Morning routines don’t matter. There, I said it. Now, you’re probably thinking: What? What’s the deal with this post then? I thought you were going to tell me the best morning routine!
Let me explain.
Morning routines DO matter, but not in the way most people think. Morning routines should help you do more of the things that make you better. To enhance your life, not take away from it.
But the whole notion of asking what time the most successful people wake up, or when the founder of X eats breakfast, or if X Olympic athlete has a meditation ritual doesn’t matter.
It just doesn’t.
How To Create A Successful Morning Routine That Actually Works
I was listening to The Tim Ferriss Show the other day and his guest mentioned something that I absolutely agree with – that the obsession of others’ morning routines doesn’t matter.
Because while those morning routines are great to keep in mind, or to use as inspiration, what actually matters are the things that work for you.
If you’re a night-owl, it doesn’t matter that some CEO wakes up at 3 in the morning because that’s what time you’re normally going to bed.
If you like to exercise right when you wake up, it doesn’t matter if some high achiever somewhere chooses to read a book right when their alarm goes off.
While it can be helpful to use them for inspiration, generally speaking, it doesn’t matter what successful people do in the morning.
The morning routines of others don’t matter because they are not yours. Your morning routine is the only thing that matters and that is the thing you should be working on, improving, and honing.
You don’t need to get caught up in what everyone is doing, you just need to figure out what works for you.
So, how can you do that? How can you make your routine as impactful as possible? I’ll show you.
Why you need a morning routine
First, let me just reiterate this point – worrying about the morning routines of others doesn’t matter, BUT morning routines as a concept are very helpful.
That is because morning routines, just like any routine, help you:
- Make fewer decisions so that you can focus on what matters
- Automate tasks that need to get done
They allow you to wake up and go through a similar script each day. In turn, that allows you to make fewer decisions and therefore be more effective in the moments that matter.
Think of it like this…
You wake up and lay in bed. You play on your phone for 15 minutes. Then, you think about your day for a minute or so and decide it’s time to brush your teeth.
At that point, you ask yourself whether to take a shower or brush your hair. More time goes by. Eventually, you decide to brush your hair.
You go to the kitchen and determine whether to eat breakfast or skip it. You decide to eat. Now that that’s decided, you look through the fridge and pantry to determine what food to have.
You decide to make eggs. You turn on the stove and ponder whether to coat the pan with butter, a spray, or nothing at all. After careful consideration, you go for the spray.
I’m exhausted just writing this out so I’ll end Scenario A here.
In this case, you don’t have a morning routine set. Each day you wake up and make a thousand micro decisions until you eventually pass out from exhaustion or completely run out of will power by the afternoon.
You wake up and play on your phone for 5 minutes before getting up and going to the bathroom. You brush your teeth, hair, and get dressed.
From there, you head to the kitchen, grab a yogurt, and go to your patio for some morning introspection. A few minutes pass, you come back in, grab your bag, and head to the office to start your day.
You have a routine. You wake up and go through a similar script each day that allows you to maximize your mornings and make as few decisions as possible.
That in turn then allows you to make more focused decisions at actually important moments throughout the day and gives you the will power reserves to consistently stay strong.
Scenario B, clearly, wins.
The big picture
Look, when it comes to harnessing your time each day, to mastering your time and creating your ideal life, you need to have a plan.
You need to think it through from start to finish and know that you’re spending each day in a thoughtful, deliberate manner.
There are a lot of ways you can do that (ex. productivity, time management, goal setting) and having a morning routine is definitely one of them. But you can’t just throw a few actions together and consider it a successful morning routine.
What you need are a string of actions that benefit you in some way. Actions that are necessary and invaluable in moving you forward and closer to your overall vision of success.
That is the power of the morning routine. Let’s continue.
The best morning routine for success
At the end of the day (or should I say – at the start), the best morning routine is the one that works for you. It’s about experimenting to find what works best and what doesn’t.
With that in mind, to create a successful morning routine you’ll want to go through the following steps:
- Recognize what you want
- Determine what actions to take
- Put things in order
- Try it out
Recognize what you want
The first step in creating your ideal morning routine is to figure out what you want. If you’ve done goal setting in the past, it’s a similar process.
In other words, what do you want to get out of your morning routine?
- A fast and efficient action sequence?
- Some time for calm?
- A chance to get some extra time doing what you love?
Before you can start a new morning routine, you first need to understand what you want.
In my goal setting course, I have one lesson in particular that touches on this idea in detail. There’s a worksheet that I have you complete that helps you see who you are today and who you want to be in the future.
When creating your new routine, you should think of things in a similar way. Consider what your morning routine is today and what you would like it to be tomorrow.
Oh and make sure you have a strong why behind it. To put it another way, make sure you have a reason for doing those new actions. Something grounded in a real purpose so that you stay with it during those times when you’d rather lounge in bed.
