The Perfect Morning Routine Doesn’t Exist – But Here Are Some Effective Strategies

By on February 19, 2021

The perfect morning routine can make a huge difference to your day ahead, and your health in general. Getting the day started right can prime your mood and instill great habits that build up over time. I’ve seen countless videos discussing the “perfect” morning routine, and now I want to throw my hat into the ring.

perfect morning routine

But before I do, I want to make one thing clear: I DO NOT do this myself. It would be very disingenuous to claim otherwise.

See also: Upgrade Your Productivity: Top Productivity Hacks

Why is that, you ask? It’s because I have a two year-old daughter. It’s because I run multiple businesses. And it’s because we’re stuck in the house constantly due to Covid. I’d like to have the perfect morning routine. But, realistically, I can’t.

I felt that maybe this would be a useful thing to share with anyone else who feels the need to live up to impossible standards. Because, let’s face it, a lot of those videos are from people who are young, single, and child-free. They also happen to be professional “YouTubers” who get to make their own timetable.

So, how might we adapt the same principles to a less ideal set of circumstances?

The Perfect Morning Routine for Health and Success

Let’s start with what the perfect morning routine looks like under ideal circumstances. I want to keep this routine under 40 minutes and the aim is to boost energy, focus, and long-term health.

Note: The below morning routine assumes you wake up at just before 7am. Obviously, it can be adapted to any schedule.

Let’s go.

The Perfect Morning Routine Schedule

6.50am: Drink a large glass of water. Hydration is extremely important for countless bodily functions and will help to increase mental clarity and more.

6.55am: Take a cold shower or splash some cold water on your face to trigger the mammalian dive reflex. This triggers specific receptors in the face that activate the mammalian dive reflex. This, in turn, will increase blood flow to the vital organs and increase adrenaline production! The cold shower will raise testosterone, too. It’s training for the immune system too, and may help you to fend off illness in future.

Cold shower

7am: Next, go and meditate in the garden for 10 minutes. My preference would be hakalau meditation. There are multiple benefits here: meditation will clear the mind and improve focus. This has both short-term and long-term benefits. Meditation is a mainstay of countless articles on the best morning routine.

See also: Different Types of Meditation for Focus, Control, and Creativity

By doing this outside, especially during dawn, you might be able to reset your biological clock. Our body uses external cues (called “external zeitgebers”) to modulate its own sleep/wake cycle, and natural light is one of the most important of these – as is the ambient temperature! This can help you wake up AND improve your sleep later that night. It may also help to combat SAD. This is a great strategy for combating jetlag, too!

Morning meditation

You’ll boost vitamin D, thanks to exposure to the sunlight, raising testosterone and fortifying your immune system. There are even some theories that the red light from a sunrise or sunset could offer some of the same benefits as red light therapy. This is a controversial subject and I haven’t read enough research to make my mind up on it – but it’s certainly a nice potential bonus, if it works.

7.10: Warm up. This is a physical warm-up for the day ahead, in much the way you warm-up for a workout. The aim is to boost your energy and to wake up your muscles. If you normally go straight from lying in bed, to sitting at a desk/in the car, then you literally have not engaged your glutes, your abs, or any other muscles. It becomes all too easy for them to then “switch off” leading to long term imbalances, muscle soreness, etc.

A daily warm-up could consist of some skipping, light shadow boxing, air squats, or all three. This also helps get the blood circulating even more.

Morning mobility routine

This should also incorporate some mobility work. Now is the perfect time to stretch and limber up. I’ll share my ideal mobility routine in future, but there are plenty of great ones online. I recommend the YouTube channel SaturnoMovement for some fantastic options. We can also use this as a way to run a “diagnostics” check of the body to look for any areas that are sore or weak.

7.25: Cognitive training. I’ve been using REAKT Performance Trainer which makes brain training fun and highly effective. You could alternatively use something a little less involved, like dual N-Back, or perhaps the Simon Task. Cognitive Training CAN be highly effective if done correctly, and I’ve noticed myself feeling sharper and more alert since incorporating it into my own routine. By combining brain training and meditation into the same morning routine, you’ll see some compound benefits.

Morning cognitive training

7.30: Tidy. Tidying for the last ten minutes is a game-changer. Our environment massively impacts our mood, and if we can keep a tidy home, we’ll feel happier, calmer, and more successful. This is also a great way to get something productive ticked off the list early, and to

One of my proudest productivity “hacks” is what I call the “Net Profit” technique. The aim is to do a few more things after you’ve finished. So let’s say you’ve “tidied” the kitchen: now find three more quick things to do that will make it look even better and

See also: On Top, Not Snowed Under – The “Net Profit” Productivity Hack

I also recommend listening to some music during this point. Music can elevate the mood and prime you for the day ahead. Once you’re done, you’ll be ready to kick-ass and take names.

The Best Morning Routine That I Can Manage

So, that’s the perfect morning routine if you want to feel great and enjoy a productive day ahead.

Buuuut… that’s not quite reality for most folks now, is it?

I’m actually extremely lucky, because my two year old daughter does sleep through most nights. We actually wake her up at 7am, which we do so that both my wife and I have time to get ready. I take the first shift.

