The Ultimate Guide to Forming a Healthy, Productive Morning Routine
My morning routine is something that’s become increasingly important to me over the past few months.
There’s something about that first hour upon waking that can really set the tone for the rest of the day. I feel like the actions that you take during that time have a significant impact on your productivity, stress levels, and general mood throughout the day.
This week I’m gonna share with you some simple ideas and healthy habits that I believe will help you form a rock solid morning routine, so you’re prepared to meet the challenges ahead. I’ll also show you what I get up to in the morning with a short video, just incase you’re interested…
As always take what resonates with you, and throw away the rest!
Let’s get to it!
Switching Off Autopilot
If you were to rewind to just a few months ago, my morning routine was erratic at best, and often non existent.
I would meditate now and again, maybe do some stretching from time to time, but for the most part I did what most people do. I would get up and be on autopilot, checking my email, responding to social media message.
I was essentially a slave to my smart phone.
Once I’d finished browsing, I’d then have the itch to start my work as soon as possible. I thought that I was being productive by doing that, getting ahead of the game. The earlier you start, the more work you can get done right?
This isn’t necessarily always the case.
If you look at many of the world’s most successful people, their morning routines are typically quite different. They’re not checking social media or throwing themselves straight into their work asap. Instead, they often dedicate the first few hours of their day to doing the internal stuff.
Things like meditation, prayer, writing, reading, stretching and moving.
They work on themselves before they go about their day trying to help others. It’s a bit like if there’s an emergency whilst you’re flying on a plane. You’re advised to put your own oxygen mask on before you try helping your kids.
The reality is, if you don’t set the time aside to look after your own health – physically, mentally and emotionally – you really aren’t much use to others.
I’ve taken that to heart and been experimenting with different morning routines over the past few months, and right now I’m really happy with the one I have. I’ve noticed a lot of benefits from it already in this short space of time, including:
- Increased focus and productivity
- Less anxiousness and stress
- Improved self esteem and confidence
It’ really has made a notable difference in how I go about my day, and how I feel about myself.
My Current Kickass Morning Routine
As I said, right now I’m really happy with the current morning routine I have. It’s long enough for me to get everything done that I’d like too, but not so long that I get bored and anxious.
I do the morning routine at least every week day, and most weekends too, although I don’t beat myself up if I miss a day. It takes about half an hour to forty five minutes to get done, depending on how slow I’m feeling…
Anyways, here’s a quick video I made all about it. The actual routine starts around 1.35 so feel free to skip forward.
After the video I’ll go into a little more detail about the specifics, and then I’ll share with you some ideas that will help you form a solid routine of your own!
Hope you enjoyed that!
To recap over the video, after all the usual bathroom business, this is what I get up to:
1. Drinking Water.
Drinking water straight away is a big priority. After sleeping for eight hours or so I feel like the body can get pretty dehydrated. Downing a few big glasses of cold water sorts that right out.
Sometimes I’ll add a little lemon juice; one – because it tastes good, and two – because apparently it helps to alkalise the system, which helps to reduce inflammation.
Next up is 10-20 minutes of meditation.
I switch up the styles to keep things fresh. Sometimes I just set a timer and focus on my breath. Right now I’m enjoying guided meditations, especially those on Fragrant Heart and Headspace.
As you can see if from the video, I switch up my positions too. Sometimes I sit cross legged, but often I’ll squat or stand to work on my posture. I feel like sitting isn’t really a natural position to rest in, and can cause a lot of back and neck issues, so I try to avoid it whenever I can.
For a long time journalling was something that I knew would be beneficial to me and I wanted to do it, but at the same time I felt like was already writing a lot during the day, and didn’t want to do any extra.
Then a few months ago I stumbled across a company called Five Minute Journal*. As the name suggest, they promote a journalling technique that takes just five minute a day. Now I’m not saying that shorter is always better, but it works for me at the moment.
The Five Minute Journal involves a few simple exercise that help to set your mind up for a productive, happy day. I don’t want to give away their whole product, but I’ll tell you that the first exercise requires you to list three things you’e grateful for.
It’s my favourite exercise. I feel like gratitude is a great place to start, regardless of what the day ahead entails. It reminds you what’s important in life, and prepares your mindset to help you be of great service to others.
Last but certainly not least, my movement practice. Movement has always been an important part of my life, and I make sure to set time aside to do it everyday.
I usually kick things off with some mobility drills – shoulder rolls, hip circles, squats, balances, yoga poses. I also do some foam rolling, myofascial release and specific stretching and strengthening exercises with resistance bands to help correct my posture. I grew up with the typical forward-head, kyphotic-lordodic posture, so I’m constantly working on correcting it, to some success. More on this another time…
I’ll then typically do my core strengthening routine, which is a selection of bodyline drills, including the dish, reverse dish, plank, wheel rollouts, reverse plank, and side planks. I usually do fifty seconds on for each, with a few seconds to transition between exercises.
Finally we have the gymnastic skill work. I do a circuit of three moves – planche progressions, l-sits and straddles. At the moment I’m doing ten sets of six seconds each, but I’ll be changing that up in the next few weeks. I then follow the static holds with five to ten minutes of handstand work, practicing belly to the wall, back to the wall, and freestanding variations.
Sometimes, if my wrists are feeling tender, I’ll spread the gymnastics work throughout the day instead of completing it all in the morning.
5. Get to Work
With my mind and body feeling fresh and rejuvenated, it’s then time to get to work.
I make sure to start with the most important asks, which I plan the night before. They’re typically writing or drafting articles or videos. After a few hours of work, I’ll then have my first breakfast, which is usually a smoothie of some sort.
