How To Set Up Your Morning Routine So You Feel Proactive And Energized Every Day
Without waking up early, feeling like it’s a chore, and getting distracted too easily.
13 min read
Table of contents
- Who is this for?
- Why Morning Routines Are Important Now?
- Why listen to me?
- Challenges of Morning Routines to overcome:
- Step 1: Redefine Your Morning
- Step 2: Set the Scene
- Step 3: Set your Boundaries
- Step 4: Choose Your Activities
- Step 5: Be Flexible
- Step 6: Simplify to be consistent
- The Opportunity: TLDR
- ACTION STEP:
Who is this for?
if you are feeling overwhelmed in the mornings
if your mornings end up frustrating you because you don’t have enough time
if you think you are missing out on having a morning routine
Why Morning Routines Are Important Now?
With social media threatening our attention more and more, mornings become sacred times to allow you to be Proactive vs Reactive.
They become the best chance at setting up your day to be under your control before we get bombarded by external requests.
Mornings are precious because they help you set your foundational mood for the day (happy, focused, inspired, present, energized, etc.).
Imagine how your day would go if every day you woke up to was your birthday. How would you act throughout the day? Morning routines have this kind of influence on our day-to-day.
Morning routines help exchange short-term dopamine for longer-term rewards (for compounding future rewards we don't see while we are starting out).
We often become surprised by your creative output over the long term.
You can work on yourself and personal projects before other responsibilities start to creep into your day.
Why listen to me?
In 2014, I transformed into my best athletic and mental state in around 6 months. Here are some additional things I got done during this phase:
I went to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu classes 3 to 4 times a week
I diligently practiced intermittent fasting for 6-hour eating windows, and once a week fasted for 24 hours.
I went deep into studying personal development
I grew my beard oil business to 2 retail locations and sold through my Instagram account which reached 20k followers.
This all started with my morning routines
Now, I am condensing my lessons to recreate and improve my morning routines. Sharing them here with you so you can use my lessons.
With my engineering and analytical mind, I like breaking things down into their simplest forms so they can be explained and applied more easily.
Challenges of Morning Routines to overcome:
They are too serious -- we must redefine them to be enjoyable
Too much pressure to commit -- be flexible
Easily distracted -- set the scene
Not enough time in the mornings -- set our boundaries
Unsure of which routine to do -- choose your activities and plan
Step 1: Redefine Your Morning
What does a morning routine mean to you?
Why do you want to practice a morning routine?
What morning routines are not:
Not time for your chores
Not to stress you out
What morning routines could be:
It’s time for YOU.
To benefit you NOW and in the FUTURE
To prep your mind for your day (no matter what gets thrown at you)
You have the most attention and focus in the morning
Not forced to do ANYTHING in particular
ACTION STEP: List 5 tiny things you already enjoy doing for YOU at home
Making your favorite cup of coffee
Putting on your favorite shirt
Sitting at your desk looking outside
Reading a non-fiction book for a few pages
Reading your favorite inspirational quotes
Step 2: Set the Scene
Distractions are everywhere
Phone, devices = NOTIFICATIONS
Messy room or area = cleaning in AM isn’t the optimal use of your alert time
You can reduce your chances of getting sucked into our devices or cleaning chores.
Print or handwrite the checklists or documents you want to review.
Use physical books, or e-ink devices (kindle) as much as possible instead of your phone or other devices.
For your physical space:
Clear your designated area so that it remains a calm or inspiring location.
Place only the objects you need (that serve you).
Step 3: Set your Boundaries
You guarantee a block of time
This time is a private and sacred time for you.
Knowing your time boundaries allows be flexible
People often protect their money, but seem to be more careless about their time.
Here's how I suggest you start setting your boundaries for your mornings:
Find your start and end times by calculating backward.
Helps you find the absolute times you can fit your routine.
Let's begin from the night before (my example)
Length of Time
When do you sleep?
How long do you sleep?
To find your end time:
Length of Time
When do you start work?
Prep time once at work
Commute time (+/- traffic)
Walk to car + clean if snow
Prep time before departure (pack lunch, get dressed, etc)
In this example,
My start time is at 7:00 AM, and my end time is at 9:00 AM. So, my morning routine opportunity has a maximum of 2 hours.
