MORNING ROUTINES:
THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO YOUR BEST MORNING RITUAL

Learn from the best and build your own morning routine!

By Dovile Sinke

A lot has been written about morning routines.

We all kinda feel that getting one is a smart idea, right?

Wouldn’t it be epic, to do a certain ritual for 30-60 mins every morning and increase the likelihood of having an extraordinary day, every day?

Well, it turns out, one thing that unites the successful people is in fact…

…a carefully crafted morning routine.

So in this article, I’m on a mission to find the answer to the century-long question: What is a perfect morning routine?

I’ll do that by taking a deep look at 60 successful people morning routines and share some morning routine hacks based on the results of this study. 

I will also share with you 8-morning habits, that you can implement into your life and build your own morning ritual.

And finally, morning routines don’t go without learning the science behind habit building and that Chapter 4 is exactly for that.

Buckle up and let’s dive straight into it.

(you can navigate the article using chapter markers below)

healthy breakfast habit

{ CHAPTER 1}

MORNING ROUTINES OF
60 SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE

Good morning sets a tone for the rest of the day. 

Tim Ferriss, entrepreneur, best selling author, and biohacker said in his video how to build successful morning routine:  “If you win the morning, you win the day”.

Most of us would agree that having a healthy morning routine allows you to achieve your goals and ambitions easier and faster. 

In fact, a number of health benefits such as better mental health, lower stress levels, increased energy, improved sleep quality etc. can be achieved as a consequence of having a daily routine.

After having reviewed over 60 successful and world famous people I can conclude that:

  • High performers pay big attention to their mornings
  • All of them have established routines they follow (almost) every morning
  • Morning routines of successful people are similar

Hence, a lot of success must be contributed to a productive morning routine and in setting the right scene early in the day. 

Keep reading to find out top morning routines and how you can build them yourself

How was this RESEARCH made?

I reviewed a number of podcasts, talk shows and articles from trustful sources, where highly successful people were interviewed. 

Some examples include The Tim Ferriss show,  mymorningroutine.com, Business Insider, Inc, CNBC, The Miracle Morning book etc.  

I studied their wake up time, what they do after waking up and breakfast patterns to find commonalities and the ultimate morning routine for success you can do yourself to follow the path of the Greats. 

The list of successful people includes 60 world famous actors, writers, CEOs of leading companies, top entrepreneurs and world leaders such as Oprah, Arianna Huffington, Woody Allen, Aubrey Marcus, Barack Obama, Gwyneth Paltrow, Marie Forleo, Ryan Holiday, Seth Godin, Tim Ferriss, Winston Churchill, and others. 

See full list with the details below

“Having a healthy routine is what sets you apart and allows you to achieve the things you want easier and faster.”

Dovile Sinke

BEST Morning routines of successful people

I’ve looked into best morning routines of 25 women and 35 men and this is what the successful people do first thing in the morning:

  • Exercising: engaging in some kind of physical activity such as working out, doing yoga, going for a walk, stretching (65%)
  • Checking e-mails or doing a bit of work (38%)
  • Meditation (22%)
  • Gratitude practice: journaling, making a resolution, expressing gratitude, visualization, positive affirmation, praying (22%)
  • Reading a book or a newspaper (22%)

* Numbers (%) refer to the percentage of people engaging in a certain activity, based on the total population of 60 successful men and women.

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WAKE UP TIMES OF SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE

Wondering whether you got to get up early to set yourself for success?

Well, 50% of the 54 top successful people wake up between 06.01 and 07.00 am.

In fact, 86% wake up before 7 am. 

Sounds doable, right?

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BREAKFAST PATTERNS OF SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE

What about breakfast? Do you think successful people are strict about their breakfast? 

Hell YEAH. 89% out of 53 successful people, including men and women, said they do eat breakfast.

To be fair, Intermittent Fasting might not have been a ‘thing’ at the time all successful people gave those interviews and I’m sure if you ask them now – there would be a lot fewer people choosing to have breakfast.

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Morning routine and social media

The majority of the top performers, coaches and researchers recommend staying away from your phone in the mornings not to get distracted. 

However … 

7% of the successful people I studied, in fact, check their social media accounts once they wake up. 

Examples of such people include Scott Adams, Mark Zuckerberg, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Cindy Whitehead. 

ying yang genders

{ CHAPTER 2 }

MORNING ROUTINES BY GENDER

Morning routines are similar among successful men and women

A vast majority of them wake up before 7 am,  exercise, practice meditation, do some sort of gratitude practice and eat breakfast. 

There is one difference though.

