When you crack open a book, play a Youtube video, or read an article on the “habits of highly successful people”, you’re bound to find something about a morning routine, particularly something on how successful people wake up early.
So for longest time, I was one of those people who would try getting up early, only to quit and mess up my streak within a few days. I realized that I needed a system. A full drawn out blueprint that would step-by-step, bring me towards my goal and keep me accountable. Following tips on other blogs about waking up early and doing morning affirmations weren’t enough. This goal was a lot more complex than that.
I decided to experiment, to find a system that worked for me. I read books and articles, pulling the most important tidbits of information that would actually produce change. These elements helped turn my want into action, and I’ve complied everything together here.
In this post, I will be sharing how you can create your perfect morning routine, even if you’re not a “morning person”, and with that, find success and satisfaction. Trust me, if you implement this, your mornings will never be the same again.
Your current mornings
- When I’m about to go to bed, there’s always something from my to-do list nagging me in the back of my mind.
- When I wake up, I regret going to bed late the night before. I plan to change my habits, but it never ends up happening.
- I get harassed by my alarm clock to wake up, but then hit snooze 5 times, and just lie in bed.
Do these statements sound familiar? By reading this article, you will discover how you can take control, and live the morning routine that you want.
If you want to make your mornings more productive, enjoyable and your days successful – that’s exactly what I’m going to show you how to do in this guide.
Why do I need a morning routine?
Have you ever planned out something, but didn’t end up following through? We can wish for all we want, but nothing will ever happen unless you take action. The biggest thing though, is finding consistency. When you say, “I want to wake up early,” it lasts for a day or two, but never becomes a real habit. This is where a system comes in-otherwise known as your morning routine.
We’ll be going into ways to stay accountable later on in this post.
Do I really need to wake up early?
Some people are content with waking up later, and it suits their lifestyle and want they want. But everywhere you look, you’ll see that most “successful people” wake up early.
- Apple CEO Tim Cook starts his mornings at 3:45 am.
- Warren Buffett wakes up at 6:45 am.
- Oprah Winfrey wakes up naturally around 6 am.
- Vogue editor Anna Wintour gets out of bed to play tennis at 5.45 am
- Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz gets up at 4.30 am.
This doesn’t mean that simply waking up early makes you successful. It’s a building block, and connects with the other elements of a morning routine. You need to take ownership of your morning, as this is what ultimately sets you up for success. It’s just like how you need to have all the blocks together to build a house. Otherwise, the wind will blow through and knock the house over.
The early risers are one step ahead of the crowd: calm, collected, and accomplished when everyone else is rushing to get through their morning. When you wake up early, you have more time for strategic thinking and getting organized; essentially you waste less time in the day-more on this in the mindset section of this post.
From a business level, a lot of the action happens in the morning. When you wake up early, you receive all of the daily news ahead of the rest of the world. The Wall Street Journal sends their morning newsletter out around 4:00 am.
As you can see, you reap great benefits from waking up early.
How do I start a healthy and successful morning routine?
This article is not going to have a prescription for the “perfect” or “ideal” morning routine. That’s because everyone’s lives are different, and thus require different morning routines. Because of this, I will just be listing the elements of a morning routine that I recommend you incorporate into yours. It is up to you how you decide to arrange your routine, and what elements you want to include, or not include.
As you read through each element, take time to think about your ideal morning. How does this element fit in? What kinds of things can you see yourself doing in the mornings? Have the morning routine printout beside you so you can jot down your ideas.
Working out can increase your mental clarity for 4 to 10 hours post-exercise, according to Mitzi Dulan, a nationally recognized nutrition and fitness expert. That means you’ll be ready to tackle your day by giving yourself that extra energy boost.
Studies have shown that women and men who wake up early for regular exercise also sleep better than those who routinely exercise in the evening.
- Warmup: always start with a quick 5 minute stretching routine
- Workout: you could target a different workout every day (e.g. legs, arms, abs, etc.)
- Run: it’s always nice to go for a run in the mornings and breathe in the fresh air.
- Gym: head to the gym before your workday starts.
Showering in the morning is a great way to help wake you up and kick start your day. Not everyone does it, but it’s worth a try.
Read and get updated
Getting up early brings a huge advantage: you get updated on the latest news before everyone else does. Not only that, people often have the best memory capacity in the morning.
Reading a book or newspaper can be a great way to exercise your brain in the morning and get it ready for the workday.
Alternatively, you can put on your favourite podcast or turn on the news station on the radio. Whatever you choose, let the information pour in.
You’ve probably heard it over and over again, but breakfast is incredibly important.
