Learn from the best and build your own morning routine!
A lot has been written about good 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 15-30 mins every morning and increase the likelihood of having an extraordinary day, every day?
Well, it turns out, one thing that unites successful people is in fact…
…a carefully crafted healthy 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 an in-depth look at 60 successful people’s morning routines and share epic 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 precisely for that.
Buckle up and let’s dive straight into it.
(you can navigate the article using chapter markers below)
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 create a 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, several 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 morning routine.
After having reviewed over 60 successful and world-famous people I can conclude that:
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 successful morning routines and how you can build them yourself.
I reviewed a number of podcasts, talk shows and articles from trustful sources, where highly successful people were interviewed.
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 the 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.”
I’ve looked into the best morning routines of 25 women and 35 men and this is what the successful people do first thing in the morning:
* Numbers (%) refer to the percentage of people engaging in a specific activity, based on the total population of 60 successful men and women.
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?
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. I’m sure if you ask them now – there would be a lot fewer people choosing to have breakfast.
The majority of the top performers, coaches and researchers recommend staying away from your phone in the mornings not to get distracted.
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.
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.
When it comes to successful women, these are the top good morning routines practiced daily by 25 high performing females:
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!
Almost all (91%) of the 22 high performing women I reviewed reported eating breakfast.
Looking at the top successful men, these are the top good morning routines practiced by 35 high performing men:
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!
87% of 31 high performing men reviewed reported eating breakfast as part of their 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 and how to start a good morning routine?
Follow these 8 easy steps.
If you workout regularly (you know you should….), consider moving your workouts to the mornings.
Studies have shown that exercising in the morning, in particular in a fasted state, helps you burn more fat and boosts your metabolism for the rest of the day.
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.
Gratitude practice should be another key element in your morning routine.
22% of successful people have reported practicing some kind of gratitude every morning, for example:
In fact, most of them combine several morning gratitude rituals, such as visualization and journaling, or positive affirmations and journaling, etc.
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.
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 to their emails, planning the rest of the day to set priorities or concentrating on important tasks in the morning piece, while their brains are highly focused.
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.
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.
Ok, so now we know that waking up before 7 am is what most successful people do.
But how do we do that ourselves?
There are couple of options I tried :
If you’re used to going to sleep much later, it’s likely that you will find it hard to fall asleep right away. In order to tackle that, I personally recommend 2 things – to leave your phone charging in another room and get a book. These work wonders for me because without a phone, I’m less tempted to get into the endless scrolling on Instagram or watching Youtube and reading a book tend to make me very sleepy after 5-10 pages of any book. If I don’t get sleepy – at least I read something fun or useful.
The natural effect of going to sleep earlier will be that over time, your body will adjust and make you sleepy before 10 pm on a regular basis. Also, as you will be waking much earlier, you will get tired earlier as well. It’s just a natural rhythm for our bodies to be ok with 15-17h of activity and require 7-9h of sleep for a full recovery.
That’s probably what most of us will do. I’ve tried it myself too. I used to wake up around 8 am and then slowly started to set my alarm to 7.30 am, then 7 am, then 6.30 am and all the way down until in 2 weeks I reached 5 am mark.
And you know what?
The first few days were tough, because I’d still go to sleep very late and waking up earlier meant that I had less sleep, therefore less energy. But this lack of energy naturally pushed me to go to sleep earlier and therefore waking up earlier got easier too.
There are many types of alarms – digital, radio, analogue and a mobile app.
I personally like the mobile app version the most because of the convenience.
I’d set it up and leave it in another room, but not too far so I would still hear it.
Putting it further away forced me to get out of the bed to turn it off and I used a bit of the willpower to just go straight to the shower.
The app I use now is called Alarmy.
It is ranked No. 1 on App Store in 97 countries and has the highest rating among the Top 30 alarm apps, thus it was no brainer for me. If so many people like it, it must be good.
And as I found out – it is! It has some really creative ways to make you prove you are fully awake: you can choose to turn off the alarm by taking a photo, shaking the phone or solving a math problem to prove you are fully awake.
If you set a photo alarm, for example, you need to add an image of something in your house. Then you have to get up and take the same photo in the morning to dismiss the alarm. There is no way to turn off the phone or delete Alarmy unless you complete the mission you set. Cool, isn’t it?
Also, after some time I’ve got the premium version because I really wanted to have the feature called “Wake Up Check”. What it does is quite simple: once you turn off the alarm, the app will check on you in some random type by sending you a question “Are you fully awake?”. If you don’t react, it will turn the alarm back on. This was a game changer for me as at some point I was getting really good at solving 3 math problems very quick, but would still fall asleep after that.
Get the Alarmy app here (main features are FREE forever, premium ones costs $4.99/month)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 the most?
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.
Firstly, I’ve tried the habit loop formula myself and it works.
My own morning routine looks roughly like this:
Would you like to have more structured mornings too? Then, follow these 5 steps.
Waking up, grabbing a phone, stepping out of 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.
The 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.
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.
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 the way.
Download one of the habit tracking apps or print this habit chain sheet we’ve prepared for you. 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 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 Step 3!
Transform your morning with the help of books and journals. 👇
You have now read all you need to know about the morning routines of successful people.
It’s time to implement Your Own Ultimate Morning Routine.
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