Morning routine ideas: 11 productive ways to start your day

Morning routine ideas: 11 productive ways to start your day

Your morning routine can have a significant impact on how the rest of your day flows.

Yet so many people start the day frazzled, racing against the clock in a frenzy to get ready.

As a result, there's a popular trend around creating the perfect morning routine.

But it doesn't take hiring a productivity expert or following the quirky schedules of celebrities to craft a game plan that works for you.

At the heart of any good routine is a set of habits that get you into the right mindset.

Mindset significantly contributes to your ability to thrive, so elevating your mindset is the best way to start each day.

Though there's no one-size-fits-all approach, choose from any of the following morning routine ideas to help put you in the right frame of mind.

Contents

  1. Prepare in the evening

  2. Eliminate the alarm

  3. Practice gratitude

  4. Set  your intention

  5. Use positive self-talk

  6. Streamline your wardrobe

  7. Indulge in self-care

  8. Rely on the essentials

  9. Have visual aids

  10. Eliminate energy drains

  11. Be inspired by this case study


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Morning routine ideas: 11 productive ways to start your day

Prepare in the evening

Make a note of the activities that seem to take up a disproportionate amount of your time, then consider shifting them to the night before.

Perhaps it’s outlining the next day's schedule before you go to bed (determining what you want to accomplish and why) so you wake up with a clear sense of purpose.

Whatever the bottleneck, try to alleviate the disruption to your morning flow by moving it to the evening when you have more time.

Morning routine ideas: 11 productive ways to start your day

Eliminate the alarm

If you can significantly cut down on your dependence on alarms do so, because it isn't a natural — or pleasant — way to wake up.

An alarm literally shocks you awake (most likely at the most inappropriate point in your sleep cycle).

As a result, you feel a groggy sense of dread and waste extra time hitting snooze trying to fight the inevitable.

It's a terrible way to start the day and, as discussed in the Sleep Challenge book, can be detrimental to your health.

If you go to bed at a decent hour you may be able to train yourself to wake up naturally to the sunlight or birds chirping instead of a glaring bell.

Depending on your sleep habits and preferences waking naturally may not be feasible or you may have time commitments that you can't risk missing.

If completely getting rid of your alarm isn't possible try alternatives (such as Sleep Cycle) that wake you more gently and at the most optimal point in time.

Morning routine ideas: 11 productive ways to start your day

Practice gratitude

Taking a moment, right when you get up, to be thankful is a wonderful way to elevate your mindset in the morning.

Practicing gratitude is a method of inducing positive emotions by recognizing what's going well in life.

Gratitude has a number of scientifically proven benefits including improvement in your psychological health and mental capacity.

If you wake up feeling bit low, this is an especially important activity given its ability to boost your happiness and overall feelings of wellbeing.

Morning routine ideas: 11 productive ways to start your day

Set your intentions

Setting intentions is about mindful of how you want the day to go.

In addition to visualizing the course of the day, make any necessary adjustments to your schedule and calendar to align it with your vision.

Some people become a bit frazzled when they don't have an idea of what they want to get out of the day.

But simply clarifying to yourself what you want to accomplish works wonders.

Having a game plan helps you build up more positive energy than haphazardly passing time without purpose.  

Morning routine ideas: 11 productive ways to start your day

Use positive self-talk

As you consider all what you have to look forward to withya day, there may be some less than pleasant things on the agenda.

There may be negative situations or people you have to come in contact with and you might need a boost of confidence to make it through.

Positive self-talk is a substitute to affirmations particularly for those who don't seem to have much success trying to convince their unconscious that reality is something other than what it is.

Instead of making a declaration that is in direct conflict with what the day actually holds (and can make your unconscious mind put up a resistance against it), use positive inquiry.  

Research shows that asking instead of commanding is a better way to bring about psychological change.

So instead of declaring "I am so looking forward to today" when you're not, ask "how might I make today a good day" which turns off your inner critic and turns on the creative part of the brain tasked with solving problems.

Morning routine ideas: 11 productive ways to start your day

Streamline your style

Staring blankly at your closet for 30 minutes overwhelmed by the myriad of options?

Then a capsule wardrobe or daily uniform could be a great solution.

Having fewer but better items of clothing in colors and silhouettes that work well together, makes it fairly easy to pull together an outfit quickly.

If wearing the same or similar outfit everyday isn't appealing to you then at least indulge in a set of classic basics.

You can pair them with more trendy fashion pieces and cut down on time spent crafting your look.

Morning routine ideas: 11 productive ways to start your day

Indulge in self-care

Your self-care strategy is the set of things you do consistently to take control of your health and wellness.

A great time of day to indulge in self-care is in the morning before you are bombarded with your daily commitments.

No matter if it's having a nice cup of tea or writing in your journal, it’s worth carving out a few minutes of extra time for this activity.

Morning routine ideas: 11 productive ways to start your day

Rely on essentials

If you are looking for ways to maximize the pleasure you derive from the day, then look to you essentials.