While men prefer to check their e-mails and/or get some work done early in the mornings (54% of men vs. 16% of women), women tend to prioritize spending time with their kids (36% of women vs. 9% of men) before continuing with their day.

best MORNING ROUTINES OF SUCCESSFUL Women

When it comes to successful women, these are the top morning activities practiced daily by 25 high performing females:

  • Exercising: engaging in some kind of physical activity such as working out, doing yoga, going for a walk, stretching (80%)
  • Family time: helping kids to get ready and spending time with them (36%)
  • Meditation (28%)
  • Reading a book or a newspaper (28%)
  • Gratitude practice: journaling, making a resolution, expressing gratitude, visualization, positive affirmation, praying (24%) 
  • Eating breakfast (91% )

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The majority of the successful women (64% of 22 women) reported waking up between 06.01 and 07.00 am

Whopping 91% of them get up at 7 am or earlier

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Almost all (91%) of the 22 high performing women I reviewed reported eating breakfast.

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best morning routines of successful men

Looking at the top successful men, these are the top morning routines practiced by 35 high performing men:

  • Exercising: engaging in some kind of physical activity such as working out, doing yoga, going for a walk, stretching (54%)
  • Checking e-mails or doing a bit of work (54%)
  • Gratitude practice: journaling, making a resolution, expressing gratitude, visualization, positive affirmation, praying (20%) 
  • Meditation (17%)
  • Reading a book or a newspaper (17%)

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While the majority (41%) of the 32 reviewed successful men wake up between 06.01 and 07.00 am, 82% reported waking up before 7 am. 

Hm, seems like men like to sleep in more often than women!

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87% of 31 high performing men reviewed reported eating breakfast as part of their morning routine.  

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8 routines rituals

{ CHAPTER 3 }

8 Morning Habits to create your own perfect morning routine

Now, when you looked at the overall statistics and also individual profiles, you can start shaping your Ultimate Morning Ritual for Success.

So, how to create a good morning routine? 

Follow these 8 easy steps.

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1. wake up BEFORE 7 AM 

The majority of successful people wake up early to start the day and get important things done while the rest of the world is still sleeping. In fact, some of them wake up extremely early:
  • 19% of people wake up at or before 5 am
  • 86% of people wake up at or before 7 am
  • 4% of people wake up at or after 9 am

 2. MOVE YOUR BODY

65% of successful people have an established morning exercise routine.

You don’t necessarily have to work out very hard every morning, a simple morning stretch routine or a walk is enough to get your body moving.  

If you workout regularly (you know you should….), consider moving your workouts to the mornings. 

Studies have shown that exercising in the morning, in particularly in a fasted state, helps you burn more fat and boosts your metabolism for the rest of the day. 

3. Practice meditation

Meditation helps to calm your mind, stay content and focused.

When done in the mornings, it helps to set the right tone for the day in a relaxed and positive way (read more about meditation here).

22% of successful people have an established morning meditation routine. 

4. Implement a gratitude practice

Gratitude practice should be another key element in your morning routine

There are a number of different ways to practice gratitude, all from saying 3 things you are grateful for each morning to daily journaling, or 5 min visualization exercise

22% of successful people have reported practicing some kind of gratitude every morning, for example: 

  • Daily journaling
  • Expressing gratitude
  • Positive affirmations
  • Practicing visualization
  • Praying.

In fact, most of them combine several morning gratitude rituals, such as visualization and journaling, or positive affirmations and journaling, etc. 

5. READ A BOOK

Reading enhances your brain function, encourages its growth and helps to improve your concentration and focus.

Also, it broadens your vocabulary and makes you smarter! 

Top performers dedicate a lot of their success and time to book reading.

22% of the successful people I studied read newspapers or books early in the mornings.

6. Get some work done

Tackling the important tasks or planning your day ahead first thing in the morning has been reported to boost your productivity and achieve your goals better.  

Read more about “eating the frog in the morning” technique here

38% of successful people I reviewed spend their early morning hours working on things like replying their emails, planning the rest of the day to set priorities and/or concentrating on important tasks in the morning piece, while their brains are highly focused. 

7. Spend time with family

Keeping a strong bond with your family has a number of health benefits, like improving your mental health, reducing stress and even prolonging your life!

20% of top performers reported spending time with their kids first thing in the morning. 

This, in particular, is true for women – 36% of them make sure to find family time in the mornings.

8. EAT BREAKFAST 

Even if Intermittent Fasting is becoming more popular, 87% of top performers reported eating breakfast as part of their morning routine.

It will be interesting to revisit this trend in a couple of years. I bet I will see some changes as more and more people choose to do extended fasting

While there is no one dominating breakfast meal among top successful people, the majority chooses a healthier alternative rich in proteins and nutrients

Breakfast choices vary from lighter options like smoothies, oatmeal and protein bars to more solid ones like eggs and toast.

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how to create your own morning

{ CHAPTER 4 }

How to develop a morning routine?

This is probably the most important chapter of them all.

All of my efforts will go down the drain if after reading this (or let’s be honest, you’re probably skimming it through…) you won’t be experimenting with at least one of the morning routines.

In the end, it all comes down to building the set of morning habits that will become your morning routine.

