(Estimated Reading Time: 46 minutes. BUT, be a skimmer and use this as a reference for your morning routine)
How you start your day impacts the rest of your day.
- Your mood
- How much you get done
- How effectively and sprightly you inch closer to your goals and dreams.
Who doesn’t want a bit more spright in their day?
Whether you already have a morning routine or not, what’s most important is:
What do you want your current morning routine to look like?
There are LOTS of options but I’ve done the brunt work for you.
Months of research, thinking, experimenting, and curating so you can customize your mornings. With this handy list, you can tweak your routine, disrupt it, mix it up, and when you get tired of it, try something new.
Consider your morning the first few hours of your day. You can have a morning routine that lasts 10 minutes, or 3 hours. It’s up to you…This also doesn’t mean you have to wake up early (although, of course, that helps).
Table of contents
This list is meaty, and there’s a good chance you’ll want to reference it again in the future…
You can get the PDF version sent to your inbox. You’ll also get the morning routine guidebook – Love Waking Up: 5 Simple Strategies to Customize Your Morning Routine.
Subscribe to get your PDF of 127 Morning Rituals & Morning Routine Guidebook
Without further adieu, here’s the full list!
Develop your own morning stretching routine to wake your body up and build a deeper connection to it. If you’re looking for variety, learn one new stretch each day and rotate through the stretches that feel best for your body. You can start by recalling ones you’ve done, or by using this simple guide of 7 stretches that are great for mornings. If you want to go deeper into learning about stretching, refer to Brad Walker’s articles.
2) Loosen your muscles with a foam roller
You’ll increase blood flow, improve your range of motion and increase your chances of avoiding future injuries. Most commonly used for legs, glutes and calves, you can also work areas of your back, neck, chest, shoulders and arms. Here’s a great article that explains your options, and a second one that shows step-by-step photo instructions for trigger point release with a foam roller. Ohhh yeah, it’s the good pain.
3) Give yourself a massage
Use a massage ball against a wall or the floor to get those tight and hard to reach spots for myofascial release in your neck, shoulders, back and glutes. Massage balls can go deeper than a foam roller given their smaller size and because they can effectively be used against the floor or wall. Tennis balls work, but they don’t grip very well. Lacrosse balls and small bouncy balls are better, but massage balls have some added benefits as explained in this guide to choosing a massage ball. For more info on techniques from head to toe, here’s a video with 8 practical exercises.
4) Do a long exercise session
Some people are morning workout people and some aren’t. You likely already know which group you fit into. For you morning workout people, you have a long list of options! Going for a run or walk is as easy as slapping on some running shoes and heading out the door. Whether or not that’s your jam, consider some of the other options for your morning routine: cycle, swim, go to the gym, or play a sport. Long exercise sessions have the added bonus of time to think…here are some great ideas of what you can think about.
5) Do a short exercise session
There are a variety of possibilities here but the common thread is this: go for high intensity in a low amount of time…This could be as simple as doing 10 push-ups to as intensive as completing a 20-minute bodyweight routine. My personal favourites are the bodyweight 100 and 250, but there are countless variations of programs. If you are looking for a simple video to use every morning, try this very popular 7 minute youtube video or the same company’s workout app that gives you more options. Final consideration – create your own workouts with this exhaustive list of 227 callisthenic exercises! (And I thought 127 morning rituals was comprehensive…)
6) Do yoga
Mornings are a great time for yoga. Develop your own routine or follow online instruction through a youtube video. Here’s a good 15-minute routine, and a here’s a good 30-minute one to start you off. Lululemon pants not required.
7) Find a new healthy recipe
One of the most common reasons we skip eating healthy is our lack of preparation. Spend a few minutes in the morning looking for recipes that excite you, and you’ll be prepared and motivated to execute on cooking healthy meals down the line. Building up a collection of recipes will help you stay on track. This list of top food blogs in 2016 covers vegetarian, vegan, paleo, gluten free and clean eating. If you are into sous vide, try Amazing Food Made Easy. Do this recipe finding ritual for 2 months, and you’ll have 60 new recipes! That’ll save you time and stress looking for last minute meal ideas, or stuffing your face with take-out on the regular.
8) Plan your lunch
Doing this in the morning will save you from last-minute unhealthy food choices when you are having a bad day. However, if you’re going through the motions of planning your meals, consider doing it further in advance (the day before or at the start of the week) so you can properly plan what groceries to buy and what to prepare before.
9) Weigh yourself
There is debate on both sides of the argument for weighing yourself every day. On one side, tracking your weight can act a reminder to self-monitor what you are consuming. On the other side, daily weighing can be bad for your mental health and body image. According to research articles referenced by Authority Nutrition, there is evidence to suggest that daily weighing does more good than harm. Of course, you’ll need to determine what’s best for you and your goals. Keep in mind the scale doesn’t tell the whole picture…you may be gaining muscle more than you’re losing fat, and so your weight may increase. If you weigh yourself every day, the best time is in the morning immediately after you wake up, since that’s when you’ll see less fluctuation based on what you’ve recently eaten. Other methods to measure your body composition are body fat calipers or a simple tape measure around your waist.
10) Drink a full glass of water
The number one reason to down a glass of water as part of your morning routine is simple – you haven’t consumed any water for the past 6-8 hours so your body is dehydrated. Beyond that, there are several other reasons cited around the interweb: increased metabolism, healthier skin, reduced disease, more energy, flushing out toxins, and filling yourself up to eat less for breakfast. Bottom line, most of us don’t drink enough water, so add this one to your list.
