I think we can all agree there is a right way and a wrong way to start the day.
The truth is, without a system in place, there is no way to ensure your morning outcome.
Cue the morning routine.
A decent morning routine can truly make or break your day.
But, want to know the best part?
Creating a successful morning routine is not as difficult or as complicated as it might sound.
So, let’s take look at how to create a morning routine, habit ideas, and the best tips and advice to ensure your morning routine is a success.
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An Ultimate Guide to Building a Successful Morning Routine
This complete guide is JAM-PACKED with information. For easy navigation, here is an outline of what you will find below:
- The Importance of Having a Morning Routine
- Benefits of Waking Up Early
- Steps to Creating the Perfect Morning Routine
- Top Morning Routine Habit Ideas
- Morning Routine Example
- Top Morning Routine Tips
- Tips for Waking Up Earlier
- Top Books on Routines and Habits
- Further Reading
The Importance of Having a Morning Routine
Let’s start by taking a look at the top benefits of following a consistent morning routine. These include:
- Decreased stress and anxiety
- Increased productivity
- The development of healthy habits (and breaking of bad ones)
- Improvement of relationships
- Increased progress towards goals
- Boosted confidence
- Willpower conservation
- Boosted energy levels
Benefits of Waking Up Early
In addition, there are several other great benefits of starting your morning routine in the early hours of the day such as:
- Improved quality of sleep
- Makes eating a healthy diet easier
- Improves skin health
- Allows for morning exercises (which has even more benefits!)
- Better overall health
- Allows you to enjoy the sunrise and stillness before the morning bustle
- Increased concentration levels
- Boosts mood with increased exposure to light
But, don’t fall into the trap of waking up early at the cost of a healthy amount of sleep (7+ hours). That would cause all of these great benefits to go out the door. Sleep is vital to your health, so make it a priority!
Related: Get Better Sleep with the 12 Amazing Tips
Steps to Creating the Perfect Morning Routine
Creating the perfect morning routine is much easier than you might think. Let’s take a look at each of the steps to building a curated routine to fit your lifestyle.
1. Determine WHY You Want to Build a Morning Routine
Deciding WHY you want to build a morning routine is perhaps the most important step.
This will help you maintain motivation to follow through with your routine, and even encourage you to get up earlier in the day!
Be sure you choose a strong WHY. Strong enough that, when you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, you will still be motivated to get up and follow your routine.
Some examples might be to improve your health, meet a specific goal, become more productive, or be a happier person.
Related: How to Determine Your Life’s WHY and Develop Your Personal Mission Statement
2. Brainstorm WHAT You Want to Accomplish Before Your Day Begins
Next, begin jotting down a list of tasks you wish to complete before your day begins.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What can I do in the mornings to feel accomplished before the day starts?
- How can I energize myself and get into a good mood?
- What do I need to get done before I begin my day?
- Are there any goals I have that can be worked on in the morning?
- What are common morning routine habits that I would like to add to my routine?
Be sure to check the list of top morning routine habits (down below) for some inspiration! Add any and all ideas you think would be a good fit for you! (Don’t worry, you’ll narrow them down next).
3. Prioritize Your Morning Routine Habit Ideas
Adding a ton of habits into your morning routine is unrealistic.
Instead, narrow down your list into the most important habits and tasks you really want and need to complete each morning.
Do this by numbering your brainstormed morning routine habit ideas in order of importance, using your personal goals as a guideline.
Related: A Complete Guide to Setting and Achieving Goals
4. Create Three Different Morning Routines
Not every morning is the same.
Some days, you wake up early, energized, and prepared to complete a long and detailed morning routine.
Others, you accidentally sleep in and have only 10 minutes before you need to leave the house.
Therefore, the most realistic morning routine is one that can be flexible!
To do this, I encourage you to create not one, but three different morning routines:
The Bare Minimum Morning Routine:
This is the list of bare essentials you need to get done before the day begins. Some ideas might include packing a lunch, brushing your teeth, changing into normal clothes, and grabbing an on-the-go breakfast.
The Middle-Ground Morning Routine:
This list will include everything on your Bare Minimum Morning Routine, with a few additional habits based on your top priorities (determined in step 3).
The Ideal Morning Routine:
If you had a ton of time and energy, what would your ideal morning look like? This will be the most complex and filled morning routine, with habits and tasks that will set you up for the perfect day.
