Top Ways to Upgrade Your Morning Routine

Morning routine can get really tricky when there’s a lot to do and the day turns out to be the most important in your life so far. It may be a one-time business or an attempt to make decent morning routines a good habit. This list is a collection of advice on how to make the morning productive and inspiring so you don’t want to die when driving to work. Staying on top of the morning has proven to be the key success ingredient for many billionaires and RankTopTen wants the same level of achievements for you. Browse the list and vote for your pick!

Save the Morning for Thinking

That's a really good idea that probably wouldn't occur to most people (it hadn't to me until I read this). I find myself puttering around in the mornings, too, rather than just doing what needs to be done and getting to work.

Of course, rather than having time in the morning and starting to do other things that make you late, you could just leave for work earlier so you finish and get home earlier... That's how I do things. I try to get up at the same time every day and whenever I'm done with shower, breakfast etc... I head to work. It tends to mean I'm one of the first people in the office which lets me get one or two important tasks done before people start asking me for things. I think too many people think of their work days as running between particular times rather than for a period of time. If you have the flexibility to get in half an hour early and consequently leave half an hour earlier than normal, why not give yourself and extra half hour chill time in the evening (and possibly be travelling outside rush hour for even more free time).

Best thing I ever did, bar none, was investing in a light lamp. Solved my night owl tendencies, my inability to get to sleep at night and wake up in the morning in one fell swoop. Of course, now I have to remember to actually use the damn thing.

Know Your Peak Performance Times

Interesting. I have absolutely never heard this before. What is your source?

The only time I have heard that is when talking about people with high blood pressure and heart disease . For those without such issues or risk factors no studies seem to exist which support your conclusions.

I could swear I've seen the BBC's Horizon doing a program on times of day where the most people die. Something about your blood being thicker in the morning between 7 - 10am and it's linked to a higher rate of heart attacks. Also recall something about 2pm - 4pm being the deadliest time to be driving with the post-lunch slowdown and the largest number of hazards on the roads combining to result in statistics that show more road deaths at this time than any other. Can I find this any info on this programme using google?! hell no... and i've scoured! Pretty damn sure it was Horizon... but I guess I could be confusing it with a Discovery channel programme.

Crank Out Some Push-Ups

I've actually heard this before too, although the source escapes me. What I've come to understand is that stretching is the best thing for you in the morning, not exercise. I read about a 7o-something year old russian scientist who came to work with more energy than any of his 20-something grad students because he spent around 2 hours stretching each morning. Some people also recommend yoga.

I would also like to know the source of this, I workout every morning and find it is absolutely the best way to be firing on all cylinders in the morning (only if I've had 6 hrs+ sleep, though).

Thanks for putting up the links. I am surprised how many responses this comment has garnered. I am not a health expert but, was just speaking from a few news articles I had read. (unable to relocate) I just wanted to add to the conversation, not take a stand against exercising in the morning. To re- focus my comment, I believe the strain on your heart is a real thing to consider but, it's not an absolute. Like it was pointed out above, if you have a pre existing condition it may very well expose that. Based off the the articles shared, I would say that if you had a choice to work out when you first woke up or an hour or so later, it would probably be healthier to go with the latter, regardless of existing health conditions. However if it's your only chance to exercise for the day, the benefits would probably out weigh any sort of speculative negative affects. In summary, I would say that in the span of the day, if there was a vulnerable time for your body, it would be when you first wake up. Thanks Gawker for providing the people with great content that spark great conversation!

Wake Up Without Any Caffeine

Wake up on the dot by waking up at the same time every day. Yes, even on the weekends. Go to sleep quickly by first taking the hottest shower you can stand and then immediately getting into bed. As your body cools from the shower, you will get sleepy. Works for me.

another big thing is not to lay in bed until it is time to go to sleep. Over time your body will get reprogrammed to the idea bed = sleep.

Your mileage will probably vary, but as a grad student I can tell you that dense and insanely boring non-fiction puts me to sleep on the dot no matter what the time of day. If I'm at home, I can't read for my dissertation without a cup of coffee or a nap beforehand, so I often take my reading to the gym and just pedal along at 60-70% of capacity while marking up whatever I'm reading to make sure I can go back and find all the info I need later. Did I just go completely off topic...?