I can use the full 2 hours, or less if I want to.
ACTION: Calculate your morning routine opportunity.
Step 4: Choose Your Activities
Remember, do something for YOU in the morning. This is YOUR TIME.
The examples I'll show you are to give you a buffet of options. The point is to choose activities you'll enjoy.
Certain activities will eventually get you to be excited the night before and make you look forward to your mornings.
Use these examples to create the activities you will love to do.
Category 1 - Mental health
To have clarity with your current self.
Even if it's just for 2 minutes a day. It helps clear your mind and be present. I highly recommend the way it is explained in The Art of Doing Nothing tweet thread by Naval.
And my favorite part of why to meditate is summarized by this tweet:
I recommend to start a Dictate Journal: where you journal your thoughts with what you hear and feel with no judgement on what comes out. This idea is from the “Review Your Language” Pillar by Brian and Carrie from Eliminate Your Limits
Spend 5 minutes journalling your thoughts and emotions
Don’t be grateful
Don’t write down your goals
Don’t spin anything to a more positive slant
Don’t lie to yourself
“dictate” what you hear and feel - “what do I say to myself in my head?”
"You CANNOT OUT GOAL SET AN UNSUCCESSFUL MINDSET."
On a similar wavelength, you can also follow Julia Cameron's method called "Morning Pages." (Check out her video from that page, it's awesome)
3 pages of longhand writing — Stream of consciousness writing,
"There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages
They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind – Helps, clear your mind and consciousness for clarity to your day.
They are for your eyes only.
Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand.
Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page… and then do three more pages tomorrow."
This method is mentioned in numerous top-performer routines as it has changed a lot of lives for the better.
To have clarity with the future you:
Review Your Direction (recommended by Brian & Carrie again). To go over where you'd like to be headed.
Create a vision board: Design a visual aid of how you want your life to be. )Tool: Canva)
Read inspirational quotes, advice or non-fiction
Review your previous highlights
I highly recommend using a tool like Readwise if you read on your kindle and highlight often. It allows you to review your highlights regularly. Awesome to revisit interesting passages you've read. It's worth the price in my opinion.
Review Kekich's Credo. Just read these out and you will feel inspired and redirect yourself to be aligned with success. Best explained by Joe Polish:
- “On the following pages are Kekich Credos, which consist of 100 “success secrets” that my good friend Dave Kekich wrote and compiled as a result of his life experiences. They are priceless. Reading and applying them every day will give you insight, clarity, and a positive effect in every aspect of your life...from your business to your personal life.”
Here are some of my favorite credos:
7. You’re successful when you like who and what you are. Success includes achievement… while choosing and directing your own activities. It means enjoying intimate relationships and loving what you do in life.
13. Protect your downside. The upside will take care of itself. Cut your losses short – and let your profits run. This takes tremendous discipline.
17. Life operates in reverse action to entropy. Therefore the universe is hostile to life. Progress is a continued effort to swim against the stream.
18. Find out what works, and then do more of it. Focus first on doing the right things, and then on doing things right by mastering details. A few basic moves produce most results and income.
21. Always have lofty explicit goals with deadlines and visualize them intensely. Assume the attitude that if you don’t reach your goals, you will literally die! This type of gun-to-your-head forced focus… survival pressure mindset, no matter how briefly used, stimulates your mind, forces you to use your time effectively… and illuminates new ways of getting things done.
24. Enthusiasm covers many deficiencies – and will make others want to associate with me. Ask daily am I enthusiastic in person and online i.e. auto responders, confirmations in sales
25. Working for someone else gives you little chance to make a fortune. By owning your own business, you only have to be good to become wealthy.
28. Keep an active mind, and continue to grow intellectually. You either grow or regress. Nothing stands still. Ask daily am I growing or regressing
36. Keep your overhead to a minimum. Rely more on brains, wit and talent… and less on money.
You can also google this full list of 100.
Category 2: Physical health
Stretch - to ensure I take care of my body in a tiny way every day.
Workout - ideal at home, outdoor gym area, yoga, etc.
Quick Walk - for mental and physical.
A change of environment does wonders to recharge you.