11) Drink water with lemon
When it comes to drinking lemon water, there are plenty of claims around its health benefits. The clearest benefit is that it’s high in vitamin C. According to the USDA, one lemon has between 30-45 g of Vitamin C, which is 33% of the recommended daily intake for men and 40% for women. The one concern is that the acidity of lemons can cause tooth enamel to decay. There’s evidence that people who suck on lemons can cause damage (who does that?), but nothing I could find directly linking drinking lemon water to tooth decay. To cover your bases, the recommended ways to combat acidity are to use a straw (get a non plastic one to be a good environmentalist), drink tap water after drinking lemon water, and to wait 30 minutes before brushing your teeth after consuming your lemon water (brushing and abrasive substances in your toothpaste can thin the softened enamel).
12) Consume coconut oil
Coconut oil is high in saturated fat so organizations like the World Health Organization and American Heart Association recommend limiting your consumption. Due to coconut oil’s composition of medium chain fatty acids instead of other saturated fats which are made up of long chain fatty acids, it isn’t considered to be in their same league of health concerns as say butter. So, should you eat a spoonful of coconut oil in the morning? You’ll have to weigh the evidence that touts it versus that which questions it and then decide.
13) Drink coffee
Probably one of the most common morning rituals out there and one that millions literally wake up for. If you are a coffee drinker, it’s best to drink it at 9 am, or wait at least 1 hour after waking up. Why? It’s science. When we wake up, our bodies produce a spike of cortisol. Cortisol is known as the “stress hormone” but it also plays a role in our circadian rhythm to keep us alert throughout the day. If we drink coffee immediately upon waking up, the caffeine will interfere with our cortisol production and our body will produce less of the hormone in the future. As well, we’ll develop a greater tolerance for caffeine – something all coffee drinkers are no doubt already aware of. A few unique options to consider: 1.Bulletproof coffee is a special blend of coffee, brain octane oil and butter that helps you avoid the energy crash and can act as a meal replacement. 2.Caffé Unimatic offers coffee connoisseurs a special brewing and tasting experience. This is a vintage Italian drip percolator that slowly brews premium smooth coffee, and is wonderful for calm and mindful mornings.
14) Drink tea
There are many benefits claimed about tea, but it’s hard to find strongly backed evidence for most of them. Reduced rates of stroke, Parkinsons, cancer and heart disease are among them. Daily green tea drinkers seem to have lower “bad cholesterol” (LDL – low density lipoprotein that can build up in your arteries as it travels through your bloodstream) and higher “good cholesterol” (HDL – high density lipoprotein that carries cholesterol out of your bloodstream to your liver which eliminates it from your body). What is clear is that that drinking black or green tea regularly can cause little harm, unless you are downing 5 cups or more of black tea per day. The act of drinking tea is warm and calming which is enough of a reason to consider tea as part of your morning routine. (Love me my tea).
15) Eat a healthy breakfast
When in doubt, ask an expert. So I did… Here’s what Chef Gretchen Hanson has to say: “The trick to having a productive day is to start your morning with a complete nutritional profile of protein, good fats and complex carbohydrates. People often say ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’ which means consuming a breakfast of whole foods that keeps you super fueled for your entire day”. See some of Gretchen’s recipes for preparing healthy breakfasts in advance.
Intermittent fasting is quite popular these days. A few notable proponents are James Clear and Tim Ferriss. The possible benefits are cognitive function, reducing inflammation, fat loss, muscle growth, and lower rates of cancer. There is evidence for it’s effectiveness on animals but the evidence is insufficient to make clinical recommendations on humans. Before you decide, read this summary on sciencebasedmedicing.org, and this article in the US National Library of Medicine.
This was one of the first morning habits I started. It sucks at first…it hurts, you bleed, and it’s actually challenging until you get better at it. Start with one tooth, and do one more tooth each day. Your visits to the dentist will be much more pleasant if you adopt a regular flossing habit, I can guarantee!
18) Scrape your tongue
The most clear and obvious benefit of tongue scraping is to get rid of bad breath. As much as I hate to admit my bad morning breath, I can report that this works quite well. Double down and do it in the evening too for maximum effectiveness. Scrape 5-10 times to remove bacteria, fungi, dead cells and toxins with this $7 investment. You can buy one at your local drug store. According to Ayurveda (traditional hindu medicine) tongue scraping also helps with digestion.
19) Brush your teeth…mindfully
We all brush our teeth in the morning, but are you brushing and rushing, or taking your time to get the job done well? As a long-time “aggressive brusher”, here are some tips the dental hygienist always reminds me of… “Are you applying the right pressure and getting every tooth? If you use a manual toothbrush, grip the brush with your thumb, index finger and middle finger only. For electric toothbrushes, the motor shouldn’t sound like it has to work. If it does, you are pushing too hard.” Being mindful when brushing isn’t only good for your oral care, it’s a great way to sneak in a 1-2 minute mindfulness exercise or meditation in the morning too.
