Best morning routine ideas – How to develop good morning habits
Not everyone is a morning person. Nevertheless, the quality of any day is generally determined by how it begins. Most of us are not deliberate about those first hours.
Because of this, our days can be more unpredictable than they need to be. To help bring your life into better balance, we bring you a round-up of some of the best morning routine ideas and habits that will give you more control over the quality and tempo of your days.
Morning Routine Ideas & Habits – Overview
Your first hour of the morning is more critical than you might think. Do you jump out of bed at 5:00, ready to face a new day? Do you already know what to do to get started on your best foot? Or do you postpone the inevitable for as long as you can? Do you find yourself rushing through your morning basics at the last minute when you can’t snooze any longer?
This latter scenario is a summary of the average person’s morning. The average person that has an average morning gets average results. If you want to have an above-average life, the best time to start is in the morning with a well-planned and personalized routine.
In a nutshell, how can you incorporate a sound morning routine into your life?
Lengthen your day on the top end. When you get an early start, you will find that you have more time in your day for productivity. For example, if you start your day at 8:00 and take an hour to get ready to begin, you only have 3 hours to get cranking before it’s time to break for lunch. On the other hand, a 5 AM start gives you a luxurious 6 hours.
Enjoy the stillness of the early morning. Those early hours – 4:00-6:00 AM – tend to be valuable quiet time during which you can focus on your goals and organize your thoughts on a well-rested brain.
Morning routine as a self-care principle. If you plan certain activities in your morning, the whole experience can be a mental wellness strategy. Activities such as meditation (see courses) and journaling can help lower stress. Some of the practices we cover below are also effective in combatting depression. This can be valuable at the start of the day.
Be flexible. Contrary to what many may believe, a morning routine does not need to be rigid. Although the big idea is to form healthy morning habits, it doesn’t have to be exactly the same every morning of your life. In fact, a healthy morning routine can help you be more flexible, as you have better command over your time.
Morning Routine Ideas & Habits – 5 Concepts
Here are five of the best morning routine ideas, habits and components that could be part of your practice. If you can’t do all of them, get at least three of them in. They should take 15-20 minutes each and ideally total up to the first 1 to 1.5 hours of your day.
1. Relaxation, Meditation & Prayer
This should be your opener. Spend your first-time segment making a smooth transition from sleep to wakefulness with a peaceful, mindful practice. Ideally, this is a quiet time during which you can sit in silence, practice a meditation sequence, or pray.
What exactly you choose to do with this time is highly personal. Whatever you choose to do, it should be a positive, stress-free start to your day. We recommend reading books about mediation and the basic techniques involved.
2. Writing & Journaling
Popular morning routines and habits involve writing in some form. Often, this is referred to as journaling but could be blogging or brainstorming too. Frankly, for all its benefits, many are intimidated by the idea of writing in a journal. It is also not as popular as it once was.
Most people fret that they “don’t know what to write.” If you’re in that group, we have some good news. This morning routine “journaling” does not mandate well-formed sentences and paragraphs that flow like a best-selling novel. This writing is for you and you alone. A stream of consciousness on your page that you spend 15 minutes scribbling will suffice.
Journaling is not the only way to go. The writing segment of your morning routine can also take the form of laying out your To Do list. To take this a step further, once you are done with your To Do’s, you can write a To Be list and a To Feel list. Think about what you want to be today – confident, generous, productive, successful, resourceful. Then think about how you want to feel – excited, positive, loved. Affirm it all in writing.
It’s worth noting that the best way to do this is ink on paper. Like note-taking, your mind makes stronger connections when you do journaling or listing in pen instead of typing on a keyboard or a screen. Here are also some helpful writing tips.
3. Learning & Reading
Because actually reading books is such a valuable practice, it defines this section. Nonetheless, this part of your morning routine can involve consuming any valuable content to your personal career and goals. This can also be a video, a podcast, or a course. As long as it’s something connected to self-improvement, schedule it in!
You can use your morning routine to learn a new language or skill or try new ideas on your beloved project. It's your time of the day, and you decide what to learn, read or practice. Highly effective people use the morning hour to work on projects they don't have time for during the day. You may want to make yourself familiar with concepts such as deep work.
4. Exercising & Stretching
So far, we’ve only covered largely sedentary practices. That said, it is extremely critical that you get your body moving early in the morning. Getting the blood flowing is important for both your body and your mind. Vigorous exercise produces endorphins, which reduce stress and are great for combating depression. Even a light sweat is valuable. Robin Sharma (The 5 AM Club) explains in his book that sweating actually makes you smarter!
