Set yourself up for success: The morning routine
The morning routine, a lot of very successful people attribute their achievements to having an efficient morning routine.
They wake up at 5 AM, meditate for 2 hours, read a book for another hour and go to the gym for 45 minutes. Then there’s you. You try these famous morning routines and just can not get it to work for you. Why? Because it’s is not personalized!
The idea behind a good morning routine is that it is suited to your needs. What do you need to get a head-start in the morning and be at your best?
In this article, I will go in-depth on how to devise the ideal morning routine for you, so that you can be more productive, happier and maybe even more successful!
There is no perfect morning routine
As much as some people want you to believe, there is no perfect morning routine. You will not achieve the same benefits from doing Bill Gates or Jason Momoa’s morning routine.
The main idea behind a morning routine is to fill you with energy, physically and mentally, and to prepare you for the day to come. Every single person has different preferences and benefits from different routines.
Even for people with rigorous morning routines, life changes, so changes to their morning routine happen.
For example: If you start with intermittent fasting, change up your routine. Want to learn meditation, why not add it to your morning routine and see what happens.
Below are the 5 cornerstones of a solid morning routine. Nothing written here is set in stone, these are just guidelines to create the best morning routine for you!
The building blocks of a morning routine
1. Wake up at your right time
A lot of self-help guru’s claim that you need to wake up before 7:15, 6:30, 5:29 or whatever random number to be productive. In reality, the best wake-up time for you is completely dependent on your preferences and day-to-day life.
If you’re anything like me, your wake-up time is even more important to how you feel than the amount of time that you spend asleep. If I wake up before 7, I will be groggy. It doesn’t matter if I got 6 hours or 8 hours of solid sleep. This is due to an effect called the circadian rhythm.
Your circadian rhythm determines the amount of wakefulness (or sleepiness) during the day. It is your body’s internal clock.
Some people’s internal clock is wound in such a way that they feel the most productive and awake early in the morning, the so-called “early birds“. For these people, the “wake up early” advice is perfect.
Other people are more “night owl” types and function the best at night, they wake up later and go to bed later. If this is you, I would advise you to try and find a good wake-up time which is not too late but lets you feel well-rested and energized. For me, personally, I function the best when I wake up between 8 and 9 AM.
Once you got your ideal time figured out, it is important to try and stick to it every day. The only way to actually build a routine, a habit, is to actually stick with it as much as you can. Research has shown that having a consistent bed- and wake-up time results in better sleep and more energy during the day.
This is due to the fact that your circadian rhythm adjusts to your bed- and wake-up times and your hormones/energy levels adjust accordingly. Worth it!
If you can’t resist the temptation to sleep in during the weekends, try to set your alarm for 1 hour later tops. This keeps your rhythm in place and helps you to build your habit.
2. Hydration and food
Being hydrated is important for basically all your bodily functions. You’ve probably read somewhere that our body consists of about 60% water.
What you probably didn’t know is that water is used to regulate our body temperatures, keep our organs running (including your brain!) and deliver nutrients such as protein/carbs/fats and vitamins to your cells.
When you wake up in the morning you are dehydrated from 7-9 hours of not drinking and if you sleep with your mouth open, the water literally evaporates from your mouth. Therefore, when you wake up it is important to get hydrated.
Drink 1-3 cups of water after waking up to get your blood flowing and start powering your brain with nutrients again. In addition to that, research suggests that drinking water first thing in the morning might increase your metabolism by up to 24%! Awesome if you’re trying to lose some weight!
Speaking of nutrients, if you’re not practicing intermittent fasting or anything of the sort, make yourself a healthy protein-rich breakfast. For inspiration:
I’m a firm believer in taking good care of your body (‘duh with a website called “the health bro”). What I noticed, and this is purely speaking from my personal experience, is that if I take care of myself physically by working out and cooking healthy food, mentally I also do better; Reduced stress and more happiness overall.
Overall, just try to find what works for you in terms of food. If a healthy protein-rich meal is a protein shake for you? Great! Go for it. 6 eggs with whole wheat bread? You do you! As long as it fuels you right up!
3. Mental and emotional energy
So you got your wake-up time and hydration/food figured out. The next step is to find something that gives you mental and emotional energy and increases your productivity.
I cannot advocate meditation enough. 10 minutes of mindful meditation a day (during my morning routine) turned my life around. Don’t know how to meditate? Read my simple 5-minute meditation guide.
If meditation isn’t for you (trust me, I thought the same) then you can do something else that feeds your mind; Read an inspiring book, listen to an interesting podcast or write in a journal. Feel free to combine as you see fit.
