Have you ever heard the phrase “If you win the morning, you win the day.” I’m not sure who was the first to say it, but I completely agree with it and have seen the power of it firsthand with effective morning routines.
To win the morning means setting yourself up for success from the moment you wake up. It means starting off on the right foot and putting yourself in the best position to be energized, motivated, and productive throughout the day.
In contrast, to lose the morning would essentially mean the opposite. We’ve all had those days where tiny little things go wrong first thing in the morning and they end up being the catalysts that send us on a downward spiral the rest of the day.
We’re all familiar with Murphy’s Law that says anything that can go wrong WILL go wrong. I put the prior ‘will’ in all caps because that is the essence of this post, to set ourselves up so that the least amount of things possible can go wrong.
Below are ten (10) morning routines that will help you win the morning, and thus be a spark for having a great day overall.
While there are many more than ten things you can do in the morning to make your entire day more productive, I chose ten that I think everyone can do with limited time and with practice achieve every single day. Chances are though, if you start doing any one of these things consistently, you will notice a change in your life.
Wake up early
While the majority of this list is in no particular order of importance, I do believe that waking up early is number one. The simple fact that waking up early allows you to not be rushed in the morning is a game changer.
Many people don’t realize how big of an impact having to rush around in the morning can have a negative impact on your entire day. Just think about how tense and/or anxious you get on your commute to work when you haven’t allowed yourself ample time to get ready. Chances are, you’re at least slightly annoyed with the other cars on the road even if there isn’t much traffic.
Even if the annoyance is subtle, it can carry on throughout the entire day.
You might be thinking to yourself
“I just can’t wake up early, I’ve tried before and I can’t do it”
The second part of that phrase about trying and failing may be true, but the first part that you can’t is only true as long as you keep telling yourself that. This isn’t a post about the law of attraction or anything, but you definitely won’t be able to wake up earlier (or anything else for that matter) if you’ve convinced yourself that you can’t do it.
Step one is to immediately change that belief by telling yourself the opposite. Out loud. In your head. As much as you can, start telling yourself that you have the ability to wake up earlier.
Unfortunately, you also have to modify your actions to match your new belief so it gets stronger. So how do you actually wake up earlier? Going to be earlier will clearly make it easier, but one thing that caused me to quickly make the shift is to have a purpose for the morning, and set my self up for success the night before.
For example, I decided that I was going to dedicate at least 30 minutes each weekday morning to writing. Since I’m not a morning person AT ALL, I had to make sure I set it up so there was as little thinking involved in the morning as possible.
I make sure my laptop is already set up for the morning, I have my clothes laid out the night before, and I even have a bulleted list of my writing process to eliminate thinking about what I need to do.
If I don’t have a specific plan, my brain quickly tells me that waking up early isn’t important and forces me to hit snooze (or completely turn off) while I’m still barely conscious.
There are many tips and strategies on steps you can take to help you wake up earlier. A couple that I’ve found useful are this Wikihow article and this YouTube video. While it might seem counterintuitive, you’ll actually have more energy during the day if you wake up early, especially if you eat a healthy breakfast, which I also talk about below.
Drink Some Water Right Away
Drinking water first thing in the morning has the obvious benefits of being refreshing and hydrating you after a full 7-8 hours with no water, but there are other benefits that could help you be more productive throughout the day that you might not know about…yet.
If you have a glass of water right when you wake up, (or several) your body’s metabolism will increase immediately. Research suggests that it can actually increase up to 24% for 90 minutes! If you’re a human being, your metabolism is going to naturally decrease as you age, it’s a fact that none of us can escape. You might as well get into the habit of kickstarting it every morning to help keep you in shape.
Drinking water often also helps to prevent chronic dehydration, which is one of the 5 things you absolutely MUST AVOID if you want to slow the aging process, reclaim your health, and achieve your ideal body.
This is according to Steve Holman, editor-in-chief of IRON MAN Magazine and co-creator of an excellent fitness program called Old School / New Body.
If that isn’t enough of a reason, it can also improve your mood and mental performance. Our brain tissue is made up of 76% water and being dehydrated can cause us to feel lethargic, drained, and lead to headaches and mood fluctuations.
