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Last Updated on June 11, 2020

The Ultimate Morning Routine to Make You Happy And Productive All Day

The Ultimate Morning Routine to Make You Happy And Productive All Day

Let me just start by saying, I’m not what you would consider a morning person. I’m not a terrible dragon by any means. But, with three kids, the dog, a job and an active life, I have to admit that I like my sleep.

My husband was reading a book recently about the power of a morning routine. I asked him to share the summary of what he learned. It all sounded great; but the idea of implementing a lengthy morning routine or getting up an hour early to do a variety of things makes me want to go right back to bed. We only have so much ‘bandwidth’ and willpower in a day, and personally, I don’t want to use it all up by 7am.

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

This is the thing about most advice (on any topic really). 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.

Have you ever set out with great intentions to do something – a new diet, exercise regimen or morning routine, only to fall flat on your face a few days or weeks later? Then what? You beat yourself up that you didn’t do it ‘right’, that you failed.

Here’s the thing, you haven’t failed, you have just found something that doesn’t work for you. And now, it’s time to find something that does. What works for a friend, colleague or spouse will not necessarily work for you.

There is a perfect morning routine that will make YOU happy and productive all day – you just have to find yours.

Which is why, rather than give you a specific, one-size-fits-all morning routine, I’m going to give you some options. Think of it like a menu. You get to choose what makes sense for your life, with your personality, motivations, goals, desires and circumstances.

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 is said to boost happiness, increase productivity, reduce stress levels and get 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 results 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. Arianna Huffington shares hers here.

    In fact, most great entrepreneurs and leaders throughout history cite their morning routine as a large contributor to their success. But it’s not just entrepreneurs and leaders that 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 for me, early, gives me time to do what I need so when they wake up, I’m excited to greet them for the day.”

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    We’ve established a morning routine is important and valuable, are you ready to create yours?

    How to Create Your Ultimate Morning Routine

    As a coach and consultant with a diverse background, it’s important to me to look at this from a wholistic 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.

      Mentally

      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:

      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.

      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.

      Make a list so you can free you mind for more important thinking.

      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 on your calendar and see what’s there – integrate your goals and your list of to-do’s so you have a plan of action.

      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 it.

      Emotionally

      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:

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      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.

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

      Connect with a friend, family member or anyone who makes you feel joyous, 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 time 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 that already is happening in our daily routine.

      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.

      Physically

      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:

      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 5:45am, got ready and worked out from 6-7am. 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, trying 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.

      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.

      Need a few more reasons? Check these out here . I usually throw in a bag of ‘detox’ tea and drink this as I take the kiddos to school.

      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.

      Ground yourself.

      You can do this in many ways.

      A few years back, I was going through a period of high anxiety. 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 every day, if I wake up feeling slightly anxious or stressed, I take the extra minute to ground and get connected. 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.

      Clean your physical space.

      When our physical space is cluttered, our minds often feel the same way.

      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.

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

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

      Spiritually

      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 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:

      Meditation.

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

      If you’re feeling hesitant but want to try it out, there are a ton of great apps (The Mindfulness app, Headspace and Calm) and other resources out there for you. I found this guided morning mediation 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’.

      And, 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.

      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 you’ve got physical and spiritual needs covered all in one go!

      Interestingly, I was raised Jewish and went to 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 of our ‘high holidays’ outside in nature together.

      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 a verbal person, 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. It 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.

      Connect to yourself.

      Know what it means to be true to you and take a moment to get grounded in yourself. Here are 11 Ways to be true to you to get you started.

      Additional Tips for the Ultimate Morning Routine

      As you build your morning routine, there’re things you need to remember.

      What to Keep in Mind

      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:

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      • Get off your electronics at least an hour before bed (and set them to DND or leave them outside of your bedroom).
      • Make sure you have a comfortable pillow and mattress.
      • Set a consistent sleep routine, reduce outside noise and 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 sleep well and wake 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. If you put too much on your plate, you won’t do anything. Eventually, you’ll want to have at least one activity from each of the four categories, 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 24 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 on your ‘to-do’ list. You can also double up, finding activities that covering a couple 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 off on the wrong foot? 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, what I need to do…. and I’m not longer present in my morning. I’ve made it a non-negotiable part of my morning routine to not 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’re going to have. It’s time to create your ultimate morning routine.

        Remember, like with anything in life, there’s 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 to have a plan, then try the three Post-it strategy or create your plan for the day.
        • Someone who needs to physically exert yourself, 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.

        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 ideas that stood out, or one in particular 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 you?

        Then do it. Get started tomorrow morning.

        You’ll be more happy, productive, energized and thankful you did.

        Featured photo credit: Twenty20 via twenty20.com

        More by this author

        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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        Last Updated on September 18, 2020

        How to Be More Self-Assured and Get More Done During the Week

        How to Be More Self-Assured and Get More Done During the Week

        Time is a great leveler isn’t it? We all have the same 24 hours in a day. Even if you’re self-assured, the day may never feel quite long enough.

