPE your day, instead of letting yourself get influenced by what other people think or say or do. It’s such a nice and active way of starting the day.

Start your day with intention

So, if you’re wondering what you should do with your new-found free time in the morning while you ignore your phone for an hour or two, that is exactly it: grab your journal, and set an intention for your day: How you want to feel, what you want to do, what the most important thing is for you that day?

Depending on the day and what is on my agenda, for me, it may sound something like this: „I want to feel relaxed today. With everything that I do, I want to let it flow, and not obsess about it. I want to write three podcast episodes with ease and joy and fun.“ Other days I may focus more on my personal life and say something like: „Today, I want to spread joy and lightness wherever I go. I want to lift up the people around me with my positive vibe and energy.“

When you have set your intention, THEN you can pick up your phone. I mean, I suggest to leave it be for as long as you can, until you actually HAVE TO pick it up because you use it for work for example. But at least make a commitment to not pick it up before you have set your intention for the day. This way, when you scroll through Instagram or read the news or check your emails, and something pisses you off, you can remember your intention and let that guide you in your reaction.

Maybe you don’t even want to check the news and social media at all because you know it will interfere with your intention. Even better.

Less distraction, more feeling good

Starting your day like this, you will notice that you will get so much more done because you are well less distracted and way less occupied with unimportant stuff. And most of all: You will feel so much more like yourself. You will be so much happier with your day, because YOU decided how you live it. And I won’t ever get tired of stressing how important that is.

So, now it’s up to you: Are you up for that challenge? Are you willing to swap the instant gratification and distraction you get from your phone for the gratifying feeling of doing things intentionally and on your terms?

I would love for you to try this. It will make such a difference in how do you experience your day. So, join me, and go back to those 90s days where we didn’t have a phone on us all of the time.