I’ve seen many, MANY of these cookie-cutter routines that people put out on their sites. They promise super-duper productivity, enhanced mood and cognition, and easier work days. What they fail to mention, however, is one key problem…
They’re totally unrealistic for the average Joe.
Let me give you an example of what one of these morning routines. This isn’t an EXACT routine, but it’s close enough that you’ll get the gist.
- 6:30AM – Wake up
- 6:45AM – 45 minute jog
- 7:30AM – Light stretching and meditation
- 7:45AM – Shower
- 8:00AM – Write for 30 minutes
- 8:30AM – Breakfast
- 8:45AM – Do a Sudoku
- 9:15AM – Leave for work
Ok, seriously now, show of hands, who’s going to be able to do routine in the morning before work? I don’t know about you, but I don’t think my boss is going to accept me coming into work at 10:15AM because I needed to finish my morning meditation.
“So just push the times back,” some of you are saying. If I were to do that, I’d be getting up at 3:30AM every morning. Some of you can manage getting up that early, but most guys will see this and say “nah.”
So what’s an average Joe to do? I get that most of us want to have a morning routine that gets us woken up, feeling refreshed and fired up for the day, but we also don’t have 3 hours in the morning to do so. Where’s the balance?
The answer’s simple: start the night before.
Don’t make the mistake of taking these routines you see online and trying to copy it word for word into your own life. This random guru on the internet doesn’t know your life situation and, unless he’s willing to sit down and talk through it with you, can’t give you a routine that actually works for YOU.
That’s the thing that most people don’t realize, the guru has found a morning routine that works! …for him.
Instead, take a look over his routine and find elements that are useful for your situation. Perhaps you determine a morning jog would be a good idea that will help you reach your goals. Add that, but maybe nix the meditation and 30 minutes of writing.
“Absorb what is useful, Discard what is not, Add what is uniquely your own.”
Do It The Night Before
Confession time. I am not a morning person. I’m one of those guys who will hit the snooze button a few times before finally dragging myself out of bed. It’s just the way I’m wired. I don’t hit my stride until mid-morning.
Instead of forcing myself into a regimen that goes against my own programming, I’ve adapted to it. Most of my morning routine is actually a nightly routine.
- I lay out my clothes for the next day.
- I get me and my daughter’s lunches made and ready to go.
- I occasionally write.
- I shower.
- I program the coffee pot to begin brewing around 5:45AM.
I find that if I do these things the night before, instead of putting them off until the morning, I’m not nearly as stressed and rushed.
Does this mean I have no room for improvement in the morning? Of course not. I could get up earlier and add a few items to my morning routine and I very may well do so, but I focus on A) making sure it works for ME and B) make sure it’s both sustainable and productive for my goals.
My Sample Routine
So it wouldn’t be a proper “morning routine” article without me outlying a sample routine. This would be MY IDEAL routine. It may not work for you and that’s fine. Take what works and discard what doesn’t.
- 9:00PM – Prep lunches and layout clothes for the next day
- 9:30PM – Shower and hygiene
- 10:00PM – Light reading
- 10:30PM – Bed
- 5:30AM – Wake Up
- 5:40AM – Breakfast and listen to audiobook/podcast
- 6:00AM – Some light calisthenics (pushups, situps, squats)
- 6:10AM – Hygiene
- 6:20AM – Get me and my daughter dressed
- 6:45AM – Head out to drop daughter off at daycare and work
Now this looks a lot more realistic, doesn’t it? It also provides plenty of room for flexibility. If I’m running late or don’t feel up to working out one morning, I can switch the workout time for reading or something else.
Oftentimes, we take what others write on the internet too seriously. We get wrapped up in the whole “Do X, Y, and Z and you’ll be successful and productive” without taking into consideration that these people live completely different lifestyles.
That’s not to say we can’t learn from them or emulate certain behaviors they employ that made them successful, but we’re often looking at the end result of something that took years of them hustling and working to get to. We often fail to take that into account and think these gurus were doing the routines they prescribe from Day 1.
Be smarter than that. Be adaptable and find a routine that works from you. Go ahead and read about all these “perfect morning routines” to get ideas of ways to improve your life, but don’t take them as gospel.
Only you know what works best for you.