If you want some help getting into that goal setting state of mind, I recommend the following posts:
- How to set goals
- How to achieve goals
- Goal tracker tools you can utilize for help
- And how to crush your daily goals
Determine what actions to take
Once you know what you want, you need to decide what actions to take. If you want a few moments for calm, you could consider doing meditation or yoga right when you wake up.
Or if you want to start your day off with a bang, you could go for a run as soon as your alarm goes off. Or to keep it simple, maybe you just want to streamline your mornings with a string of efficient actions.
Either way, now that you know what you want from your mornings, it’s time to consider what actions to take to help you achieve that aim.
To look at our examples from the previous section, if you want:
A fast and efficient action sequence: your actions could be to wake up, get dressed in the same order each day, grab the same breakfast from the fridge, and go sit at your desk and get to work.
Some time for calm: your actions could be to wake up, get out of bed, put on a 15 minute yoga video (that you downloaded the night before), and then get dressed before heading to the office.
A chance to get some extra time doing what you love: your actions could be to wake up, get dressed, sit down at your laptop, and work on your side project for an hour before getting the kids ready for school.
Spend some time deciding what actions you can take to help you achieve your ideal morning routine.
Put things in order
With your actions now listed, it’s time to put things in order. For that you need to see yourself as an efficiency expert. Meaning that you want to waste no time and make sure that each action leads into the next smoothly.
For example, if your hairbrush is right next to your toothbrush, you’ll want to brush your hair after brushing your teeth.
But if your hairbrush is in your bedroom, and your deodorant is next to your toothbrush instead, then you’d want to brush your teeth first and then put on deodorant before heading into your bedroom to brush your hair.
It’s all about moving from one action to the next in a smooth, forward flowing fashion.
The same thing goes for when to start these actions.
For instance, if you want to do yoga right when you wake up, but there are kids that need to be tended to at your normal wake up time, you should consider going to bed earlier and waking up a little earlier to make time for this new action.
You don’t need to wake up at 4 AM, you just need to wake up at the time that makes the most sense for the routine you’re trying to create.
If you want some extra help to become more efficient in the mornings (or just in general), I recommend the following posts:
- How to have a productive day
- Time management tips
- How to be productive
- Time management books
- Bonus: make sure that you understand Parkinson’s Law
Try it out
You recognize what you want from your morning routine, you listed some actions to take, and you’ve considered in what order (and when) to do them. What’s next?
Try it out.
That’s right. It’s time to give it a go. To implement the items from above and try out your new morning routine.
So try it for a few days! Learn what you like and what you don’t, what’s working and what’s not.
Then as you learn, start to adjust and tweak things over the next weeks/months until you eventually have a morning routine that is perfect for you.
Continue to repeat and iterate on this process and you will become a champion morning routine maker. Use this process again and again and continue to experiment your way towards morning routine success!
Morning routine ideas
Now I know I mentioned earlier in this post that the morning routines of others aren’t important. And again, that’s because people see them as the end-all-be-all. For instance – Oh the CEO of X wakes up at 3:30 AM, that means I need to wake up at 3:30 AM to be successful then too.
Again, what works for one person may not work for you.
However, the morning routines of others CAN be very helpful as a way of gaining some inspiration. As a way of learning new things that you can try out in your own routine to see if they add value to your already great ritual.
It all comes back to experimentation. To understanding what works best for you and what doesn’t. So with that in mind, here are some morning routine ideas that you can try out:
- Clean off your desk
- Plan out your day
- Review your goals
- Check in on your budget
- Make breakfast
- Think of 3 things you’re grateful for
- Watch a TED Talk
To see the full list, check out this post on morning routine ideas.
Starting a morning routine
With everything ready to go, it’s time to take action; to start your morning routine. Just like in the section above (Try it out), try out your new routine for a few days.
From there, iterate and improve upon it until it fits your lifestyle nicely.
There’s one thing I want to point out before we finish – you need to be patient. Whatever routine you create will surely be awesome, but it will take some time to get used to.
So go into it with the knowledge that you may feel uncomfortable as you try out your new morning routine and that’s perfectly fine. It means that you’re learning and growing.
Don’t panic or cave or throw your whole plan away. Know that you have the power to adjust whatever is or isn’t working to better fit your needs.
You are in control of the situation so you can adjust things however you’d like.
Use the strategy described above to create your perfect morning routine. See it as an experiment – try some things out, learn from the experience, and iterate as you go.
It may take some time to create your own version of a successful morning routine, but know that the end result will be well worth it. And remember – don’t get too caught up on what others are doing. Focus on works for you.
At this point, you have what you need.
Where should you go from here? I recommend reading through this post again to create and implement your new morning routine.
And then with that in place, start reading through the various resources on goal setting, productivity, and time management that I mentioned throughout this post to help enhance your efforts even more.