“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”-Will Durant
There is much talk recently about just how important a stellar morning routine can be for creating a successful day and ultimately, a successful life.
We’ve also totally been there…
We want to be successful. We’ve heard about how important a morning routine can be. We have heard that all successful people have a morning routine. We want to create one and stick to it. We decide right then and there that we’re going to do it.
Then, we stick with it for a day or two or even a week or two, but quickly let it fall away as we find that it is hard to create a morning routine. We easily go back to our usual rushed and stressful mornings. Our “hit the snooze button one more time, pry ourselves out of bed, make it out the door just in time.” Or maybe it’s not quite that bad for you, but you know you could be doing more for yourself with your mornings. Or perhaps, maybe you think you’re doing great with your mornings, but in life, generally speaking, you’re not where you want to be and your goals still feel like far off dreams.
The truth is that yes, a morning routine is key for setting yourself up for not only a successful day, but a successful life. The good news is that it’s not that hard, once you get the hang of it and once you know the important elements you need to focus on.
Having a morning routine is surprisingly important. Almost every successful person you know probably has a morning routine that they follow. Celebrities with morning routines include Kate Hudson, Sheryl Sandberg, Oprah Winfrey, Arianna Huffington, Tory Burch and even Khloé Kardashian. They will all tell you that their morning routine is the key to their success.
Here are some tips for creating an amazing morning routine that actually works.
A great morning routine starts the night before!
1. Create a list the day before or the night before.
The day prior, at the end of your day, write down your plan for the next day as well as your to-dos. Many people make the mistake of creating their to do list in the morning on the day of. The problem is that if you wake up and you don’t know what you’re supposed to be doing that day, you are already behind.
Not only does your written sheet help you for your day ahead but, added bonus – it will also help you sleep better the night before. When you’ve created your plan the day before, your brain can really relax into sleep because you’ve captured your next day and all important tasks on paper. There is no need for your brain to worry or create thoughts to remind you of what’s supposed to be happening the next day or all the things you have to remember. Instead, it knows that you have it under control because you’ve written it down.
Your sheet of paper should include tasks that need to be done, times when you plan on doing the tasks, chores that need to be done, and so on. Important: Make sure your list is realistic. Everything else that is not realistic to actually accomplish the next day should go on a separate list that is more cumulative to be consulted with whenever it is appropriate.
If things come to you after you’ve created your sheet, just add to it. If it is in another room, perhaps while you are in bed, be sure to offload the task from your brain by capturing it elsewhere. You could write it down on a separate sheet on your nightstand or you could simply create a reminder on your phone to display the task to you the next day.
2. Also the day or night before, prep everything possible.
Timing is everything. Prepare everything possible for your next day, the day or night before. This includes anything that can make your morning routine easier, but also anything that can make your day easier.
Imagine waking up with the coffee pot going, breakfast ready to go, your clothes laid out for you, and your bags packed. Also, imagine all the little tasks that take up so much of your time in the morning, done, so that you can get to your day with ease.
Leave all items in strategic locations to make your day as easy as possible.
You will be shocked how much easier this makes your mornings, how much time it frees up, how much better you sleep just by setting things up in advance and how much easier it is to get out of bed knowing that you’ve done everything possible to set yourself up for a great day.
3. Wake up early.
You knew this was coming.
It is actually not as bad as it seems. The key to waking up early is going to bed on time the night before. Also, your preparation the night before will make it so much easier to get up because there will be less dred and more excitement.
It might take a little trial and error to figure out how much sleep you need to feel rested, as well as how long it takes you to fall asleep.
Turning off electronics can be a great way to improve sleep quality. This is definitely something that gets easier as you do it. Most people report that they look forward to their new sleep schedule. It really gives you the edge you need to totally crush the day ahead.
4. Upon rising, drink water first thing before you do anything else.
There are so many benefits to having water first thing in the morning, so much so that there are entire bodies of work dedicated to it!
If you need to brush your teeth first, do so, but many people report leaving their pre-filled glass of water on their night stand the night before and guzzling first thing in the morning as soon as they open their eyes.
Your body needs water and it especially needs water first thing in the morning. People often think they are tired when really they are dehydrated.
