You know what they say – early bird gets the worm! But rising earlier is just one tip for a successful start to the day. Having an effective morning routine reduces stress, boosts productivity, improves drive and motivation, and can make you a more positive and successful person. In fact, one study showed that people who are consistent with morning habits earn roughly $12,500 more/year on average than those who don’t stick to a morning routine.
Maybe you’re here to learn how to improve your current morning routine, or are wondering how to even get started organizing your mornings in a productive way.
In this blog post, we’re going to share the best 8 (science-backed) tips for a perfect morning routine so you can get the most out of your day!
Why you need an effective morning routine
First things first, what is a morning routine? A morning routine is a set of habits and motions that you do when you first wake up and prepare for your day. For 43% of Americans, drinking coffee is the most crucial part of their morning routine, followed by exercise (32%), and taking a shower (26%).
It makes sense that the way you start your morning sets the tone for your day. But the benefits of a morning routine are also backed by scientific research.
Top morning routine benefits
- Feel more prepared for your day with a positive mindset and better focus.
- Increase motivation by starting the day with small accomplishments.
- Lower stress levels by minimizing overwhelm and rushedness.
- Develop healthier habits by making time for things like breakfast or exercise.
- Increase work performance with improved focus and a more positive attitude.
- Instill discipline by committing to a consistent daily routine.
The benefits of a morning routine speak for themselves! So how do you build a morning routine that works for you? Let’s dive into some productive daily habits you can introduce to start every day on the right side of the bed.
8 tips for productive morning habits
1. Start the night before
If you’re wondering how to start a morning routine, you might be surprised to learn that a productive morning really begins the night before. Ultimately, a morning routine can only be as good as the quality of rest you’re getting, and most of us know from experience – it’s a lot harder to be an early bird when you’re running on fumes!
For the best sleep hygiene:
- Get your recommended 6-8 hours every night
- Ditch the screens an hour before bedtime
- Stay away from late-night carbs and alcohol
- Lower the lights and temp in your bedroom
- Be consistent about when you go to bed during the week.
If you want to elevate your evening routine even further, set time aside before you wind down to plan out the following day. Setting SMART daily goals the night before actually improves your success rate, and can help reduce stress and decision paralysis by knowing exactly what you’re going to be working on tomorrow.
2. Wake up earlier
Many highly successful people are known for their early start times. Apple CEO Tim Cook wakes up at 4:30 every morning, Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey rises before the sun to get a run in, and Ellevest CEO and cofounder Sallie Krawcheck is up at 4 a.m. for quality creative thinking. Being an early riser has so many benefits including better sleep quality, improved work performance, more energy, and simply having more time for your priorities – but that’s not to say it’s an easy feat. More than 1 in 3 adults press snooze three times before getting up in the morning.
Try setting your alarm 10 minutes earlier every week until you’ve worked up to your ideal wake up time. Another foolproof tip is to place your alarm out of bed’s reach, so you actually have to get up to turn it off. And realistically, you don’t have to wake up in the wee hours of the morning to be your most productive self. Be mindful of your unique schedule and lifestyle to set aside 30-90 minutes to a morning routine that makes time for your priorities – whether that’s having a healthy breakfast, fitting in a workout, doing some journaling, or just sipping a quiet cup of coffee before the rush of the day.
3. Make your bed
The benefit of making your bed first thing actually goes beyond having a nicely made bed to get into that night (though it’s a nice perk!). Scientifically, starting your morning with smaller accomplishments - like making your bed - boosts your motivation for the rest of the day.
Setting an intention for a goal, and then completing it, releases feel-good dopamine which fuels your drive to get even more done. So in simple terms – saying you’re going to make the bed, and then doing it, makes you feel more good about yourself. It’s an easy way to start your day feeling accomplished, organized, and put yourself in a positive headspace to take on the rest of the day.
4. Get some sunlight
Good morning sunshine! Exposing yourself to direct sunlight within 30-45 minutes of waking up is super beneficial to maintaining your circadian rhythms and starting the day feeling refreshed and energized. Sunlight signals to your body that it’s time to wake up and boosts serotonin levels which leaves you feeling more focused, emotionally stable, happier, and calmer.
Mornings can be anxiety-inducing for many people, and there’s actually a simple biological reason for this. The stress hormone cortisol is at its highest levels in the morning hours and peaks around 7am – right around when the average person in the US wakes up. But setting your alarm a little earlier (and not hitting that snooze button!) lets you make time for mindful habits like getting some sunshine before work. Whether you leave your curtains open to wake up with the sun, head outside for a morning walk, or take your coffee onto the porch – catching some rays is a great addition to your morning routine.
