I used to not have any sort of routine whatsoever. In middle school, I’d waste time at school, smash through homework in no particular or logical order, then brush my teeth and jump into bed as soon as I was done. Then the next morning I’d get up as late as I could to capitalize on a few extra minutes of sleep, have a rushed breakfast, go to school, and repeat it all.
I can’t even imagine doing that now, to be honest. My morning and evening routines are like the bookends to my days and they keep my life from falling apart. Whatever happens in-between my morning stretches and my evening journaling, whether it’s an uber-productive day of conquering projects or a sad and unmotivated day, my morning and evening routines are easy to accomplish and bring me back to a positive mindset.
These days, even if I sleep through my alarm and wake up late, I still find a way to do my morning routine. Sure, I might have to omit some steps and shorten others, but I’d rather skip breakfast and eat a yogurt on the ride to school than completely skip my morning routine.
Because having routines has had such a positive impact on my life, I am 100% a believer in the power of a good morning routine (and so are some of the most successful people in the world). In order to help YOU put together your own morning routine that is efficient, energizing, and grounding, I wrote out this list of hacks that’ll help you start each day in the best possible way whether you’re a morning person or not :)
1. Wake up early
This might seem counterintuitive since these hacks are meant to help you make your morning routine as short and efficient as possible, but your first step should definitely be to make sure that you wake up early enough that you can get through your morning routine with as little stress as possible. Rushing through it will start your day on a high-stress note, and it’s hard to bounce back from that.
2. Fill your room with light
If you wake up to sunlight, consider yourself lucky. You can throw open the curtains and enjoy Mother Nature’s beautiful light source. But even if school/work require you to wake up at an ungodly hour before the sun has even risen, you need to resort to artificial lighting and fill your bedroom with light in order to tell your body it’s time to wake up.
3. Oil pull while you do other things
Oil pulling, an ancient Indian practice of swishing oil in your mouth for 15-20 minutes, has been getting more and more popular. This is a great article from Healthline on what health benefits have been proven about this and which are simply unfounded. As I mentioned in my morning routine video, I’ve noticed that my teeth are whiter, all of my dental check-ups have gone great, and it’s become an integral part of my routine, so I see no reason to stop doing it. You need to decide for yourself whether it’s right for you.
Okay, now that I’ve explained what oil pulling is, here’s how to hack it. Figure out when the most efficient time to do it is. I start it as soon as I wake up, so I can keep swishing as I put in my contacts and stretch. That gives me a good 10-15 minutes of oil pulling during which I am also doing other things. You might want to oil pull while you shower, or while you journal. Find what works for you, just don’t sit there staring off into space for 15 minutes swishing a tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth. That’s a little weird.
4. Don’t use the snooze button
Ah, the snooze button. I’m so guilty of embracing it a bit too much. I actually don’t even use the snooze button, I just set little 1-3 minute timers and then end up staying in bed for another half hour or so. Don’t be like me. Snoozing your alarm clock actually makes you more drowsy during the day. Plus, you waste a lot of time lying in bed, not getting any quality sleep but also not doing anything productive, either. So just jump out of bed, no matter how much your body doesn’t want to. I know it’s difficult, so the next two hacks might help you achieve this.
5. Put your alarm on the other side of the room
Don’t worry, I’m sure you can find an outlet so that you can still charge your phone. Just make sure to leave it somewhere far enough away that you’ll have to physically stand up and walk to it to turn it off. Getting up and moving around will reduce your drowsiness instantly and make it easier not to crawl back into bed.
6. Use a sleep cycle tracking app
If you just can’t get yourself out of bed, you should first check how much sleep you’re getting. You can’t expect to sustainably get by on a few hours a night, that’s just not how it works (as much as I wish that sleep could work that way). But if you’re clocking a decent amount of hours of sleep, you might want to look into sleep cycles.
Sleep cycles, or the cycle of all of the stages of sleep that we go through, generally last 90 minutes. Waking up in the middle of a sleep cycle brings you out of deep sleep, leaving you very tired and drowsy. Waking up between sleep cycles rouses you in your lightest sleep, making it easier to wake up. Apps like this one use your phone’s microphone to track your movements at night and wake you up when you are in your lightest stage of sleep.
7. Prep your breakfast ahead of time (or as much of it as you can)
Prepping your breakfast ahead can save you a lot of time in the morning, especially if you like to have things like steel-cut oats or barley (I don’t even go there, it takes way too long). Plus, you might have an easier time getting out of bed if you know you have a delicious breakfast waiting for you.
Things like overnight oats or chia pudding are an obvious choice, but you can also bake some granola, or make some baked oats or baked eggs with veggies. I have a post with a bunch of healthy breakfast ideas if you need inspiration.
8. Lay your clothes out the night before
I know everyone gives this tip and it sounds like something you’d do in elementary school, but seriously. I don’t know about you but my brain just doesn’t function very well in the morning. I try on three different outfits, make a mess, declare that I have nothing to wear, and end up just wearing a sweatshirt and leggings.