At a minimum, 15 minutes of stretching helps wake your muscles up and prepare you to conquer the new day. You can do yoga or Pilates, or just a simple sequence that targets as many muscles as you can to limber up the body and shake off the sleepies.
5. Cold Shower
To most of us, this sounds like a very unpleasant experience. Nevertheless, you can gain a lot from something as simple as showering in cold water. Benefits include helping to wake you up and stimulating your circulation. In fact, alternating between cold and warm water improves your blood flow by alternatively expanding and constricting the blood vessels.
It is also said that when cold water hits the skin, it sends more electrical impulses to the brain. This is said to help reduce depression. Concluding this section, let's now look at some other best morning routine ideas and additional tips.
Morning Routine Ideas – Additional Tips
Make Your Bed – First off, as the largest piece of furniture in your bedroom, a messy bed makes a room feel much more disorganized than it may actually be. It isn’t easy to feel good or stay focused in cluttered spaces. Making the bed can help your room feel organized, which can be a valuable mood booster.
On top of that, getting into a nicely made bed at night is a free luxury. At the end of a tough day, it can be a great comfort. Try to see if it affects you positively.
Delay Screen Checking – There are numerous good reasons why checking your device upon waking is frowned upon in the morning routine clubhouse. Whether you like to admit it or not, checking your phone can be like opening Pandora’s box. A one-minute check can spread to 20 minutes very easily when you start clicking on posts, links and notifications.
In addition, you open yourself up to confronting unfinished business from the day before in your messages before you are ready. Also, you may curate your friends carefully, but the posts that come up in your social media feed are still not in your control. All of this can trigger thoughts, worries, and rushed activities that can affect your valuable morning hour.
Plan the Night Before – Thinking about your morning the night before will help things run smoothly. If it helps you get up faster, you may prepare your clothes and set up what you need in the morning for your morning habit – your journal and pen, your books and content, your yoga mat, and your runners. You may even plan your breakfast.
Top performers who highly value their time believe that time spent considering what to wear, for example, costs more time and mindshare than they wish to waste. If you don't want to do these preps, no worries. Just get up in the morning and enjoy your power hour.
Form Habits – The rule of thumb is to repeat something 21 times to lock it in as a habit. Whatever you decide to incorporate into your morning routine should become a habit you form. It might help you to set reminders or use a checklist at first. Once you’ve locked the individual good morning habits in, your whole routine literally becomes a no-brainer.
Many people say it is not only about repetition to form habits. You can use concepts such as deliberate practice, setting the right goals, or decision-making systems such as the Eisenhower Matrix or the Pareto Principle to create a powerful and healthy morning routine. Be curious and explore different approaches to find the one that suits you most.
Morning Routine Ideas – Tools, Apps, Books
1. Using an App in the Morning
Let’s dispense with apps first. There are great ones out there that can help you in various ways on your journey to better mornings. We will have a closer look at four that could really help you start on the right foot every day.
Nevertheless, note the intrinsic drawback that none of them can get around: they all require you to engage with a mobile device first thing in the morning in some way. That said if you are going to go the mobile app route to a healthy morning routine, fight the temptation to look at your messages or social media and go directly to your morning routine app.
This is the life organization and project management app of the moment. Although it has features that allow for the management of large-scale projects involving teams of people, you can also use it to manage yourself. Browse their templates to find one you can use to trigger a productive morning habit toward one of your life goals.
Fabulous: Daily Routine Planner
This app is a collection of checklists of healthy morning, afternoon and evening routines that all conspire to “make you fabulous”. Beyond the onscreen checklists, there is also a function to help you build good habits, with reminder triggers. Fun colors and illustrations on every screen help users look forward to building a better You one day at a time.
One of the most valuable features of this meditation app is that it is highly personalized. When you sign up, you fill out a questionnaire asking what gives you the most stress in life and what your goals are. From there, you get a daily meditation that seeks to help you in the areas you need it most. For those who want to meditate but don’t know how this app can help. Alternatively, you may browse our list of meditation courses.
Probably one of the most popular apps if you want to relax, meditate and concentrate. From exercises and round-up courses to nature sounds and podcasts, Headspace can be a helpful assistant to start your day motivated and excited. You will need to subscribe to one of their plans. There are many free alternatives available to this app.
2. Checklists & Tools
Printable checklists can be had for free from the blogs and websites of a legion of productivity mavens online. The key with these is to hack yourself into actually using whichever one your choose. Try putting it on your fridge or by your bathroom mirror. Laminate it and keep a dry erase marker nearby (perhaps tied to a string) so you can reuse it every day until the habits are instilled.