        Why is it that some people can be so much more productive and achieve so much more in a typical day, while others struggle to achieve anything apart from feeling time crunched and overwhelmed?

        Everyone I know and work with wants to make the best use of their time. They want to learn how to be more self-assured, happier, and work less—all while growing in their career.

        How effectively we use our time—and how we actually work in our business—can make a huge difference to the amount we accomplish in a day or week. It can also make us more focused and more confident.

        Do you want to have more thinking and creative time? Do you want to spend more time working on your business rather than working at or in your business? In this article, we’ll show you how.

        Get More Done by Gaining Confidence

        What if you had a strategy for making the best use of your time that brings you more joy and allows you to focus on the biggest activities and opportunities in your business? You may find the following outline below to be helpful:

        1. Create an Exciting Vision

        If you don’t know where you’re going, how do you know when you get there?

        You want to be more productive and spend more time getting the right stuff done. Well, you need to create a compelling and exciting vision of your future.

        What does this future look like? How will you feel when you get there?

        Creating a new vision, especially one that is a lot bigger than where you are right now, has a way of igniting your passion. It may be something that feels hard to achieve, but every step you take towards that bigger vision will certainly build your confidence.

        Create a vision board to feel more self-assured.

          Commitment to this vision, and accomplishing continual daily progress depends on your ability to look at any situation you’re faced with or currently in, feel self-assured, and see something bigger ahead.

          Also, when you know where you’re headed, you will instinctively start to see all the new opportunities and connections that will get you there.

          Make a vision map to get you started on the path to better productivity. This doesn’t have to be fully actualized, but you should know at least what direction you are heading.

          2. Build a Strategic Plan

          Once you have your future vision mapped out, the next step is to build a strategic plan to get you there.

          Your future vision may be for 3 years or 5 years, or you may choose a longer time frame. Any timeframe over 3 years may feel like a long way away.

          You may wonder how you are ever going to feel confident and motivated on this bigger future years from now when you feel as though you have so much to accomplish today.

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          The first step is to decide on some specific goals for the next 12 months. Don’t list too many or you may begin to feel overwhelmed.

          The magic number for me and my clients is usually five annual goals.

          These are big goals that will create massive change in your business and life and bridge your current situation to your bigger future; accomplishing these goals one by one will help to increase your confidence on a daily basis.

          3. Get on Goal Planning

          Get yourself a piece of blank paper and a pen and divide the paper into 4 columns: A, B, C, and D.

          Ask yourself the question: What is great in my business and life right now? Write these things down in Column A. This might be a couple of things, five things, ten things, whatever feels right to you.

          Then ask yourself: What things are happening right now that I don’t want in my future? Write these things down in Column B.

          This is your opportunity to take a step back and look at the things that are simply not working. You may list people that are bringing you down or projects that you don’t want to work on any more. Maybe you’ll include a service offering that’s going nowhere. It could be the people you’re working with, or it could be your pricing.

          Now, let’s look at your personal strengths. Write down everything that you’re great at in Column C.

          These could be things that you’re doing right now and having success with. It could also be things you know you’re awesome at but you’re not spending enough time on.

          Column D is for your biggest opportunities. Is there a new service/product you could offer your ideal customers? Is there a new innovation you could bring to market? Just take some time out and really think and list these things in Column D.

          Once you’ve analyzed everything you’ve written down, take some time to really think about what goals you want to set for your business and life in the next 12 months.

          4. Set Outcomes to Build Confidence

          You now have your goals, and you’ll feel self-assured and raring to go. They are written down and you’re committed to achieving them. You feel self-assured and motivated.

          But how do you ensure that you stay on the correct course to achieve these goals?

          Managing and juggling day-to-day projects can get in the way. Dealing with problems can get in the way. Staying on top of orders, managing cash flow, and handling day-to-day stuff can move your ship off course.

          You want to be productive and achieve your goals, but you also need to ensure the day and week runs smoothly.

          One way to ensure this happens is to set 90 Day Outcome Goals; within those Outcome Goals, put some specific process goals that need to be undertaken.

          Let’s say you want to get 10 more speaking jobs in the next 90 days, and you know that you typically convert 50% of opportunities.

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          Therefore, your process goal needs to be to have 20 conversations in the next 90 Days to deliver the 10 new pieces of work. You will then work out who you can have those conversations with.

          It’s smart to overshoot, so you will more easily hit your target. This is a clear plan to work through because with every win, your confidence will grow.

          5. Completely Commit to Your Success

          If you are not truly committed to achieving your goals, then chances are that you won’t reach them.

          Motivation can only take you so far. It is the intentional commitment[1] and emotional investment in your future success that will move you forward.

          Think back to any time that you really committed to achieving something. There must have been a reason you actually achieved what you set out to achieve. What motivated you?

          Were you fully invested? Why did it matter? Did you have to be really courageous to achieve it?

          How did it feel when you achieved it? What difference did it make?

          When have you felt truly self-assured? When you are committed to something, then you are propelled into action. Your mindset is focused, and your body follows; you want to get it done.