20) Rinse your mouth with mouthwash
It turns out there are two types of mouthwash – cosmetic and therapeutic. Cosmetic rinses will mask your bad breath, while therapeutic rinses will kill bacteria to help reduce bad breath, gingivitis, plaque and tooth decay. According to the American Dental Association look for mouthwashes with Cetylpyridinium chloride, Chlorhexidine, Essential oils, Fluoride, or Peroxide.. Why? “Cetylpyridinium chloride may be added to reduce bad breath. Both chlorhexidine and essential oils can be used to help control plaque and gingivitis. Fluoride is a proven agent in helping to prevent decay. Peroxide is present in several whitening mouthwashes.” See the list of therapeutic mouthwashes recommended by the American Dental Association. I also feel the need to mention that in my research I discovered that ancient Romans used urine as mouthwash, and an unsourced claim that ancient Chinese specifically used children’s urine… (if anyone finds a credible source for that, please let me know!)
21) Try oil pulling
If you are like me, you won’t have heard of oil pulling before…It consists of swishing oil in your mouth for 10-20 minutes, ideally before brushing. You should spit the oil out into the trash so it doesn’t clog your pipes, and rinse with warm water before brushing to fully rinse out the oil. Coconut oil is most often recommended but other oils are sometimes used. This Aruyveda (ancient Hindu medicine) technique has some people claiming benefits such as balancing blood sugar, burning fat and fighting against alzheimer’s but those aren’t supported by research from what I can tell. The impact on oral care and bad breath, however, is very well supported by research, so it’s worth considering.
22) Wash your face
Luke warm water for skin care, cold water to wake you up. It’s a myth that hot water opens your pores and cold water closes them, but it is true that too hot or too cold isn’t great for your skin. According to over 150 contributors at wikihow, here are the ‘official’ steps: 1. Wet your skin with warm water 2. Apply face cleanser for 30 seconds -1 minute 3. Exfoliate (only on a few days per week) 4. Rinse and pat dry 5. Use a toner 6. Finish with moisturizer.
23) Do the 10 step Korean face ritual
As someone who lived in Korea for almost 5 years, I can report that most Koreans take their skin seriously and as a result have excellent skin. To be admired. If you want to take you skin to the next level, try the 10 step Korean face ritual in your morning routine.
24) Take a cold shower
There’s no doubt a cold shower will kick up your adrenaline and wake you up. Your heart will race and you’ll likely start to hyperventilate. (Screaming may be induced). Regardless, this can give you a real psychological win at the start of your day. Here’s some more info on benefits that are purported.
25) Take a hot shower/bath
A hot shower or bath in the morning is a calming way to start your day. If this puts your mind at ease or is something you look forward to, keep on keeping on. (Screaming is unlikely to be induced, unless you have one of those showers with water hot enough to scald you. Avoid that.).
26) Take supplements
I’ll admit, I’m not a supplement taker though it’s something I’d like to learn more about. The best content I could find on the topic to help you is this article on nerd fitness appropriately named ‘What Supplements Should I Take?’. Since reading it I started the ritual of taking Vitamin D. (Take that Pacific West Coast rain.)
27) Do the Wim Hof method
The Wim Hof method is an interesting morning ritual, to say the least. Here’s what it entails: 1. As soon as you wake up, sit in a meditation posture 2. Do 30 power breaths – inhale through the mouth or nose and exhale through the mouth in short powerful bursts (like blowing up a balloon). 3. Hold your breath until you gasp 4. Take a deep breath in and hold for ten seconds 5. Repeat for three more rounds 6. Have a cold shower. Sounds like a recipe for torture… So why do this? More energy, focus, sports performance, better sleep, and reduced stress. Get more info on the Wim Hof website.
28) Measure your resting pulse
Your resting pulse will tell you about your cardiovascular health. A normal adult’s range is 60-80 beats per minute (bpm), while athletes are in the 35-50 bpm range. The better shape you’re in, the fewer beats per minute. The easiest way is to take your pulse for 10 seconds and then multiply by 6. I personally use the premium version of the sleep cycle app on my phone and like that it reminds me to measure my pulse as soon as I wake up.
28 down, 99 to go… Interested in the pdf version plus the 5 Strategies to Customize Your Morning Routine? Delivered right to your inbox with no shipping fees.
Subscribe to get your PDF of 127 Morning Rituals & Morning Routine Guidebook
29) Cross off yesterday from your calendar
Appreciate the previous day. Remind yourself that another day in your life is gone. Evaluate how you feel about that and consider what adjustments you may want to make moving forward.
There are several variations of journaling. You can write a paragraph based on what you’re thinking, or simply jot down your main thoughts and moods in point form (By doing this for 1 year I can report that you always have several layers of moods). If you are looking for more structure or writing prompts try the 5 minute journal or Ryan Holiday’s The Daily Stoic Journal.
31) Write Morning Pages
This is a long form journal entry of your stream-of-conscious thoughts to clear your mind. Created by Julia Cameron, here’s how she describes morning pages: “Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages – they are not high art. They are not even ‘writing.’ They are about
anything and everything that crosses your mind – and they are for your eyes
only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and
synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put
three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow.”
32) Notice your first thought
Or at least the first thought you’re aware of…Write it down, say it out loud or simply pay attention to it. Decide on what you want your next thought to be. This morning routine exercise has amazing impact for the amount of effort.
33) Go for a walk
Charles Darwin and Thomas Hobbes are two creative thinkers who liked to start their day off with a morning walk. It’s a great way to let your mind relax and ease into your day. On the other hand, according to those featured in the book Daily Rituals by Mason Currey, there are a lot of creative thinkers who preferred to focus on creating in the morning, and going for a walk in the afternoon. Ryan Holiday has written a great article about how and why he has incorporated creative walks into his life.
