Do you have a morning routine that you follow religiously?
Did you ever have one that you stuck to for months at a time?
What did it look like?
What time did you wake up?
What was the first thing you did upon waking up in bed?
What was your motivation for having a morning routine?
What feelings did you have when you had your morning routine?
Was the rest of your day better when you were in your morning routine?
There’s a lot of writing on the Internet and in books about the importance of morning routines and I’d like to throw my hat into the ring, specifically for entrepreneurs.
I’m a big proponent of morning routines and it’s been something that I’ve strived to uphold for the past 10 years or so since becoming a full time entrepreneur.
Today, writing this article, this is a part of my morning routine. It’s one of the only times during the day where there is silence and I can write in a good flow without distractions. It’s a moment of stillness that I seek every day.
It took me a long time to work this into my morning routine though. Overall, the process of creating my morning routine has been one of a roller coaster…up and down…in it and then out of it. Lots of struggle and hardship in making it a consistent part of my days.
If you’re an entrepreneur working to better organize your time and create more time for silence each morning then this article is for you.
In the article, I’ll cover the following:
- What happens when you don’t have a morning routine
- What changes when you have a morning routine
- How successful entrepreneurs approach their morning each day
- My morning routine and why it works for me
- How to set up your own morning routine centered around mind, body, and spirit
What happens when you don’t have a morning routine?
You know that feeling when you wake up and you’re feeling anxiety because you know that you have to start work or get to work in too little of a time frame?
I know this feeling well and it doesn’t feel good.
Immediately upon waking up, after hitting the snooze for close to an hour, I already know that it’s going to be a rough start to the day.
My mind isn’t fully awake. I may have a small headache. I’m already stressing about what is coming up first in my day on the computer. And I probably get on a screen faster than I should.
And, in effect, I’m more easily frustrated by things that people say and do.
Does any of this sound familiar?
Have you ever had those mornings where you literally feel the weight of the day pushing on your shoulders or head immediately upon rolling out of bed?
This is what it feels like when you don’t have a morning routine.
This is what is feels like when you’re waking up each morning without any purpose for starting the day outside of having to get to your computer or getting to your car to go to work.
This is not a healthy way to live life and it can cause major stress and anxiety over the long run if it’s the only way you know how to live life.
I’ve personally fallen into ruts where this is my day to day and I can tell you from first hand experience that it makes the start of the day and the rest of the day a lot harder.
I have less energy, I’m more prone to snap at my co-workers about things that I shouldn’t be getting as stressed about, and I’m tired earlier in day.
On top of that, my overall attitude is less positive.
When my mind wakes up on a negative note, that carries through the rest of the day regardless of what transpires.
Having a morning routine can change all of that.
It can bring purpose to the start of your day, allow you to wake up feeling refreshed and positive, and get you started on the right foot each day.
As an entrepreneur, having that fresh feeling in the morning is critical to building a business in the short and long run.
In the short run, it gives you the daily motivation and energy that you need to make it through each day.
In the long run, it provides you with the strength to endure the tough patches and the clarity of mind to understand where you’re headed and what you need to do to get there.
Let’s take a look at how your morning can be different with a purposeful routine.
What changes when you have a morning routine?
We just went over what life is like when you don’t have a morning routine.
Now let’s talk about what life is like when you do have that morning routine.
First, you’re waking up earlier with plenty of time before you have to get to work or get on your computer to start work.
If you start work at 9 am, imagine waking up at 7 am.
Waking up at 7 am, you’re doing so without snoozing for a full hour going in and out of sleep with frustration.
You’re snoozing maybe once from 6:50 am to 7:00 am then you’re waking up lightly.
Second, you’re allowing your mind and body time to wake up so you’re not feeling rushed.
Maybe you lay in bed with your eyes closed for those 10 minutes and you stretch out your legs and arms, slowly waking up your body.
Maybe you count to 5 over and over in your head slowly waking up your mind.
Or you wake up your mind by thinking of things and people that you’re grateful for.
After 10-15 minutes of waking up your body and mind, you slowly get out of bed, get dressed, and head to the bathroom to brush your teeth.
You splash some water in your face to wake up even more and then you head to the kitchen to make some coffee. If you enjoy showers in the morning, maybe you work that into your routine as well.
Third, you’re starting your day on a positive note knowing that you still have time before you start work.
