How many times have you looked yourself in the mirror around lunchtime, unable to think of one significant thing you’ve gotten done that morning? It happens when we allow ourselves to “drift” through the days.
The Morning Routines of the most successful
It’s not a coincidence that almost all of the world’s most successful people have highly protected morning routines. And it’s also not a coincidence that almost all of these people share the same core patterns:
- They wake up early to a very structured morning
- They exercise regularly
- They have a quiet time where they pray, meditate, etc.
- They read or listen to an audiobook
- They journal and/or prioritize their day in writing
But most importantly they have a plan and they are consistent with it. They are not a slave of the snooze button. Even if they are not “morning people,” they become them.
Because as you get older, life depends on it! Your success in life depends on it!
The daily battle is fought before the day itself begins!
But what about us normal people? Should we simply copy the morning routines of the most successful out there?
Yes…and no. The 5 core habits above, I would say, are what made those people successful. The self-discipline, the mental clarity, the extra hours, the optimal health, are all factors that we would do well to imitate. So copy those.
But at the same time we have different goals, we have young families, odd-hours jobs, etc. We need to do a little tweaking to ensure that the winning morning routine we choose is optimal for us.
So in this post, I want to first break this all up into two
Two steps to create a winning morning routine for 30+ year old men
Step 1: The Core Ingredients
The 5 core components mentioned above of today’s most successful people should be taken very seriously and should be incorporated into your winning morning routine. Let’s discuss them briefly.
Waking up early
Most people are not “morning people.” But you can easily become a morning person if you are determined enough. In fact, I almost guarantee that you will quickly grow to love those early hours of the morning (especially if you have small children).
Look, your 20s are over and life will pass you by in a flash if you let it. You need to, now more than ever, be more proactive about your days and about your future. (Here’s a recommended resource on not only the benefits of, but how to begin waking up earlier: The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod.)
Here’s a well-known scenario: You put the kids to bed around 9 and then open your computer to get “creative.” But because you’re tired and your mind is foggy, your work is suboptimal. You probably find yourselves staring through the computer a lot thinking about some other topic. Then you look at it’s midnight and you haven’t gotten anything productive done.
What a complete waste of time!
Why not go to bed, let your mind rest, and wake up early and refreshed to then go on and do that same thing in probably half the time? Your creativity and productivity will be much, much higher when you attempt it in the morning.
Also, none of these “winning” habits can be performed if you wake up late. Again, the battle is won in the morning before work begins. It’s about the small achievements made early that set you up for a successful day.
You will always be more productive when you exercise regularly. Your body feels better, your mind is clearer, and your overall psychology will be more optimal than if you did not. Read up on it. The benefits of consistent exercise are astounding not only physically but emotionally and psychologically.
Exercise is one of those things you have to be intentional about, becuase the alternative is always more appealing.
And look, exercise doesn’t mean have to join a gym. It means taking a brisk walk or run on the treadmill, or through the neighborhood. It means a simple bodyweight routine which can be performed in the living room! I’ll mention some resources below.
It’s essentially getting your heart pumping, your muscled warmed up, and your mind clear before the day begins.
A quiet time
Almost all of today’s successful people include a quiet time of some sorts into their morning routine. For someone like Michael Hyatt, its 15 minutes with headphones on playing some ambient sounds. For others, it’s using an app like Headspace, prayer, or controlled breathing for a time.
Whatever it is, it’s breaking out of the busyness of life for a time. It’s a few powerful and potent minutes of slowing down.
In our fast-paced world, this time will never happen unless you schedule it. You will be surprised how hard it is to do this, AND, how weak your ability to focus really is.
Reading and/or journaling
Those early morning hours are also a great time to educate yourself with books, or even better yet, audobooks! Listen to a book while you exercise. At 30 minutes a day, you’d be surprised how many books you can get through in a year.
If not audiobooks, then take 15 minutes or so and read. Make this a habit.
Also, journaling is a great routine to add to your morning and on top of reading. For many, it’s simply writing out 3 things they are thankful for. You’d be surprised how this positive routine will shape your attitude throughout the day.
Setting priorities for the day
The final core ingredient is proactively setting up your day. What are the three things that MUST happen today? Prioritize them in your planner or on your mobile app.
Do you have meetings? Do you have to pick up the kids or meet someone for lunch? Add these also to your calendar. Create your day before it begins so that everything you do has a purpose.
Step 2: The Customizations
Now let’s back up a bit. This is important. You see, the thought of 15 minutes of meditation with ocean waves in my ear sounds dreadful to me. But an interactive app like Headspace may just be a fit (and can be used through Alexa!). The thought of having to drive 15 minutes to a gym at 6 in the morning sounds dreadful to me as well. Thus, I don’t listen to ocean waves, and I do bodyweight exercises exclusively. No gym needed….but I’m still exercising.
This is where flexibility comes in around the core components and where you create your own custom winning morning routine. What goals are you trying to reach in this particular “season” of life? These should be incorporated in your routine.