34) Do productive meditation
In his book, Deep Work, Cal Newport presents the concept of productive meditation, which can also be paired with a morning walk. Here you focus on a question you have, but you don’t critically think of the answer. Instead, you focus on being present and mindful, letting thoughts come to you. When you notice your thoughts steering away from your question, go back to your question and a focus on being present and mindful. This always makes me feel like a Yoda in training.
35) Say affirmations
Affirmations have been scientifically shown to work, especially for future-oriented thinking. However, it appears they work well for people with high self esteem, but can be harmful to people with low self esteem. If you have low self esteem, you won’t believe the affirmations anyways and you’ll feel negatively that you don’t. Since affirmations can produce such positive results, they are worth experimenting with, but don’t continue if it doesn’t feel right for you. Here are 101 examples to try.
36) Do visualization
Every high- level athlete knows about the power of visualization. There are a few different ways to do this that can help you mold your future, repair your past, or simply be more present. Here are 3 techniques and a summary of the power of visualization.
37) Think of a one-word description
In only one word, think about or write down how you feel about the day ahead, where you are in your life right now, or what you need to hear. Put that word somewhere where it’ll be visible during the day – on a white board, a post-it note, at the top of your schedule, or tattoo it on the back of your hand (maybe don’t do that last one).
38) Video log
Or “vlog” as the cool kids say. Record a short video diary for the day (1-2 min). You can talk about virtually anything: what’s happening in your life, what you’re grateful for, what you’re thinking about, or simply choose a random speech topic. Share with others or keep it private. You can record and store these on your computer or use an app like Videopop. This is also an excellent way to practice becoming a better speaker by bringing awareness to your speaking habits – for example, your pacing, how you articulate your thoughts, or how often you use filler words like ‘um’, ‘so’, or ‘and’ at the start of a sentence.
39) Capture a second a day
This could be a morning ritual, or a fun daily habit. Use the second a day app to create cool videos of your past month, year, etc.
40) Photo log
Take a daily photo. You can do this on your own or with the help of an app like the Everyday phone app. Why an app? It’ll be easier to have all your photos stored in one place and create a video of all your photos. Bonus, your snaps get automatically backed up to dropbox.
41) Read a book
One of my personal favourite morning rituals. I went from reading 2 books a year to 23 by reading for ~30 min every weekday morning. I thought that was pretty good until I heard that Patt Flynn did 45! Go for a certain number of pages or for a set amount of time. Read for fun or for learning. If you read for learning, take notes so you can retain more of the content. Two systems to consider: create your own index like Shawn Blanc did (via Maria Popova’s system), or follow Ryan Holiday’s advice and start a commonplace book. (Side note: Every month through this lovely blog you have the chance to win a book on habits, productivity, personal development and doing creative work!)
42) Practice speed reading
Spend 5 minutes every day increasing the rate at which you can read with 100% comprehension. Tim Ferriss has an excellent blog post to help you do just that. I’ve personally tried this exercise about 5 times and although my reading pace has increased, it hasn’t been by 300%…I’d love to hear your results.
43) Listen to a podcast
There are so many options for excellent audio content to learn from, be inspired by, or escape your nattering mind. The best part is that you can pair this ritual with chores like getting ready, driving, or cleaning up. Ask your friends what they like best, then try the ones that are recommended the most often. (My current personal faves are Tim Ferriss, Tara Brach, and Sam Harris.)
44) Listen to an audiobook
Now you can absorb content from books without even reading them! If you listened to 10 minutes of an audiobook every morning for a year, you’d read around 5 more books this year. Get comfortable listening at 2x the speed and you are up to 10 books!
45) Take in a Ted talk
No longer than 19 minutes and as short as 5 minutes for Ted X talks, there’s so much to learn from Ted. Start with the 25 most popular of all time, or head over to the TedX youtube channel to pick topics that interested you. Here’s two of my current personal favourites: Shawn Anchor’s The Happy Secret to Better Work and Emilie Wapnick’s Why Some of Us Don’t Have One True Calling.
46) Be grateful
Write or think of 1-3 things you’re grateful for. Some days, you’ll write things that you won’t feel as strongly about as on other days, but it’s one of the easiest and most impactful morning rituals you can develop. Yes, this IS cliché, but it works, so bring it on.
47) Discover a quote
Find a quote that resonates, makes you ponder, or inspires you. Read it, write it or memorize it. One way is to simply google the topic you are pondering and sift through the quotes that come up. Another way is to buy a book of quotes, but I’ve yet to find one that I love enough to recommend. The closest thing I can offer is the Tao Te Ching – its chalk full of wisdom that will make you think, and not think…
48) Read a poem
Find a poem that interests you. Read it and reflect on it. You can start with one of these 100 poems, and then consider buying a few books from Goodreads’ list of top poetry books, and top poems based on reader reviews.
49) Learn one new word
This could be in your native language or a new language you are learning. To learn a new English word everyday, subscribe to Liesl Johnson’s “Make Your Point” vocabulary emails. So many great words with creative examples and exercises to help you remember them. This is a fun and easy addition to your morning routine.
50) Read a blog post or article
Read content on a topic or news story that interests, inspires, motivates or entertains you. Note that this is drastically different than opening a news site and taking in the content that is placed in front of you. You can save articles in advance by using Pocket or Evernote so you’re in control of what content you feel like consuming.