Make your bed
Making your bed in the morning can be like a small shot of happiness to get your day started off on the right foot. Best selling author and happiness researcher Gretchen Rubin says that making their bed in the morning was the number one most impactful change that people brought up over and over while doing research for her book on happiness, The Happiness Project
Not only does it feel good to get that first task out of the way in the morning, but it sets off a chain reaction of completing other tasks throughout the day. It’s along the same lines as the phrase “one positive decision leads to another”.
In his book, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, Charles Duhigg mentions how making your bed in the morning is correlated with increased productivity and a greater sense of well being.
If you haven’t heard the make your bed speech from Admiral William H. McRaven by now, you can check it out here. The essence of the speech is what I mentioned above about starting a chain reaction of more positive behaviors throughout the day.
My favorite line from the speech is this:
“And if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home at the end of the day to a bed that is made-that you made, and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.”
Take a Shower with Alternating Hot & Cold Water
Taking a shower in the morning where you alternate between hot and cold water can be exhilarating and snap you out of your slumber quickly. It’s a quick way to shock your system and rock your entire phisiology.
It works because when the body is subjected to cold external temperatures, the flow of circulation is directed inward toward the internal organs.
As the outside temperature gets hot, the flow of circulation goes outward toward the skin. Alternating hot and cold makes the circulation move in and out like an accordion.
This has the effect of unblocking stuck flows, increasing the rate of detoxification and moving nutrients more readily to various parts of the body.
I’ll be the first to say that this is not easy to do, especially your first time. When you’re in the shower, the thought of quickly changing the water from hot to cold is terrifying, at least it was for me. The result, however, is extremely healthful and invigorating. It leaves you feeling refreshed, calm, and energetic all at the same time. It’s cost free hydrotherapy!
You may want to check out this article for additional details regarding how to do it in order for it to be most effective.
Eat a healthy breakfast
Healthy is a loaded word that can mean many different types of foods.
For the purposes of this post, I am specifically talking about a breakfast that incorporates foods that are low on the glycemic index and avoiding foods that are high on the glycemic index.
The advantage of eating foods that have a low glycemic index score is that your blood sugar does not rise as rapidly as foods with a higher glycemic index score. Foods low on the glycemic index produce a steadier rise in blood sugar, and the fiber in these foods helps you feel satisfied longer.
Being satisfied longer is key. Most of us are most productive during the first part of the day and then hit a wall at some point.
Even before we hit that crash, we can feel it coming and can be tempted to reach for sugary foods to give us a quick boost of energy. The problem with this is that we only crash harder an hour or two later.
Some foods that you can incorporate into your breakfast that are low on the glycemic index and can help sustain energy for longer are:
- Most Fruits (Cherries, Bananas, Watermelon, & Grapes are not)
- Grainy Breads
Foods that are high on the glycemic index and should be avoided at breakfast (or really anytime) are:
- Donuts (or Doughnuts)
- Breakfast Cereals
- White Bread
Take Your Vitamins
Our bodies need vitamins and nutrients to function at optimal levels. Unfortunately, most of us do not get the necessary vitamins and nutrients from our diet alone.
That is where taking a multi-vitamin comes in. They are combinations of many different vitamins that are normally found in food sources. When you take a multi-vitamin, it can fill in some of the nutrient gaps that are missing from your normal diet.
Some of the benefits of taking a multi-vitamin include increased energy levels, improved mood, maintained muscle strength, reduced stress and anxiety, and improved short term memory.
Since these vitamins are synthetic substance, they are good to take in the morning with food. They are best absorbed in your body when taken with food and its naturally occurring vitamins.
Taking vitamins in the morning provides the best chance for them to be absorbed into your system with the food that you eat all throughout the day.
You should always check with your physician regarding whether you should be taking any kind vitamins or supplements. None of our bodies function exactly the same way and no two diets are identical.
While nothing will match the advice of your personal doctor, you might find this article, which discusses the need to take vitamins, useful or educational.
Whether you pray, meditate, say affirmations, or do all three, mornings are a great time to do them. If you aren’t currently doing any of the three, I suggest you start because the benefits are amazing!
All of these activities tend to activate the deeper parts of our brain associated with self reflection. While these regions are activated, the parts associated with taking action are inactive. Consequently, you become more clear regarding your thoughts and can take more intentional actions throughout the day.
