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Habit, Productivity

The Ultimate Morning Routine to Make You Happy And Productive

Written by Tracy Kennedy
Lifehack's Personal Development Expert, a results-driven coach dedicated to helping people achieve greater levels of happiness and success.
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My husband recently read a book about the power of a morning routine. He shared the summary of what he had learned with me, and it all sounded great. However, the idea of implementing a lengthy morning routine or getting up an hour early to do various things makes me want to go back to bed—with three kids, a dog, a job, and an active life, I have to admit that I like my sleep.

When I asked what he had done with the book’s great suggestions, the answer was nothing. He loved the ideas and concepts, but hadn’t changed anything in his life.

It’s not that it doesn’t work; it’s that it doesn’t work for everybody. Any habit you are trying to change or create needs to take into account your unique personality, lifestyle, and challenges.

A perfect morning routine will make YOU happy and productive all day—you just have to find yours.

The Benefits of a Morning Routine

As Hal Elrod, author of “The Miracle Morning”, says,

“Focused, productive, successful mornings generate focused, productive, successful days–which inevitably create a successful life.”

A morning routine boosts happiness, increases productivity, reduces stress levels, and gets you grounded and settled for the day. It’s about getting started on the “right foot.”

A morning routine also allows you to start your morning with intention rather than letting the day run away from you. You control the day; the day doesn’t control you. This positive feeling of being on top of things has resulted in a positive feeling and effect on your entire day.

As with many things in life, small changes lead to big results. It’s the compounding effect. 

Tony Robbins’ morning routine “includes a nutritional supplement, meditation, workout, and sauna-to-cold-plunge combo.” You can check it out here.

In fact, most great entrepreneurs and leaders throughout history cite their morning routine as a large contributor to their success. However, not just entrepreneurs and leaders can benefit from a morning routine. We all can.


A good friend and colleague of mine just started a new morning routine, and here’s what she had to say: “I love waking up before my family and having dedicated ‘me’ time. This means my kids aren’t the ones waking me up. If they’re the ones waking me up, it means I immediately have something to do. Waking up early gives me time to do what I need, so I’m excited to greet them when they wake up for the day.”

We’ve established that a morning routine is important and valuable. Are you ready to create yours?

Ideas for Creating a Morning Routine for Yourself

As a coach and consultant with a diverse background, it’s important to me to look at this from a holistic point of view. Let’s look at the morning routine through the lens of Integrative Wellness principles, which take into account the four aspects or ‘systems’ of you: Mental, Emotional, Physical, and Spiritual.

You can also think of this as Mind, Heart, Body, and Spirit.

You’ll probably notice as we talk through examples that some activities or habits cover multiple systems of your body. Awesome! If you can leverage your time and get two, three, or four system benefits for the price of one, even better!

Let’s look at each of these areas more specifically:


Put simply, this has to do with your mind, including thoughts, beliefs, values, goals, hopes, dreams, desires, and plans. Some options to create a positive mental space in the morning include:

1. Set Goals

I have a friend that puts up three Post-it notes every morning. They include the three most important goals she has for the day. This gives her something to focus on—and make sure she achieves throughout her day.

And because it’s only three things, it still leaves room for other things that come up—so there’s built-in flexibility too.


2. Make a List

Get it off your mind. Sometimes in the night, we worry, waking up thinking about what we need to accomplish. This means we wake up already feeling behind. Instead, if there’s something you know you need to do, write it down.

3. Create a Plan/Schedule for the Day

When you know you’ve got a hectic day ahead, a little planning can go a long way. Have a look at your calendar and see what’s there – integrate your goals and your list of to-do’s so you have a plan of action.

4. Read Something That Feeds Your Mind

My Dad loves reading the Wall Street Journal in the morning. It starts his day on the right foot.

A friend of mine reads for 10 minutes, and this habit has brought her immense joy. The way she sees it, if she reads a page a minute, her 10 minutes a day will turn into 3,650 pages read by the end of the year or 12 300-page books! For someone who could never find time to read, she’s now finishing great books and feeling awesome about them.


This is all about your feelings, emotions, and relationships. You can think of it as all things related to the heart. Some things you can do to help your emotional well-being and have a happy morning include:

1. Express Gratitude

New research continues to surface on the science and benefits of gratitude. Studies have now proven a multitude of benefits from expressing gratitude, ranging from how it improves relationships, physical and emotional health, sleep, mental stamina, energy, and overall happiness.

I have a simple practice; before I get out of bed in the morning, I think of two things I feel grateful for. In the “5 Minute Journal,” one of the first things you do in the morning is write down three things you are grateful for. You choose the number- but expressing gratitude for a great way to kick-start the day.


2. Hug Your Kid, Spouse, or Pet

Hugging boosts your oxytocin levels (the love hormone), increases serotonin (elevates mood and creates happiness), strengthens the immune system, boosts self-esteem, lowers blood pressure, balances the nervous system, and releases tension. Put simply, hugging makes you feel good.[1]

Find someone—or something–to hug. It only takes a few seconds and can put you in a positive mood for the day.