51) Work on a crossword puzzle
Relax and kick your brain into gear by working on a crossword puzzle. You don’t need to do the whole thing, you could work on getting a few words or set a timer for 10 minutes and do what you can. Dictionary.com allows you to complete a daily puzzle online or by printing it off.
52) Learn and absorb 1-3 new things
Reflect on a few concepts you want to learn. One of the best ways to absorb new information is to teach it, through the Fenyman Technique. Instead of just reviewing notes on something you’re learning, imagine you are explaining it to a friend. To ensure you always have something to learn, do what Leonardo Da Vinci did and build a list of topics you want to know.
53) Write down 10 new ideas
The good, the bad, the random, the ugly. Think of them around certain categories (like 10 books I could write, 10 words I wish I understood the meaning of, 10 business ideas). There’s no filter here, just a brain dump of ideas that come to you. James Altucher came up with this one, read more of what he has to say about it.
54) Write your own poem or quote
Make it short and snappy or take some time to reflect and communicate through the art of writing. Not sure how? Here you go. You’re welcome.
55) Do a breathing exercise
There are several variations you can do which will help to lower blood pressure, anxiety and stress. You may look or sound funny doing these, but who cares? Here’s an article that explains some of your options to get you going.
56) Discover one new interesting fact
If you want to develop a breadth of totally random knowledge, Dan Lewis can help you with his daily emails. They are packed with fun facts and entertaining stories.
57) Train your gut sense
This is a kick-ass idea from Seth Godin: “Invest in making your gut smarter. The world is a lot more complex than our gut is likely to comprehend, at least without training. Train your gut, get better instincts. Practice going with your instincts in private. Every day, make a judgment call. Make ten. Make predictions about what’s going to happen next, who’s got a hit, what designs are going to resonate, which videos will go viral, which hires are going to work out. Write them down or they don’t count. It makes no sense to refuse to practice your instinct and to only use it when the stakes are high.”
58) Avoid your phone and social media
Add these habits to your morning NOT-to-do list. Put your phone on airplane mode, do not disturb or silent. Read Anthony Orthago’s tips on 9 ways to overcome Facebook addiction especially with the use of intentional friction. Then, replace these habits with other rituals in this list.
59) Read news for 10 minutes or less
News can easily be a time suck, especially in the mornings when your time and attention are at a premium. If you feel compelled to read news in the morning, give yourself a short time limit like 10 minutes or less. For longer articles you wish to read later, use the pocket app. It downloads the content for you so you can absorb it when you’re ready to.
60) Avoid reading news
The downside of reading news as part of your morning routine is that it shifts your thinking to external events instead of focusing on nurturing yourself in a way that adds fulfillment and value to the start of your day. I’m not saying you shouldn’t read news, rather, really consider if it’s the information you want to feed you mind in the morning or not. There’s no right answer, but this may be another item for your morning NOT-to-do list.
61) Read good news
Too much of the media we consume is negative, which impacts how we feel and what we think about. Visit Positive News (or subscribe to their quarterly magazine), sign up for the goodnewsletter or join the Good News Facebook group.
62) Keep a dream journal
Dreams are our window into our subconscious mind. If you are someone who remembers your dreams nearly every day, writing them down can bring awareness to some of your deeper thoughts, fears and emotions. Edgar Allen Poe’s poetry was inspired by his dreams, as was Paul McCartney’s song ‘Yesterday’ (the most recorded song in history according to the Guinness World Book of Records). You never know what creative gems you may find in there.
You’re almost half way!
Subscribe to get your PDF of 127 Morning Rituals & Morning Routine Guidebook
If you only choose one ritual from this list to ensure that you do every morning, I’d highly recommend some form of meditation. This is a keystone habit that can have a major impact on much more than your morning. And it doesn’t have to be woo woo. If you aren’t sure where to start, read these posts: How to start meditating, Why I started meditating versus Why I Meditate Now, and look at the good work Dan Harris is doing in this area.
64) Set an intention or theme for the day
What do you want to do, focus on, or keep in the back of your mind during the day? Say it out loud or write it down. A few great ways to keep it top of mind are with a post-it note on your phone, or by adding the Momentum app as an extension for Chrome. Every time you open a new tab, you’ll be reminded of your intention for the day.
65) Repeat a personal mantra
A mantra can help bring clarity to what is important to you, or to where you want to keep your focus. Think of phrases like “I am grateful for _____”, “Life is short, let’s do this”, or “Just to be alive is a grand thing”. This will work for some people and not others. Test it out for yourself, here’s a list to get your ideas flowing.
66) Eat your breakfast mindfully
Often when we are rushed in the morning we combine eating breakfast with another task like reading news, checking email or driving. Eating your breakfast mindfully is a way to bring calm into your morning for even a few minutes. Plus, your breakfast will taste much better, with no added cost or effort!
67) Strike up a conversation with a stranger
You never know what may come out of it, and you may just make someone’s day. I used to always find small talk annoying, but then I learned a life lesson that changed my view of it. Ask innocent questions like “This is my first time here, what’s good on your menu?”, “Do you know where _____ is?, or “How’s your day going?”. Whatever you do, reframe from asking “What do you do?”.
68) Compliment someone
Try this for 30 days and see what happens. Be sincere though. According to a survey from the Science of People, the people habit that annoys us the most is being fake. No need to fake it ‘til you make it. (This come from the book Captivate – a highly recommended read!).