          And, when you do get it done, your confidence goes through the roof. You feel a level of certainty in achieving the goal you set out to accomplish.

          6. Focus on Your Strengths

          To feel self-assured and build up the confidence needed to achieve our biggest goals, we need to focus on our strengths.

          What are you best at? What are your unique skills? You want to spend as much time as you can working in the areas that you’re great at.

          Multiply your strengths. These areas are where you add the biggest value. They often bring you the biggest amount of joy, and you feel more and more confident when you are using your unique skills.

          If you think there is a specific capability you need to learn or be better at, spend more focused time in that area.

          Many of us want to do it all. We want to be good at everything. We want to offer a lot of services. But, in reality, there are some very specific things we are great at; nobody is good at everything!

          Spending more time adding value in the areas where you excel can create breakthrough results and boost confidence.

          7. Embrace the Present

          Sometimes we spend so much time thinking about the future or worrying about the past that we forget the present moment[2].

          Are you spending most of your day reacting to things, or have you taken the time to think about what your perfect day looks like?

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          We all have the opportunity to create rather than react, to decide what we do with our day. All of our future success can be created in the present moment if we just take a step back and take action.

          Sometimes, doing it now is more important than doing it perfectly. There are hidden opportunities in every moment. We need to make sure we don’t miss them if we want to feel self-assured.

          8. Calm the Whirlwind

          The day-to-day life in business and life can be hard, which leads us to feel less self-assured.

          Your mind may be full to bursting with all of the things you feel you have to do. The phrase “I don’t have time” has almost become an instant reaction by so many people when new opportunities are presented.

          There is a whirlwind happening inside our minds.

          Appointments, notifications, tasks, phone calls, errands, cash flow, staffing issues, networking, marketing all can clutter up our timeline. The sheer volume of things we feel we should do creates procrastination, stopping us from pursuing the projects and people that matter.

          Many of us feel we have to do everything within our business.

          Rather than simplifying things and doing less, we do more. We work longer, which creates a lack of energy and focus. Because of this, we lose clarity on our biggest opportunities. If you feel this way, take some well-deserved time off.

          Look at where you’re spending your time. How much of your time is being spent moving your ideas forward?

          In the next 90 days, if you could delegate or outsource more daily tasks and spend more time focusing on where you add the biggest value, what difference would it make?

          Calm the whirlwind by slowing down and doing less.

          Focus on areas that you add the biggest amount of value. By doing this, your energy levels will increase, your confidence will grow and you will have more success.

          9. Take More Time off

          This may seem counterintuitive, but taking more time off to recharge and refocus can pay huge dividends.

          If you are constantly fighting fires and caught up in the myriad of different activities that you have to do each day, then how can you move your business forward?

          You may be being pulled in difference directions without any focused time on your biggest projects. If that’s the case, then it’s almost impossible to gain any real momentum in moving your business forward and hitting your goals.

          The best way to get off that treadmill is to take more creative time out of the business.

          Could you realistically take one day off per month to work on your business? If you could, what would you do with this time?

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          Just imagine no distractions, only focused time on the strategic development and growth of your business.

          Every day off per month could have a different focus: New product innovation; Thinking about your biggest clients; Improving operations.

          Add to this a quarterly review to check in with your goals progress, and this could have a dramatic effect on where you spend your valuable time.

          10. Celebrate Wins

          Sometimes you just want to get through the day, right?

          You have so much to do. There are so many things on your task list that you just complete what you can and then start another day. But what would happen if, at the end of each day, you took some time out to look at what you’ve accomplished?

          Celebrating success keeps you motivated and helps you become more self-assured. It is not just another day. It’s a day that included things that should be celebrated.

          If you’re struggling to feel motivated, try celebrating a couple of wins each day.

          Celebrating success combined with the gratitude you have for achieving those wins will boost your confidence and inspire you for the next day.

          11. Give Yourself More Space

          When was the last time you gave yourself time to think?

          Within the hustle and bustle, it can be difficult to give yourself a little bit of space and time to just think[3].

          Imagine giving yourself just an hour a day to just let your mind wander or think about a specific thing.

          If you think about it, we can all free up an hour a day for something without really losing any efficiency or really impacting our business.

          In fact, that hour could be transformational for your business and life.

          A new idea for a product could form, or an idea for adding value to your existing clients could materialize. Perhaps you could do a check in to your ideal future and your goals. You could decide that you want to take your business in a new direction.

          Try this: Just sit alone for an hour with a notebook and let it be your creative thinking time. See what happens.

          Final Thoughts

          Ultimately, being self-assured happens when you have a clear direction.

          This, coupled with having clear goals and working in your unique skill-set, gives you the biggest opportunity to be more productive and get more of the right things done.

          The old mantra that “less is more” is right on the money. By giving yourself more time to work on your goals, you will inevitably increase your confidence; at this point, your ideal future can be anything you want it to be.

          More on How to Be Self-Assured

          Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

          Reference

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