Updated February 3, 2023
I’ve become a fierce advocate for a morning routine sometimes. And other times in my life, I’ve thought the whole thing was bullshit.
Here’s why I started believing in a morning routine in the first place.
It started when I was unemployed in 2018. I told people I was starting my own business. And I went home and sat on the couch day after day, staring out the window.
It didn’t help that it was February in Canada, and I struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder, which made life, well, crappy. My failure and lack of direction sat on me like an invisible elephant, and I swore to myself that tomorrow I’d get off the couch.
You may have had a time like this in your life. It’s really hard. The fog of fear and indirection hangs over you, and it feels like you’ll never move again. It was a really crappy life lesson.
Getting a morning routine wasn’t an instant fix. It really wasn’t. And I didn’t create a massive, hour-long routine to begin with. But over time, a morning routine was a big part of saving me. I’m super inconsistent with it. Full disclosure.
But if you’re a person who benefits from a morning routine, let’s talk about this. Here are some of the things that have helped me.
So if you don’t have one, I want to encourage you to start one! You could include journaling and meditation, for example. But in this post, I want to talk about 11 unconventional things you should try.
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1. Just start F-ing working
Sometimes I have a morning routine. And sometimes I think that a morning routine is a big scam perpetrated by BIG PHARMA — or I dunno, some other shadowy group.
Opus dei maybe?
For all the healthing and visualizing, sometimes my best days are the ones I skip my morning routine and get up and start working.
I saw Alex Hormozi created a video about this EXACT subject, and I thought he nailed it. Here’s what he had to say.
If you find that a morning routine is good for you, good for you!
But try living without it for a while and see what happens.
Okay, nuff said. Since you came here looking for morning routines, I am going to give you some ideas.
2. A big glass of water
Hydration is vital all day, but there’s something about water in the morning that jolts your brain awake and brings you into focus. Lots of water. I like the colder the better, sometimes with some lemon in it.
I wasn’t an early adopter to meditation. But I’m a busy-minded person, as in, I normally have like 15 things I’m thinking about. Sometimes I get so wound up I can’t come down.
Meditation has been huge for me. I started with the app Headspace. I really love it. It helped me learn to meditate. And I’ve since had the chance to interview someone who works there, and realized that the company backs up what they sell.
4. A bedtime routine
Oh snap. See what I did there? Morning routines that involve you getting out of bed to do SOMETHING only really work if you can roll your ass out of bed in the morning.
So I’d argue that a morning routine — whatever it is — actually starts with a bedtime routine. Go to bed at a decent hour. Don’t doom scroll Twitter until 3:00 a.m.
Maybe have a bath. Maybe read a book.
I still like visualization.
Some people swear by things like the law of attraction and positive energy, made popular by The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne. I’ve heard Jim Carrey and Steve Harvey make cases for it too.
To be honest, I think the law of attraction is bullshit. If all the poor people in the world were just poor because they can’t attract wealth properly — well that’s ridiculous.
BUT I do like visualization because of the changes in my psychology. Visualization, feeling like you have already achieved something, does have some research-backed benefits.
To me, the power of visualization has nothing to do with changing the world outside you (or attracting stuff), and everything to do with how you end up carrying yourself.
If I visualize people saying yes to sales meetings with me, and I never reach out… that’s stupid.
If I visualize them saying yes, and it gives me the courage to reach out, awesome!
There’s nothing wrong with creating the image in your mind of what you want to build in this world.
After all, everything that exists once started in someone’s mind. The imagination is one of the greatest gifts we have. Use it!
Exercise is a great thing to include in your morning routine, especially if it’s hard. Exercising in the morning leads to better food choices, more alertness, and overall more positive mental states throughout the day.
I usually don’t work out first thing. I normally work for a few hours and hit the gym after I drop my kids off at school. It gives me a nice break and a late-morning kick.
7. YouTube videos
I’ve read a lot of people on morning routines, and I do believe that meditation and inspiration can be vital things to include.
So when I need inspiration, I turn on YouTube videos! There’s so much good stuff there, and once you’ve watched enough inspirational or motivational videos on YouTube, the algorithm will keep suggesting more.
Although I try not to stare at my screen too early, I do make an exception for YouTube videos. One of my favorites is Les Brown’s speech on becoming courageous.
8. A snooze button
I’ve got three kids. Some nights they wake me up 4-5 times. When my alarm goes off, piercing through my groggy cloud of half-sleep, I used to make myself get up.
Now I’ve heard the navy seals talk about discipline, and the CEOs who swear that getting up at 4:00 am is the secret to their success. I’ve done all this.
But I’ve also listened to Ariana Huffington and her sleep revolution. Sleep is vital. So I’d encourage you, in building your morning routine, to give yourself the permission to press snooze every now and then. Or, just turn the alarm off.
That extra hour of sleep might do more for you than 15 minutes of meditation at this point.
Since having Seasonal Affective Disorder, I’ve been on the lookout for ways to combat it. Exercise is a big one, but I’ve also been interested in the effect of light therapy.
Light therapy isn’t a perfect science, and may not work for everyone, but I’ve found that it’s helped me a bit–especially when integrated with a bigger morning routine.
I usually do some writing at the end of my morning routine, and I’ll have on a light therapy box while doing it. I honestly can’t say that it’s “cured” my SAD, but it might help a little. If nothing else, I find sitting by the glow really cozy in the winter. (I have a Verilux lightbox that I’m really happy with… I also use it to light videos sometimes :D).
I find I’m the most creative first thing in the morning. Since starting a blog, morning is my favorite time to write.
I do try to limit the time I look at my phone in the morning–although it’s tough since I use motivational YouTube videos.
But, usually I try to keep off email and social media and focus on creating something. For me, that’s some sort of writing.
It’s a great time to create. Your mind is fresh. Hopefully you’re inspired.
I often just sit at my laptop and write into my word processor, usually composing a blog post or LinkedIn post I’ll share later. Sticking to the word processor also means I don’t get distracted by other posts.
I’ll also occasionally use Evernote on my phone with the voice-to-text enabled, meaning I can just speak and it creates my written content for me! (I talked in another post about it being one of the tools I swear by.)
Maybe this isn’t unconventional. If you’re already doing this, good on you.
I find it really easy to meditate and think about the things I want in the future. It’s really challenging to be thankful for the things I have.
So I do try to take a minute to either say out loud or write down the things I’m thankful for.
12. Jumping out of bed–fast
On the days you’re not going to hit the snooze button, you could try to implement the five-second rule, made popular by Mel Robbins. She talks about a time in her life when she wasn’t getting out of bed for hours. It was a difficult period personally.
So she implemented a rule. Much like counting down to a rocket launch, she would count down the second until jumping out of bed.
It transformed her life.
Have you implemented any of these things? Do they work?
For me, some of these have been fads that I abandoned. And some have been part of my success plan.
The thing I’ve realized with time is that a morning routine is something deeply personal. You have to figure out what works for you, and you don’t need to jump on the latest bandwagon to be successful.
But do get started. Create it bit by bit, and watch how it transforms your life.
Now Read: 8 HACKS for Believing in Yourself