69) Do an act of kindness
Give change to a homeless person, pick up garbage on the street, reach out to a friend you haven’t heard from in a while, let other drivers into your lane, give your partner a massage. Every morning there are several opportunities to do an act of kindness. If you are struggling for ideas, read this list of 101 easy ideas, or this even bigger list of 134 ideas!
70) Appreciate Nature
Choose a flower, a houseplant, a tree, the forest… whatever is accessible to you. Spend anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes taking it all in – the look, feel, smell and beauty.
71) Cultivate awe
Think deeply about something that evokes awe. How your body works, outer space, the cycle of nature, or how complex of a society we’ve built. There are so many awe-stricken things that we forget about in the hustle and bustle of our modern life. You can change that by cultivating awe each morning. Emerging research on awe has started to show its benefits – increased generosity, happiness, and inspiration. Yes, please.
72) Read past writing
Pick a page from an old journal, read old notes, or dig into that box of artifacts in your storage closet. Reading your past writing can help spark ideas for what you are working on, or working through right now.
73) Recall a past story
Write it down, jot notes or simply relish in the joy of remembering the experience. Stories are how we communicate and connect with people, so recalling our stories is a great exercise to build your library.
74) Do creative work
Do you have many interests and creative pursuits? You’re probably a mulipotentialite…Emilie Wapnick leads a community of people just like you. Every small bit of work toward a big creative project adds up. Work on a book, blog, video, art project…whatever your heart desires! Ideas are a dime a dozen, everyone has them. Fewer people put them into action. Take the Aim, fire, ready approach and start creating. Notably, Ben Hardy has written a great article about optimizing for creativity immediately after waking up.
75) Watch the sunrise
This may not become an every-morning ritual, but have you considered adding more sunset-watching to your morning? It’s a beautiful thing that happens every morning, whether we see it or not.
76) Notice something new
In your house, on your street, on your way to work. Look around and discover something you’ve never seen before. You’ll be surprised at how you see the world a bit differently each day.
77) Do SAVERS
Created by Hal Elrod and the focus of his popular book, The Miracle Morning, this is a combo of 6 rituals that make up a morning routine. Silence (meditation, prayer, etc), Affirmations, Visualization, Exercise, Reading, and Scribing (writing, journaling, etc). These are some solid morning rituals that will no doubt change your perspective on how awesome you feel every morning.
78) Review your financial goals and current finances
We tend to overspend because we don’t pay close enough attention to our budgets and what our financial goals are. By keeping your spending and finances top of mind, you’ll spend less. This is why I use cash for weekly purchases instead of a card, it helps me remain aware of how quickly I’m spending my hard-earned money.
79) Review your previous day’s spending
This is especially helpful when you’re trying to curb your spending habits. Keep a journal of how much you’re spending each day, and review it in the morning to see how you’re doing. There are some great tracking apps as reviewed by Investopia – Mint, You need a budget, Wally and Acorns.
80) Learn something new about money/investing
Investing is complicated. The only way to make it less complicated is to learn more about it. If you spend 20 minutes every morning, you’ll spend 120 hours learning this year…. Here are a few great places to start.
81) Make a small donation
There are a few apps where you can make micro donations so that you can wake up and immediately cultivate giving. I couldn’t find any clear leaders in this space, but here’s a list to consider. (I’d love to hear about others – contact me). Another option is to put aside a small amount per day, and then make a larger donation through peer to peer lending like Kiva. Don’t have much to give? Play a game at freerice.com. For every question you answer, 10 grains of rice is donated to the World Food Program.
If you’re in a rush, grab the PDF!
Subscribe to get your PDF of 127 Morning Rituals & Morning Routine Guidebook
82) Review your goals
Keep yourself on track of your larger vision by reviewing the major goals you’re working on. If you’re new to goal setting, read this goal setting guide and remind yourself that the process is much more important than the outcome.
83) Re-write your goals several times over
Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert did this on his way to becoming one of the world’s most successful comic strip writers. Everyday, he wrote his goals down 10-15 times, multiple times a day. Most of us won’t have the patience to do this, but surely it’s one way to focus your mind, body and soul to be heading in the same direction.
84) Review your schedule/to-do list for the day
I highly recommend drafting your schedule the day before, and simply checking it over in the morning before jumping into your work day. This allows you to keep your mind clear of your to-do list when you wake up, because you’ve already thought about it. You’ll also avoid annoying ways you lose control of your day. This was a game-changer for me when I made the switch several years ago.
85) Plan your day
Not everyone will take my advice to plan your day the day before. If you shun that idea, then plan/outline your day in the morning. You’ll get more done than if you jump into your day without a plan, that’s for sure. You’ll also likely be less stressed since you’ll have fewer surprises. This isn’t a minute by minute plan, think more in terms of time-blocking.
86) Do your most important task first
This could be creative work, a task you hate doing, or your most urgent task. It’s important to get clear on a process for deciding and executing what your most important task is, and then ensuring that it gets done first. Focus on “good work” over “busy work”.
87) Do some planning to achieve a goal
Planning is a key component to the process of achieving goals, especially complex and nebulous ones that need to be broken down into stages with decisions made on what the shortest visible route to achievement is. Consider theming in your schedule to make this easier.
88) Check for urgent emails but don’t process email
When it comes to email in the morning, I strongly recommend a quick check with the mindset of – is this more important than my most important task? Only respond to emails where your life or job depends on it.
