15 Hacks for a More Efficient Morning Routine

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!
Beatrice x

How Affirmations Can Change Your Life + FREE Worksheet

What is an affirmation?

Before I get into why affirmations are so gosh darn amazing, let’s take a moment to clarify what an affirmation is. You might immediately think of that one SNL sketch with Michael Jordan. Or you might think, “Affirmations? Psh, that’s too woo-woo for me”.

At its heart, though, an affirmation is just a positive statement that you repeat. That’s it. It has no religious ties, it’s rooted in science, and you don’t have to have any experience with mindfulness or meditation to find affirmations useful.

How do affirmations help you?

Affirmations are intended to change your attitudes and feelings through the power of focused repetition. Choose the right words to repeat and surround yourself with, and you’ll be amazed at the effect it’ll have on your life.

A quick psych lesson you didn’t ask for (but will definitely find interesting):

Cognitive dissonance is when your beliefs and attitudes aren’t consistent with your behaviors. For example, you might hold the belief that cutting people off while driving is wrong yet you might do it when you’re late to work. Most people will feel bad about this inconsistency between their belief and their behavior and will either change their attitude (justify their inconsiderate driving by viewing themselves as more important) or change the behavior (stop cutting people off).

The chapter on cognitive dissonance in my AP Psych textbook ended by explaining that even though we can’t always easily change our feelings, we can do it indirectly by changing our behaviors.

For example, we’re feeling nervous for a big presentation, we can stand in a “power pose”, a posture that makes us feel strong and confident. When we’re feeling insecure about ourselves, we can look ourselves in the mirror and practice complimenting ourselves until it actually changes our attitude, or the way we view our appearance.

I was so excited to see that the kinds of mindful practices I like to blog about were actually mentioned in my psychology textbook that I almost wanted to rip that page out and pin it to my bulletin board… but I’d rather not pay a fine for damaging school property.

1 - Download image - affirmations.jpg

How to write your own affirmation:

  1. Keep it positive - Don’t use any negative words in your affirmation. Even if your affirmation is “I won’t fail this test”, you’ll essentially be repeating the word “fail” over and over again. You’re pre-programming yourself to flunk. Try rephrasing with positive wording: “I will ace this test”.

  2. Keep it in the present tense - Imagine yourself having already achieved what you want. If you rephrase the previous affirmation, “I will ace this test”, to “I am fully prepared to ace this test”, you’re affirming that you already have what it takes to get the grade you want. It is not a future you’re hoping for, but rather your present reality.

  3. Keep it concise - You want the affirmation to convey your message but if it’s three sentences long and has college textbook-level vocabulary, it won’t pack the punch that a good affirmation should. You should be able to remember it easily.

I’ve created a free affirmation setting worksheet where you can work through a checklist of what makes an effective affirmation so that you get it right the first time.

Find the download at the end of the post!

When can you use mantras?

Some mantras are specific to a certain event, like the “I am fully prepared to ace this test” example I gave above. In that case, you’d repeat it after your study sessions, as you drive to the testing center, and quietly to yourself during the test.

Others are more general, and pertain to how you want to live your life. Here are some ideas for how you can incorporate such affirmations into your life:

  1. Meditation - Repeat the affirmation as you meditate. It’ll help you focus your thoughts and your affirmation will be more effective in that relaxed state.

  2. Morning routine - Incorporate it into your morning routine to start your day with intention. Repeat it upon waking, or as you do your morning stretches.

  3. Journaling - I like to write my monthly affirmation at the end of each morning and evening journal entry. By saying it and writing it, I’m maximizing the affirmation’s potential to change my mindset.

  4. Before bed - Before you drift off to catch some zzz’s, repeat your affirmation. According to Psychology Today, your brain is most open to positive messages when meditating or just before falling asleep, so capitalize on that ultra-relaxed state!

  5. In your home - Write your affirmation on sticky notes (or create a cute printable graphic if you’re extra like that), and stick it where you’ll see it often. On your mirror, on the refrigerator, on your closet door, etc.

  6. While driving - Whether I’m driving to some nerve-racking event, feeling anxious about something that’s on my mind, or just want to steer my day in a more positive direction, I like to turn the radio off and just repeat a few mantras to myself.

  7. Whenever you need to change your mindset - Negative thoughts can attack any time of the day. Whenever you’re lacking motivation, self-confidence, or hope, an affirmation can come in handy.

I created some free lock screen-worthy wallpapers with affirmations on them for you to find inspiration! Find them on my Instagram, @theblissbean, in the Stories highlight titled “SCREENSHOT”.

Final takeaways

Marketers are constantly trying to blast us with the same advertising messages over and over again, trying to get us to buy their products, so why not take that technique and use it for your own self-improvement.

You (yes, YOU) have the power to change how you experience your life. Start making that experience a positive one NOW.

If you’re ready to see how positive affirmations can change your life, download the free affirmation setting worksheet!

Share your affirmation with me in the comments! I can’t wait to hear it.

Much love,
Beatrice x