5. Map Out Your Morning
Make sure that each morning routine list is ordered in a logical way. For example, you might have “Take a Shower” after you have “Excercise for 30 minutes.”
Then, next to each task and habit, assign an Estimated Time to Complete. Add up the amount of time you believe each of your three morning routines options will take.
6. Determine Wake-Up and Bedtimes
What time do you need to start the day? Perhaps this is the time you need to leave your home to get to the office on time. Or, maybe the time you need to leave the house to get to class. Or drop off the kids before the first bell rings. Whatever this looks like for you, jot down your non-negotiable start-of-the-day time.
Next, look at your three routines lists and, moving backward from your start-of-the-day time, add the time each routine would need to begin.
Then, determine how many hours of sleep you need each night (for most, this is 7+ hours).
Finally, using these routine start times, work backward one last time to determine your bedtime.
Example Wakeup and Bedtimes (shown in reverse order)
- Start-of-Day Time – 7:00 am: Leave the house to arrive at the office by 7:30 am
- Ideal Sleep Time: 7 Hours
Bare-Essentials Routine: Takes 15 Minutes to Complete
- Wake Up Time: 6:45 am
- Bedtime: 11:45 pm
Middle-Ground Routine: Takes 1 Hour to Complete
- Wake Up Time: 6:00 am
- Bedtime: 11:00 am
Ideal Morning Routine: Takes 2 Hours to Complete
- Wake Up Time: 5:00 am
- Bedtime: 10:00 am
7. Set Up a Foolproof Alarm System (the secret to success!)
There are two main alarm systems you should consider.
The first is your morning wake-up alarm.
This alarm should NOT be on your phone!
Having your wake-up alarm on your phone will not only force you to start your day distracted by notifications and social media but will also wake you in a jarring manner.
Instead, I highly recommend you try using a sunrise alarm clock. These things are serious game-changers! They gently wake you up using light (and optional sound) to ensure your brain recognizes it is time to get up. This helps bring energy and calm into your morning.
This is the sunrise alarm clock I have and SWEAR by!
Tip: Keep your phone in a room other than your bedroom at night. This will help promote better sleep, decrease anxiety, and more.
The second alarm system is your routine alarm.
Recurring alarms can help remind you when to start and end each routine (morning, afternoon, and night routines).
So, set an alarm (on your phone or watch) for when you need to begin your afternoon and night routines, as well as 10-minute warning alarms for your bedtime and start-of-the-day times.
Make sure these alarms reoccur every day (or weekday) to help you manage your time and easily stick to your routines.
8. Create a Night Routine that Will Prepare You For the Morning
In reality, a good morning routine actually begins the night before.
This is a great time put a few small details into place that will make your morning run smoothly, such as setting out your workout outfit, putting together your lunch, packing your bag, adding water next to your bed, and going to bed at a reasonable hour.
My favorite way to ensure this happens is by setting up a night routine, which includes these key tasks.
Tip: Don’t forget to set up a reoccurring phone alarm to remind you each evening when to begin your night routine!
9. Begin Your Routines! (And Start Small)
The last crucial step to building a successful morning routine is to… just start!
Place your morning routine list next to your bed (or somewhere you will easily see it) and, tomorrow morning, test out your routine!
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, just start with your Bare Minimum Morning Routine and take baby steps to build up to your ideal routine.
Top Morning Routine Habits
Next, let’s take a look at some key morning routine habits that you might want to consider adding to your routine.
Wake Up Early
As I’ve mentioned above, there are countless physical health, mental health, and other great benefits to waking up early.
But, what is considered early? That is entirely up to you.
Personally, I consider “early” as the time that allows me to complete my Ideal Morning Routine.
Again, my biggest tip and secret to rising early is by using my sunrise alarm clock.
It helps me wake up early, energized, and ready for the day.
Ditch Your Phone
It might sound dramatic, but as soon as I stepped checking my phone in the morning, my life changed.
Here are the amazing things that started happening:
- My stress levels significantly fell, as I was no longer bombarded by notifications
- I found myself with a TON more time in the morning to work on, frankly, better things
- I no longer approached the day in a “reactive” way
- My brain was no longer distracted throughout the day
- I experienced an increase in happiness because I quit comparing myself to other people through unrealistic social media portrayals
- My anxiety levels dropped significantly, allowing me to begin the day with a calm mind
There have been several studies (and more to come, I’m sure) that have shown just how negatively smartphones and social media can harm our physical and mental health. Finding ways to decrease our time with our phones, such as taking them out of our mornings, can really make a difference.