89) Process email
Some very successful people swear by getting their email processed first thing in the morning. For a variety of reasons, I recommend against it. It puts you on defense instead of offense, takes away from doing your most productive work first, and can create an email ping-pong effect between you and the recipient. If you do decide to process email as a foundation of your morning routine, have a strategy in place. Get in, get out. Do it consciously and productively. For an alternative way of handling email, read this post about How to Schedule Your Workday.
If you seek to be a writer or want to become a better writer, write every day. According to writer, Jeff Goins: “Spending five hours on a Saturday writing isn’t nearly as valuable as spending 30 minutes a day every day of the week”. At the same time, keep this concept from Charlie Guilkey in mind: “If it’s worth doing well, it’s worth doing badly at the beginning”. If you’re serious, I also recommend Sean McCabe’s course 30 days to Better Writing.
91) Practice storytelling
In business and in life, story telling is an essential tool. Who doesn’t love a good storyteller? And what business, product or service doesn’t have a good story behind it? The good news…this is a skill that can be learned. You can practice through writing, video logs or recording yourself. My two favourite story tellers to learn from are Jordan Bower and Yes Yes Marsha. Here are a couple of outstanding pieces of content from them: Jordan on leadership storytelling and Marsha’s 5 part series on How to Tell Captivating Stories.
92) Read Seth Godin’s daily blog post
Short, thought-provoking and right to your inbox. Seth writes about doing work that matters. If that interests you, Seth will add value to your mornings like he does for more than 1 million others.
93) Read a small section of Tools of Titans or Tribe of Mentors
Both these books by Tim Ferriss are perfect for morning routines. You’ll read a short section of 3-5 pages containing advice, wisdom and ideas from people who are among the most successful in the world in their domain – creatives, icons, investors, business-people, and athletes. Tools of Titans was released in 2016, Tribe of Mentors in 2017.
94) Stand while working (sometimes)
“Sitting is the new smoking”. As a result, stand up desks have shot up in popularity. But standing all the time isn’t the answer either unless you wan’t back problems. Vary how much you stand and how much you sit, aiming to make adjustments every 30-40 minutes.
95) Check your posture
Whether we’re standing or sitting, we fatigue and our posture worsens… Set a timer to check your posture every 10-15 minutes in the mornings for a few weeks, you’ll notice big changes. (Bet you just changed your posture right now…I did)
96) Count your distractions
This is an effective morning ritual for increasing productivity. Most of our lack of productivity comes from a lack of concentrated work. Set a timer and have a pen and paper handy. Every time you get off task, tick a tally on your piece of paper. Do this for several weeks and you’ll ramp up your focus.
97) Ask yourself an important question
Asking the right questions can have a massive impact on what you do and how you do it. There are a variety of daily questions you can ask yourself related to work or life, such as:
- What should I be focusing on?
- What can I do better than yesterday?
- What can I delegate more of?
- What can increase my output by 10x?
98) Spend time on procrastination tasks
First develop a list of tasks that you’re procrastinating. Every morning, dedicate a small chunk of time to working on a task on this list, say 15-45 minutes. It’ll help get the ball rolling on some tasks, and quickly complete others that you’re avoiding. If you’re someone who always starts something and never finishes, pick up Jon Acuff’s book Finish and get to work.
99) Attend a morning networking event
Find a morning meetup or networking event that’ll excite you to go to. Creative mornings is a popular one in many cities (and a name some people confuse with the name of this blog…It’s CREATE GOOD MORNINGS people!! Phew, had to let that one out. Ok, let’s get back on track). There’s morning toastmasters clubs, or you can find events by googling ‘morning networking’ and the name of your city.
100) Work on a side hustle or business idea
There’s a lot of talk about “side hustles” these days, and for good reason – there’s a lot of opportunity. Three great resources are: Chris Guilibeau’s book Side Hustle, Sean McCabe’s book Overlap, and Anna Sabino’s Your Creative Career. All of these focus on how to earn side income with a full-time job.
101) Do 1-2 small marketing actions
If you’re an entrepreneur or creative, getting yourself on the radar of other people is crucial to the survival and success of your business. Even if you don’t have a marketing budget you can take small actions that add up over time – post a comment or article on social media, send a message to make a new connection, or try a new marketing technique.
102) Play an instrument
Whether you have a goal to learn a new instrument, or playing music is what you live for, waking up and creating music can be both rewarding and joyous. The hard part may just be choosing an instrument from the hundreds of options…who knew there were so many instruments?!
103) Draw or sketch
For some people, this can be a way of getting into flow state; for others it can be to improve their artistic ability (not like we ALL need it…). You can start by trying this 30 day sketching challenge.
104) Create or build something
There are about as many options here as you can imagine… a chair, a quilt, a hobby, a website, a photo album, a house… the sky’s the limit. What do you want to create? Don’t worry about the quality. As Jonathan Fields says, make more bad stuff.
105) Appreciate something in your home
Our instinct is to appreciate new items or items we desire, instead of focusing on what we have. There are likely enough items in your house for you to appreciate an item every day for several years. When you look at the item, consider how it was made, why you have it, and whether or not you still need it.
106) Tidy something in your house
This follows the clean as you go mentality. If you did a little bit of cleaning every morning, you’d have a lot fewer chores to do during evenings and weekends. Easy small wins are putting the dishes away, tidying your room, and sweeping the floor.