Alternatively, you can simply have a dry erase board and compile your own list using some of the great ideas you find searching through prefab lists. Cherry-pick the practices you personally need the most. Here are two checklists that we think are worthwhile.
The Busy Budgeter Morning Routine Checklist
This contains handy reminders, such as “Stay Unplugged” and “Sneak a Little Me-Time.” On top of the list is a reminder to “Plan Your Morning at Night” with its own mini-list of to-dos, such as laying out clothes and setting up your bag and keys near the door. Rather helpful indeed.
Social Workers Toolbox Before School Checklist for Children
For parents, getting kids into a healthy morning routine can help reduce their own stress and keep their own morning organized. If you can get your kids involved in creating a custom list, that works well in getting them to take ownership of it as its co-creator. Alternatively, this checklist is an excellent, free resource for younger children.
To begin with, the best book you can have for a healthy morning routine is your journal or notebook. That said, there are books – ones that are printed on paper if you want to avoid a device first thing – that you can reference daily to help you. This can be especially valuable in the beginning, when you are forming your new habits. We like these three.
The 5 AM Club by Robin Sharma
In this narrative, a billionaire coaches a struggling artist. One of his first lessons is about waking up early and “winning the morning.” Your victory hour, 5:00-6:00, is broken down into three 20-minute segments to set you up for a productive, successful day. The morning routine is discussed in detail, so you will be able to implement this habit if you believe it will work for you.
What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast by Laura Vanderkam
For many, mornings are difficult. This author interviewed numerous top performers to boil down a formula for efficiently and pleasantly starting your day. Overall, you’ll learn how to maximize that early “me time” through personal development and focusing on your career and family. The best part of waking up early is that beautiful window of time during which no one is making demands on your time. Make it count.
Daily Rituals by Mason Currey
This is a fascinating look at what historical artists did daily to stimulate their success. Currey covers Franz Kafka, Agatha Christie, George Gershwin, Leo Tolstoy, Benjamin Franklin, Anne Rice and a cadre of other well-known figures and their strange but undoubtedly effective rituals.
For example, you’ll read about Ben Franklin’s morning habit of taking “air baths” (in other words, he sat around naked for about 30 minutes with the window open). You may not want to emulate them all, but you will definitely be inspired and amused by this book.
Best Morning Routines – Managing Challenges
1. Early to Bed
This is probably the most challenging part of starting and maintaining a strong morning routine habit. Most of us are well aware that a body needs a minimum amount of sleep every night. That said, your great morning starts the night before. Try to get at least 7 hours of sleep but 8 hours will be better.
2. Waking Up Early
Getting up at 5 AM is a rather unappealing concept to many, but if you got to bed early, it should help ease the pain. Nonetheless, even if you do get to bed on time, you may still need help getting up in the morning. If your built-in phone alarm is not enough to get you moving, the Alarmy app has fun ways to make you get up and stay up. Now you have overcome the first major hurdle!
3. Controlling Your Morning
Probably the single most appealing part of that early time is that no one else is making any demands on you. That said, you could still lose control if you are not deliberate about how you spend your time inside your power hour. Therein lies the value of having a morning routine. It can be flexible, but your activities should be clearly defined.
5. How Long Should It Take
The general standard for a morning routine is one hour, although it can be as short as 30 minutes or as long as 1 to 2 hours. If you can get up earlier, you can spend more time on your great start.
6. If You Don’t Wake Up On Time
It can happen. Perhaps you didn’t get to bed on time the night before. If you wake up in the midst of your early hour, say, 5:25, all is not lost. Just do whatever you can fit in. If you wake up much later than that, try to do one thing from your morning routine in your commitment to self-care and move on. There’s always tomorrow! Alternatively, if you have the time, simply start your morning routine hour now and enjoy it.
Best Morning Routine Ideas – Summary
Summarizing our list of best morning routine ideas and habits. It is well-documented that the world’s top performers generally wake up early and have a well-thought-out process to start their days with power and purpose. There is no doubt that if you don’t consistently do this already, starting and sustaining a morning routine will change your life for the better.
Sources of ideas for what specific ideas you can put to use in the morning abound. The ultimate goal is to win your morning by maximizing a precious space of time. When you do that, the rest of your day falls into place almost magically.
One last thing, you don't have to get up at 5 am to practice and live your morning routine ideas, habits and principles. If you are an evening person and get up late you still have a morning, right? what matters is to spend the first hour of your day in structured ways that help energize your mind, soul, and body.
What is your morning routine habit? Feel free to share some of your best morning routine ideas and habits in the comments below.