Having a perfect morning routine is an incredible way to set your day up for success. If you haven’t read Miracle Morning Millionaires by Hal Elrod and David Osborn I recommend it. Even if you don’t enjoy the self-help genre of books you will get some actionable ideas about how to set up your morning routine, and why it is so important.
The Miracle Morning is what first got me hooked on the importance of a morning routine. Since that time I have worked diligently to create the perfect morning routine for myself, and I urge you to do the same!
There are a few great benefits to having a solid morning routine in place. The first is that starting your day, in the same way, every morning helps you operate in a battle rhythm, maintaining more discipline than if you just go with the flow. Second, you get to check a box off your to-do list first thing in the morning. This will give you a small win, and a sense of accomplishment, that will help you wake up on the right side of the bed, no matter how you slept.
Admiral William McRaven has a famous speech, and best-selling book, about making your bed. I definitely recommend that you become a “bed maker” whether you like it or not because it will give you a win first thing in the morning.
Here is what my morning routine looks like on a perfect day.
- Wake up just before my alarm goes off feeling rested.
- Go to the bathroom
- Step on the scale
- Splash cold water on my face
- Drink 8-16 ounces of water
- Do 5-minutes of activity
- Sit down with my journal
- Practice gratitude
- Vision board
- Execute the day, dominate the day.
- Gamify it!
Now let’s dig into each of these steps a little more. It is important that you understand the benefit behind each. You should strive to incorporate them into your life. It is also worth noting that all of this takes less than thirty minutes, and often less than 15.
You don’t need to do silent, meditative yoga for 6 hours before waking up, but you should definitely play with these ideas and find a morning routine that works for you. The more intentional about how you wake up, the more successful your days will be.
1. Wake up just before my alarm goes off feeling rested.
Okay, let’s be real.
Normally, I don’t do this. I'm often guilty of smacking the snooze button once or twice before I actually get up.
2. Go to the bathroom
This should be self-explanatory, but just in case…I go pee when I wake up.
3. Step on the scale
You don’t have to do this, but one of my goals is to check my weight daily. This is a constant reminder that health is important, and the most consistent time to check your weight is first thing in the morning, after the bathroom, but before you drink any water.
4. Splash cold water on my face
Let’s be honest, you aren’t always wide awake when you get out of bed.
That is especially true for me at the moment since my first alarm currently goes off at 03:55 every morning to get stuff checked off my to-do list before I begin the commute to work. Waking up this early is great in a lot of ways, but sometimes I really struggle to actually wake up.
Splashing cold water on your face shocks the system and jolts you into reality. The colder the water the better, and embrace the instant effects without having to feed your terrible caffeine addiction.
5. Drink 8-16 ounces of water
Water is the single most important life source flowing through your body. By drinking 8-16 ounces of water you are waking up every organ in your body. Letting this life source flow through you, and replenishing your body from a good night’s rest.
You may not realize this, but you sweat and lose water weight in your sleep. That is why drinking a glass of water is so beneficial first thing in the morning. This will also wake you up, and as with splashing your face, the colder the water, the more beneficial!
6. Do 5-minutes of activity
The next thing you should do is get your blood flowing. This doesn’t have to be 100 burpees in five minutes. Some mornings I will do pushups, squats, crunches, mountain climbers, jumping jacks, and a few other plyometric exercises for five minutes, while other mornings I’ll just do some yoga or stretching.
What you do isn’t quite as important as just doing something every morning to get the blood flowing and fire your body up.
Side note, if you exercise in the morning before work it is quite alright to skip this step and count your exercise after you finish journaling.
7. Sit down with my journal
In a perfect world you would wake with the sun and be able to sit outside, or in a window to absorb the sun’s rays. The sun works wonders for your mood, and to wake your body up!
In my world, and probably most of yours, the sun won’t be up for awhile after you are. I actually bought one of those UV lights that imitates the sun, but you definitely don’t have to. Just sit down somewhere with some decent lighting and focus on your journal for the day.
Don’t have your phone with you. If you want to look at your phone before you journal, okay, but do not have it with you while you’re journaling. You need to focus on this time like it is the most important thing you’ll do all day because, well, it just might be!