107) Make your bed
This is an easy small win in the morning that can act as a cue to your brain that the day has started and that you’ve already accomplished something. Take small wins where you can, because as we all know the rest of the day doesn’t always provide them. (Some days mainly suck. Can I get a hell yeah?)
108) Open the curtains and welcome the day
Be there. Embrace the moment. Take a deep breath and open the curtains. You may also want to add in a phrase, mantra or a simple “Thanks for today”.
109) Re-arrange something in your house
This is simple, but in a morning of routines it can be nice to do something different and change the space you’re in. Move a plant, a picture, re-arrange books on your shelf or the way your pillow lies on your bed.
110) Take care of plants
There’s peace in nature, even in a simple houseplant. Taking care of plants is great way to create calm and a small burst of joy in your morning. If you’re like me, some of this time will be spent trying to revive dying plants. That’s ok too.
111) Listen to music
Throw on the right music for your morning depending on your mood and what you need. Music can pick you up, calm you down, make you feel understood, or incite you to jump out of bed and dance. All are options at your disposal, and can be easily paired with other morning rituals (see the other 126 rituals…).
112) Learn a new skill
Try scheduling a block of learning in your morning routine. You’ll feel great and over time, see big, big gains. Consider courses on Skill Share, Udemy or Creative Live. Another option is to take a free online course from a top university – Open Culture has more than 1300 to choose from!
113) Spend time on a hobby
You can do anything from stamp collecting, calligraphy, crochet, darts, card tricks, and chess, to name just a few… There are literally hundreds of hobbies to choose from. The idea here is to spend some time at the start of your day doing something you love. How much better would you feel about your mornings if you spent even 10 minutes doing that?
114) Find a photo of somewhere else in the world and appreciate it
You may set a vision of going there someday. Or, you may look at the image and understand that you will likely never go there and thus appreciate seeing it even more. You can think ‘Someone else went there and took this beautiful photo, and now I can enjoy it too’. 365 Days of Earth from Above is my personal fave, I’ve had it since 2001.
115) Read and learn 1 new joke
We’ve all met the type of person who has an endless repertoire of jokes. With the right jokes for the right audience, it’s a wonderful gift to give. Learn 1 joke a day for 6 months and you’ll have 180 jokes!
Almost done! P-D-F, P-D-F, P-D-F!
Subscribe to get your PDF of 127 Morning Rituals & Morning Routine Guidebook
116) Cuddle with someone you love
In a relationship, it’s the small moments of love and affection that bring us comfort and closeness. Take a few minutes every morning to cuddle with your partner and/or children, you surely will never regret it. You can set an alarm to wake up a bit earlier or wake up early and head back to bed when your cuddle partner starts to stir.
117) Have morning sex
I’d be remiss not to include this…it sure can be a great way to start your day!
118) Spend time with someone you love
Mornings are sometimes underused as time that could be spent with your partner or your kids. If your evenings are often too busy or erratic, instead of having family dinner, you could have family breakfast. Do as much as you can to prepare for the following day the night before to free up some quality time to enjoy a calmer morning. A great way to dig into more meaningful conversations is to ask deep questions.
119) Call or write someone you love
Take a small action every day to keep your loved ones top of mind. Send a text or email, or get into the habit of short phone calls. If you have more time, write a letter.
120) Say I love you
There seem to be two camps of people here – the ones that say I love you with such regularity it’s as routine as “How are you?”, and the ones that rarely say it. For those who say it all the time, try saying “I love you” with presence and mindfulness every day. For those that rarely say it, you could try making it a once per month morning routine and increasing your frequency as time goes on and you get more comfortable with it.
121) Show appreciation for someone you love
Giving a massage, telling someone why you love them, or spending extra time with them is more memorable than saying “I love you” for the thousandth time. To be more impactful, vary up who you appreciate and how you show it. According to the book Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People, there are 5 categories of appreciation that people like to receive – acts of service, physical touch, gifts, quality time, praise/compliments. We each have 1-2 of that we most strongly prefer, so keep that in mind when you are showing appreciation. Other-oriented gratitude also appears to be particularly effective for our emotional well being.
122) Write in an appreciation journal
As humans we’re pretty good at seeing the negative qualities in others, our loved ones included. Create an appreciation journal where every day you note something/somethings you appreciate about a loved on – a quality they have, an action they took, something they said. Focus especially on your partner, kid, sibling, parent, or friend that is most challenging these days.
123) Remember someone you’ve lost
Take a few moments every morning and remember a lost loved one, it’s one of the best ways to keep them alive. You may want to look at a photo, listen to a song that reminds you of them, or imagine them here with you.
124) Make breakfast for someone you love
Who doesn’t love having breakfast cooked for them? ‘Nuff said.
125) Connect with others in your network
Connections are important for both being happy and being successful. In fact, research suggests that our connections among the most important choices we can make to live longer. We’re social creatures that too often lose touch with people we care about. We’re also constantly told “It’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know”. Make a list of people you want to be in touch with and communicate with at least one of them every morning.
126) Take your dog for a walk
Too often our pets are the ones who pay for our busyness. Make walking you dog a morning ritual, it can also be a great way to begin your day with some calm, and you can combine it with other rituals that involve listening, thinking or exercising. Win-win-win. Cha-ching.
127) Cuddle with your pet
If you have a pet you know this’ll be time well spent. After all, this is one of the best reasons to have a pet!