Then it’s back to work on the important tasks for a few hours before second breakfast. The rest of the day I typically spend catching up on email and less important work tasks, as well as exercising and spending time with family. There’s not really all that much room for anything else at the moment, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
How to Form Your Own Rock Solid Morning Routine
Enough about me!
Hopefully seeing my morning routine has perhaps spurred you on to think about creating one of your own. That was the goal anyways….
You could just copy mine straight out if you like it, but I don’t really recommend that for a couple of reasons.
The first is that this routine is made up of things that I enjoy and that I find are beneficial to me. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll work in the same way for someone else.
Second, if you try going from no morning routine at all to forty five minutes a day, you’re probably going to struggle. It’s too big of a step.
With those things in mind, here are a few ideas that will help you build your morning routine from scratch, so you can get a healthy, productive head start on the day.
1. Gradually Wake Up Earlier
Everyone is busy in the mornings, but the truth is that if you want to have the time to carry out a morning routine, then you have to make that time yourself.
Some ideas that will help make early rising a lasting habit:
- Wake earlier gradually. Rather than setting your alarm an hour early straight away, take the slow and steady approach. Maybe go for five minutes earlier each week.
- Go to bed earlier. Good quality sleep is such an important part of the big health picture. Make sure that getting up earlier doesn’t mean you’re skimping, and get to bed five minutes earlier too.
- Upgrade your sleep environment. To ensure you’re getting the most out of your sleep, prepare your environment.
2. Start With Water
If this is the only new habit you introduce into your morning routine, then you’ll have done pretty well.
I mentioned it earlier but I’ll mention it again – hydration is so important. It allows your body and mind to function properly. Get a glass or two down you as soon as you wake up to rehydrate and kickstart your day.
A few ideas that might help with this habit:
- Pre-plan. Fill up a jug of water the night before and store it in the fridge. You could also add lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to help alkalise the system.
- Set reminders. Set a post it note next to your bed or in the kitchen to remind you to drink the water. It’s surprising how effective this can be.
3. Mindfulness & Movement
To take things a bit further, I suggest adding one mindfulness exercise, and one movement exercise.
For the mindfulness you could pick anything from meditation, journalling, prayer, reading, writing, thinking or even just engaging in a hobby like painting or playing music. Anything that helps you disengage the mind and find some peace.
For the movement you could do some stretching, gymnastics, calisthenics, walking, yoga – again, anything you enjoy that gets your joints mobile and blood pumping.
A few things to consider:
- Pick something you like. There’s no point in forcing yourself to do something that you don’t enjoy, at least early on. Granted, a little discomfort can be beneficial, but it can backfire if you’re in the fragile infant stages of forming a new habit.
- Keep it simple. I bang on about this all the time, but that’s because it works. Rather than trying to start with twenty minutes of meditation followed by twenty minutes of movement, dial it down. Start with a minute of each if you like, just like I did.
- Build gradually. After a few weeks of performing the morning routine every day in a row, you can start to think about taking it further. Perhaps wake a little earlier and perform two minutes of each exercise, or add one minute of a different exercise. Sure, you have to exercise some patience. But over the long term it’s the consistent pressure and perseverance that creates lasting habits.
4. Healthy Food
This might not be directly linked to your morning routine, but I thought I’d discuss it anyway. In my book, healthy food always has it’s place.
Once you’ve started to become comfortable with your morning routine, you may notice that you have much more clarity going into the day. It may seem like a tenuous link, but I feel like this increased clarity and contentment means you’re more likely to make better choices, particularly regarding your health.
I certainly feel that if I’ve just invested time into clearing my mind and fixing my body, I don’t want to undo all that hard work by gorging on an unhealthy breakfast, or skipping it completely (although I do eat mine later than most). I would rather carry on the nourishment process and provide my body with the micronutrients it needs to say healthy.
A few ideas that might help you do that:
- Start with a smoothie. A simple, inexpensive and extremely healthy way to start the day. I like to blend a few bananas with oats, seeds and greens. If you’re pushed for time, you can even drink it on the run.
- Set your ingredients out the night before. One of the oldest habit changing principles in the book. If you’ve done the hard work the night before when time is a luxury, you’re less likely to skip breakfast in the morning when time is tight.
5. Hard Work
With your routine completed, and body fed, it’s then time to get to work. I’m no expert, but if you’re an entrepreneur, here are a few tips that I think should help you get your best work done:
- Start with the most important tasks. It’s easy to check social media, responds to emails, and do all those other tasks that don’t require that much in the way of thought. But deep down we all know that these tasks are distractions from our real work. I make sure to dedicate the first half or two thirds of my work day to the things that I know matter the most – writing and making videos.
- Plan the night before. Again, I feel like this is key. If I don’t set out a clear plan the night before, I’m much more likely to procrastinate and just be busy, rather than be effective. In your diary, write down the one or two key tasks you will get done the next day. Then dedicate your time to doing those things. If you get more done, that’s just a bonus.
Over to You!
I could go on and on about habit forming and morning routines, but it needn’t really be much more complicated than that.
Now all that remains is for you to put the ideas into action.
If you haven’t already formed a morning routine, or if you’re not happy with your current one, I suggest making your way through the above steps, gradually taking things forward.
Start taking back control of your mornings, and begin the day as you mean to go on!
I hope you found this article somewhat useful.
If you did, then it would mean a lot if you could share it with your friends or on social media.
Also, if you have a morning routine of your own that you’d like to share, let us know about it in the comments section below!
*The Five Minute Journal link is an amazon affiliate link, just for the sake of transparency.