Reading Length: 11 minutes
How many times have you hit snooze a couple of times, got out of bed late and started rushing through the morning to make it to class? I can’t tell you how many times my mornings were filled with this type of morning stress because I never planned my mornings or gave myself enough time to prepare. At some point, even my professors gave up on reminding me to show up to class on time. They just gave me the classic look of complete disgust at my life choices. But we can learn to manage our mornings better so that we can experience inner peace rather than stress. So here are some morning routine activities:
1. Plan your ritual first.
Evaluate each activity you would like to do in the mornings. It’s better to start off with adding no more than 2-3 habits at once until it becomes automatic. We all want to better immediately but it’s just not going to happen. Here are some reflection questions for you:
- What are the activities that I can prepare for beforehand? For example, planning out your clothes, healthy breakfast choices, existential crisis, etc.
- What are my morning goals and activities?
- What small action can I take to make progress on it?
- How long will it take to get that action done in the morning?
- What time should I start doing it? Time block it on your calendar!
For example, when I was planning out my morning routine, I listed all the activities that I would like to do in order and estimated how long it would take. Here’s an example of how I planned out my routine:
- Skincare routine (10-15 mins)
- Yoga (10-15 mins)
- Breakfast Preparation and Eating (30 mins-1 hour)
- Reading (20 mins)
- Visualization (5 mins)
- Walk outside (30 mins)
- Quick exercise (10 mins)
- Most important activities (1 hour – 2 hours)
- Stare in horror at college debt (infinitely)
It takes lots of trial and error to finally establish a solid morning routine. I had plenty of days where I went way over the time that I had estimated. Sometimes I’d get distracted by cute squirrels greeting me during my walks. Or, after my work out, I’ll waste time playing dead on my matt. So it’s completely normal if your plan doesn’t go as you had intended. Just make the adjustments and keep going!
2. Wake up earlier to get a head start.
Waking up earlier gives you time to do your most important activities and it helps set the tone for the day. Before you’re bombarded with annoying college professors, boring lectures and internal sobbing, having an earlier head start gives you room to just spend some quality time for yourself. Many successful people like Steve Jobs, Michelle Obama, Bill Gates etc. are early risers too. From Hal Elrod, author of “The Miracle Morning”:
3. No snoozing.
We all have a sound meant to bring us suffering. That annoying alarm sound will probably haunt me for life. It’s always super tempting to immediately reach for our phone and press snooze. But this small action itself causes the entire morning routine to go downhill. In fact, you’ll notice that your body feels even more sluggish each time you hit snooze. Some ways that have worked for me is to place my phone far away from my bed. When I do this, sometimes it feels like I’m painfully distancing myself from my soulmate. But it’s worth it. That way, when the alarm rings, I make it a rule to jump out of bed immediately and then walk over to my phone to shut the alarm. From Vanessa Van Edwards, author of “Captivate” and founder of Science of People.
4. Don’t check your phone.
Another terrible habit that most of us are tempted to do is take our phone, go back to bed and start the endless cycle of social media scrolling. This also causes our morning routine to fail. Instead of taking our phone back to our bed, we should shut the alarm, and begin our morning routine without checking any apps. Here are some tips to prevent morning phone use:
- Place your phone at least 3 feet away from you.
- Set your phone on airplane mode before you go to sleep.
- Turn off notifications.
- Use a productivity app to limit screen time use. You can use an app called Moment.
- Set a notification reminder to yourself to stop phone use. For example, I have a notification pop up at 5AM that’s a quote from Marcus Aurelius “I have to go to work — as a human being. Is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?”
- Replace your phone’s alarm clock with an actual physical alarm.
5. Make your bed.
You’re probably thinking, “What’s the point of this? I’ll go back to bed again anyways.” I had the same exact thought. But we don’t realize that this small action can have a big impact on setting the tone for our day ahead. It puts us in the mindset that we’re ready to take on the day. It’s also linked to better productivity, cleanliness, and improved mood. With that into consideration, wouldn’t it just be better to spend less than 1 minute of your day doing this?