A – Write three main goals, weekly objectives, and the most important next steps for each.
I am currently using the BiggerPockets intention journal, and it has all of these segments already outlined which is super convenient. Every day I write down what time I woke up, how much sleep I got, and then the three biggest goals I’m currently working towards.
Then, under each goal, I will write down the weekly objective I need to accomplish in order to move the needle forward on that big goal. Then you write down what the most important next step (MINS) you need to accomplish is to achieve that weekly objective, and when you’re going to work on it.
Here is one of my current goals I journal about every morning, as an example:
- The big goal you're currently working towards: book draft completed no later than 20200601
- Weekly objective: write 7,000 words this week to stay on track for the draft completion date.
- Most important next steps: write 1,000 words today.
- I will accomplish this goal at 0530 every morning.
B – Win the day
Andy Frisella, the CEO of 1st Phorm, talks about the need to “win the day”. He says that it is easy, just do what you need to do every day.
My take on this is to write down the top three things you need to do every day. If you accomplish those three things, then you won the day. It doesn’t matter if you have a whole lot of other odds and ends that didn’t get accomplished…you won that day.
If you win 7 days, you won that week. By focusing on winning the day, you are allowing yourself to feel accomplished, even if there are a lot of other small things that COULD be done.
It is easy to get overwhelmed by all of the little things you could be doing, and forget to do the three things you NEED to do. Don’t let that happen, always knock out the three big most important next steps first, and win the day. Then, if you get a lot of other things done, great. If not, who cares!
C – Plan day in 30-minute increments
I like to break the day into 30-minute increments from the moment I wake up, to the moment I go to sleep. After you finish writing your goals, and the most important next steps, you need to fill out this schedule from top to bottom. Every single block should have something in it.
The absolute first thing you need to pen into the daily schedule is the three most important next steps that will help you win the day. Once that is done, you need to pen in any scheduled engagements with people such as phone calls, podcast recordings, lunch, coffee, etc. Trust me, you don’t stand people up!
Now, fill the rest of your schedule in. Yes, every single block.
It is perfectly okay to schedule things like “sit in the hot tub”, “get a massage”, “go to the movies”. Not every moment of your schedule needs to be about hustling. In fact, I highly recommend that you be intentional about scheduling a little “you time” every day. If you give yourself permission to relax for 30-60-minutes every day you will be much less likely to get burnt out.
As somebody who has definitely hit the burnout wall on several occasions, trust me when I tell you that it isn’t worth it. Once you hit that wall it will take a lot more time to recover.
You need to intentionally schedule this time into your calendar, or you’ll feel like you wasted time goofing off, and the benefits of relaxing will be nullified.
Okay, so now that you’ve scheduled out your entire day here is the secret…follow your schedule. Naturally, there will be some deviations. Some items will take longer than you thought, or you’ll have a flat tire while cycling and have to walk home. Maybe something incredibly important, and beneficial, will come up and you’ll have to squeeze it into the schedule.
However, it is in your best interest to stick to this plan as much as possible. Plan your day, and execute your plan.
8. Practice gratitude
The Oxford dictionary defines gratitude as “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and return to kindness.”
You might be wondering what being thankful for things has to do with your own success. The answer is quite simple when you’re in a good mood, you perform better. By taking a few moments before you begin the day to think of things you’re thankful for, and reflect on how blessed you are, you will set yourself up for a much better day.
It is easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of life sometimes, so take this time to be thankful for what you have, and where you are.
Want to take it up a notch? Make it a point to text one or two people and let them know you’re thinking of them. This doesn’t have to be a profound explanation of why you’re thankful for them, but it could be. Whatever you’re comfortable with, I encourage you to try sending a short text, email, Snapchat, or whatever other medium you relay messages and let that person know how much you appreciate them.
I have never received a negative response to this, and not only will you be glad that you did it, but they will too! Is there a better way to start your day than making the people you love happy?
Whether or not you’re religious it is important to take some time for your spiritual health. A few moments of calm before the “storm” that is your day, is a great way to center yourself and be sure you start on the right foot.
