No matter if you wake up thirty minutes before the sun or thirty minutes before it’s time to leave, we all subscribe to some sort of morning routine. The question is, how’s that working for you? A 5:30 a.m. wake-up call sounds productive in theory, but not if you’re missing out on crucial sleep and crushing yourself to check off all the boxes. Conversely, going from bed to door in thirty minutes might sound frantic, but not if you’re prepping breakfast, showering, and packing up your bag the night before.
Ultimately, a productive day begins with a nourishing routine. We’ve interviewed dozens of vibrant and diverse women for our Wake-Up Call series who say the same. Personally, I like to think of it as lighting the match. It’s an awakening, both physically and mentally, and an opportunity to ask yourself, “How do I want to show up today?” The trouble is, we get caught up in defining our own personal routine. The billionaires say one thing and the wellness influencers say another—meanwhile, we drown out the needs of our own bodies and minds when we turn up the noise of the gurus. It’s exhausting—and exhaustion isn’t going to get you anywhere when it comes to a mindful morning, not to mention a productive one.
So, what’s the answer? To support your own personal well-being, your “ideal” morning routine will address four basic needs: physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental. But before you jump ahead to building out your unique routine—we’ll get there—let’s discuss a few ways to make your routine work for the long haul.
Featured image from our interview with Jules Acree by Michelle Nash.
Tips To Make Your Morning Habits Stick
1. Start the Night Before
It’s true, a good morning begins with a good night. First, pinpoint your ideal amount of sleep (generally between 7-9 hours) and determine your bedtime from there. Next, ask yourself, “What can I do tonight to make tomorrow morning easier?” Depending on your routine, you might:
- Prep the coffee.
- Lay out workout clothes.
- Place a glass of water next to your bed.
- Set up your morning area with a cozy blanket and a book or journal.
- Set your phone to turn on night mode at a particular time.
- Take a shower.
- Pack kids’ lunches.
2. Wake Up Early
First, allow me to contradict myself: you don’t have to be a morning person to have a productive day. There are always exceptions. However, if you’re feeling rushed in the morning then an early rise is the quickest solution. You can determine how much time you need by assigning blocks of time to each part of your routine. Here are two examples:
Routine Number 1:
- 10 minutes to wake up and get changed
- 5 minutes of sunlight
- 20 minutes of movement
- 10 minutes of reading or journaling
- 5 minutes for meditation or prayer
- 20 minutes for breakfast
- 25 minutes to get ready
- 5 minutes of buffer time
Routine Number 2:
- 10 minutes to wake up and stretch
- 10 minutes to read
- 30 minutes to feed family and dress kids
- 40 minutes to get ready
- 10 minutes of buffer time
Both routines would require waking up 1 hour and 40 minutes before the day takes off.
Tip: keep your phone or alarm clock in your bathroom. Once you’re up and in the room, you’re less likely to hit the snooze button.
3. Make the Bed
Or empty the dishwasher, water the flowers, throw a load of laundry in the wash—you get it. The idea is to do an easy task that provides an instant sense of accomplishment. Plus, starting with one good habit in the morning creates a domino effect. You’ll find yourself more motivated to tackle tasks throughout the day. Try it.
4. Start Small
If you take away one thing from this list, let it be the simple yet profound idea of starting small to build consistency. You might be feeling a lot of Big Overhaul Energy and that’s great. But I know that you know from experience: that energy will not last. Instead, look for a quick win—what small change can you make this week? A few ideas:
- Go to bed 15 minutes earlier and get up 15 minutes earlier.
- Prep the coffee the night before.
- Add 10 minutes of reading to your routine.
- Go for a 15-minute walk three days this week.
5. Habit Stack
James Clear introduced us all to the term “habit stacking” in his book, Atomic Habits. The idea is simple: when you add a new habit on top of one you already have, your first habit automatically rolls into the second. Ask yourself, “What habit am I already doing every morning and what habit could I stack?” It could be:
- Brushing your teeth. Stack on a daily positive affirmation while you brush.
- Making coffee. Take your vitamins and supplements while you wait for it to brew.
- Blow-drying your hair. Think of three things you’re grateful for today.
- Hugging your kids. Give them a compliment.
- Saying goodbye to your partner. Stack on a 20-second hug for deep connection.
6. Nail Your Get-Ready-Quick Routine
Unless you love the idea of getting ready in the morning, it’s likely in your best interest to tighten up your get-ready time. Everything unlocked for me when I started small by doing two things: showering the night before and washing my face as soon as I woke up. When it came to getting ready, all I had to do was put on my basic daily makeup (5 minutes), do something with my hair (10-15 minutes), and get dressed (5 minutes). It freed up time in my morning routine to do the things that mattered more.
7. Change Does Not Mean Failure
Your ideal morning routine today may not be your ideal morning routine next month, or even tomorrow. Consider the conditions: the season of life you’re in, whether your kids are in or out of school, if you’re working from home or in office, etc. Not to mention your ever-changing physical, spiritual, and mental needs.
If one area of you’re routine begins to feel stale or unfulfilling, don’t write it off as a failure. Be willing to mix it up! Maybe it’s as simple as moving your reading chair to a different corner. Or perhaps you’re in a season where you need more rest so you opt for an afternoon walk instead of a morning sweat sesh. No matter what change you make, you aren’t failing—you’re tending. You’re paying attention.
No matter what change you make, you aren’t failing—you’re tending. You’re paying attention.