Trade Coffee Jolts for Smaller Perk-Ups

Have you tried taking any melatonin before going to bed? I don't know your body type, but 3mg is a nice middle ground for most people. I'd suggest, however, starting at 1mg and work in 1mg increments, to a max of 5mg, until you find a good dose for yourself. I once took a 10mg dose, knowing this was high and wanting to see what would happen. A dead-man trigger I rigged up indicated that I fell asleep within 5-6 minutes. Suffice to say, I'm only taking a 3mg dose of the stuff when I have 3+ consecutive, sleepless nights.

I definitely agree on the waking up at the same time idea. I used to work out 3-4 days a week, so I'd get up early on those days and later on rest days. I always had trouble waking up early after waking up later the day before. Now that I workout 6 days a week it's actually easier to wake up at the same time. In fact, I'm usually awake before the alarm. I have to disagree about the hot shower, may work for you, but I recall reading a report recently about working out at night. People who work out at night tend to have a harder time getting to sleep because when your body goes into sleep mode, your core temperature drops. Working out brings your core temperature up, so working out at night makes it harder to go to sleep because you have to wait until your core temp goes down. Headclone, I'd advise the opposite of Dave, I'd try taking a colder shower at night, and in the summer, crank the AC and close off your bedroom so that the room cools down considerably. For me, I need cold to sleep, I have the worst trouble getting to sleep in the summer.

I second getting up at the same time everyday, i get up at 6h30 every morning and if i leave my shutter open and don't set my alarm clock i get up just a bit later

Choose Your Most Important Task Over Email

After a cold shower, blood will flow to the skin surface and your body starts working to raise your body temp. After a hot shower, your body cools. The key, though, is to cool off in the bed, not while walking around.

Some things I've seen multiple on times on LH and elsewhere: - Spend a few minutes near your bedtime clearing your head of any work you need to get done, perhaps leave a notepad on your nightstand so you can write down any errant thoughts. - I also leave things like picking up the house, cleaning dishes, and ironing the next day's clothes until late in the evening so I can end the day with work accomplished. Stick to tasks that don't require your body to get 'adrenalized'. - If the 'shower' methods suggested in the other responses don't do it for you, try a yoga DVD. I've never worked it into a daily routine, but when I use relaxation yoga I crash hard.

When I had trouble falling asleep, I ended up making it my mental time. Try going to bed earlier, with the intention of reading, listening to calm music like Enya, Sade, classical or jazz, or just use that time to meditatively think about the events of the day and plan for the next. After turning that can't-fall-asleep time into time-for-me time, I have a much better time going down for the night.

Eat for Better Sleep

well in my region the southern Mediterranean it is common to eat dinner late in the evening after 9 and especially in the summer month.

I'm betting timgray is in the US though, and you in the med are also having a sieasa and are staying up til midnight or later easily, and generally it was still to warm/lively to go to bed @ 9pm anyway!

While I agree that you shouldn't keep snacking up until you go to bed, the distinction should be made that snacking frequently doesn't "disrupt" your digestion, as the digestive process requires no "rest phase" in which food shouldn't be consumed. It is also a myth that eating before bed can keep you awake (assuming the food does not contain high concentrations of stimulants or sugars and does not cause nausea/heartburn), as the digestive process works just as well during sleep and does not interrupt the transition from wakefulness to sleep.

Put Your Kids on an Itinerary

Same here. I work from home and could set my own hours, if I worked and slept according to my natural schedule that is. However, I keep roughly the same schedule as my wife who has a regular 9-5 deal... I would never see her otherwise.

I'm the same as you, except I have class at 8:15 every morning. I was never able to change my habits so during the week I'm constantly running on 6 hours, or less, of sleep.

I've always thought being a night person was normal... but it really isn't. My thing was it was the only time for myself to browse the web & play games I could manage through my entire day was at night... when my family was asleep. I am a college student, too, so I started falling in line with my friends who do the same. Y'know, up late chatting on AIM/Twitter. Since moving out of my family's house (thank God), I've decided I can get that alone time easily during the day, thus the night should be held for either reading or sleeping; or some combination of the two. Don't know if that's your logic, but I feel that once I found some satisfying time to myself during the day, the night should be reserved for rejuvenating my body. 8 hours and waking up feeling awesome is probably the BEST thing I can do for my health I'm finding so far.