The mind tends to be more calm and clear in the morning. Doing these then can help make it easier to gain a new perspective for the day. They also significantly reduce negative thoughts.
Additionally, these activities can trigger feelings of happiness and help overcome anxiety, depression, and fatigue. Who doesn’t want to feel more joyful and have increased energy throughout the day?
Initially, it might seem like doing this is just another ‘task’ that you need to complete. However, you will quickly see the benefits and over time become more eager to wake up in the morning and do it.
Over time, it will become a habit and you won’t even need to exert any willpower to get it done. One of the best things about any of these is that, once skilled, you can do them right from your bed. Take caution though, if you aren’t used to waking up early yet because you could easily slip back to sleep. If you aren’t really familiar with these topics and want to dig deeper, here are some links to a couple of great articles:
The benefits of reading, in general, are widely known. Gaining knowledge, mental stimulation, vocabulary expansion, and memory improvement are just a few. Reading on a consistent basis will also lead to being more well rounded overall and a greater, more expansive world view.
When you read in the morning, your mind is fresh and allows for greater levels of concentration and dedication.
With greater levels of concentration, you are likely to retain more of the information that you read. And since you haven’t been inundated with the distractions of the day yet, focus levels should be optimal.
Speaking of distractions, they are generally less likely to be there the sooner you wake up and read. No matter where you are, it tends to be much quieter early in the morning. The majority of people aren’t awake making noise yet. Not just where you live, but everywhere. Less cars driving around, less people outside, and if you wake up early enough you can even beat the birds!
Like making your bed, reading a good article or chapter of a book can give you a sense of accomplishment.
Write (journal, list of gratitude items, etc)
The benefits of writing are also widely known and share some of the same benefits as reading. Writing helps to improve vocabulary and is a source of mental stimulation. Writing, however, allows you to exercise the creative parts of your brain and express yourself. Reading is more about absorbing information.
Writing first thing in the morning is a good way to clear your mind before moving on to other activities. You can just sit down with a piece of paper and start writing whatever comes to mind. No agenda, no topic, just your stream of consciousness jotted down on paper.
After you do this consistently for several days, you can go back and read what you’ve written down to try to make some sense of it all and see if you can identify any patterns.
Writing is also a great way to test yourself. When you read, you receive information, but sometimes it’s hard to tell what you’re actually retaining. Choose a topic you’ve recently read about and write about it. Writing will shed a light your gaps of knowledge so you know what to focus on.
Writing is also a great way to be prepared for meetings or presentations you have that day.
This one might seem a bit obvious, but it had to be included on this list. From a young age, we all know that exercising is good for us. While it is common knowledge that exercising is good for your physical health, it’s also has many mental health benefits.
Being able to get it out of the way in the morning is even better.
Working out in the morning can help you feel more alert and focused throughout the day. During the week, most people are either headed to work or school in the morning. Those are definitely two places where it can be beneficial to have more focus and alertness.
Working out in the morning leaves time for other priorities later in the day. If you have a family, you can be spending time with them after work instead of being at the gym. Young and single? You can spend time socializing after school or work. Point being, you’re unlikely to be spending quality time with others in the morning anyway.
Working out also increases your metabolism and mood. Enough said. However, if you need more motivation, this article goes into more detail about the benefits of morning exercise. Bonus, it also gives you some tips about how to get started.
You might be thinking to yourself:
“There’s no way I can do all of these things in the morning!”
You don’t have to, and no one expects you to. Some people do though. They might have started with just a couple, developed them into habits and then added on to them.
The question for you is are you willing to try a few of these? A couple of these? Even one of these? You landed on this page and read (or skimmed, I’m not judging) all the way down here. It’s clear that you want to change. In order to change, though, we have to change the things we do. Our circumstances don’t change until we change.
I used to read a TON of self help and personal development books and they always fired me up. I would feel great about the possibilities of change, but I wouldn’t execute anything. Or I would start to execute, but wouldn’t stay consistent until I formed a habit. Consequently, I always ended up where I began.
Scroll back up through this list and find one thing that you aren’t currently doing. Start doing it every single day for a couple of weeks. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. Force yourself to be disciplined enough to do it and immense benefits will be achieved.