Related: 24 Game-Changing Stress-Management Techniques (that actually work)
Make Your Bed
For years, I never made my bed.
I thought it was the biggest waste of time!
But, then I saw this random video of a Navy Seal Admiral discussing the benefits of making a bed. He discussed that every morning when you make your bed, you are accomplishing a small task.
That small accomplishment gives you a boost of motivation to complete your next task in the day, creating a productive domino effect.
As soon as I began making my bed, I saw this small, but incredible change take over my life. I’ve been making my bed ever since, and encourage you to do the same!
It doesn’t take long, makes your space a bit tidier, and really does help inject productivity into your day.
Drink Water (and lots of it)
There are dozens of health benefits to drinking water: weight loss, healthy skin, kidney function, digestive system function, body temperature regulation, and much more.
Unfortunately, our bodies wake up dehydrated. So, easily combat this by drinking water as soon as your feet touch the ground.
One easy tip to drink water early (and keep drinking water throughout the day) is to use a timed water bottle.
These are water bottles that have timeline labels along the side, helping you to know when to take your next drink.
There are a ton on the market, but this one is my favorite. It is sleek with an elegant design, a fruit strainer, and has a one-handed opening button (which is much more important than you might think).
Perhaps, after you’ve completed your morning routine five times in a row, you can reward yourself with a timed water bottle?
But, for now, be sure to get that water into your system in any way possible.
Move Your Body
Similarly, exercise comes with another set of essential health benefits you don’t want to miss out on. My favorite benefits include boosting mood, decreasing the risk of health conditions, controlling weight, boosting energy, and promoting better sleep.
Inject that energy and mood boost straight into your day by exercising first thing in the morning!
Here are some easy morning exercise ideas:
- Walk at a brisk pace
- Run outside or on a treadmill
- Ride a bike
- Go to an exercise class
- Watch a yoga video
- Lift weights at home or at the gym
- Try a new HIIT workout
- Walk with a group of friends
Ever heard breakfast is the most important meal of the day?
Yeah, me too. But, is it really?
The answer is a loud YES!
There are countless health benefits of eating breakfast, perhaps the best is it gives you fuel and energy to start your day.
If you find that you are short on time, try meal prepping your breakfasts over the weekend (I love using these containers, they make it super easy).
Related: An Ultimate Guide to Meal Planning and Prepping
Brush Your Teeth (and Floss!)
Maintain your dental health, refresh your breath, and feel more alert by brushing and flossing your teeth.
Getting dressed for the day is an easy way to send a signal to your brain that the day is getting ready to begin.
Another great signal trick is to put on shoes (even if you’re working from home).
I don’t know what kind of psychological magic putting shoes on does, but it works!
Plan Your Day
The last essential daily morning habit is to plan your day!
This is an easy and effective way to ensure you are set up to have the absolute best and most productive day possible.
Here is an easy morning planning routine to help you get started:
- Check off all completed tasks from yesterday
- Migrate unfinished tasks
- Review the schedule for the day
- Create a task list
- Check in with your habit and goal trackers
- Reflect and journal
Learn more about how to effectively plan your day in this step-by-step guide.
Morning Journal Prompt Ideas
- Three things I am grateful for are…
- What would make today amazing?
- What is a quote that is inspiring me today?
- Three long-term goals I am currently working towards are…
- Stream of consciousness (just write whatever comes to mind)
- Create a journal-scrapbook combined spread (here’s how)
Related: An Ultimate Guide to Planning a Successful Day (a step-by-step planning routine)
Other Morning Routine Habits
In addition, here are a few more morning routine habits you might want to consider.
Health Habit Ideas
- Repeat positive affirmations
- Visualize your goals and day
- Look at your vision board
- Listen to uplifting music
- Read (something fun or educational)
Essential Morning Tasks
- Take a shower
- Put on lotion
- Wash face
- Do hair and makeup
- Pack bag for the day
- Pack a lunch
- Take vitamins
Morning Habits for a Cleaner Home
- Work 10 minutes on cleaning routine (learn more about easy cleaning routines here)
- Declutter for 10 minutes
- Start a load of laundry
- Run the dishwasher
- Take out the trash
- Clean one area of the house for 10 minutes
Productive Morning Routine Habits
- Make progress towards your top-priority goals (learn how to set goals here)
- Listen to a podcast or audiobook
- Learn something new
- Work on a hobby
- Eat the frog (complete your most difficult task of the day)
- Call or text a loved one
- Work on your career development routine
- Work on a side hustle
- Make progress on a big project
Project Planning: The Easy Way
Early mornings are the best time to make significant progress on your major projects and tasks.