Physical Morning Routine Ideas
1. Take a Full Body Scan
It’s as simple as sitting up and asking yourself, “How do I feel today?” Mentally scan your body from head to toe, noticing any tension, stress, or discomfort. It’s not necessarily about fixing anything, it’s about paying attention and tapping into mindfulness from the get-go.
2. Drink Water Right Away
If you hydrate first thing in the morning, chances are you’ll continue to hydrate throughout the day. A glass of water first thing can clear bad bacteria and aid in digestion—aka, the easiest cleanse you can do day after day. PS: If you’re curious about kicking it up a notch to lemon water in the morning, let’s just say it’s worth the hype.
3. Get Sun Exposure
Sunshine, especially early in the morning, can help to balance your internal body clock, regulate your circadian rhythm, and stabilize your overall energy levels. In addition to energy throughout the day, you might just find yourself sleeping better after a dose of Vitamin D in the AM.
4. Enjoy a Nourishing Breakfast
Usually, this means a good mix of protein, fat, and healthy carbs that you sit down and savor—chew slowly and enjoy each bite. Try breakfast tacos with eggs and avo, Greek yogurt with granola, or a protein smoothie with banana, blueberries kale, almond butter, and almond milk. Or, eat breakfast like an icon: Audrey Hepburn famously ate two eggs and a slice of whole-wheat toast every single morning. For more nourishing breakfast ideas, check out all of our early morning meal inspo.
5. Let Coffee (or Tea) be a Ritual
For many (most) of us, we don’t come alive until that first cup of coffee or tea. Take your time with the process, slowing down as you grind the beans, pour the water, or add a healthy coffee booster. And by the way, the quickest way to a cup you’ll savor? Sipping from a cup you actually love. These Casa Zuma mugs were made for just such a ritual.
6. Move Your Body.
Not only does a morning workout get your blood pumping and release mood-boosting endorphins and reduce anxiety, but conquering it first thing ensures that your daily workout will actually happen. But it doesn’t need to be an hour-long gym session if that’s not your vibe. Yoga or a brisk walk counts!
Morning Routine Ideas to Support Your Emotions
Whether it’s a breakfast date with your partner or a tickle session with your kids, connecting with someone you love is a beautiful reminder of what’s really important. Even if the morning is really busy, try to sit down for a few minutes over breakfast and talk about what’s going on in each other’s lives.
If you don’t already have a journal practice, the idea can be daunting. Remove all the pressure that often comes with journaling and focus on writing in a way that feels good for you. Maybe it’s 10 minutes of free-writing in a Google doc or a commitment to a single page in a journal. Bookmark these inspiring journal prompts when you feel stuck.
3. Practice Gratitude
4. Identify One Thing You’re Looking Forward To
It’s easy to get caught up in to-do’s and stresses of the day—which is why it’s incredibly important to give attention to the good stuff, too. Even if you’re day is packed, try to name one thing you’re looking forward to that day. And if you can’t think of anything, it’s your sign to make room for something good.
5. Say Positive Affirmations
Say it, believe it. Here are over 60 daily affirmations to choose from.
6. Limit Social Media
Say it with me: I will not let social media be the first thing I consume in the morning. Nourish your mind and emotions as much as you do your body. Rather than focusing on what you’re removing (that early morning scroll/dopamine hit), get excited about what you’re adding: 10 minutes you could now spend reading, texting a friend, walking, or simply breathing deep.
Spiritual Morning Routine Ideas
Meditating is known to bring improved focus and concentration, not to mention a sense of calm and well-being to the day. Set your spirit right and meditate on an affirmation or try one of these breathwork exercises.
If prayer is in your spiritual practice, set aside a time to connect—or you could even habit stack while you brush your teeth or go on a walk. You could also write in a prayer journal for a few minutes a day.
3. Go Outside
We’ve already hit on the energy benefits of sun exposure in the morning for our physical health, but there’s also something spiritual about breathing in the fresh air and grounding in nature. Exposure to natural spaces improves mood, reduces stress, and increases cognitive function for the rest of the day according to the American Psychological Association.
Morning Routine Ideas for Productivity and Mental Clarity
1. Make a Brain-Dump List
List lover or not, a brain-dump list is the quickest way to get everything out of your head so you’re not spinning circles like a caffeinated squirrel. Write down every single thing on your mind.
2. Revisit Your Goals
Do you have a word for the year? Quarterly goals? Take a minute to be mindful of the bigger picture to keep your daily tasks aligned with your goals. PS: If you need help mapping out your goals, the Vision Workbook is free and it’s a great way to get started.
3. Prioritize Today’s Tasks
Take a look at your daily schedule and to-do list, then make your priorities. Camille is a big advocate of setting the day’s priorities early in the morning and it’s a big part of her own morning ritual. “You know those days where it feels like you’re just spinning your wheels and hopping from one thing to the next, but it feels like you have nothing to show for it? Even on days like that, if I accomplish my top three priorities, I can end the day knowing that even if I didn’t get everything done, I still got the most important things done.”
Finally, the morning is the perfect time to pick up a book and get in some reading. Maybe you stick to non-fiction in the morning and read something inspirational or motivational to get your mind right. Or perhaps you start the day with one chapter of BookTok’s latest obsession—it could very well be the treat that gets you out of bed in the morning.
A Productive Day Begins With a Mindful Morning Routine
Before you commit to a full routine, try on a few different ideas. And don’t feel the need to rush it. Notice how you feel after each ritual then only keep the ones that you rank the highest. Eventually, you’ll land on the perfect morning routine that supports your needs and it will likely be just as unique as you are.
Get more morning routine inspo from Camille herself. In this video, Camille takes you step by step through the morning habits that ground her day.