According to an article by the University of New Hampshire, “breakfast gives you your first boost of energy that you will carry throughout the day and help overcome feelings of groggy-ness upon first waking up”. In addition, it can give you increased concentration and memory. Breakfast helps you maintain a healthy body weight and is your first chance at providing your body with essential nutrients during the day. Often times, when you skip breakfast, you miss out on these nutrients.
- Whole grains: Cereals, oatmeal, whole-wheat toast, bagel
- Lean Protein: Peanut butter, eggs, lean meats
- Low-fat dairy: Skim or low-fat milk, cottage cheese, yogurt
- Fruits and vegetables: Smoothie, cut fruit
Recipe ideas coming soon in a new blog post-stay tuned!
The importance of your morning mindset:
Look at yourself in the mirror, and ask the Steve Jobs Question:
Think about whether or not your day is building toward your ultimate life goals and plans. If not, make a change. This will help you remember your goals, and work towards them so that every day is set towards productivity and you live with purpose.
Not only does morning mindset time help you visualize success, it keeps you motivated. In fact, it’s essential to forming a habit, as seen in Rob Norback’s ‘Habit Starter Checklist’, with the 5 R’s: Reminder, Routine, Reward, Rehearse and Record.
Habit Starting Checklist:
- Remind yourself daily of of the habit you want to create
- By filling out the mindset sheets every day, you remind yourself of your goal, and keep yourself motivated!
- Create a routine that you can stick to, and write it down
- We’ve done this already!
- Highlight the rewards you’ll get once you build up the habit
- How do you want to feel today? Are you going to be more productive, happy, etc.?
- Rehearse the habit
- Stick to it, and visualize your success!
- Record your progress
- By writing down your progress, you can see how close you are to achieving your goal, and the things you still need to do in order to move forward.
- Meditating to clear your mind
- Reflecting on your blessings, expressing gratitude
- Setting goals for the day
A great way to incorporate all of this is by using morning mindset sheets. These sheets feature the most effective, success-creating mindset questions in a journal-like format.
How long should my morning routine be?
There isn’t really an “ideal” morning routine length. As I said earlier, your morning routine should be curated to YOU. So think, do you want your routine to be slower so you gradually step into the day? Or more fast-paced?
Here are some steps you can take to find out how long your routine elements should be:
- First, find the time you would like to wake up.
- Then find the time you’d like to leave the house or start work.
- Calculate the time you have in between.
- Account for 15 minutes of extra time as wiggle room in case you wake up a little late, or unforeseen circumstances pop up.
- The remaining time is how much you have for your morning routine.
- Take all of the activities you wrote down, and delegate a certain amount of time for each one.
If the time required for your morning routine exceeds the amount of time you have, consider shortening how long you spend on certain activities. If that doesn’t work, wake up a little earlier!
Implementing your morning routine
When I set out to change my morning routine, I wanted to get my ideal routine down starting from day one. I set my alarm for 6:30 am, even though I was used to getting up a couple hours later at the time, and it worked…for a day.
Even those that have great self-discipline struggled. What’s worse is that it weakens your mindset: you hate mornings more and want to give up many times. So here’s the trick: success comes gradually.
To make it easier for you, I broke down the steps, and made a 21 day morning routine schedule (it takes 21 days to build a habit!). It’s designed so you can follow your routine and make it stick.
Making your routine a habit
See the thing is, the reason why finding your perfect morning routine is so complex is because it involves the element of discipline. If you don’t have the self-discipline to stick to your schedule, it’s impossible to make it a habit. You’ll be trying to reach this goal over and over again, just to fail after a few days each time.
People all over recommend apps. While these can help, I find that the apps eventually lose their effectiveness-you use them for a while, and then get tired of them. Like for me, I become immune alarm sounds so easily I have to switch them every so often. So how do you stick to your routine then?
You’ve already finished the first step by creating your routine. Because the routine is tailor made to you, you already have more motivation built into it, as opposed to following a routine you found online.
It’s hard for humans to do the same boring thing everyday, so you need to add a “variable element” into your routine. This is simply something that can bring a little change to your routine, but not dramatically different enough to throw off your whole schedule. Some ideas can include:
- Switching up your morning workout (i.e. legs on Monday, abs on Tuesday, etc.)
- Turning on the radio or a podcast-you’ll get different content to listen to every day
- Outfits-a great way to get your creative juices flowing
OR every so often, switch up the order you do your routine.
Here’s another secret:
Have you heard about how it takes 21 days to build a habit? That means, if you follow your morning routine for 21 days (no mishaps in between), it should become a habit.
But now you’re probably thinking, okay, but how do I do that? How do I stick to something for 21 days without getting tired of it and breaking my streak?