Be sure to set yourself up for success by using this handy free project planner and checklist!
Once your morning routine is complete, take a few minutes to reward yourself with something special. Here are some ideas:
- A decadent warm beverage
- Read a chapter of a fun book
- Indulge in a few minutes of social media or screentime
- Spend time with a loved one
- Cuddle with your fur-baby
- Spend a few extra minutes practicing self-care
Example Ideal Morning Routine
Here is a quick ideal morning routine example with time estimates listed:
- 5:00 am: Wake up (phone is shut off and in other room)
- 5:00 – 5:10 am: Morning necessities, change into workout clothes, make the bed, drink water
- 5:10 – 6:10 am: Excercise (30 minutes cardio, 30 minutes lifting weights)
- 6:10 – 6:20 am: Stretch
- 6:20 – 6:35 am: Meditate and journal
- 6:35 – 6:55 am: Shower, change into clothes, quick hair and makeup routine
- 6:55 – 7:05 am: Make morning smoothie, take vitamins, rotate dishes, drink more water
- 7:05 – 7:15 am: Drink smoothie, plan the day, brush teeth
- 7:15 – 7:40 am: Work on tasks related to my #1 goal
- 7:40 – 7:45 am: Pack bag, leave the house for work (listen to a podcast on commute)
Morning Routine Tips
To ensure your morning routines are successful, here are some tips and tricks to keep in mind:
- Try creating a non-morning routine, or things you don’t want to do in the morning (such as check your phone, or any bad habit you might have).
- If you’re just starting with morning routines, try easing into them. Start with only 3 habits and work your way up from there.
- Use a timeline water bottle to help you stay on top of your water goals.
- Try bulk prepping on the weekends by prepping your outfits, meals, laundry, cleaning, and workouts all in one go. This will also help you avoid decision fatigue during the week!
- Wake up and go to bed at a consistent time.
- Try using a habit tracker to stay motivated and track your progress.
- Once you’ve reached significant milestones in your routine (such as five, ten, thirty, and ninety days in a row), reward yourself!
Tips for Waking Up Earlier
In addition, here are some great tips to help you wake up earlier:
- Utilize night routines to help calm your mind before you go to sleep.
- Use a sunrise alarm clock to make it easier to get up in the morning.
- Make a plan to get better quality sleep (try these 12 tips).
- Avoid hitting the snooze button in the morning.
- Determine your “Why” for getting up earlier to maintain motivation.
- Skip the afternoon nap.
- Create a fun morning playlist to help boost your energy and mood.
- Set your alarm for 10 minutes earlier each day before you reach your ideal wake-up time.
- Set a reoccurring timer to go off every day before you begin your night routine and go to bed.
Related: 12 Tips for Better Sleep (that actually work!)
Top Books on Routines and Habits
Looking to take things one step further? Dedicating time to your education and personal development is among the best investments you can make. You can even integrate reading these books into your routines!
- Atomic Habits by James Clear: If you haven’t heard about or read this life-changing book, I would be shocked. But, just in case, I HAD to add it to this list. This number one best-selling book covers how to form good habits, break bad ones, and use tiny changes to reach your biggest goals in life. It’s probably the most popular habit book there is… and for good reason!
- The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg: This book will help you build your habit-secret-powers by breaking down the scientific understanding of habits. This knowledge will allow you to truly build lasting healthy habits.
- The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod: The Miracle Morning Routine has taken the world by storm, time and time again. In this book, Elrod sets up a morning routine you can copy that has been proven to bring energy, motivation, and focus into your day.
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey: Although this book was written a while ago, it consistently ranks as the number one book for many genres, including the number one most influential business book of the twentieth century! As the title suggests, Covey outlines the top 7 habits you should build into your life for success.
One last thing! Here are a few great related blog posts that will help you on your journey to becoming your best self.
- An Ultimate Guide to Meal Planning and Prepping
- Effective Planning Routines to Incorporate into Your Life
- An Ultimate Guide to Goal Setting and Achieving
Now, it’s time for you to build your very own morning routine! Once you begin, you will see such a difference in your everyday life. I hope you have fun with this process and remember to start small. You’ve got this, friend!
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