That initial glass of water in the morning helps to hydrate you and flush toxins out of the body. It may feel difficult at first, but over time it gets easier and easier. You will come to crave your morning water.
5. Move your body.
While you don’t have to do a full-blown exercise routine (though it’s a good idea if you want to), taking as little as 2 to upwards of 20 minutes to move your body is a great thing to do.
This doesn’t have to be major exercise. Just something to get the blood flowing. Stretch is a fantastic choice. Others opt for a brief session of calisthenics. Others choose some push ups and crunches. Burpees are another excellent choice. Sun salutations. Resistence training. Interval training. They key is to do something, briefly, simply to get the blood pumping to wake the body up.
You will be blown away at how great this will make you feel.
For those who are not used to it, it can be challenging at first, but you will truly feel so amazing after doing your few minutes of movement that you will find that just like drinking your water, you will look forward to this portion of your morning routine.
6. Use this time for something.
Here is the most important part of your morning routine – you woke up early to help create a better day, so do something with that extra time!
What you do during this time should already be accounted for on your list from the night before so that you don’t spend any time thinking about what you’re going to do or fatigue yourself with unnecessary decision-making. Likewise, you are motivated and on task. Make it a no-brainer.
Whatever you choose, it should be something that is good and helpful to you. What that may is totally unique to you and varies person-to-person.
Some helpful ideas for what to do during your extra time are: Taking time to get yourself ready earlier, meditating, journaling, sitting with your coffee and enjoying the moment, doing daily affirmations, getting some of your work done in advance, writing that book that’s been stuck inside you, taking care of some chores, practicing deep breathing exercises, visualizing your success for the day, so on and so on.
The choices are endless and only you can decide what tasks will help to set you up for success each day.
7. Consult your list from the night before.
What do you normally do when you’re trying to figure out what to do? If you’re like most people these days, you will unconsciously either check social media or check your email.
But not you. Not anymore.
If you’ve made a great list from the night before, what to do next during each phase of not only your morning routine, but your entire day should be something you simply look to your list for guidance on, then move through each item and check them off task-by-task.
Your list keeps you on track and focused. Check in on your list every time you complete a task so you know exactly what do next. Whenever you’re unsure what to do next, look to the list!
8. Do NOT go on social media
As tempting as it might be to check up on your favorite people and news pages, it will do absolutely NOTHING to set you up for a great day. In fact, if you start your day off by mindlessly scrolling through social media, you’re likely to have a worse day.
Whenever you start your day checking social media, you are telling yourself that what other people are doing is more important than what you have to do. You are putting yourself, your goals, your dreams and even your family, second. Stop it.
For most people who are in the habit of checking socials first thing, this is a hard habit to break. Set a time in your day when you give yourself permission to check socials, sometime after your important things are already accomplished.
9. Likewise, do NOT check email.
This is another habit for most people, they check their email first thing. When you do this you check email first thing, you end up responding to everyone else’s priorities while putting your own on the back burner.
Instead, set a time that works for you to check email. Set this time as far out in your day as you possibly can. This might seem difficult or unreasonable. Trust us, it’s not. Once you develop the habit it is a total game-changer!
You don’t realize how much control your email and social media have over you and your day until you consciously designate specific times for these items in your day. Try it and you will see just how much time you’re spending on these items (even if you think you’re not) and just how much it is negatively impacting you and your success.
10. Keep the morning routine simple.
If you add too much to your morning routine, it becomes complicated, busy and stressful. This is the opposite effect of what you’re seeking to accomplish. If your morning routine includes too much, you will not feel motivated to do it. This is especially true if you have trouble waking up early.
Make sure that your morning routine is as simple as possible.
These are tried and true methods are what some of the most successful people employ. But as two bits of “bonus” advice, be sure that you give your morning routine time to catch on, and feel free to tweak it so that it works for you and makes your days better. It takes 66 days to truly form a habit. Forge through this time and when you get to the end of 66 days, you will be completely surprised at how transformative it is.
If you’re looking to learn more about creating a morning routine that works for you, we highly recommend these two resources:
- The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM) by Hal Elrod (for anyone and everyone)
- The Perfect Day Formula: How to Own the Day And Control Your Life by Craig Ballantyne (geared more towards entrepreneurs)