One easy way is accountability. If you set a goal to change up your morning routine, invite your friends to join in! By creating a community, you will keep each other accountable and motivated to stick to it. That’s why I created the 21 Day Morning Challenge, which you can join in on! We’ve got a whole community that will support you the whole way. More on this at the end of the post.
Tackling the discipline aspect
Building self-discipline is hard, and this topic deserves its own post because of how much there is to cover. But I will touch on this lightly in the context of morning routines.
Self-discipline takes practice. As such, you will need to practice and go through your routine several times (there’s the 21 days element again!). Many of the techniques and tips I mentioned in the article already target ways to help you build self-discipline so you can stick with your routine. Mindset was a huge part of it.
The biggest thing, however, is pulling through the challenges and pushing away those temptations. It’s always easier to relapse into your old routine-that’s why you’ve been sticking to it all this time. But remember, that routine wasn’t what made you happy. Your path to success begins when your desire for comfort is overpowered by your desire for growth and change.
If you really, truly want to become better; if you really truly want to live your dream mornings, then push through, remember your goals, and say those self-affirmations whenever temptation wants to take over. You are in charge of your actions. You are in charge of your life. Every choice you make shapes your ultimate result.
My morning routine
This is what I created as my morning routine, which you can use as inspiration to create your own and start bouncing ideas.
6:30 - Rise and shine! 10 minutes - Make the bed, personal care, outfit 15 minutes - Exercise/Yoga 10 minutes - Journaling and mindset 15 minutes - Breakfast 10 minutes - News and reading 7:30 - On to the day!
21 Day Morning Challenge
To create a community where we all can start working towards our dream morning routines together, I am launching the 21 Day Morning Challenge in conjunction with Nellé from Realnelle!
She’s also offering some freebies and tips on her blog so go checkout her post too!
I’ve created a schedule to help you get your morning routine into a habit in 21 days. Even if you aren’t participating in the challenge, this schedule will be very useful when it comes to implementing your routine. As opposed to jumping headfirst into a new habit (and achieving very little), this will help you gradually adapt so you can successfully develop it!
When you download the schedule, you will also get the option to be sent daily challenges to target every morning. These challenges will be emailed to you the evening before. They will also be posted on the Challenge Directory page (more details below), so if you prefer, you can still do the challenges by checking the webpage daily.
August 11th – 31st, 2019
This will help you get your morning routine in place, just in time for back-to-school! You can start the new school year with great habits in place!
If you miss these dates, don’t fret. You can still participate in every part of this challenge, it’s just that we won’t be doing it at exactly the same time.
How to join:
- Download the habit schedule and morning routine kit (you don’t have to do this to participate, but I highly recommend it!)
- Complete the daily challenges and share your progress
- Comment on this post if you’ll be joining us.
- I will be documenting my progress on a separate post on my blog, which will double up as the Challenge Directory (more on that below). Be on the lookout for it August 11th (subscribe to my blog if you’d like to be notified when the post is out). Feel free to comment your daily/weekly progress on that post!
- If you run a blog, start your own post on your blog to document your journey. I will be gathering all of the participant posts together in a Challenge Directory. If you’d like to be in this directory, simply provide a do-follow link to this post to show you are part of this challenge (I will provide a do-follow link back), and comment on the Challenge Directory post so I know who to add! I’ll be going around and leaving comments on your posts as well.
- Check out the Challenge Directory to read about other people’s progress and leave some comments.
- Tell your friends and followers so they can join us!
- Share using the hashtag #21daymorningchallenge on social media
Can’t wait to participate in the #21daymorningchallenge! Dream morning routine-here I come!Tweet, tweet!
Join me here:
FREE BONUS: Morning Routine Kit
To streamline everything in this article, I created some worksheets that will help you formulate your perfect morning routine.
This kit includes:
- Morning Routine Poster: Create your perfect morning routine, and record it here. All of the elements of a morning routine are outlined here-you just fill it in! You can display this on your bedside table so you get reminded of it each morning.
- Morning Mindset Sheets: Your morning mindset has a huge impact on your mood and productivity for the day. I’ve complied the most useful ideas from the best productivity planners to create this worksheet. You will notice a difference once you start using these!
- Evening Reflection Sheets: It’s always important to reflect on the day, and see where you excelled, and where you can improve. Ideas from productivity planners have been integrated here as well.
- Bullet Journal Sheets: If you’re more into the creative side of things, and want to create your own format for your morning routine, bullet journal sheets are also provided! This kit includes one sheet with the “Morning Routine” header, and one blank bullet journal sheet. You can print off as many as you’d like!