Some people like to fit in an hour of work early in the morning, others say “don’t do that.” But again you have to tweak things around those core components according to your season of life.
My own journey, personal routine, and resources
Okay, let me give you an example of my own life. I’ve been working on a winning morning routine for a while now and have tried a handful of different setups and rituals.
I fell off the routine the latter part of last year because I was recording a lot of videos for a course I was preparing and “thought” I only had late nights to get it done while everyone was sleep.
Thankfully, I’m back on track this year and loving it.
Here’s what I’ve come up with and a perfect balance of my season of life:
9:00 PM – Yes, a winning morning routine begins the night before. I go to bed at 9, 10 at absolutely latest. This means the kids have to be read and tucked on an earlier schedule (which is good for them).
5:00 AM – Wake up, make the bed, and make some tea (I recently gave up coffee which may make for another post).
5:15 AM – Blogging and Course creation. What? Starting work right away? Yes, and this is what I mean by customizing your morning routine. This block of time is very, very focused. Nothing opens up but my website.
Here’s my take. We all have two things going on simultaneously in our day: First, those things we do that make money and pay the bills and Second, those things we really enjoy doing and want to eventually get paid more for, but currently don’t pay the bills.
It’s a major goal of mine to grow my blog this year and create more income from it. However, I need to be building websites and coding during the day to pay the bills, not to be blogging and creating courses. Thus, I have scheduled out a very specific window of time to devote to it every morning.
Now I do NOT advocate doing “real work” in the morning, as in “job work.” I also discourage the incorporation of cell phones or really anything other than what you are focused on. My phone does not come out of airplane mode until later in the morning. Don’t allow electronics into your morning except for something you have specifically scheduled and has an end time to it.
6:30 AM – Quiet time. For me, this is Bible reading, prayer, reflection, meditation, etc. Finding this peace early in the morning has enormous benefits to your day such as stress reduction, increased focus, spiritual growth, and overall emotional stability and optimism.
7:00 AM – Exercise.
Mon, Wed, Fri – bodyweight workouts.
Tu, Th, Sat – running.
Let’s talk about this. You don’t need to join a gym. In fact, you can do a bangin’ 7-minute workout with the 7-minute workout app. You’ll be sweating after it.
I have a number of bodyweight/calistheincs routines that I work regularly through. Two of my favorites are:
If you are unsure of your performance level and/or want to know the real benefits and history of Bodyweight training (and why it’s superior to mechanical weights and big suave muscular men who can’t do a single pull-up) check out this book. Sure it’s a hokey title but it’s packed with solid information.
As far as running, nothing could be more important to begin in terms of exercise. Here’s what I did: I downloaded an app called 5K Pro. This app takes you from “not a runner” to “able to run a 5K” in 8 weeks. So the first week you are mainly walking with a very brief run here and there. Then by the end, you are running the entire time. So it gradually eases you into the. world of running. Brilliant!
7:40 – Shower, dressed and ready. In my year or so now of freelancing full-time, I have found that it’s not beneficial AT ALL to mope around in my sweats all morning with bedhead.
8:00 – Hang with the family, the wife / a free 40 minutes to enjoy
8:40 – Scheduling my day and sometimes journaling. I’ll say it unashamed, I use the Michael Hyatt Full Focus Planner. Yeah, it’s expensive for a planner but wow it’s worth it. I take this 20 minute block of time and:
- Write down my top three things that must get done today first.
- List a few secondary things that can get done if the above is finished.
- And fill in blocks of time in the daily planner to be sure I stay on track and keep out any unscheduled events (for the most part).
There is an extra page for each day that I journal on as well. This includes a few things I am thankful for, any thoughts or ambitions that come into my head, etc.
9:00 – Begin work
And that’s it. That is currently the winning morning routine that I protect and execute daily (not Sunday), and I absolutely love this block of time.
It’s 4 hours in the morning where I can make massive personal progress before my day even begins!
So about your winning morning routine…
So what about you. Are you ready to create your winning morning routine? Are you ready to add purpose to your days, your hours?
If so, here are a few steps in the right direction:
- Start by writing out the 5 core components. How long will take you to do them? How do they fit around your current daily duties?
- Take that answer and propose a wake-up time based on what time you have to begin your workday. Then plan to go to bed 7-8 hours before that time. So if you plan to wake up at 6, go to bed by 10.
- Do not check any email or your phone at all until your morning routine is finished. If you want to do some creative work as I mentioned above, be very focused and specific about it. Open no other tabs or browsers and have an end time.
- If you don’t exercise now, start with the 7-minute workout app or with the 5K runner app.
- Sign up for a free trial of audible and start listening to audiobooks.
- Plan out your day. Create three top priorities that MUST get done and demote anything else to a “maybe.”
- Finally, work in some quiet time and some time for gratitude.
The days of staying up late and getting 4 hours of sleep dissapate with our 20’s. From 30 onwards, it’s a winning morning routine that will keep you progressing in life and living with purpose each day.
Do you have any morning routines? If so, what does it look like and how has it impacted your life?