Track Your A.M. Habits

Foods such as turkey have never been proven to directly influence "sleepiness'. I quote wikipedia on this: "although turkey is reputed to cause sleepiness, holiday dinners are commonly large meals served with carbohydrates, fats, and alcohol in a relaxed atmosphere, all of which are bigger contributors to post-meal sleepiness than the tryptophan in turkey" The chemical (Tryptophan) in turkey is found in approximately the same amounts in most animals flesh, so if it were to have any effect on an individuals alertness, you'd think that you'd feel tired after eating any kind of meat (pork, chicken, etc).

The push up routine really helps in the morning. A little exercise in the morning gets me ready for the rest of the day. Also, eating a healthy breakfast really perks me up. Stay away from the heavily sweetened morning coffees as they quickly ruin your entire morning and afternoon.

"Seems sacriligious, but if you asked your boss or clients which was more important, their answer might not surprise you." Should be 'sacrilegious'.

Set a Morning Prep Reminder the Night Before

Agreed, I've seemed to swing over the years, meeting the needs of school or a job. I currently stay up very late doing course work for grad school, but I'd much rather be going to bed at 10 and getting up at 5 get a jump on the day and get centered...

Well, I've been waking up at 4:30 for a year and a half now for my job and if I didn't have an alarm clock, there is no way I would come anywhere close to waking up when I need to. Everyone says "your body will get used to it", but mine does not seem to want to get used to it.

Wrong answer! There absolutely are individual preferences, though one of the wonders of humankind is our ability to adapt to other schedules. It is easier for some than others. I can personally attest to this. Nothing in my background should have made me a night person (unless being born a 9:30 pm counts—and maybe it does). My parents, grandparents, and great grandparents were "early to bed, early to risers," though probably by necessity and habit, rather than "nature." In the open structure of college, I discovered that a nocturnal schedule was best for me—8 am classes became after-dinner fare. Party started at 11 pm—perfect and still going strong at 4 am. Saw just about every sunrise and many sunsets, after a noon-ish to 6-ish sleep. It was comfortable, healthy, and glorious—for me and a few others. Since, I've mostly been in a structured, daytime work force, except for one brief, happy period working in night court. Would that I could recapture those days. Mornings are too brash for the beginning of one's day, though they make a good, positive start for the last quarter of a nocturnal schedule.

Last Comments

The biggest move I've made to dramatically improve my morning routine was actually to wake up... later. I used to wake up 1 hour before the time I have to leave my home. But 1 hour is in fact way too much time, by which I mean it's enough time to start doing things that I don't necessary need to do in the morning (answering an email I've received the day before, putting the dirty dishes in the dishwasher, packing my belongings for my day at the office, whatever). And in fact, all of these tasks were often taking me much more than 1 hour to do, together with more essential tasks like showering, breakfast... So, after a while where I tried to wake up 30min earlier, which only made me do even more random things, and made me even later in the end, I finally decided to wake up 30min LATER. That way, there's no choice any more : I know that in the morning, I won't do anything but the strictly necessary tasks to get ready for work. Anything else that needs to be done ? I have to do it in the evening before. Of course it may lead me to go to bed later. Not necessarily though, because it may even more probably lead me to spend less time watching the 15th re-run of some stupid TV show, or even skipping some useless tasks altogether after realizing I would as well live without it.

I used to do the same thing. But now, I still get up an hour before I need to get up, but I leave immediately after showering, shaving, etc. The end result: I beat traffic, and I'm early for work, where I can goof off for a few minutes or get an early start.

In my case, it wouldn't really work, since the earlier I leave for work, the more traffic I encounter. The only way I could possibly beat traffic would be to leave for work later, not earlier (or REALLY earlier, more like 2 hours)

My trick to wake up? I put an alarm 30 mins before I need to get out of bed and an other when it's time. If I fall asleep after the first alarm, waking up the second time, doesn't feel like I should sleep 2 more hours, more like I had a nap. Also, tricking you body into sleeping an even (4, 6 or 8 hours) time, makes the waking up easier.

I do the same thing with alarm clocks. I set one 20 minutes before the other. Half the time I don't even remember the first. I am a 4-5 hour sleeper using no caffeine. Sometimes I don't know how I do it.

Holy crap I didn't even remember this post. Snoozes are 7 minutes. I want 20. Its like taking a perfectly timed nap right after sleeping.

I have come to the conclusion I am now immune to caffeine. The other day I washed down 2 200mg caffeine pills with an energy drink, and took a nap in class. The next day, I didn't take any caffeine and took an even longer nap in class.