What normally feels like a chore can easily be transformed into a pleasant experience just by being thoughtful about the products and services you rely on.

Think about what you need to feel and perform your best each day, then find and invest in the brands that offer them.

Even if you are a minimalist, it's important to continually explore how select goods and objects can be tastefully incorporated into — and improve — your lifestyle.

To get you started, we’ve curated an edited assortment of apps, brands and other tools in our essentials shop.

Morning routine ideas: 11 productive ways to start your day

Have visual aids

Use physical objects as a reminder —  in the morning and throughout the day — of the good you have and the good you desire.

Humans have a special relationship with possessions and should be mindful to maintain a healthy balance with these things.  

Just like you can go too far and end up hoarding a bunch of clutter, you can also strip away so much that you have nothing to self-identify with (a warning to fellow minimalists).

Your possessions allow you to express yourself and can also serve as visual reminders of the good that has passed and the good that you want to bring forth.

No matter if it's a special image on a vision board or a small unassuming memento, select objects that bring about positive feelings in the morning and elevate your mindset in the process.

Morning routine ideas: 11 productive ways to start your day

Eliminate energy drains

If there is something small but fixable nagging you in the morning, go ahead and tend to it so it's not lingering in the back of your mind all day.  

Nagging issues are the annoying and outstanding things that mentally or physically bring you down without you realizing it.

These energy zappers stay on your mind begging for attention so it’s better to just address them as soon as possible than allow them to fester.

Morning routine ideas: 11 productive ways to start your day

Be inspired by this case study

We reached out to a few friends and loyal readers for examples of morning routines. Here's one of the many inspiring case studies we received back:

For the past year since I’ve been a so-called digital nomad, I’ve struggled to create a morning routine that would allow me to take full advantage of my newfound freedom.

I’ve kept up an out-of-date work cadence that didn’t fit in with my current reality.

I believed I had to work a certain number of hours during a certain time of day to be legitimate and, despite all the effort to get to this point, I actually felt guilty for partaking in such an indulgent lifestyle.

Finally, my significant other (and travel companion) called me out on this self-sabotaging behavior.

I realized that it made no sense to be in these awe-inspiring places without being fully present.

So when we touched down in Turkey I came up with the concept of a luxury routine:

How do I structure my day since there is no one putting demands on my time and attention?

How might I get the most out of each day while balancing my various interests and commitments?

There is such a trend around morning routines and incorporating specific practices into each day (e.g. meditation, visualization, etc).

Of course, every productivity expert and lifestyle guru believed his or her approach will lead to the perfect day and ultimately the best personal and professional outcomes.

I’ve read and borrowed from many of these ideas but ultimately crafting a schedule customized for me.

Morning (Develop)

My morning routine is the most important part of my overall daily routine and I use it for personal growth and self-care..

I wake up to the sunlight (no alarm clock) then open every window in my flat to get a burst of fresh air.

Next I drink water to rehydrate and slowly sip a black tea while listening to articles on the Curio app.

Finally I go through a few journal prompts  and self improvement exercises before getting ready to head out.

Day (Explore)

I dedicate afternoons to taking advantage of the daylight and exploring whatever town I’m in.

It feels unnatural to spend the entire day indoors under the assault of artificial lights and stale air.

I particularly love long walks be it along a coast, in the woods, or in town, jumping in and out of cafes, bookstores, and galleries looking for inspiration.

Evening (Work)

My level of concentration and overall productivity surges after an energetic bout outdoors and I’m typically bubbling with fresh ideas after being exposed to so much stimuli.

I use the early evening to work uninterrupted: concepting new ideas, tackling client projects, taking phone calls, scheduling my social accounts, and organizing myself for the following day.

Night (Socialize)

Up to this point, I’ve had a lot of “me time” so I’m eager to fellowship with others — usually over a bottle of wine and an excellent meal — without worrying about any work that was left undone.

Sleep (Restore)

Six full hours a night and I’m ready for the next day.

Now, to be transparent, depending on my timezone, level of jet lag, mood, or workload, I may not always flow through the day in exactly this order.

I prefer to balance discipline with freedom and the best feature about this particular approach is that its modular structure allows for a lot of flexibility.

The only restriction I try to adhere to is keeping similar activities grouped within the associated time blocks, but I can arrange the blocks within my schedule as needed.

Morning routine ideas: 11 productive ways to start your day

The case study above is only an example and the tips shared only a few of many things you can do to design your morning routine.

It is not beneficial if you attempt to force fit yourself into someone else’s way of doing things.

The goal here is to exercise a higher level of consciousness when it comes to planning your day and empower yourself to make the necessary changes to maximize time spent doing what you love.

Your morning is the most precious time of the day because it sets the tone for everything that follows.

It doesn't matter if you are self-employed or work a 9-5, use the above tips as inspiration to optimize your morning so you walk out of the door fully ready to embrace all that it has in store.

Image collection “Morning Whites” by Benjamin Holtrop, taken exclusively for Minimalism.