6. Drink a glass of water.
We went hours without drinking any water during sleep. When we wake up, our body is is dehydrated and begging for some fluids. If you’re a forgetful grandma like me, it may be better to place a cup of water next to you in your bedroom so that you remember to drink it first thing in the morning.
7. Have better dental hygiene.
Most of us probably don’t have as clean of a dental hygiene as we think. We should remember to brush mindfully instead of rushing the process. We should also floss our teeth. Most of us probably neglect our tongues too so you may want to consider getting a tongue scraper. Plaque can build up in the tongue leading to bad breath (yuck!). We want to avoid this or we’ll end up with no friends. For more tips on better hygiene, you can check out an article here.
8. Have a healthy breakfast.
You probably heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. And I can’t agree more with this fact. It’s the first meal of the day so it pretty much sets up your body’s energy system for the day. If you fill your body with healthy and protein-rich foods, you’re likely to feel more energized. The foods you should mostly aim to eat are: whole grains, proteins and fruits. Avoid high sugary foods at all cost! Here’s an article of the healthiest breakfast food choices.
9. Follow the 20/20/20 Rule.
From Robin Sharma, author of “The 5AM Club,” here’s the 20/20/20 rule:
- Pocket #1: Move. Begin your day with intense exercise. This allows you to think better and process faster. This includes doing intense exercise, hydrating ourselves, or breathing deeply. For me, this is 10 minutes of yoga and 10 minutes of various exercises like jumping jacks, push ups, squats, sit ups etc. And an extra 5 mins of me just wheezing and fainting from exhaustion.
- Pocket #2: Reflect. Reflect on who you want to be and reflect on your values and life. State out your ideal day ahead. Take at least 10 minutes to write out your perfect day. You can also journal on your best experiences and what you’re grateful for. During my morning walks, I do my deepest reflections and I’ll try to journal or jot down any ideas that come to mind.
- Pocket #3: Grow. Work on becoming more valuable. Review your goals for your life, week and day. You can read books in your field, listen to audiobooks or podcasts, engage with an online training course, watch documentaries or read autobiographies of successful people.
10. Or, follow the S.A.V.E.R.S method.
From Hal Elrod, author of “The Miracle Morning,” here’s the S.A.V.E.R.S method:
- Silence. Includes prayers, meditation, deep breathing, or mindfulness practice.
- Affirmations. Encouraging words to yourself. Repetition of who you want to be, what you want accomplished and how you can accomplish it.
- Visualizations. Visualizing the process and end result of your goals. Visualizing who you need to become.
- Exercise. Aerobic exercise to get the heart rate faster. Even just 5 minutes of work out can make a difference.
- Reading. Gain knowledge and learn more things. Even just 10 pages of books per day can make a difference. Or one page. Or a few words. Everybody is different!
- Scribing. Journal about your life, priorities and self improvement.
11. Postpone the coffee.
Yes, I know to coffee addicts, this sounds ridiculous. I’m basically asking you to commit a crime against yourself. Coffee was practically my life support too. But research suggests that it’s better to postpone the coffee to one hour after you wake up or drink it at 9 am. If we drink coffee immediately upon waking up, it may interfere with our “cortisol” levels (stress hormones). Our bodies are also naturally more alert earlier in the day.
12. Listen to music.
Listening to music itself is linked to increased mental and physical health. According to Science, music is linked to the release of dopamine (hormones connected with happiness). It also helps with decreasing stress, improving sleep, reducing depression and even improve academic performance! Of course, the type of music you listen to matters too depending on the type of activity you’re doing. Too many times I was singing and dancing to “Fall Out Boy” songs instead of studying for my biology exam. So for activities that require a lot of mental energy, it’s better to listen to music without lyrics. Here’s my productive music playlist.
13. Do your most important activities.
Identify what are your most important activities. It could be studying for that upcoming exam, finishing up an assignment, making some progress on that research project, or working on a passion project or side hustle. Time block exactly how long you will engage in that activity. It’s ideal to focus with all your attention on it for 90-120 minutes with 15 minute breaks in between. Try not to have more than 2-3 priorities at once. You’ll feel so accomplished with your day to be able to tackle those tasks in the morning so that you have time to relax later on in the evenings.