Decide on your outfit the night before and your morning will go so much more smoothly. I like doing this during a Pomodoro break the evening before because when my brain is alert it usually just takes a few minutes to pick out something to wear and it’s a creative way to use my brain that then makes it easier to jump back into whatever I was working on before I took a break.
9. Take a cold shower to energize you
I recently started doing this. Oh boy. The first time I tried it, it was hard to breathe and I asked myself the entire time why I thought this would be a good idea. I assure you, though, it feels great once it’s over. As your body temperature goes back up, it mimics the natural rise in temperature that occurs upon waking and helps you feel more refreshed, thus making the rest of your morning routine go more smoothly!
10. Get your heart pumping with some exercise
You definitely don’t need to do a full workout. I get it, I’m not a morning workout person at all, and that’s fine. But even if you do your daily workout in the evening, you can’t miss out on the benefits of breaking a little bit of a sweat at the start of the day. It wakes you up, puts you in a good mood, and just sets you up to conquer the rest of the challenges in your day.
Really lacking time? Do 20 jumping jacks. Anything helps. No excuses.
11. Drink your coffee/tea/hot lemon water while you journal or plan your day
Multitasking is generally frowned upon because it’s pretty much common knowledge now that there’s no such thing as real multi-tasking and your brain is actually just switching back and forth between tasks. But oil pulling and drinking your morning drink are exceptions. Honestly, how much mental effort does that take?
It’s all about building these things into your routine in the most efficient way. As an example, have hot lemon water every other day, and I drink that while I am journaling and planning my day. That way it doesn’t get in the way of anything else - I don’t have to delay any step of my routine to finish my drink.
So whether you drink coffee, tea, matcha, lemon water, or just plain old water in the morning, make sure to do it at a time that it makes sense.
12. Decide what your top tasks for the day will be
A great morning routine should set you up for an amazing day, and I personally think that one of the best ways to ensure your success is to define your priorities for the day. If you could only complete three tasks today, which would they be? I think this is so important, in fact, that I even dedicated two days of the Build Productive Habits in 30 Days challenge to it.
13. Make your bed
Forget about tucking in the sheets the way they would be at a luxury hotel. It really doesn’t matter. All you really have to do is smooth out your sheets and place your pillow where it’s supposed to be. All done!
By physically making your bed, you are committing to staying out of it. It’s a signal that the day has started. A clean bed is also one less distraction in the corner of your eye, reminding you of something you didn’t do. This can really throw off your day, especially if you work form home. Tim Ferriss highly recommends this daily practice and he explained it better than I could, so if you’re still not convinced, here explained it in his book, Tools of Titans.
14. Do something active while you brush your teeth
Three cheers for productive multi-tasking! Brushing your teeth is a pretty mindless activity. I would advise against scrolling through your phone, though. Rather, you can do some squats while you brush your teeth (look at you, combining hacks #10 and #14 into one - productivity ftw). Sometimes I just walk outside if the weather is nice, and enjoy the fresh air while I brush. Although let’s be honest, I live in Wisconsin, so that’s a rarity.
15. Have your day planned out already
Planning your day is an essential part of any morning routine but you really shouldn’t be creating a daily plan from scratch. All of these energizing steps of your morning routine might not be able to get you out of that drowsy mental state, and it’s practically impossible to create a good to-do list when you’re still half in dreamland.
Find some way to make sure that your day is already planned out so that when you wake up, all you have to do is review your to-do list and possibly set some priorities. Otherwise you might find yourself just staring at a blank piece of paper feeling overwhelmed.
Whether you plan out your week on Sunday (that’s what I do) or write out a to-do list every evening for the following day, just make sure you wake up to a to-do list that only needs minor edits.
BONUS: Follow the same routine every time
What you do during your morning routine isn’t as important as you actually doing it. As I explained in the introduction, a good morning routine is like a bookend to your day. It should be a simple set of steps to follow that’ll get you ready for the day and give you something easy to accomplish to get the ball rolling for the day.
Write it out somewhere, tape it to your wall, track it on a habit tracker - do whatever you have to do to ensure that you develop it into a consistent habit. Hey, the world’s most successful people agree that it’s worth it :)
I hope you enjoyed these hacks for your morning routine! Let me know what you would add to the list. I LOVE hearing about other people’s routines, because everyone needs something different and honestly I just think it’s fascinating to hear about how other people work.
Of course, you can’t forget the twin to your morning routine - bedtime routines are also uber-important, but this post would have gotten exceedingly long had I included bedtime hacks. I do, however, have a downloadable worksheet that’ll guide you through putting together your own relaxing, grounding bedtime routine and give you tons of ideas for steps that you can incorporate into it!
With a good morning AND evening routine in place, you’re basically ready to conquer the world :)
What’s YOUR favorite part of your morning routine?
Thank you for reading!