Closer to the start time the better
Brush teeth + Floss
Category 3: Personal Projects for Fulfillment
- “Happy people have projects” - unknown
Turn that “Someday” project alive, just for a few minutes today. This is to advance one project you're working on so that it gets the most critical brain power in the morning.
Side hustle - moonshot idea you’re playing around with in your head
Planning the next party or trip
Any kind of content creation (for me, it's been this blog post!)
Okay now that we've covered the activities... you may be wondering
Which order do you do them in?
I first used SAVERS by Hal Elrod from his book "The Miracle Morning"
S - Silence (to appreciate being in the moment)
A - Affirmations (confirm your limitless potential inside you)
V - Visualize (achieving your goals, being in the process)
E - Exercise (to get the blood flowing: stretch, bodyweight workout)
R - Reading (learn something to improve yourself, even just a few sentences)
S - Scribe (Journal, brain dump, gratitude, reflect on past, how far you’ve got)
When I've been in a rush, I tend to spend just 1 minute on each and I can say I did my routine. Super quick and very effective.
Ultimately, make your own order. Play around with what works best for you.
Step 5: Be Flexible
You might get caught up if you miss a day.
Don't beat yourself up.
Don't compare to others.
Remember this is YOUR morning.
If you want to be critical: Review your missed day
Why did you miss it?
Avoidance: If some activities aren’t fun… REPLACE or ELIMINATE
Timing: re-arrange and adjust lengths
Life event: unique one-off situation
It's meant to make your life better.
There is NO pressure to complete everything every morning.
Even if it isn’t perfect, or even not every day, as long as you do a tiny thing that moves the needle, for you, you are winning.
This is what counts.
What if you have less time on a certain day?
Be flexible with the "A-B-C Level System" from Dexter Abraham
This helps you plan for emergencies.
If you have all the time at your disposal
- Plan A - go full out with everything you wanted to do (2 hours in my example)
If you are LIMITED in time:
- Plan B - Restricted only to critical tasks with enough time (30 mins for my example)
If you are in your most CRITICAL time-crunch, for EMERGENCIES:
- Plan C - Emergency day: 1-5 minute routine that still sets your day for success.
Step 6: Simplify to be consistent
Complexity gets you lost in the sauce and will cause people to give up fast.
The secret to being consistent with morning routines is to make it so stupidly simple, that it's impossible to miss a day.
Picking key activities is better than doing all of them.
The simplicity aspect can be the difference between doing it for 2 days, or 90 days in your first go.
1 thing every morning can be enough.
Then add more as you start to enjoy your mornings.
Look for small wins. Get momentum.
Every day can be different
There are NO set rules.
In life, the only constant is change. (or something like that)
I've done a different routine every day during the week and it works for me. Find what works best for you.
The Opportunity: TLDR
When you redefine your morning, you’ll realize they are for you.
When you set the scene, you get distracted WAY less and complete more morning routines
When you set your boundaries, get ready to experience the most fun appointments you’ll set for yourself.
When you choose your activities, get ready to get reconnected with your core self and be mindful of how you treat yourself.
When you are flexible, you remove the activities that aren't serving you and adjust your timing to make your mornings more enjoyable.
When you simplify, you look for small wins and become consistent.
Potential Challenges When Implementing
Tracking your streak - this isn’t necessary but can help build momentum. Warning: tracking can lead to stress about missing a day.
Doing it alone can seem scary - you can ask to get an accountability buddy or share your lessons along the way in public. This helps.
Don’t know where to start - pick the smallest thing right now that you can enjoy.
As long as you get started with one thing that you do every morning for yourself (making a coffee, wearing your favorite perfume, wearing your favorite shirt, researching your side hustle for 5 mins) that is a morning routine for yourself.
What will you implement from this for your next morning routine?
Share your suggestions, biggest takeaway or questions below.
If you don't implement, what have you got to lose?
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Recommended reading and resources
“Mindset Matters Most” book by Brian J. Grasso
“Meditation - The Art of Doing Nothing:” - Naval twitter thread
“Morning Pages” video from Julia Cameron
“The Miracle Morning” by Hal Elrod
Kekich’s Credo via Joe Polish's Genius Network