Hacking Your Morning Routine

Some days, don’t you just feel like you have woken up on the metaphorical wrong side of the bed?  You feel tired and rushed and stressed and negative.

But what if this wasn’t anything to do with how you got up, but what you did in the time after you got up?

Many of the world’s most effective, inspiring people will tell you that the way you start your day has an impact on how you move through the rest of it.  I know this is true for me. On days I am running late, or worried about my to-do list, or held up by some household emergency, it impacts my mood for the rest of the day.

But what if we could study the habits of the world’s most positive, efficient people, and in doing so, hack our morning routine so we never feel that way again?

I’ve made a study of this recently since COVID19 changed my living and working circumstances in a way that made my mornings much more hectic.  I now have more people to organise in the morning, and more time-pressure tasks such as temperature testing first thing.  Breakfast usually goes out the window, and I get into the car feeling hurried, stressed and busier than ever.

I had a routine that worked well – and now it is under the pump.  What do I change and give up and what should stay?

Professional Life Hacker Tim Ferris explores this often in his books and podcasts – you can view some of his suggestion here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ymKfqFSHck

Here are some of the ideas I engaged with.

Get Up Earlier

Almost all of the cases I read about or watched be interviewed were early risers, especially those who worked a job.  In fact, in his book The 5am Club Robin Sharma suggests a direct correlation between early risers, and productivity.  He believes we need a whole hour to ourselves to prepare for the day – and has a clear map for this.  If you don’t want to read the whole book, you can check out this video review here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kC6FPxlIEfQ

Quiet time in the early morning can be a time to be productive in ways you cannot once other people enter the picture – either to work on creative ideas uninterrupted or to work on yourself.

In addition, getting up early is the first hard thing you do in a day – and develops discipline.  Discipline beats talent every time – Grit expert Angela Duckworth tells us this.  Getting up early helps develop more discipline that you can use in every aspect of your life.

Journal and Set Goals

Focusing on yourself and planning the day ahead often led to greater productivity.

Journalling and list-making or goal setting are great ways to get in in touch with what is on your mind, and by putting them on paper, you can put concerns to rest or recognise your emotional state.

You also empty your mind of those stressful things to do and ensure they are down on paper and planned to do later.  This will mean your mind is clear of these pressing little niggles.  (I love doing this – I make lists daily and update them regularly to ensure I achieve all I want.)

Some also suggested this journaling might also take the form of a quick gratitude practice, another habit I have also benefited from.  But whereas I do it at the end of the day, transferring it to the start might create a more positive mindset from those early hours.

Do Something Mindful

When we rush through our mornings, we begin the day out of emotional balance.

When we allow ourselves a mindful start to the morning, we slow down, get in touch with our feelings and  invest in some time to work on ourselves and our mood – effectively investing in becoming less reactive to stress.

Remember that mindfulness is one of the nine facets of the Wellbeing Hive – and a daily habit like exercise that we suggest everyone embrace.

Although journalling and goal-setting above would definitely be examples of mindfulness, there are other ways you can embrace this – ways that set a tone of peace at the start of the day.  A meditation is a great example, as is yoga.  Some people even use this time to read about people and ideas who inspire them – another idea I love.  Whenever I do #dropeverythingandread with the boys on a Friday morning, my day starts off so much more balanced and in control.

Get Some Fresh Air and Exercise

This is most people’s best understood morning task – get some exercise done and know you have done something good for your body each day.

Whether your chosen form of exercise is walking the dog like me, something more mindful like yoga, or a proper gym workout, taking some time out for exercise in the morning gives a sense of accomplishment, helps release feel-good endorphins and gives you an energy boost for the day.

You would be amazed by what you can accomplish with even 20 minutes of strategic, high intensity exercise.


But as you can imagine, what you do is just as important as what you avoid doing.

Things They Don’t Do

  • They don’t go to bed late unless they can ensure enough sleep for the next day
  • They don’t skip breakfast
  • They don’t keep hitting the snooze button – they make their routine a priority. Ex-Navy Seal Commander Jocko Willink is so committed to getting up at 4.45 am that he posts a picture of his watch when he gets up every day on Twitter, inspiring thousands of followers to do the same.  That is commitment, and accountability!
  • They never rush – they take time to be unhurried, to pause and be grateful for the time they have.
  • They don’t use inconvenience as an excuse – many of them created opportunities to keep their routine. They have home gyms to ensure they exercise.  They lay out their gear before they go to bed.
  • They don’t vary their routine much – although entrepreneur Tim Ferriss travels a lot, he has a kind of travel version of all of his routines, including travel-friendly exercise kits. Many other examples eat the same breakfast every day or wear the same type of outfit every day to ensure they don’t waste time thinking.
  • They make their bed – this simple wisdom from Admiral McRaven (who we have written about many times on the Wellbeing Hive) was reflected in many people’s morning routines. It builds discipline and a sense of accomplishment.

With many of us working and learning from home, our morning routines could be changing because of this – and perhaps like mine, for the worse. If you are rolling out of bed and straight onto Teams for your online classes – will you really be awake and ready to learn?


So what is your recipe for success in the morning?  Do you have one?  Do you wonder if starting your day in a different way might change everything?  Love to hear ideas and comments from readers!