How a morning routine can change your life

It often seems that there are two kinds of people: the ones who wake up without an alarm clock, who jump out of the bed, and immediately hit the gym for a quick workout session, after which they have an ice-cold shower and a protein shake. And they still manage to get into the office by 8am. And then there are the ones who need five different alarm clocks and still oversleep because they hit the snooze button one too many times. They fall out of the bed, crawl into their kitchen, and drink their first two cups of coffee. After a hot shower that lasted twenty minutes, they drive to work just to have their third cup of coffee. How come some people seem to be morning people, while others are not? Well, we can tell you one thing that a lot of successful morning people have in common: a morning routine.

What is a morning routine good for?

While morning routines are an extremely valuable tool, lots of people have a misconception about them. Having a morning routine doesn’t mean you have to wake up at 5am every single day and spend one hour with 10-minute periods of yoga, reading, exercising, meditating, keeping a journal, and engaging in self-affirmations. This might work for some people, but certainly not for everybody. The purpose of a morning routine is to make time for (the most) important things in your life and to get rid of the physical and mental effort related to planning these things. Thus, the main benefit is getting the important things done first thing in the morning. There is also a side benefit: you might have an easier time falling asleep the night before if you have a morning routine that you are already looking forward to.

No matter what it is that you want to do (write or exercise or do yoga or read daily), the hardest part about forming a habit is finding the right time for it every single day of our busy lives. But by setting aside some time for our morning routine every single day, we get rid of all the thinking and planning involved with finding the right time. It doesn’t matter when your morning starts – it can start at 5am, but it can also start at 9am if you are a late sleeper – nor does it matter how long it lasts – it can last 30 minutes but it can also last for 2 hours. The details are up to you. The key to success is consistency.

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit
– Will Durant

What does a morning routine look like, exactly?

Let’s have a look at two different morning routines.
1. Wake up at 5:30. Meditate for 10 minutes. Drink a protein smoothie to get some protein and carbs. Prepare coffee. Read for 10 Minutes. Exercise for an hour. Do some stretching. Have a proper breakfast (that you prepared the night before). Cold Shower. Ride the bike to work and be there at 8am.
2. Wake up at 6:30. Do some stretching. Have a warm shower. Have a proper breakfast (that you prepared the night before. Brew some coffee and read for 15 minutes. Write on your book for half an hour. Or study for an upcoming exam. Listen to an educational podcast while commuting to work. Arrive at the office around 9am.
As these two examples show, it’s not important what you do in your daily morning routine. It’s also not important when you start the routine. It’s just important to do something that’s really important to you (in the first case it’s working out, in the second case it’s learning and writing) and to do it every. single. day. in that exact order. Of course you can experiment here and there a bit, but it’s called a routine for a reason. It’s about forming a habit that you don’t have to think about anymore.

Your morning routine can also be an evening routine

Let’s be honest. In some cases, doing your morning routine is simply not possible. A friend of mine is a shift worker. If he has to be at work at 5am, waking up well before 3am to get his morning routine done is simply not an option for him. Instead, he could do an evening routine, in which he sets aside the 90 minutes before going to bed to do things like exercising, yoga, or reading. In fact, I have three routines. One in the morning to meditate, read, and prepare food (which saves time and money during lunch breaks at the office. The second one in the afternoon from 5 to 7pm to exercise. And the last one at 9pm, where I am doing yoga for half an hour.
As I’ve said before, the whole purpose of these routines is to set aside time for getting high-priority things done.

Additional Readings

If you are looking for inspiration for how to make the most out of the time you are spending in cars (or cleaning), check out one of our previous blog posts about how to stop wasting potentially valuable time.
Check out this article about the many benefits of an evening routine called Sleep Your Way to the Top
One of the best books on morning routines is Hal Elrod’s The Miracle Morning. It’s about the amazing benefits of bringing these routines into your life. But keep in mind that not everybody has to wake up super early and do meditation, keep a journal, etc. Plan your tasks according to what’s important to you.
If you want to know more about setting up routines and avoiding distractions, check out this (rather long) blog post about Nir Eyal.
Also check out this insightful 5-minute read on Reddit about morning routines.