All of this happens and you still have at least 1.5 to 2 hours before you have to start work.
Can you see how this is a lower stress start to the day already?
Can you see how this could potentially make the start to your day better, more positive, and fulfilling?
I know that as an entrepreneur, you may feel rushed to get on your phone or computer and get the day started.
Time is money and as an entrepreneur, we’re always running out of time in the day.
But it all comes with sacrifice.
When you jump right into work in the morning and don’t give yourself time to wake up and properly get ready for the day, you put yourself in a more stressful situation that could lead to burn out quicker.
Taking those 2 hours each morning to wake up properly will give you more energy later in the day when you really need it.
Fourth, you have time to embrace the stillness and do things you enjoy
Now we get to the fun part of the morning routine…
What do you enjoy doing? And what brings you purpose? What are your hobbies?
The next hour of your morning routine should be dedicated to these things…
1. Spend time reading and learning
Use 30 minutes of your next hour to read a book that you’re working through.
If you’re reading each morning, you’ll be amazed how quickly you run through books and how healthy your mind feels from reading each morning instead of jumping right into emails or something on your phone.
2. Get outside and go for a walk
If you have a dog or a significant other that is also up at this time, go for a 15-20 minute walk with them.
Breathe in the fresh air, look at the sun rising, say hello to your neighbors, and enjoy nature.
It’s amazing what nature can do to the mind as you start your day and it will put you into a positive mood.
3. Listen to your favorite music or play an instrument
Take some time to play your guitar (as long as it won’t wake anyone else up!) or take that walk and listen to your favorite music of the day.
If it makes you happy, it’s a great activity to work into your morning routine.
4. Take the time to do some writing…something you never seem to have time to do it because life is moving too fast
Hello! Your morning routine is a perfect time to start writing more consistently.
This could be for your own blog (like I’m doing here) or it could be for personal journaling in a notebook that you have.
5. Work out and get a sweat in before you start the day
Take the time to do a workout, take a shower, and feel 100% ready to conquer the day.
6. Similarly, do yoga, stretching, and meditation
Embrace the silence of the morning and get into a nice sun salutation flow to get your body and mind right for the day.
7. Get updated on the news while sipping your coffee or listening to a podcast
Boom. Here’s another 20-30 minute activity that you could work into your morning routine where you’ll be learning something new and enjoying the time before you get to work.
All of these are ideas of how you might use that 1 hour after you wake up to start your day on the right foot.
There are many other activities that you may find and it’s important to figure out what works best for you.
Finally, after you’ve spent an hour or so on your chosen activities, you take the final 10-15 minutes to prep yourself before you go to work or open your laptop.
Go to the bathroom. Pour yourself another cup of coffee. Plan your main goals for the day.
Whatever you need to do in those final 10-15 minutes before you get into the work day.
Before you’ve even started to think about work, you’ve already had yourself a day!
And it’s a start to the day that you really love having and enjoying.
Now imagine doing this every single week day.
Waking up to enjoy the morning instead of waking up to rush to your computer and feel overwhelmed by your email.
Can you see how having a morning routine will change your life for the better?
How Successful Entrepreneurs Approach their Morning Routines
As I’ve said above, every person’s morning routine is unique to them.
What works for one person wouldn’t necessarily work for another.
But the overwhelming fact about morning routines is that the most productive and happiest of people have them and they practice them consistently.
It’s a key factor for many entrepreneurs and how they run their lives.
Let’s take a look at a few morning routines of entrepreneurs that we all probably know very well:
Elon Musk is arguably one of the most prolific entrepreneurs of our modern age.
He’s been called the real-life Tony Stark and Iron Man by many and his entrepreneurial endeavors speak to why he’s built such a reputation.
In this article from Finty, they discuss how important Musk’s morning shower is to his daily routine.
From the article, it states, “he says that he doesn’t feel in the right headspace without his shower, and it’s a critical part of waking up and preparing him to face the challenges of the day.”
For Musk, that shower time is when he’s able to find stillness and wake his mind and body so that he’s ready for the day.
As an entrepreneur that claims to work 80-100 hour work weeks, you can see how critical his morning routine is to having enough energy to work long hours on complex subjects.
In this Business Insider article, it references Bezos talking about the time he spends each morning before he starts meetings around 10 am.
He likes to “wakes up early, reads the newspaper, drinks coffee, and has breakfast with his children.”
He also says that “My puttering time is important to me.”