So, I head into Emmy’s room at 7am and usually get greeted by a “I love you Daddy!” Which to be fair, is an extremely nice way to wake up. Then I take Emmy into her Mum’s and head downstairs to get some milk for her. After that, Hannah gets up and starts showering and I get Emmy dressed.

As it happens, this is already a workout. Dressing Emmy is like fighting a Kraken. She runs around and jumps all over the place and runs off with things laughing maniacally. Sometimes she gets randomly upset about things – like this morning she didn’t want me to wipe her left hand. Right one was fine though.

Dressing Emmy is like fighting a Kraken.

Breakfast

Then Emmy listens to an audiobook – usually The Highway Rat by Julia Donaldson – while I make us both breakfast. I also take 10 minutes during this time to tidy the kitchen, so that’s something I managed to bring over from my perfect morning routine.

We then listen to the news together via Alexa while we both eat our breakfasts. I have Fuel, which is a cereal with added protein.

Then we play!

Productive Play

This is where I do manage to tick off a few of the items from my perfect morning routine.

Working out while playing with my daughter in the morning

During play, I try to get in some exercise. Emmy enjoys being chased around the house, which I can do in a lizard-crawl. She also enjoys being squatted, and doing yoga together. If we play a game on the floor, I can do that in a resting squat. And sometimes I just sneak in a random stretch.

I also turn several of our activities into brain training opportunities. If we draw together, I always do it with my left hand. When I read her stories, I make a specific effort to perform the story in an engaging way and without stuttering, pausing, or making errors. This is great training for focus, verbal fluency, and presenting – and I think it has benefited my YouTube channel.

30 Minutes to Myself

Hannah takes over and I now have about 30 minutes before work starts. I can’t have a long meditation session or perform dual n-back, seeing as I have to get showered, have a fairly extended trip to the loo, and be dressed for work.

But I still manage to fit a couple of wins in here.

Specifically, I will perform 50 Hindu Squats while in the shower. This is great because I get to wash away the sweat as I’m training. I do Hindu Squats because the bath is too narrow for regular squats.

Likewise, I always brush my teeth with my left hand.

I’ll follow this up with 5 minutes of Acem Meditation – meditation that involves simply letting the mind wander. It’s highly relaxing and it may help to organize the thoughts and enhance creativity and problem solving.

I finish with a few minutes of cold-showering, then come down to make coffee. I try and stick my head out the window because it’s better than nothing. Oh, and I get dressed in-between those things.

Closing Comments

So, it’s not the perfect morning routine that I would hope, but it’s better than nothing. And meanwhile, I do fit many of the other things in at different points in the day. I exercise sporadically throughout the day, and I end the day with some brain training.

Could I wake up at 6am or 5am and have a more productive start? Sure! But where’s the fun in that? I personally disagree with the whole “grinding” mentality. What’s the point of being successful but miserable? Especially as it’s perfectly possible to be moderately successful AND have a good time doing it? Just how successful do you need to be, anyway?

It’s Okay Not to be Perfect

I like to stay up watching TV with my wife in the evening, and maybe get in a little bit of gaming while she gets ready for bed.

I personally disagree with the whole “grinding” mentality.

That means I often go to sleep at 11pm or 12am and waking earlier than 7am would mean getting less than 8 hours. And as I’m getting older, I find I really need those 8 hours.

Sleeping

Likewise, I do look at my phone first thing in the morning. Because I like it. My mind hasn’t exploded just yet.

So, maybe the moral of this story is not to worry about creating the perfect morning routine. Just make it as good as it can be and maybe try and get one or two good habits in there. That’s pretty much what life is anyway, right?

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About Adam Sinicki

Adam Sinicki, AKA The Bioneer, is a writer, personal trainer, author, entrepreneur, and web developer. I've been writing about health, psychology, and fitness for the past 10+ years and have a fascination with the limits of human performance. When I'm not running my online businesses or training, I love sandwiches, computer games, comics, and hanging out with my family.

6 Comments

  1. Maik Steffen says:

    Awesome and honest take on morning routines. Love the thought at the end, that getting up earlier simply isnt fun! Needed to hear that, because it seems that nowadays everyone just tells you that you have to get up earlier to have a more productive day and I really struggle with that. I think some of your ideas are really good to adapt for people who dont have 2 hours for themselves in the morning!
    I’d love to hear more of your thoughts about the “grinding mentality” because it’s really hard for me to decide which parts are beneficial and which parts are harming for me!
    Greetings from Germany!

  2. Vladimir says:

    Hi Adam,
    thanks a lot for the write up and great content on this page and youtube in general!
    Could you please elaborate a bit on “I exercise sporadically throughout the day”? Does it mean you are exercising multiple times a day for short periods of time? If so, how are you structuring these short workouts?
    Do you have a general opinion on the topic multiple short workouts vs. one “standard” long workout?
    I failed to find anything about it in your books, which I enjoyed btw.

    Thanks in advance,
    Vladimir

  3. On the “red light from the sun” issue, I offer this fascinating study:

    “Non-Coherent Near Infrared Radiation Protects Normal Human Dermal Fibroblasts from Solar Ultraviolet Toxicity – Journal of Investigative Dermatology”

    https://www.jidonline.org/article/S0022-202X(15)40236-2/fulltext

    The gist: Exposing your skin to dawn/dusk sunlight (UV index near zero) for 30 minutes provides at least 24 hours of protection against sunburn.

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