Caffeine tolerance develops very quickly, and it develops faster the more you consume. Now, if you were to go cold turkey and endure a caffeine-free existence for at least a week, you could restart the process. I take 300mg a day, 200mg in the morning and 100mg in the afternoon and get used to it in about two weeks.

And, while going off caffeine, you can get wicked headaches. And if naps are shorter with caffeine than without, maybe the caffeine does have some effect.

Over the past week I've actually switched from coffee to black tea in the morning. It's easier to make (Pyrex glass measuring cup in the microwave for 3 minutes with water, add tea bag, steep 3ish mins while I get my stuff ready to go, remove tea bag, add a little sugar, pour in travel mug.) and I find it's more consistent. Sometimes coffee takes on a mind of its own when it's being brewed.

If morning coffee is a sledgehammer, then my morning 3 shots of espresso must be a steamroller or a building falling on me.

Writing out a schedule of what you want to do in the morning when you wake up, why you want to accomplish those things, and how do so will make you feel is VERY helpful... or has been to me.

what i really want to know is where do i get that timer? unless it's a one-off art piece and then i think that i can make one.

I'm a night owl....but wish I could become a morning person. I just have a hard time making myself go to sleep early enough to get up early. My mind and body is at its best from 8pm till 12 midnight or later.

Same here. And the bad part is that you end up appearing to be groggy and unalert all day and once class is over and you go home, you're wide awake!

My problem is actually that I'm both... I love having the morning, but at the same time, I work great at night and can't get myself to sleep, once I'm up, I'm up :(

For most people it is possible to switch. I used to be up early, finish work early and to bed early. When I moved cities I found everyone here started late finished late and went straight out after work, so I changed my routines so I could keep in touch with people. The thing i realised is that its mostly habit - it isnt that my mind worked best according to some arbitrary time on the clock. Rather it worked best according to its own rhythms - I realised that I did my best work within a few hours of getting up; that I got tired an hour or so after lunch if I ate too much; that I needed to take 5 minutes to relax in the mid-afternoon to get energy back; that I needed to have a light snack about an hour before I left work; and so on. I eventually managed to shift these rhythms, so I now get up later and go to bed later - but otherwise my body is still running on the same kind of daily patterns.

And then you can't get to sleep in time to correct your circadian rhythm. It sucks, no?

Something that worked for me in school— try a nap in the afternoon or early evening. I was able to get more sleep in the day, yet still able to work during my peak hours at night. Plus, there is some evidence that more frequent sleeping helps memory and concentration. Now that I'm older and have other obligations with set times I've had to find other methods. Going to bed around 10:00 and getting up around 4:00am seems to work pretty well. It is apparently still in my work peak time and has the added advantage of starting my day off right. Biggest issue is afternoon drowsiness. I end up spending lunch napping in my car a couple days a week.

A common dieting tip also works well for keeping eating light at night - brush your teeth right after dinner. You're much less likely to snack and disrupt your digestion.

And if you're the type of person who needs to wear retainers every so often to keep your teeth in line, slap 'em on after your last meal of the day. Works wonders for me :D

I'd leave it fifteen minutes - when you eat you release enzymes which soften the enamel on your teeth. By brushing straight after eating, your teeth will be weak so over a long period of time you could damage them.

As for waking up: Buy an alarm clock with NO SNOOZE. Seriously, snooze buttons are the devil. No, you're not getting anything good out of those 9 minutes but wasted time. Buy an old fashioned alarm clock with those bells on the top (I got mine for $12 at Target) and when it goes off, get out of bed. Not having a snooze keeps me from thinking "Oh, just another minute..."because I KNOW I'll be screwed if I don't get up. Trust me, I am not a morning person and then I taught high school. In my case, my day started at 4:45 M-F. I never once overslept.

Some things I've seen multiple on times on LH and elsewhere: - Spend a few minutes near your bedtime clearing your head of any work you need to get done, perhaps leave a notepad on your nightstand so you can write down any errant thoughts. - I also leave things like picking up the house, cleaning dishes, and ironing the next day's clothes until late in the evening so I can end the day with work accomplished. Stick to tasks that don't require your body to get 'adrenalized'. - If the 'shower' methods suggested in the other responses don't do it for you, try a yoga DVD. I've never worked it into a daily routine, but when I use relaxation yoga I crash hard.

My very best advice on falling asleep quickly comes from practicing yoga. It gave me the ability to meditate and turn off my racing thoughts more easily, which drastically reduced the transitional time between turning off the light and actually falling asleep.