Once you got that covered, start planning your day. When you know what you have to do, you can be more productive and reduce the number of tasks you have to think about. Again a stress relief. A few tips on how to plan your day efficiently:
- Keep it simple and realistic
- Include commute times
- Plan “you time”
As you can probably see from this guide, the idea of a successful morning routine is to start your day as stress-free and prepared as possible. Giving special care to your mental and emotional wellbeing can help tremendously with this.
4. Grooming and personal care
Hydrated? Check. Well-fed? Check. Mental and emotionally recharged? Check. Now it’s time to figure out your ideal grooming routine.
Again, the thought behind this is that if you take good care of yourself physically, you do better mentally.
Personally I like to take a shower every morning. No cold shower or anything like that, just a regular old shower. During this shower, I trim all my private parts and make sure I’m fresh and ready to go. Still looking for a good water-proof trimmer, check out this guide.
You have to figure out what works for you. Want to just brush your teeth, do your hair and wash your face? Go ahead, as long as it’s something that works for you. Some tips for good grooming and personal care routine:
- Work from top to bottom, trim your pubic area, chest/back and beard (check out our best men’s facial hair trimmer review and the best men’s electric shaver for sensitive skin review!)
- Guys with flaky skin: Don’t be afraid to use a moisturizer
- Don’t forget your eyebrows, well-groomed eyebrows make a world of difference
Nothing too special here, get yourself freshened up and ready for the day. If you look good, you’ll feel good!
5. On the move
To keep things short: exercise in the morning gives you more energy than a good cup of coffee. It is one of the best things you can add to your morning routine to feel energized.
Everyone knows that exercise is healthy. Various benefits such as reduced chances of heart disease, weight control, improved mood, and improved energy have been attributed to daily exercise.
In addition to that, it improves your sleep by enforcing your circadian rhythm.
If you’re someone who enjoys working out in the morning and is able to pump out a 60-minute workout or run after they woke up, go for it! You’ll reap all the benefits and build a great body.
If you’re more like me, a night-time exerciser then tries to at least do some form of low-intensity steady-state cardio such as walking or biking. You’ll reap the same energizing and mood-improving benefits.
Going for a run is even better but that is not everyone’s cup of tea. Some idea’s to get on the move in the morning:
- Walk/Bike to work if the distance allows it
- Do some sort of stretching routine
- If you’re short on time, do 50 push-ups and 50 burpees, break a sweat
In summary: If you’re a morning gym-goer then keep doing you. If you’re not, include at least 10 minutes of exercise in your morning routine. It’s better than coffee!
Putting it all together
You’ve had a look at the most important pillars of a morning routine, now it’s time to make your own. Find your ideal morning routine.
Try some things for a while, see if you get any benefit from them and iterate from there.
Personally, it took me about 3 months to find my ideal morning routine. My routine hydrates me, gives me the energy to start my day productive and It consists of the following:
- Wake up between 7:30-8:00
- Drink 3 full cups of cold water
- Drink a cup of decaf coffee
- Beat 6 eggs and put them in a pan on low heat
- Meditate for 10-15 minutes
- Make a to-do list (including planning my free-time)
- Take the eggs off the heat and eat them with a banana/apple and another glass of water
- Take a 10- to 15-minute walk/bike ride
In total, this takes me about 45 minutes, not too bad. In general, I would advise you to start with the thing that benefits you the most:
- If you’re someone who gets a boost from positive energy; make sure the first thing you do cultivates that (meditation/reading)
- If you’re someone who needs a plan to get things going; make your to-do list first thing in the morning
- Feeling groggy after waking up? Make showering the first step of your morning routine
The bottom line: There is no need to do everything listed in this article, compile a morning routine of the things that benefit you the most and work from there.
From task to habit
Once you figured out what works for you, it is important to turn it into an actual routine, a habit. For this I highly recommend you to use an app like HabitBull or Momentum.
Tracking each step of your routine day-to-day helps you to build commitment and change it from a task to a habit.
Because of this fact, track your morning routine tasks daily for atleast 66 days, longer if you feel like it hasn’t become an actual routine yet. This will help you to build strong habits and
Check out this video by Thomas Frank on habit building, he does a great job of explaining it!
This guide gave you the pillars to build the best morning routine for you. If you feel motivated or anything in particular stood out, contemplate committing to building your morning routine.
Think about your ideal routine today and start tomorrow morning.
You will be a happier, more productive and healthier person for it.
What are your thoughts on the perfect morning routine? Comment below.
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