And to make it happen, I want to first cover a super simple habit building formula that you could use if you’re determined to do it right this time!

If you already know all about building the habits, you can skip straight to the morning routines research.

UNDERSTANDING HABIT BUILDING LOOP

Building a habit is easier than you think.

And if previously you struggled to build one, as James Clear puts it, when building a habit “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”

A habit loop, even though first mentioned in 1938 by B.F. Skinner in his book ‘The Behavior of Organisms’ as ‘stimulus, response, reward’, Charles Duhigg really was the one who popularized the concept of the habit loop in his widely popular book ‘The Power of Habit’.

In that book, he presents a habit loop formula, that helps you understand and build any habit and basically consists of CUE + ROUTINE + REWARD.

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WHAT IS A CUE?

A cue could be anything from a place, time of a day, location to smell, sound or emotion. Basically, anything that triggers a certain action or thought and puts your mind and body into the mode of performing a certain routine.

For example, getting into the dark room, which automatically triggers your habit of looking for a light switch.

Or taking the toothbrush and applying toothpaste the way you always do.

Or example I love the most personally – going to the grandma’s place and immediately going into the kitchen, looking for food.

WHAT IS A ROUTINE?

A Routine is an actual behavior, ritual, action you perform that will turn into the habit once performed frequently enough.

Thus, turning on the light, applying toothpaste, going into the kitchen. The actions that follow the trigger.

WHAT IS A REWARD?

A Reward is a feeling of satisfaction you get whenever you successfully finish the routine. It sends a positive signal to your brain saying ‘Doing this feels good, you should do more of it!’.

To follow the examples already given, it’s the feeling of being able to see things clearly in the room, feeling of freshness in the mouth when brushing the teeth and a feeling of having a delicious food at grandmas.

These are all great rewards, that were registered in our brain each time we did it until it became a habit, an automatic action.

Another example I like to use is to ask yourself what kind of people you like to hang out most with?

The ones that make you feel good. You see a person, you spend some time with him/her and if you’re feeling better than before, next time you’ll want to spend time with the same person again. Or completely opposite.

If you feel great immediately after completing an action – you want to repeat again.

HOW TO USE HABIT LOOP TO BUILD A MORNING ROUTINE?

Firstly, I’ve tried the habit loop formula myself and it works. 

My own morning routine looks roughly like this:

  • Wake up 6.30am
  • Do yoga or exercise for 30min
  • Meditate for 10min
  • Take a shower
  • Do 1h of work
  • Have a breakfast

Would you like to have more structured mornings too? Then, follow these 5 steps.

  1. Write down things that you do every morning already
    Waking up, grabbing a phone, stepping out of the bed, going the usual route to the bathroom, taking a shower, heading to the fridge and so on. Be as detailed as possible. This is NOT a place to judge yourself or write a routine you WANT to have. Just write things out as they are.
  2. Choose a habit you want to add into your morning routine
    Key to building a routine is started by adding habits one by one. Choose a habit your really you want to have as part of your mornings and then go to step 3.
  3. Stack new habit right on top of one of your current habits
    For example, if you take a shower every morning, you could say: “after I take a shower, I will meditate for 10mins”.This concept is called habit stacking and has a simple formula:
    After/Before I [CURRENT HABIT], I will [NEW HABIT].You can read more about it in James Clear’s post on habit stacking.
  4. Make it easy, set small targets first
    So small that you could do it even if you’re late to work, sick or have no energy. E.g., meditating for at least 3 minutes every morning no matter what. This way you will not feel overwhelmed by the whole mission of building your personal morning ritual and will be more likely to stick with it long enough for it to become a habit. Don’t make a mistake most of us do – starting big with a mentality of ‘all in or nothing’, just because we have this sudden boost of motivation and willpower. It’s a short-sighted strategy that fails 9/10 times, because life gets in a way.
  5. Track it
    Download one the habit tracking apps or print this habit chain sheet we’ve prepared for your. By tracking your habit, you will shoot many birds with one stone – you’ll make it satisfying by seeing your progress, you’ll be motivated to keep going and you’ll get an additional trigger to perform your routine.

After a couple of weeks, this will become more and more automatic for you. And a couple of months later you won’t even remember the life without your new habit 🙂

Then simply move on by adding another tiny habit to your routine. You could even use your newly developed habit in the Step 3!

bonus chapter routines

BONUS Chapter

INDIVIDUAL PROFILES:
60 MORNING ROUTINES OF SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE ​

In case you were wondering who are those 60 successful people that I’ve based this research on…

Below you’ll find all of them in one place. 

Explore one by one by scrolling the individual cards to the right. 

IT's YOUR TIME TO SHINE!

You have now read all you need to know about morning routines of successful people.

It’s time to implement Your Own Ultimate Morning Routine.

The first step?

Let me know what of the above you will implement immediately to your morning routine? What time will you be waking up tomorrow and what will be the first thing you will do?

Leave a comment below. 

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