January: Build a Good Morning Routine


For the next three months I’m going to work on building good routines. Although almost every habit is some sort of routine at its root, my experiments for January, February and March are especially tied to building good routines. The first of these is to build a good morning routine.

Winter is usually bitter cold in Utah, where my wife and I have lived our whole lives. I don’t think I ever get used to the cold, dark days and the colder, darker nights. Getting a good start in the morning has always been a challenge for me, especially when our bed is 10 degrees warmer than the room around us. My morning motivation during these cold months is akin to molasses in a freezer.

It seems like there are thousands of posts and articles telling us how to use our mornings wisely or why the morning is so important for health, productivity, longevity or something else. So during the month of January I want to put these theories to the test. I’m going to work on building a good morning routine filled with things that bring me joy and will help me prepare for the day.

Last year I learned a lot about failing faster and iterative habit design. In a nutshell, if you’re creating a new habit, you have to fail faster, review why you failed and what you learned and then build a new habit plan to overcome your failings. The theory is that through a series of trials and new plans, you should find an increasingly better way to build a new habit.

I wrote a little article about iterative habit design which you can read here. Leo Babauta wrote an amazing article about failing faster that you can read here. I will be following this format for many of my habit experiments this year, but especially for my morning routine.

In designing my morning routine I had a few things in mind:

  • keep it as simple as possible
  • make it joyful and easy
  • focus on creating a great start

My basic plan, which will likely change within a few days, is this:

  • Wake up around 6:30 (earlier if necessary, later if sick)
  • Drink a glass of water
  • Pee, shave, shower
  • Get dressed (minus shoes/socks)
  • Make breakfast (usually oatmeal, eggs or a smoothie)
  • Review plans for day (work, school, homework, dinner, etc.)
  • Options: Free write in notebook for 10-15 minutes (this can be anything, just needs to be handwritten) OR Read current book for 10-15 minutes

Obviously your plan will and should look different. Maybe you work a graveyard shift so your morning begins at a much different time. Or perhaps your morning begins earlier or later. Maybe you want to include some exercise, more reading, time with the kids or a million other awesome things. Go for it! The important thing with this morning routine is to keep it simple, consistent and to fill it with things that make you happy or bring you joy.

If you want some extra help with morning routines, Courtney Carver has a fantastic course to help you create a meaningful morning routine. I highly recommend the course, which can be found here.

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