I will admit something that has always been hard for me ever since I went to college:
I struggle to get up in the morning.
For a multitude of reasons, one of the worst habits I developed after college up until about 31 was sleeping in until the very last second.
Instead of taking the morning slow, planning my day and setting up daily goals, I would roll out of bed… then roll out!
What I quickly realized is that without a morning routine, I was letting my day dictate me, instead of me dictating my day. This was me most mornings in my 20s:
On one hand, I knew I had to get better with my mornings when I started my first company and blog, but on the other, I didn't know where to start if I am being honest.
And something I have always been intrigued by is how really successful people treat their days and manage their time.
The more I read about entrepreneurs like Darren Hardy or Jeff Bezos, who happen to have the same amount of time as we all do (24 Hours in case you were confused), seemed to somehow get more done in the first few hours of their day than most people do all week!
While most of the “Best Morning Routines” consist of some of the same general philosophies such as:
- Drink some lemon water
- Speak into others
- Stay off social media and email
What should your morning routine consist of?
Believe it or not, the first thing to consider when gearing up and creating your new morning routine is simplicity.
The simplest way to create your new routine is to try everything once. As you experiment, see what works for you and what doesn't. See what works for you and is simple to do like spending time alone, reflecting, planning, or walking.
What your morning routine should not consist of – rushing to work with just a few minutes to spare. Most high achieving people have found that most productivity and deep thinking occurs in the morning, which ultiamtely sets up the rest of their day.
However, rushing to work, jumping into your car, and spilling coffee is a chaotic start to the morning.
A chaotic start can leave the day to chance. That is why creating a morning routine that is simple is the best thing you can do, especially if you're the person who is into making habit changes!
I personally wanted to know what some of the most successful people were doing each morning and what were some of the best morning routines to help me start my day. Here is what I found:
The Best Morning Routine Ideas:
1. Bookend Your Days
Darren Hardy is a success coach. In addition to running Success Magazine and authoring several top sellers like the Compound Effect, Hardy mentors top executives around the country on how to be more productive.
After making $20,000 a month selling water filters at age 19, hard was a multi-millionaire by age 27. So needless to say, he knows a thing or two about being successful and getting things done!
Hardy’s big teaching when it comes to morning routines, and routines in general, is to “Bookend your days.” The key to your morning routine actually starts with what you do the night before. So what does Hardy do?
The night before, Hardy “Cashes Out,” by writing and reflecting on the day. He asks what he could do better, what he needs to accomplish in the future, and he assesses his day's performance.
Several hours later at 5:00 AM (Or sometimes 5:30), Hardy’s alarm goes off. His morning routine starts with hitting the snooze button and laying in bed for 9 minutes (Thanks to Steve Jobs) where Hardy thinks about the day. He reflects and thinks about what he is GRATEFUL for, so he can start the day on the right foot.
Second, he then “Sends Love,” also known as text messages of encouragement/support to others to continue practicing appreciation! After rising, Hardy throws on a pot of coffee and stretches for 10 minutes before really diving into his morning routine.
Hardy spends the rest of his morning routine doing the following:
- Reading for 30 minutes, no more no less – no distractions
- 60 minutes of uninterrupted focus on his most important project
- At 7:00 AM for 15 minutes Hardy then completes his “Calibration” appointment:
“This is where I brush over my top three one-year and five-year goals, my key quarterly objectives, and my top goal for the week and month. Then, for the most important part of the
calibration appointment, I review (or set) my top three MVPs(Most Valuable Priorities) for that day.”
2. Exercise or Stretch
This is probably a given, but many high achievers and generally successful people workout in the morning to get their day started right.
Health and family rank amongst most people's top priorities, but our habits would often indicate otherwise (social media, tv, email, etc).
So instead of letting the all too common time wasters eat up your day, thus not giving you time to exercise, do it first thing in the monring. Just working out for 10-15 minutes helps you feel accomplished, energized, and if you don't make it to the gym later for a longer workout, who cares!
Journaling and writing in the morning have changed my outlook on life, my health, and helped me stay organized. Many people talk about journaling in the morning which can mean:
- Writing down thoughts
- Doing affirmations
- Making a to-do list
- Practicing gratitude
Whatever it is you write, writing itself is cathartic. It helps us get our thoughts out, organize ourselves, and give us a sense of control that we all need. I personally write down in one notebook every morning my daily gratitude, my 10 affirmations, and my to do list!
4. Do Something Cold
If you don’t know who Ed Mylett is he happens to have a networth of over $400 million he is one of the premier business coaches and motivators in the world.
Any time someone creates that amount of success there are routines and habits that are firmly entrenched within them. Mylett does something quite unique each morning, but it is key in forming the best morning routine:
Do something cold.