If Bezos is waking up around 7 am, that means he’s taking at least 3 hours to “putter” and let his mind get ready for the day.
He’s spending that time waking up, learning, getting updated on the news, spending time with loved ones, and thinking through different ideas.
If he were to immediately wake up and start meetings, would Amazon be where it is today?
Ariana Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post and Thrive Global, is a strong believer in getting 8 hours of sleep each night in order to best perform each day. In a penned letter, she even called out Elon Musk for his bragging about working 120+ hours per week arguing that it’s “wildly outdated, anti-scientific and horribly inefficient way of using human energy.”
Ariana Huffington wakes up each morning around 7:00 am without using an alarm. She avoids her phone and technology as she starts the day and spends time meditating or writing down her dreams.
Having been raised in Greece where breakfast isn’t a popular daily meal, Ariana drinks coffee each morning and doesn’t usually eat until lunchtime. She also will spend time exercising and doing yoga stretches before she finally dives into checking emails and getting her day started with technology.
Ariana is a shining example of how you can conquer each day when you focus on getting the right amount of sleep, avoiding technology in the morning, and spending time exercising and meditating before starting work.
Business Insider shares a look into Buffett’s morning and daily routine in this article.
Buffett, similar to the other entrepreneurs on this list, takes him time getting into work.
He spends his morning time reading the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Forbes before heading to McDonalds for his morning breakfast.
In the mornings, he’ll also sometimes find time to get some exercise in to stay healthy and balanced.
Next, he drives into his office where he starts his day.
If the “Oracle of Omaha” isn’t rushing onto the computer or into the office without the proper morning routine, why are we?
If you don’t know Tim Ferriss, he’s the author of the Four Hour Work Week, the Four Hour Body, Tools of Titans, and a number of other best selling books. He’s also an entrepreneur, investor, and the host of the Tim Ferris Show.
Tim is an extremely inquisitive individual and has taken the time to interview hundreds of people about their morning routines.
In his 5 Morning Rituals That Help Me Win The Day, he talks about trying to hit at least 3 of these 5 things every single day to set him up for success in the rest of his day.
Those five things are:
- Making the bed
- Meditation (for up to 20 minutes)
- Doing 5 to 10 reps of something
- Making and having tea
- Journaling or writing for 5 to 10 minutes
Tim views the first 60-90 minutes of the day as what sets the tone for the remaining 23 hours of the day.
If you get the first 60-90 minutes right, your day has major potential.
If you fail on those first 60-90 days, you’re much more doomed for failure and frustration.
Remember, everyone’s morning routine is different. There’s no one formula fits all. It’s a personal decision and you need to take the time to test what works best for you. If you don’t put in the time to figure it out, you’ll never get it right.
My Morning Routine
Today, my morning routine is as follows:
5:45 to 6:00 – I initially wake up. I lay in bed and I slowly stretch my legs and arms waking them up while also counting to 5 in my head and holding the stretch to wake up my mind. After 10-15 minutes, my mind and body has waken up and I get dressed. I find that by taking the time to let my body and mind wake up before opening my eyes, I have less of a shock upon getting up.
6:00 to 6:10 – I brush my teeth, use the bathroom, splash water in my face, and fix my hair. The splash of water in the face is everything. That continues to wake up my mind and body preparing me for the next part of my morning.
6:10 to 6:30 – I put water on the stove to heat for coffee then I do yoga, stretching, and meditation for 20 minutes. Sometimes my yoga is with a mat so I can do more ground stretches and other times it’s just on the floor walking through sun salutations. Other times I dedicate most of the time to sitting in meditation. While I practice my yoga, I also repeat different mantras in my head to get my mind ready for the day ahead. This is my time for stillness. I find this to be one of the most important pieces of my morning routine. When I’m pressed for time and am unable to fit it in, I’m more prone to frustration and fatigue throughout the rest of the day.
6:30 to 7:00 – I set up the french press to brew coffee then I sit down and read whatever book I’m on at the time. I read for 30 minutes and my dog or cat usually come to hang with me while I read. I love learning and having quiet time to do that each day before I get work started is critical.
7:00 to 7:30 – If my dog is awake, I’ll take her on a walk then I’ll spend time writing in my journal or here on my blog. If my dog isn’t awake, my full time goes towards writing in some form or fashion. I find this 30 minute period the best time for my writing as it’s still quiet in the house and my mind is fully awake and focused from the meditation, yoga, and reading.
