Master the art of your morning routine with these 8 tips

Nailing the ideal morning ritual has been playing on my mind recently. Since making the switch to self-employed, I no longer have a boss who expects me to show up at the office by 9am each morning. However, since I want to make the most of my own time, I find myself treating my morning routine in exactly the same way – minus the commute.

But I’ve been thinking recently. How can I prepare for a big day, each and every day? Do I have the best morning routine to set me up for a productive day, or can I make changes that will improve my health and functionality.

What is the best morning routine?

Most of us have an allocated time we are expected to show up each day. For many, this may be somewhere in the region of 8.30 in the morning, give or take half an hour. However, our day begins several hours earlier when we hit the stop button on the alarm and drag ourselves out of bed. The reality is, even before our bag hits the office desk, we’ve already had a busy morning. There may be a dog that needs to be let out; children to be dressed and breakfasted before hustling off to school.

In between all of this activity, what are we doing to set ourselves up for a productive day? Most importantly, are we giving ourselves enough time in the morning to focus upon ourselves?

Searching for the best morning routine may sound a little off putting, like we’re putting too much pressure on ourselves to perform. However, making a few simple tweaks each day is more achievable that I first realised.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways in which we can incorporate good habits into our morning ritual.

Wake up routine

If, like me, it can be a struggle to open your eyes in the morning, especially in those winter months, then maybe there’s a better way to waking up than hitting the snooze button eight times.

If we can make some small changes to the way we begin our mornings – right from the moment we open our eyes – we set ourselves up for a healthy and productive day.

Let there be light

According to Chloe Fung Choi Yi from the University of Hong Kong, “there are a number of zeitgebers – social or environmental cues that affect your biological clock – [.] An important one is light. The amount of light we expose ourselves to, and the timing of that exposure, can pull us back into sync with the external 24-hour clock.”

We all have receptors in the back of our eyes that tell our brain how bright light is and synchronises our internal body clock to the external environment. By maximising our exposure to natural light throughout the day, we can help maintain healthy sleeping patterns. Spending all day cooped up under artificial light and starting at a screen can have a detrimental effect on how well we sleep.

I enjoy waking up to natural light by leaving my window blind open. I find that I sleep for longer and wake up less refreshed in a very dark room.

As winter draws in, investing in a natural light alarm clock that softly fills your room with light may help you rise more easily than snapping on the main overhead bulb. By far the most popular is the Lumie Bodyclock Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock with Sunrise and Sunset Features. This has a back up alarm in case you are not woken by the gentle light itself.

Practice gratitude

Five out of 10 of the entrepreneurs interviewed for this article mention making time for gratitude each morning. This can’t simply be coincidence that gratitude plays a part of the routine of so many highly functioning people.

Gratitude is incredibly important as it fosters optimism and helps us to develop a more positive outlook. Writing down our achievements and pausing to celebrate what makes us feel happy keeps us in touch with those feelings of positivity.

I jot down my daily achievements so that I can look back on my week and recognise what progress I’ve made. Now is the time to incorporate some gratitude for my life as a whole, not just in business, by writing in a gratitude journal.

Drink water in the morning

Keeping well hydrated throughout the day is a concept we are familiar with. Our bodies are made up of roughly 72% water (with our brains containing 76% water), so it’s important to stay hydrated to keep our body systems and brain functioning.

Drinking water in the morning can boost your metabolism by about 24%, which sets you in good stead for a healthy day. For more tips on how drinking water in the morning can keep you healthy, David Wolfe shares five of his favourites.

include water in your morning routine

Healthy morning: the benefits of breakfast

The notion that breakfast is the most important meal of the day is something that most of us are familiar with. According to WebMD, eating breakfast supercharges your ability to concentrate. Their tips for a well-balanced meal in the morning is: a glass of 100% fruit juice, a whole-grain bagel with salmon and a cup of coffee. 

For me, fruit juice and coffee are morning staples, however, I can’t say that I’m particularly fond of the idea of fish first thing. I can see the benefit in making time to eat breakfast though and to make sure it includes one or more superfood – like salmon – to keep me sharp at my desk.

Morning routine for success

We like to look to others for inspiration and there’s nothing more motivating than reading about the morning rituals of highly successful entrepreneurs.

Although it’s tempting to think of these people as super-human machines, the reality is that they have a family and a life outside of their work just as you and I. What inspires me the most is remembering that these uber achievers are no different to myself: I can step into their shoes by making some minor adjustments.

Here are some of their top tips for developing a healthy morning ritual for success:

1. Fit in some kind of exercise

Exercise should be a part of our daily routine. Start your morning by including some fitness to hit that target and give you an energy boost to set you up for a productive day.

If the thought of lacing your trainers before your morning coffee is too much to bear, even trying some simple stretches will get the blood flowing.

2. Eliminate decision making tasks in the morning

According to Britt Joiner at Trello, “many productivity experts and successful people spend their evenings preparing for the next day because it makes their mornings that much easier.” She uses Kenneth Chenault, CEO of American Express as an example, who ends his evening by writing down three things he wants to accomplish the next day.

Minimising decision making in the morning, such as what are we going to wear or pack for our lunch, helps us to shut out the background noise that stop us from being our most effective.

3. Prioritise your one most important task

With your to-do list carefully created the night before, identify the most crucial task and make sure you get that ticked off first. As Women’s Health Magazine writes, “though we’re all multitasking maestros, you work best, obviously, on a single thing at a time, and if you’re not careful your most productive part of the day – first thing in the morning – can be swallowed by a barrage of spam and general Outlook admin.”

Make sure you are clear on your priority and knuckle down to get that done before opening up your emails. For me, that means sitting down to write for at least an hour each morning before I get drawn into any other activity. 

how to improve your morning routine

Your perfect morning routine

I can hear a lot of you muttering that you may be a night owl and not a morning person. I totally get this and appreciate that there is a lot of hype surrounding the perfect morning routine, that may or may not be achievable depending on your personality type.

Don’t be afraid to hold your hand up and declare that you work best at night. As long as you tap into what works best for you and effectively utilise the time of day where you are your most productive, then you are off to a winning start no matter what time the clock shows.

Key takeaways

Although perfecting the ideal morning ritual is not an exact science, the same kinds of advice do seem to reoccur time and time again.

My takeaways for starting my day with good habits are:

  • minimalise stress and distractions by outlining your focus,
  • fuel your body with the right kind of food and lots of water,
  • Incorporate a small amount of exercise into your morning,
  • carve our time for gratitude, whether that be with your loved ones or in peaceful solitude.

How do you spend your mornings? Do you feel like you’ve got the optimal morning routine that ensures you stay motivated throughout the day, or is this something you’d like to work on?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Please note: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small commission at no extra cost to you, which helps towards the running cost of this site.

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How to have a productive morning | Get the most out of your day | Start your day in the most productive way | Morning routines for successful people


  1. D.G.

    I concur with your breakfast tip. Such a simple thing to do that is often overlooked. If you were after more simple tips, my team has written a great article on the topic.

    1. Smash Your To Do List

      Thank you so much D.G! Breakfast is absolutely a cornerstone of our day. Thanks for your comment.

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