Each morning Mylett wakes up and reflects with gratitude. This followed by doing what he calls, “Something Cold.” Either taking a really cold shower or jumping into a cold body of water (Mylett lives on the Pacific Ocean), doing something cold shocks the body and mind.
“Everything starts with the body,” so jolting your body and getting things going is key to your morning routine Mylett says. He follows his cold swim up with some stretching and then working out.
You can see him talk about his morning routine here:
Everyone talks about mediation and the benefits, and truth be told, more power to them. I have never been much of a meditator simply because I don't know how.
Then I downloaded a mediation app called Headspace.
The simple art of learning just to control my breathing has been extremely effective. There are countless benefits to meditation including reducing negative feelings, helping your immune system, improving your mental health, and helping with deeper thinking.
Consider throwing in a few minutes of mediation into your morning routine! Besides, make it the year to finally get out of your comfort zone.
6. Drink Coffee & Oils
Black coffee with either organic butter or cocunut oil seems to be a weird morning staple for many.
The morning routine of drinking coffee black seems to give high achievers a gritty start to their morning, and the oils serve as nutrition to avoid starting off the day eating a not so good high glycemic foods aka carbs.
By doing this day you are sustaining energy, not just creating a bunch of false energy with sugar that will lead to a crash!
Additionally, consider eating a great breakfast to really set up your day right!
7. Set Goals
In the Millionaire Next Door, the authors talk about how your average millionaire sets daily goals.
Call it a to do list, a small goal – whatever – in the end you want to make sure you're planning your day somehow. That said, overplanning can cause some undue stress, so be sure you only set a few small goals each day.
Perhaps start with a top three and work from there, remembering to always keep your morning routine simple.
>> See also, 16 of The Best Time Management Tips
8. Habit Stack Your Morning Routine
In 2018, I started the morning routine below and quickly found out it was opposite of simple and it was just too intense and unsustainable:
- 6:30 AM – Alarm & Snooze – think about the day and cuddle with Morgan (my chocolate lab)
- 6:39 AM – Rise and Shine – thank you, Steve Jobs, for the extra 4 minutes, I only needed 5!
- 6:42 AM – Coffee is brewing, the dog is done eating, now it is time for a brisk walk with Morgan
- 6:55 AM – Do some stretches, look at daily goals from the night before, write down daily goals (affirmations) and pray!
- 7:00 AM – Read for 15 minutes & drink coffee
- 7:15 AM – Get ready for work and make breakfast
- 7:35 AM – Work on Money Life Wax, write content, update social media, reply to email's
- 8:15 AM – Leave for 25 minute commute to work, turn on podcasts (avoid all radio) OR talk to someone on the phone
- 8:40 AM – Arrive at work & crush the day!
This routine has really helped me with getting my day off to a great start, feeling energized, and not rushing around, unless of course, I missed one thing.
Then I read Atomic Habits and learned about the concept called habit stacking.
Habit Stacking 101
In short, the premise of habit stacking is simple. Build new positive habits on top of existing habits. Make them very simple and last less than 2 minutes.
For example, now when my alarm goes off, I brush my teeth, make coffee, walk the dog (all existing habits), however, once done, I immediately journal and write my to do list down.
[Walk Dog] + [Journal]
Since then I have added 10-15 minutes of reading after journaling, so my stack looks like:
[Walk Dog] + [Journal] + [Read]
Final Thought – Morning Routines Start at Night:
The morning routine, believe it or not, starts a night.
Cashing out at night for 5 minutes is the difference between a super-effective morning routine and an inconsistent morning routine.
Merely writing the biggest tasks or goals down for the next day is already setting up the next day for success. Throw in prepping food and clothes, and now the morning just got calmer.
Going back to simplicity, the less chaotic a morning routine is, the better the routine and the better the day will be.
Lastly, the most crucial aspect of your morning routine:
Before going to bed, tell yourself how fired up you are for the next day.
By conditioning your thoughts that the next day is going to be excellent, and you can't wait to get up, your brain will put those thoughts into motion.
On the flip side, if you continuously tell yourself you dread the next day as you go to sleep… well no wonder sometimes we struggle to get up! To help, at the end of 2020 I read Mel Robbins' book, Five Second Rule.
Consider reading about the 5-second rule so that you resist the temptation to avoid the mornings as I did for so much of my life. I hope you enjoyed this read and if you benefited or have a great idea to add, comment below!
Q: What is your morning routine?
Josh writes about ways to make money, pay off debt, and improve yourself. After paying off $200,000 in student loans with his wife in less than four years, Josh started Money Life Wax and has been featured on Forbes, Business Insider, Huffington Post and more! In addition to being a life-long entrepreneur, Josh and his wife enjoy spending time with their chocolate lab named Morgan, working out, helping others with their debt and recommend using Personal Capital to track your finances.