I’m a frequent listener of Tim Ferriss’ podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show, and one of the questions he always asks guests is “What does a typical morning look like for you? Do you have any rituals or morning routines?”
Almost all of the guests on his podcast are notable people — what he calls “world class performers.” Most of these entrepreneurs, writers, investors, athletes, and other have some form of a morning routine that helps them jumpstart their day.
I always knew I should have a morning routine but procrastinated creating one and putting it into action. We humans are creatures of habit. You likely have a morning routine in some form but if you’re unconsciously going through your morning then you’re not allowing yourself to perform at your peak potential. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “win the morning, win the day” — it’s true!
I’m 30 days into my new morning routine and I can honestly say I feel better. I feel like I accomplish more throughout the day and procrastinate less because I’m starting my day productively and with momentum.
Behavioral science says that it takes 21-days for a habit to stick, whether it’s a good or bad one. I personally felt like somewhere around day 14 I didn’t stress my morning routine anymore. It felt somewhat normal and natural. It felt like less of a chore and more like something that I did because I wanted to. There are still parts of my routine that I enjoy more than others but overall it’s painless and provides me with a structure that I didn’t have previously in my life.
So what does my morning routine look like exactly?
1. Wake up and check my phone (1-5 minutes)
Checking my phone first is the only part of my routine that I’m not entirely proud of but I’ve found that it works for me. I’m sure every expert will tell you that checking your phone first thing in the morning is a poor decision for your mental clarity but I found the opposite.
For the first week of my routine, I would turn off my phone before bed and wouldn’t check it until I was ready to go to the gym. I felt like not checking my phone made it harder to focus on other parts of my morning routine. Checking my phone allowed me to clear my notifications quickly and get them out of my mind. Otherwise, my mind would constantly wonder and worry what was waiting for me on my device, forcing me to rush through my routine or half-ass it. I’ll eliminate my phone at some point in the future, but for now I don’t see any issue with checking it quickly before starting my day.
2. I make my bed and tidy my room (2–5 minutes)
Having a neat and tidy bedroom doesn’t come naturally to me but I don’t think anyone will argue that having a messy room feels more satisfying than a clean one. Making my bed and cleaning my room makes everything feel in order and less cluttered, which frees up a lot of mental space for me. I can relax in my room when I’m ready and not have to worry about a mess awaiting me when I come home in the evening.
3. I meditate (10–15 minutes)
I’ve meditated on and off since spending a month in Bali at the end of 2016. At times I can feel like I’m being held hostage by my own thoughts — meditation allows me to free up mental space and stop the noise. Turning off the noise, or constant stream of thoughts for a period of time makes it easier for me to think more freely throughout the day. It also helps me appreciate moments and not live in the past or future.
Sam Harris, the neuroscientist and author has a few relaxing and easy to follow guided meditations that I listen to every morning.
This version is my favorite:
4. I journal (10–15 minutes)
I used to have tiny notebooks that I wrote thoughts, feelings, and experiences in, but usually my hand would get tired before I could finish a full thought. I now use journey.cloud — it’s a great free tool that lets you save any informal writing. Spelling errors aren’t even corrected, it’s simply a free-form writing tool that adds some time & date stamps as well as location. It allows me to organize my journal entries in one private place but any other writing software would work too.
Journaling allows me to keep track of my progress and what I hope to accomplish in the future. I’ve noticed that I don’t know what I’m thinking until I can formalize it into writing. If I have a personal problem or something is bothering me, journaling helps me vent and get clear about what the underlying problems are.
5. Affirmations & appreciation (3–5 minutes)
I read a set of daily affirmations and a list of what I’m thankful for every morning. These are mainly for financial, spiritual, and personal abundance in my life. I used to be skeptical about affirmations (after reading Think & Grow Rich), but I’ve realized that positive self-talk has a huge impact on how I perceive myself and how I present myself to the world.
6. Go to the gym and exercise (45–60 minutes)
Working out before starting my workday allows me to get pumped up and get my endorphins flowing. Endorphins trigger a positive feeling in my body and mind that gives me a really good natural high after a solid workout. Working out is my favorite part of my morning routine because it gives me the energy I need to get my day going and it feels great to pump some iron and release any unneeded stress or tension.
My workout routine looks like this:
- Monday: Biceps, back, forearms
- Tuesday: Chest, Triceps
- Wednesday: Legs
- Thursday: Off day
- Friday: Abs, Core
- Saturday: Shoulders
- Sunday: Off day
After I’ve completed my routine I usually go home for some breakfast. My go-to meal is a bacon, egg, and cheese brekkie burrito with homemade energy balls for protein.
Here’s a funny video if you’re interested in making your own energy balls:
I’m aware that this routine might not be optimal for everyone but I’d love to hear your thoughts or what your morning routine looks like — let me know in the comments!