What Is a Morning Routine?

A morning routine is quite simply what it says. It’s a set of habits or motions that you go through when you wake up. It helps to set your day up in the right way and can have some drastic effects on your focus and productivity.

You could do anything from exercising and journaling to reading and meditating. Or, alternatively, you could hit snooze 5 times and scroll through Instagram for 30 minutes.

All of these examples are part of a morning routine, but one is quite clearly worse than the others. That’s why most people are surprised to find out they already have a morning routine, even if they’ve never heard of the phrase before.

It’s more than likely you already have a set of habits in place that you do without even thinking. Your brain has become so used to receiving that dopamine hit when waking up, that it has become normalised into a routine.

You probably don’t realise the effect it has on the rest of your day, which is why I wrote this article. If you can set up a powerful morning routine that you’re able to stick to, it can transform your life completely.

However, it’s not easy. Only people serious about self-improvement should try to create one.

By the way, if you prefer to listen instead of read, make sure you listen to the podcast episode too from Life Unlocked. You can even listen without interrupting the article!

What Is the Best Morning Routine?

best morning routine

It’s pretty obvious that some morning routines are going to be better than others.

There are certain things you probably should and shouldn’t do. However, you might be surprised to hear that there’s no one best morning routine.

The best morning routine is one that works for you and you’re able to carry out every day.

If you wake up, drink water, and do some pushups for 90 days, it’s going to be much more effective than someone who runs 3 miles, meditates, reads, journals, stretches and whatever else for 3 days then gives up for  2 weeks.

It’s all about forming a routine that you enjoy and sticking to it. Forever.

Okay, maybe you don’t need to be that dramatic. But if you can find things that you like to do, and make your mornings enjoyable as opposed to your routine being something you need to do, you’ll be much better off.

So, how exactly do you do that? Keep reading to find out.

How to Create a Morning Routine

create a morning routine

Before we jump into the nitty-gritty of creating a routine, I want to introduce a couple of key concepts to you. If you work on learning the underlying knowledge at the beginning, it’ll make the whole process go much more smoothly.

Read: The Miracle Morning for Addiction Recovery

Keystone Habits

A keystone habit can also be referred to as an anchor.

It’s something you do every single day that acts as the foundation with which you can lay everything else on top.

For example, it could be as simple as drinking a glass of water, or it could be a heavy session in the gym.

Habit Chaining

Somewhat related to keystone habits, chaining is where you make it incredibly easy to go from one habit to another.

I use this to great effect in my morning routine. Before I go to bed I make sure to put my phone, water, and gym clothes in the same spot on the other side of the room.

Therefore, when it comes to waking up, I’m forced to get up and moving in order to shut my alarm off. Then, because I don’t need to go out of my way to get a glass of water, I can do it there and then. Similarly with my gym clothes. I’m much less likely to get up and active if I have to go searching through the closet to find a clean outfit.

daily planner morning routine

Chaining is incredibly effective once you start adding more habits into your daily routine.

You might be reading this article and get hit with a spur of motivation to create an amazing routine. But, there’s still one last thing you need to realise.

This is a marathon, not a sprint.

When deciding what you want to include in your routine, you can’t just throw a bunch of things together and expect it to work.

You need to add one habit at a time and be deliberate in each of your choices.

You should have a specific reason why you want to add a habit. Ideally, it will fulfil a particular need or add a great deal of value to your day.

It’s better to have a few high-importance habits than a load of meaningless things to occupy your time with.

You should feel like your routine serves a purpose – not that you’re doing a morning routine because you feel like you should.

Planning Your Morning Rituals

morning routines

You can’t do something if you have no idea what you want to do. Duh.

That’s why I like to plan my morning routine around 4 key pillars:

  1. health; exercise, water
  2. learning; reading, watching
  3. relaxing; meditation, stretching
  4. reflection; journaling, planning

What I want you to do is choose something that is both incredibly simple and serves a purpose.

If your current morning routine is to spend 20 minutes on your phone, you need to find a way to prevent that from happening.

My suggestion is to drink a glass of water. Personally, I prefer a pint. But that might be because I’m British.

Put your phone, if you use it for an alarm, and the glass of water on the other side of the room. Then when you wake up, make sure you drink the water and then go about doing whatever else you want to do.

That’s it.

Your entire morning routine is getting out of bed and drinking a glass of water.

All we want to do at this point is work on forming a habit. Once it’s solidifed we can start chaining habits together.

Once you’ve chosen your habit; water, pushups, journaling, meditating, whatever… You need to commit to following through the routine for at least a week.

Right now, as far as you’re concerned, if you complete that one single thing then your entire day is a success.

Adding to Your Daily Routine


Once you’ve successfully drank a glass of water for a week, you should try to reflect on any differences you’ve noticed.

Are you more productive? Less? Exactly the same? Do you feel better throughout the day or have higher/lower energy levels?

Depending on what the answer is you’ll need to do one of three things:

  • keep going with one habit for another week
  • change to a new habit
  • add in another habit

If you’re less productive, change the habit. If you’re not noticing a huge change I’d recommend continuing for a few more days.

However, if you’re an abundant ball of bouncing energy then you can start building on your success.

With one habit.

Don’t get carried away, no matter how well you think you’re doing.

Remember what I talked about earlier with habit chaining? That’s the first place you should look when deciding what habit to add to your morning routine.

What’s something you can transition to from your current habit without any difficulties ?

If you’re drinking a glass of water, consider putting out your gym clothes. If you’re meditating you can try putting a journal near you to write down your thoughts afterwards.

Whatever it is, remember the most important thing.

Choose a habit that will add value to your morning. When you decide on an activity, ask yourself if it will make a big difference in your life or if it will keep you stagnant.

Awareness Is Key

woman doing yoga in the morning

After a few weeks of experimenting, adjusting, adding and subtracting you should be in a pretty good spot.

But, only you can determine when and how to proceed.

I’ve laid out the guidelines, it’s up to you to take some initiative and take action. If you’re not sure how to proceed, try to become aware of what’s going on.

Become aware of how you’re feeling, how do you want to feel, what could be done differently and so on. It might be that you’re finished. Your morning routine couldn’t be improved no matter how hard you try.

In that case, congratulations. You’ve won. Now go out and conquer the world.

For the rest of you, there’s a long road ahead of you. A road full of trial and error, ups and downs, and a whole load of failure.

Don’t let that put you off, though. The prize at the end is more than worth it.

You’ll see when you get there.

List of Habits to Add to Your Morning Routine

I thought I’d include a section at the end to give you some inspiration of things to do when you when wake up. Hope it helps!

  1. reading
  2. drinking watermorning routine ideas
  3. coffee
  4. running
  5. pushups
  6. journaling
  7. meditation
  8. yoga
  9. planning the day
  10. playing chess
  11. walking outside
  12. cold shower
  13. brush your teeth
  14. stretching
  15. listen to a podcast; preferably Gaming the System or Life Unlocked
  16. gratitude journal
  17. healthy breakfast
  18. make your bed (one of our favourites)
  19. breathing exercises
  20. write down 5 ideas

There we have it. 20 ideas for you to start implementing into your morning routine! You can also check out our list of 60+ hobby ideas to find some more inspiration for the rest of your day.

As always, thanks for reading. Until next time.


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