3. Connect With People Who Make You Feel Happy and Connected

When I wake up my kiddos, it would be easy to open the door and call for them to get up. Instead, I take a few extra moments to go up to each of them (not easy when they sleep in loft beds), kiss them good morning, and take a moment to connect. My husband takes his morning commute to call friends and family and connect with them.

In both approaches, we’re not taking more time out of our day or adding something to our to-do list; we’re including it in something already happening in our daily routine.


4. Identify What Makes You Feel Good

What brings you happiness, joy, or excitement for the day ahead? What makes you feel grounded or connected on a deeper level? Meditation, yoga, breathwork? Get more of that.


All those things we think about that we can do with our body or physical space. This might include what we eat or drink, how we move, and anything that has to do with our physical selves.

Here are some options for increasing your physical well-being in the morning:

1. Get Moving

Get the blood flowing. We all know the benefits of exercise. This might be a run, hike, trip to the gym, yoga, stretching, or finding your own short workout. Remember, what works for one person will not work for everyone.

For example, my husband and I thought it would be a great idea to get a trainer once a week. Every Thursday, we woke up at 5:45 am, got ready, and worked out from 6 to 7 am. This might have seemed like a good idea, but it really didn’t work for me.

I really didn’t like getting up that early and forcing my body to work out before it was ready. I tried it for several months to convince myself it was good for me, but it didn’t feel good. I didn’t enjoy it, and it didn’t help me have a more productive day.

What does work? My husband gets up and takes the dog for a walk/run, and I take my morning hike/do my exercise/yoga once the kids are off to school. Again, this is about what works for you – listen to your body.

2. Drink Lemon Water

Before you reach for that first cup of coffee, reach first for something that hydrates you. I drink warm lemon water. I got this tip from a 94-year-old grandmother in Australia almost 20 years ago; she swore her health and her life benefited from this habit.

One of the main benefits of lemon water is that it aids digestion and weight loss. I usually throw in a bag of “detox” tea and drink this as I take the kiddos to school.


3. Eat a Good Breakfast

What does that mean for you? A protein smoothie? Great. Avocado Toast? Awesome. Oatmeal? Fantastic. Eat a healthy, ‘real-food’ breakfast to get you going.

There are many benefits of starting your day with a nutritious meal in the morning, including having a higher daily intake of fiber and calcium, having a lower BMI, and meeting your daily recommended consumption of fruits and veggies.[2]

Here are 25 Quick and Healthy Breakfast Ideas to Energize Your Day.

4. Ground Yourself

You can do this in many ways.

A few years back, I was going through a period of high anxiety, and a bodyworker recommended I start each day by stepping out of bed and grounding my feet into the earth. I sit at the edge of my bed and feel the earth under my feet for a moment, picturing the roots of a tree. You can then feel this move through your whole spine and body.

While I don’t do this exercise daily, I take the extra minute to ground and get connected if I wake up feeling slightly anxious or stressed. Another technique I use most days is to place one hand on my heart and one on my stomach and just breathe for a few minutes.

This instantly calms and relaxes my entire body.

5. Clean Your Physical Space

Our minds often feel the same way when our physical space is cluttered.

What makes you feel settled? I have a client who feels better when she makes her bed. If she doesn’t, her day seems to go downhill.


What works for you? Tidy up your workspace. Get the clothes in the hamper. Whatever makes you feel more settled in your physical space is worth the effort.

Read this article if you aren’t sure how to declutter.


This can be anything related to you and a feeling of inspiration, which means ‘in spirit.’ While it doesn’t have to convey religion, it may be for you. It’s more about what you need to feel connected to something deeper, bigger, higher – and what makes you feel most connected to yourself.

Here are a few examples:

1. Meditation

While some of you may be reading this thinking, “yes, I love my morning meditation practice,” others might feel a sense of stress or trepidation reading yet another article about meditation.

If you’re hesitant but want to try it out, there are many great apps (The Mindfulness app, Headspace, and Calm) and other resources. I found this guided morning meditation years ago and still use it when I need something short and sweet.

I also love the free 21-day guided meditations from Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey. Many clients and friends have found this an “easy entry.”

If you’re one of those people who feel they can’t meditate (I feel you, I WAS one of you!), guided meditations are your new best friend. Check out a few and see what works for you.


2. Be in Nature

Find a place you can sit or walk and just be. Notice the colors of the trees and the sky, the smells in the air.

What do you hear if you listen closely? Take a moment to feel the earth beneath your feet or the breeze against your face.

Take a walk in nature, and your physical and spiritual needs are covered all in one go! It helps lower your stress levels, improves focus, and builds a more positive state of mind.[3]

Interestingly, I was raised Jewish and went to the temple growing up. Until, at some point along the way, my mom decided that the best way for her to connect with something greater than herself was to be outside. From that moment on, we spent all our ‘high holidays’ outside in nature together.

3. Religious Study

My brother is an incredible example of this. Every morning, he gets up early and does his bible study. He sits at the kitchen table (or wherever he is at the time), reads a passage, and writes notes. He then finishes by writing a note to his wife.