5. Make time to move
Making time for some movement in the morning is another easy way to reduce stress, feel accomplished, and invest in your long-term health. Over 80% of all US jobs are mostly sedentary, putting professionals at increased risk of physical and mental illnesses when they spend the majority of the day sitting down.
Dedicating even just 10 minutes of your morning to some physical movement reaps significant health benefits. And you don’t even have to make it to the gym. Try an at-home yoga video, take a short walk outside, dance it out to your favorite song, or do squats while you brush your teeth. Any movement is better than no movement – so here’s your pass to get as creative as you’d like!
6. Practice mindfulness
Exercising your mind is just as important as exercising your body. Practicing daily mindfulness and gratitude has been proven to improve your stress threshold, help you better process challenges, and feel happier overall throughout the workday.
Starting your day with mindfulness doesn’t have to be an overwhelming commitment (that defeats the whole purpose!). Whether you commit to 2-minutes of guided breathwork meditation every morning with an app like Headspace, or fill out a gratitude journal like the popular 5 Minute Journal to start the day on a positive note – grounding yourself before work is always a win.
7. Fuel your body
6-8 is a long time to go without water! Before anything else – rehydrate your body right when you wake up by drinking at least one glass of water. Easy tip is to prepare a bottle of water on your bedside the night before to reach for right when you wake up. After your stomach is prepped, it’s time to break the fast. 93% of Americans agree breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but only 44% actually eat breakfast.
Try prepping breakfast the night before like overnight oats or a healthy parfait, or stick to quick breakfast recipes like smoothies or scrambled eggs in the morning. It can also be helpful to take a look at your coffee consumption if you’re reaching for java instead of food in the AM. Excessive caffeine consumption can actually reduce productivity by increasing stress hormones like adrenaline and misleading you about your energy levels.
8. Read something other than emails
Productive people often attribute a growth mindset to their success. Fitting some reading into your morning is an awesome way to stimulate your brain in preparation for the workday and learn something new while you have uninterrupted focus time.
Instead of reaching for your phone to check your inbox first thing (it’ll be there later – promise) aim to read a few pages on a hobby or interest, current news, or your latest book club novel to start your morning. Not a fan of reading? Try an audiobook or motivational podcast.
Daily morning routine template examples
Habit stacking is the practice of adding new habits to existing ones so they’re easier to implement. That can look like ‘stacking’ drinking a glass of water to a habit you already have in place, like brushing your teeth when you wake up, for example. Or, if you already do an AM workout, but want to add reading to your routine, you can habit-stack a chapter of your current lit right after your morning shower.
But adding one new habit at a time is the best way to make them stick long-term. So build up your morning routine slowly, and try for consistency over perfection. A productivity app like Reclaim.ai can help you defend real time for your Habits and daily routines by auto-scheduling them in your calendar so they don’t get overrun by other commitments.
Let’s take a look at a few easy productive morning routines examples for inspiration on how you can work in some of these tips. These templates can be adapted to fit any wake-up time, workday begin, or out-the-door cutoff for commutes.
5:30am 90-minute morning routine template:
5:30am: Wake up and make the bed.
5:35am: Brush teeth and drink two glasses of water.
5:40am: Coffee and one page of mindful journaling.
5:50am: Morning run/walk outside.
6:20am: Breakfast with one chapter of reading.
6:35am: Get ready for the day.
7:00am: Out the door/at your WFH desk.
8:00am 60-minute morning routine template:
8:00am: Wake up, drink a bottle of water, and make the bed.
8:05am: 15-minute sun salutation yoga flow, and 5-minute meditation on the patio.
8:25am: Coffee and breakfast reading the newspaper.
8:35am: Get ready for the day.
9:00am: Out the door/at your WFH desk.
Bonus: Start the workday with a deep work session to maximize productivity!
7:00am 30-minute morning routine template:
7:00am: Wake up, drink a bottle of water, and make the bed.
7:05am: Mini dance session and positive affirmations while getting ready for the day.
7:25am: Grab prepped to-go breakfast.
7:30am: Out the door/at your WFH desk.
Bonus: Listen to a podcast episode on your commute!
Better mornings = better workdays 🙏
Your mornings have the power to set the tone for your entire workday. When you set aside time for habits that benefit your health and wellbeing, you also improve your performance and productivity in the long term!
Incorporate some of these tips into your existing morning rituals through habit stacking, or build a customized routine that fits your schedule and priorities. Did we miss any habits that are a must in your productive morning routine? Tweet us @reclaimai to share your tips!