As author Annie Dillard once wrote, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
In our coaching and in our own lives, we’ve seen how a solid morning routine can transform the rest of the day for the better. According to Forbes, many successful people have discovered that they’re more energized, focused and productive during the day when they build their earliest hours around habits such as practicing mindfulness, getting exercise, drinking lemon water and avoiding electronic devices.
A morning routine can look different for every person, depending on your Life Plan and priorities. To help you develop a morning routine that works for you, we’ve developed a guide called “You Are Your Morning Routine.” You can click here to download it.
Here are a few tried-and-true routines from several of our Executive Coaches:
Take in Nature
“My morning routine has me up early four mornings a week at 5 a.m.
Upon waking, I flood my system with two 10 oz. glasses of water. Water is the best ‘jump starter’ for my day (yes, yes, caffeine is a close second!).
Since moving to Arizona, I have combined my early morning with being outside.
Aside from a chaser of hot tea, coffee and a light breakfast, for 30 minutes I do not allow anything to disturb or distract me — no reading or checking email, nothing personal or professional.
I find a great correlation between waking up to listening to the sounds and viewing the beauty of nature — the quiet of the Sonoran Desert, the sun rising and hitting the tops of the trees, a litany of birds greeting the morning and golf course as my backyard — and my ability to center myself, to clear the incessant rush of ideas and things I need to do. The best time to get clarity is at the start of the day. After that, it is often too late.
Starting off with as ‘clean a slate’ as possible has been a profound blessing. Often this time opens up some terrific prayer and gratitude.
After the 30 minutes, I jog or walk and allow myself to engage in thinking about my day: actions to complete, clients I have scheduled. While I run I think a lot about what I can do better or different when it comes to my clients and business ventures I am involved with. When I come back I write down what I ‘brainstormed’ during my run.
I always take a morning shower and then get to it!”
Keep It Consistent
“My morning routine always starts the night before so my bedtime is key. I need seven to eight hours of sleep and wake up between 5-6 a.m. I do this 6.75 days out of the week, meaning that I’ll miss once in a while, but it’s pretty consistent, and it has been for years.
I get up, start hot water for my tea and drink a little apple cider vinegar in water — it’s good for your gut and good for your brain.
While my hot water is heating up, I go to the same spot in the living room, drop to the ground and do some stretching, different yoga poses and pray. I have a bit of a routine with my prayer as well, but I will save that for a different post.
Back to my routine, now my water is boiling and I make tea. I do a series of exercises to strengthen my lower back and core to prevent back injuries. I do some other floor exercises to wake my body up as well.
When the tea is steeped, I read through scriptures in an expositional fashion, spending enough time to really digest whatever chapter I’m reading. Then I do some other form of spiritual reading and then read something that’s business oriented. In the winter, I’ll light a fire and some mornings in the summer, I’ll do this out in the backyard.
I have breakfast, shower and get ready, and then listen to the news on my drive to the office.”
Invest in Growth
“I've embraced a morning routine as far back as I can remember, back to my days as a student. Some kids fight the morning, but I found that when my day started with a plan I was usually happier and less stressed during high school. In college, I continued my commitment to a routine by signing up for 7:40 a.m. classes. This helped me go early to bed and early to rise. They say it helps keep you healthy, wealthy and wise!
As an adult, I've kept that momentum with slightly different disciplines as I've embraced marriage, parenting and business as important aspects of my life. For me to experience growth in those three areas of my life, I've made commitments to invest in specific daily routines that contribute to my personal growth as a leader at home and at work.
I wake up at 5:30 a.m. and get dressed, go downstairs and make coffee. From 5:45-6:35 a.m., I read, pray and write in my five-minute journal. After that, I start my exercise routine: jumping jacks, push-ups, crunches and stretching. By 7 a.m., I’m headed to work.
I cannot say that every single day looks exactly like my plan, but I can say that my best days are usually the ones that follow the morning routine. By far, my most important discipline is my personal commitment to not pick up my iPhone before 7 a.m. This avoids most of the distractions that would keep me from my plan.”
Start the Night Before
“The most important element of my morning routine begins the night before. I review my calendar for the next day so that I am clear on my priorities and think through anything that may wake me up in the middle of the night worrying; writing anything down that is floating around in my head as a task that I need to remember the next day.
I’m intentional about what time I get in bed, ensuring that I have time to read, relax, and talk with my husband. Most work nights, this means that the television goes off by 8 p.m., or doesn’t even come on at all. Then the lights are out at a time that allows me to get at least seven hours of solid sleep. The success of my day rests on me sticking to this evening routine.”
Set an Appointment You Can’t Break
Coach Bill Hart
“I think a morning routine is strongly impacted by your evening routine; I refer to them as the bookends of your day. For me, that means hard edges — I go to bed at 9 p.m. and wake up at 4:59 a.m. every day.
I used to wake up at 5 a.m., but I was challenged by a client who’s a former Navy SEAL. He said I needed to wake up in the four o’clock hour — so I do.
Then I walk downstairs, brew my one and only cup of coffee for the day and sit down with my paper Bible to have ‘Coffee with God.’ It’s an appointment I won’t break, because it’s an appointment with God. For people who don’t read the Bible, I recommend reading poetry, a business book or something else before you start taking in news and social media.
At 5:30 a.m., I transition into prepping for sessions, reading through emails and updates. That allows me to engage with my clients for the day fully prepared. I’m usually done with that at 6:30 a.m. and then I get up, make breakfast — eggs, turkey bacon, toast, green juice and green tea — and prepare for my first coaching session at 7:30 a.m.
I don’t work out in the morning — I take a two-hour lunch and work out then.”
Seize the Day
What steps could you take to make the most of each morning? Download our guide to start building your best morning routine.