During this time you can pray, meditate, or even just practice some breathing exercises. The point is to spend a few moments reflecting inward, clearing your mind, and just existing.
This takes some practice, and I’m definitely not an expert, but there are some great applications or guided meditations all over the internet that you can use to give it a shot. Find a five-minute meditation, and enjoy the relaxation for a few moments.
10. Vision board
Visualization is extremely powerful.
If you have never heard of the law of attraction, I would encourage you to do some more research.
The long and short of it is that the things you focus on have a much higher likelihood of coming true. That is why I spend a few moments every day visualizing where I want to be in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years, you get the idea. I have created a vision board with pictures of things I want to accomplish, things I want to own, places I want to have traveled, and other desires I have in life.
Visualization is simply sitting down, looking at this visual reminder of where I want to go in life, and then visualizing (basically day-dreaming) about what it will be like once you’ve achieved this.
One of the items on my vision board is to have 100,000 subscribers on YouTube, and I visualize what my channel will look like on that day, what my audience will be like, what kind of equipment I will have, and everything else I can think of, for how my life will look when I cross the 100k subs mark.
This is just one example, but having a vision, and spending time to focus on it every day will help those items manifest their way into your life.
Think about it like when you buy a new car. The moment you buy that car you start to notice the same vehicle all over the place. Now, that car was always driving around town, but your brain didn’t focus on it. Now that you own the vehicle, your brain focuses on those cars, and you see them standing out against the other vehicles in traffic.
That is what you want to achieve through visualization. The more you focus on your goals, and what your life will look like when you achieve them, the more likely you are to recognize opportunities that will help you get there when they arise.
Also, this is a fun exercise every day. Who doesn’t enjoy day-dreaming about achieving their wildest goals?
11. Execute the day, dominate the day.
After you have done all of the above pieces of your morning routine it is time to take a long nap, eat some popcorn, and wait for your journal to accomplish everything for you…
Now you need to strap on your shoes and run out the door, put on a suit and record some content, grab your list and make some cold calls. Whatever your number one task was for the day, get busy crushing it.
None of the journaling, or scheduling, you just spent an hour doing will matter if you don’t execute the tasks you laid out for yourself.
You need to be hard on yourself.
Other people will try and derail your day, whether they know it or not. You need to protect your schedule. You should beat yourself up inside if you don’t accomplish the tasks you set out for yourself. If nothing else, you should ALWAYS finish the three most important next steps you planned. You owe it to yourself to dominate your to-do list.
Your success depends on it.
12. Gamify it!
I got this trick from watching Brandon Turner’s Instagram story. He plans out 6 habits that he plans to do throughout the week and then gamifies his results. For the record, this habit-creation template is included in the weekly planning portion of the Intention Journal. Also, no I don’t have an affiliate link, or get paid for recommending this journal…I just love it!
For example, this week my 6 habits are: write 1,000 words for this book (7-times), write blog posts (3-times), workout (6-times), read (5-times), gratitude/vision (7-times), and diet (7-times).
At the end of each day, I will tally up what habits I did, or did not, accomplish. Then, at the end of the week, I add up all of the totals and give myself a numerical value. One week I might have +3, which means I overshot the habits I wanted to form, another week it might be -5, which means I fell short of what I wanted to accomplish.
By turning this into a game with yourself you are more likely to do these habit-forming activities every day.
There is no better game you can play than trying to beat yourself at self-improvement!
The better you do, the more you win. If you get 1% better every day you will be amazed at what you accomplish over the course of the month, year, and lifetime!
The reality About Having A Perfect Morning routine
The reality is that I don’t accomplish every single one of these tasks every morning. There are many mornings I’m running behind and unable to do five minutes of exercise and/or five minutes of visualization in the morning.
The one thing you should ALWAYS do is your journal.
I can tell you firsthand that when I journal I get shit done. When I put off journaling in the morning it is like taking the rudder off your boat. When you have no guidance to follow it is very easy to waste half the day drifting about.
Don’t let that happen to you, give yourself a purpose, and a plan, every day.
Here is another article I wrote about a simple morning routine I have used as well!
Here are 6 steps to own your week!