Since he’s not verbal, it allows him to ensure that his wife knows he is thinking about her. Incredible and romantic? Yes. This also covers his spiritual and emotional needs in one go.


More importantly, it grounds him and allows him to reflect on the day ahead. It connects him to something greater than himself and makes him feel calm going into the day, knowing that he has invested in his spiritual and personal relationships before anything else.

4. Connect to Yourself

Know what it means to be true to yourself and take a moment to get grounded in yourself. If you’re feeling off track, try reading this: Feeling off Track in Life? Here’s How to Stay True to Yourself.

Additional Tips for the Ultimate Morning Routine

As you build your morning routine, you need to remember some things.

1. A Healthy Morning Routine Starts the Night Before

Getting quality sleep is essential to starting your mornings off right. Make sure you get the recommended 7-9 hours (or whatever works for you). If you’re going to get up earlier for your morning routine, you need to go to bed earlier.

Here are some basic ways to get a good night’s sleep:

  • Get off your electronics at least an hour before bed (and set them to DND or leave them outside your bedroom).
  • Make sure you have a comfortable pillow and mattress.
  • Set a consistent sleep routine, reduce outside noise, sleep in a well-darkened room, or wear an eye mask.

You may want to take reference of Lifehack’s CEO Leon, who has a consistent night routine to keep him sleeping well and waking up energetic.

2. Keep it Simple

Find one or two things (three max) that you feel will work for YOU to get you on a roll. Start with a quick win and work your way up from there.

I don’t recommend choosing eight things and then giving up – or beating yourself up because you couldn’t make it work. You won’t do anything if you put too much on your plate. Eventually, you’ll want to have at least one activity from each category, but you can start small and work your way up.


3. Take a Test Drive

Once you’ve settled on a few concepts that you think will work for you, try them for a few days before you decide if it does/doesn’t work. Like with any habit, you need at least 21 days to create something that sticks.

4. Set a Reminder

Put something in place that reminds you of your morning routine. Here are 22 habit-tracking apps you could try.

Or, if you’re more old-school like me, find a symbol to remind you – put a Post-it on your bathroom mirror, a note on the fridge, or a physical symbol to remind you what you’re doing.

5. Integrate

Find ways to integrate your morning routine into what you’re already doing rather than adding more to your to-do list. You can also double up, finding activities that cover a couple of multiple ‘systems’ of your body.

What Not to Do

You now have some great options about what to do. But having a great morning routine that energizes you is also as much about what not to do in the morning!

Think about what doesn’t work for you. Are there things that happen or you do that get you started on the wrong foot? Does that pull you off-track or out of stride?


Do you hate waking up to the sounds of the “alarm” and need a better way to rise? Perhaps you are decimated by negativity and need to make sure you protect yourself from negative news or people early in the day.

For me, it’s my phone—I have my best mornings when I don’t check my phone or email. I find that when I check my email, it distracts me from my morning and starts me off in the wrong direction. My mind has gone down a rathole of everything I’ve just read, how I’m going to respond, and what I need to do—I’m no longer present in my morning.

Therefore, I’ve made it a non-negotiable part of my morning routine not to check my emails before my kids go to school.

Time to Build Your Ultimate Morning Routine!

You’ve had a look at the menu; now it’s time to decide what you will have. It’s time to create your ultimate morning routine.

Remember: Like with anything in life, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. If you’re:

  • Someone who thrives from positive energy, make sure whatever you do first gives you that burst of positivity.
  • Someone who needs a plan, try the three Post-it strategy or create your plan for the day.
  • Someone who needs to physically exert themselves, go for that morning run or hike.
  • Someone who needs to think, find time for your reading, strategizing, and journaling.
  • Someone whose mind races, try meditation.
The Ultimate Morning Routine to Make You Happy And Productive

Tips for Creating a Morning Routine

Recommended actionable tasks to benefit immediately
5 Actions
The Ultimate Morning Routine to Make You Happy And Productive
Make a List: Make a list of the things you want to accomplish daily, so you can free your mind for more important thinking.
The Ultimate Morning Routine to Make You Happy And Productive
Get Moving: Make a habit of exercising early in the morning as it offers both physical and mental benefits.
The Ultimate Morning Routine to Make You Happy And Productive
Be in Nature: Find a place you can sit or walk and just be in nature. Notice the colors of the trees and the sky, the smells in the air.
The Ultimate Morning Routine to Make You Happy And Productive
Try Meditation: Meditation is a great way to rid the mind of racing thoughts and replace them with peace and calmness.
The Ultimate Morning Routine to Make You Happy And Productive
Express Gratitude: Write down three times you’re grateful for every morning. It’s a great way to start the day, as it helps you stay focused on the positive.


Take a moment to think about what resonates with you the most. Do you need five minutes or an hour? What feels like it will ground you or energize you?

Maybe there are a couple of ideas that stood out or one you just know you need to do. What can you commit to right now in your life, with your current circumstances and everything you know about yourself?

Then do it. Get started tomorrow morning.

Featured photo credit: Twenty20 via twenty20.com


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