7:30 – I start my work day by opening my computer and getting into my email and communication with my team.
Over the years, my morning routine has changed, but I’ve always tried to include the following:
- Yoga and some form of stretching
- Getting outside
I’ve found that when I’m able to accomplish those 5 activities each morning before getting into the work day, my mind and body is much more ready for what lies ahead.
My morning routine can also depend on what is highest priority for me at any given time.
For example, when I was writing my first book, Free Up Your Business, I spent a lot of my time in the morning before work writing the book instead of let’s say blogging or journaling.
It’s important to remember that your morning routine is whatever you want to make of it.
But you have to take the time to think through it and try out different things in order to find what’s absolutely best for you. Don’t expect it to all click overnight. This isn’t a get rich quick scheme!
How Can You Set Up Your Own Morning Routine?
So, you’re ready to create your own morning routine now?
That’s amazing! Congrats on getting this far and wanting to make a change for your morning.
I promise it will change your life if you take it seriously and find what’s best for you.
Here’s some steps for getting started:
Step 1: Choose a new time to wake up each morning
General rule of thumb is to wake up at least 2 hours before you have to start work. So if you start work at 9 am, get up at least 7 am to start your day. Set your alarm for 15 minutes earlier than your new goal wake up time so that you have some time to wake up your body and mind before getting out of bed to start the day. Remember the strategies that I mentioned earlier in the article for waking up before you actually get out of bed. These will help you to not hit the snooze button so many times.
Step 2: Choose 3-5 things that you want to do each morning before you start work
Use the list above and my example morning routine to figure out how you’ll spend those 2 hours upon waking up. Get granular and think of your time in the bathroom as well. Will you take a shower? Will you splash water on your face? Etc.
Then choose the 3-5 things that you want to do the most upon waking up. This will be a trial and error process so don’t get into paralysis by analysis. Maybe you even only choose 2 things to do in the first couple of weeks so you can get into a good flow with those. Then you can add others once you’re comfortable and used to getting up at the new wake up time.
Step 3: Test it for 1 week
This will be a hard week if you’re not used to waking up 2 hours before you start work. You’ll be working through changing your mental sleep clock so don’t get frustrated if you aren’t able to get up at the exact time you want to each day. Ease into it and focus on enjoying the stillness and quiet time that you have when you do wake up. Fully embrace yourself in the activities that you’ve chosen to do in your morning routine and take note of how it’s all going.
Step 4: Journal about how your new morning routine changed your week and your mindset
Did you notice differences in your week with the new morning routine? Did you have more purpose to wake up? Did you feel less rushed in the morning? Were you able to approach work with a different attitude? Take some time to journal about your first week in your new morning routine and take note of how you want to change it or what different you want to test in week 2.
Step 5: Repeat for Week 2 and beyond
After your first week, keep it going. A true routine doesn’t become real until you’ve done it consistently for 1 full month or longer. Stay committed to your new morning routine, test different changes that you think will make it even better, and allow your body to get into your new sleep cycle so that it’s easy to wake up 2 hours before work each day.
Creating and keeping a morning routine isn’t easy to do.
It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to wake up each day and stick to what you’ve planned.
And it changes over time as you change as a person and your life becomes different than what it was yesterday.
As an entrepreneur, you’re always fighting for more hours in the day.
I know from personal experience. It’s a battle that never stops and you’re always working to figure out how to best use each hour that you have in the day to be as productive and meaningful as possible.
From my experience, taking 2-3 hours each morning to get your mind, body, and spirit in the right place to conquer the other 10-12 hours of work that you have ahead of you is critical to growing a business.
You can get by without a morning routine, but it will eventually come around to bite you and you’ll run into some form of exhaustion, burn out, or lower levels of motivation.
A morning routine gives you time to take that step back, look at the big picture on a daily basis, and realize what is most important for the day ahead.
I encourage anyone reading this, whether you are an entrepreneur or not, to think about your morning routine and assess how it’s performing for you.
Could your morning routine be better?
Could you spend more time in the morning waking up and spending time on things you love rather than jumping onto your phone or laptop?
Overall, how could you improve the first 2-3 hours of your day so that it sets you up for success?
There’s always something that all of us can improve upon.
Take the time to get serious about your morning routine and it will come back to reward you tenfold.