I recently wrote a short overview of my morning routines. I also talked about what it means to truly conquer life in this post. Today I’ll be putting those two topics together and diving into the weeds with a case study on how exactly I built my morning routine.
My Criteria for a Successful Morning Routine
Why did I even want to build out a morning routine in the first place? Well, I needed a steady anchor I could use when my days got crazy.
Thus, my entire focus for a morning routine became all about building a system that had these three elements:
- Fun, so I looked forward to doing it
- A personalized priming sequence that guarantees I get the most out of each day
- Portability – meaning, my morning routine didn’t require me to be at home or at a specific location to complete
With these 3 criteria in mind, I’ve slowly pieced together a morning routine that has allowed me to virtually guarantee that I would have a productive day, whether I felt like it or not.
So how do you build the habit of your own morning routine?
The 4 Rules for Building Your Own Morning Routine
Rule 1. Work only on one thing at a time.
This is the #1 rule for building your own morning routine. If you Google “morning routines of successful people,” you’ll find over 1.5 MILLION results.
…And these lists have a lot of random things like “brush your teeth,” “drink one glass of water,” and “focus.” (Uhh. What does that even mean?)
Every blog post says that there is this “one” thing that is THE essential, must-have, #1 thing you need in your morning routine to be successful.
Most of these people are just trying to sell you a snazzy new bullet journal or a personal planner they Kickstarted, and here’s the truth: It doesn’t matter what you start with as long as you can commit to doing it every day.
For example, I started my morning routine with a cold shower because I already showered in the morning to get ready anyway—it wasn’t that far out for me to turn the faucet all the way to cold to rinse off.
For your own morning routine, pick one small thing you can do every day, commit to doing it for 2 months, and move on.
How small, you ask? It’s tiny only if it’s a 100% slam dunk that you can do it everyday. Here’s a list of tiny habits you can try:
- Flossing one tooth every evening
- Strumming your guitar once every time you see it in your room
- Doing one push up or pull-up as soon as you get out of bed
Rule 2. Deal with your inner demons
With so much noise out there about what a morning routine should have, how do you decide which tiny habit to start with?
Here’s how: Solve your biggest problem.
For example, you can probably relate with the big problem I was trying to solve with my morning routine: apart from having trouble with consistency, I also had trouble focusing and staying positive, day-to-day. So I built up a morning routine that specifically targeted these problems:
- Cold Shower – make sure I’m in a positive and happy mood for the day
- Meditation – train my brain to be calm, focused, and un-frazzled
- Bible reading and Prayer – keeps me grounded, despite all the crazy stuff that happens
- Morning pages – get all the stuff that’s bouncing in my head out on paper so I can get on with my day
Apart from my things above, here some suggestions you can try for your own morning routine:
- A 7-Minute Workout or a 5-minute walk – similar to a cold shower, if you want to prime yourself to feel good and be excited about taking on the day
- Writing 50 words a day – if you want to think more clearly
- Reading 5 pages a day – if you have a lot of books you want to read but can’t seem to find the time
- A 5-Minute Journal – if you struggle with staying positive and thankful
Remember: You don’t have to do all of these at once.
For now, just pick one and work on that one. For the other habits you might want to integrate into your routine, keep a list on Evernote or something similar so you have a ready pipeline once you make your current task a habit.
Rule 3. Track your daily progress.
Ever heard of the Seinfeld Method? I’m not sure if the tactic is even from Jerry Seinfeld, but I have to talk about it here, since mentioning it seems to be a requirement for every single habit-related blog post on the internet. LOL.
The Seinfeld method was, reportedly, how Jerry Seinfeld became a great standup comedian.
His method was simple: He committed to writing one joke per day. Once he had written it down, he would check off that day in his calendar. Pretty soon, the chain of ✔️s made him want to keep doing it so that the chain would never be broken.
Similarly, if you want to build a daily habit, find a way to track your progress to reinforce the habit once you’ve got a streak going. And yes, I know what you thought of when I said “streak” — tracking a habit is exactly like keeping up a Snapstreak with your 😊 friends on Snapchat, although this is a much more useful streak. LOL
Rule 4. Stay flexible
If you can recall, one of my key criteria for a successful morning routine is to be able to do it anywhere. This is important because, what’s the use of a routine to keep you sane, if you can’t do it when things do go insane?
For this, I like to keep my morning routine offline, as much as possible.
For example, if I have an 8AM class that day, I should be able to do my morning routine (apart from my cold shower, of course) on my train commute to school. Because there’s no Wi-Fi on the train and I don’t have a data plan, I have to pack my journal, a pen, headphones, and download the meditation app onto my phone.
If I wake up late that day and I have to run out the door, I may have to break up the meditation into parts, or move the order of my system around, but my morning routine is still achievable.
For a morning routine to stick, it doesn’t have to be the most comprehensive or elaborate routine in the world. You just have to be able to do it, even if you’re deep in the Amazon jungle.
Make It a Priority
A morning routine isn’t just for beauty bloggers and entrepreneurs; rather, it’s something for people who want to have a productive day and perform at a high level.
The reason why it’s so crucial to lock in some sort of routine to your day is because it’s easy to get caught up into time sucks, like cycling through email, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook without a second thought as to how you’re spending your time.
With a morning routine, though, you can remind yourself of what’s most important to you. With a successful morning routine, you’re setting the stage to win the day. And if you win enough days in a row, you’ll start winning at life.
If you win the morning, you win the day.
Liked this post? I've got more coming.
Make sure you don't miss my free practical and motivational posts on productivity, careers and success every week.
Don't wait. Join over 1,000 brilliant people like you and start going for your dreams... Even if you're still in school.