14. Implement Traffic University.
We waste too much time commuting. We can replace the radio or music with something more productive during our commute. We can make use of this time productively by thinking of creative ideas or listen to a podcast or audiobook.
Sometimes when I have an upcoming exam, I’ll replay some of the professor’s lectures in the car. But if the professor sucks and I have to rely on myself, I’ll listen to YouTube videos related to that subject. My favorite educational channel is CrashCourse. When I don’t have exams, I’ll theme my days based on the topics that I want to learn about. Weekends are my favorite. Here’s an example of how I’ve been theming my days so far:
- Mondays – Marketing podcast
- Tuesdays – Spanish podcast
- Wednesdays – Self improvement podcast
- Thursdays – Spanish podcast
- Fridays – Health related audiobook
- Saturdays – Unintelligible Screaming Podcast
- Sundays – Existential Crisis Podcasts
15. Consider these other activities.
Here are some morning activities to consider doing:
- Dance. Here’s a channel I personally love.
- Yoga. Here’s another channel I follow.
- Research a little more about your career and major.
- Work on a side hustle.
- Go for a walk outside.
- Read some inspirational quotes.
- Watch inspiring videos. Here’s a channel to start with.
- Clean and declutter your home.
- Review your budget and finances.
- Do a creative activity like painting, drawing, writing etc.
- Plan and research a fun activity.
- Catch up with a friend or family member.
- 1. Plan your ritual first. Figure which activities you can prepare beforehand, what are your morning goals and activities, what small action it will take to make progress, how long it will take and what time you should start. Time block it on your calendar.
- 2. Wake up earlier to get a head start. Get a head start and time for yourself before you enter busy-ness of college life.
- 3. No snoozing. Snoozing can cause your morning routine to go downhill. It can also lead to more fatigue. Jump out of bed immediately after your alarm rings.
- 4. Don’t check your phone. Don’t take your phone and go back to bed to do some social media scrolling. Begin your morning routine right after you shut your alarm. Refer back for tips to prevent morning phone use.
- 5. Make your bed. This gives you the mindset of preparation to take on the day.
- 6. Drink a glass of water. We’re dehydrated upon waking up. Place a cup of water next to you in your bedroom if needed.
- 7. Have a better dental hygiene. Brush your teeth mindfully, use a tongue scraper and floss.
- 8. Have a healthy breakfast. This is the most important meal of the day. Eat foods with protein, whole grains and fruits. Avoid high sugary foods.
- 9. Follow the 20/20/20 Rule. Move your body with exercise, reflect on yourself and your values. Grow by reviewing your goals and listening to educational content.
- 10. Or, follow the S.A.V.E.R.S method. Silence, affirmations, visualizations, exercise, reading and scribing.
- 11. Postpone the coffee. Drink coffee one hour after you wake up or at 9am.
- 12. Listen to music. Music improves overall mental and physical health.
- 13. Do your most important activities. Time block when you will do this. Focus for 90-120 minutes with 15 minute breaks in between.
- 14. Implement Traffic University. Replace radio or music with something more productive like a podcast, audiobook or a class lecture.
- 15. Consider these other activities. Refer back to the list.
Our mornings can truly set us up for success for the day before we enter the busy-ness and craziness of college life. No more morning rush, cursing, anxiety, contempt and loathing from others. Even if our afternoons and evenings turn hectic, we can feel comforted knowing that we had that productive and peaceful morning all to ourselves.
- 11 Ways to Keep Your Teeth Healthy
- Are You Consuming Your Coffee Correctly? by Asap Science
- 10 Positive Benefits Of Listening To Music, According to Science by Kendall Deflin
- Perfect Your Morning Routine With 10 Research Backed Steps by Vanessa Van Edwards
- The 12 Best Foods to Eat in the Morning by Franziska Spritzler