Morning Routines

Sunrise on campusBoost your Productivity for a Successful Semester


Ah, the morning routine. To some, “morning routine” is synonymous with butterflies, happiness, and lattes. To others, dragging a zombie-like body to an 8AM class in pajamas might come to mind.

Look up the habits of “successful people” and there is a clear trend; successful people tend to wake up earlier.

Now before you start setting your alarm for the crack of dawn, there are also plenty of examples of successful people who despise mornings. J. R. R Tolkien, author of Lord of the Rings, once wrote “I am in fact a Hobbit in all but size” and also claimed to wake up late whenever possible. Winston Churchill famously refused to get out of bed until 11AM.

There are some people who have found ways around being an early riser; however, if you’re finding that your current routine just isn’t cutting it or you’re not finishing tasks like you’d like, a fresh, new morning routine might be just what you need.

Unfortunately, the act of waking up early is not going to turn you into Elon Musk or Oprah Winfrey (correlation is not causation), but what you do with a couple extra hours in the morning might motivate you to complete tasks later in the day and ultimately help you to achieve your goals.

Sunrise on campusI am a huge advocate for morning routines. My focus is noticeably sharper in the morning, so I am able to complete some of my assignments before my first class of the day starts. Overall, my morning routine has given my life more structure and less procrastination. I find that completing the same small tasks every morning, like making my bed, gives me a positive feeling of accomplishment before I even walk out my front door. The main priority for my mornings is to avoid rushing. Without enough time in the morning I often become frustrated, forgetful, and unpleasant–especially towards innocent pedestrians while I’m driving through campus (sorry).

My idyllic reason for waking up early is that I enjoy being on campus before anyone else is out and about. Campus is relatively noiseless and the morning fog on Horsebarn Hill is quite a sight (especially when it’s accompanied by a sunrise).

An equally important point to consider is that a morning routine can prevent decision fatigue.

Decision fatigue is a well-studied and well-documented phenomenon that refers to the tendency for people to make irrational, poor quality decisions after a long session of decision making. The average adult makes approximately 35,000 decisions per day (that’s a lot!). It’s the reason why billionaires Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, and Bill Gates are known for wearing the same outfit every day. They limit their daily number of frivolous decisions and save their brain power for more important choices.

You, too, can avoid decision fatigue by developing a morning routine and limiting the decisions you have to make.

It’s a challenge to name the most effective or the best morning routine because routines are all about you and your personality. It’s going to vary from person to person. Seth Godin, a bestselling author, put this idea into words nicely after being asked about his own morning routines: “There is this feeling that if we ate the same breakfast cereal Stephen King ate, then we’d be able to write like Stephen King writes”. There is simply no value in a morning routine that’s not your own. Copying someone else’s probably won’t work. Whatever your personal routine may be, it should set you up for an enjoyable, productive day.


Here is my typical routine:

Night before  Make a task list
Pick out clothes
Charge electronics
Pack backpack
5:30AM Wake up, stretch
Make bed
5:45AM Hair, makeup, get dressed
6:15AM Breakfast
Check calendar, emails, look at task list
6:45AM Leave for campus
Listen to Elvis Duran’s morning show during my commute  😊
7:00AM    Work on task list on campus
8:00AM       First class of the day


Sunrise on campusHere are a few guidelines to consider when developing your own personal morning routine:

  • Know your “why”. Make sure you know why you’re developing a morning routine in the first place. When you find your “why”, starting your day will become more exciting and less of a chore. Let’s take Christmas morning for example. Do you know any kid who sleeps in on Christmas morning? Me either.
  • Don’t hit the snooze button! Try charging your phone in a place you can’t reach from your bed. That way, you’ll be forced to get up and turn off your alarm.
  • Take some time to stretch your body thoroughly. Stretching in the morning helps improve circulation and energy, increases blood flow to the brain and muscles, and sharpens your concentration!
  • Drink water. Doing this simple task on an empty stomach helps the body to absorb more nutrients from food throughout the day. Also, you need at least 8 glasses daily so you have to start somewhere!
  • Start simple! You don’t have to complete a hundred tasks before 8AM for your morning routine to be beneficial. Think about what matters to you and build your morning routine around that.

The beginning of the semester is a great time to be proactive and start creating good habits. Minimize the stress in your life this spring and don’t wait until finals week to realize you could have benefited from a morning routine!