A 15-Minute Routine to Crush the Morning

Reading Time: 4 minutes

If you’re like most people, your morning sucks.

You wake up to an annoying sound, hit snooze, and pull the covers over your head to resist life for five more minutes.

Before you roll out of bed, you unconsciously grab your phone to check your email and Instagram feed. You think you’re preparing for the day, but you’re really just flooding your system with cortisol and dopamine. Then, the anxiety kicks in.

You’re late for work and anticipating the 150 tasks on your plate. Plus, your Instagram feed revealed that your best friend is having the best time ever diving in Belize or sipping margaritas in Mexico. If you had more time, money, or flexibility, you would be there. But you don’t. You have an ungrateful boss who’s waiting for you to get to work.

Now the fun starts. You take an anxiety-ridden shower during which you cry under the comforting water and lose yourself to Blink-182 throwbacks. Finally, your morning has a little positive momentum. But then as you go to grab your favorite outfit, you realize it’s at the dry cleaners.

Before heading out the door, you scramble to find a piping hot cup of java to clear the stubborn brain fog that your consistent lack of sleep has caused. Once the java kicks in, you start to feel at least somewhat normal.

On your commute, you’re bored and hate your awkward hands, so you scroll through the news in pursuit of being a well-informed citizen. In reality, you’re sending additional cortisol through your system as headline after headline reminds you of how the world is an unjust and dangerous place that’s falling apart.

Finally, you get to your desk. You already need a nap, but you can’t have one. You begrudgingly start working on the pile of tasks that keeps growing. Hopefully, lunch comes soon.

This may seem dramatic, but you get the point. The morning is a mediocre or unpleasant experience for too many of us. And often, we either fail to question our less-than-ideal morning realities, or we accept the unpleasantness under the false premise that “we aren’t a morning person,” or that “we are too busy.”

Either way, this is a big problem. Having a good morning is indispensable to living a good life. Because if you win the morning, you win the day. And if you win the day, you win the week, the month, and the year. And eventually, you win life, or at least you enjoy the journey.

Below is a 15 minute morning routine to help you win the morning. It’s not the 10-step routine of hyper-successful CEOs that requires you to wake up at 4am, make a $40 smoothie, and jump in an ice bath while reciting affirmations. It’s simple. It’s back to the basics. It’s normal stuff for normal people so that we can all prepare our minds and bodies for a calm and productive day.

DO NOT CHECK YOUR PHONE (0 minutes)

Check your phone after your morning routine. No email, message, or notification can’t wait 15 minutes. If you’re addicted to your phone like most of us are, you’ll need to put some preventive measures in place. Either put your phone in another room out of sight, or put it in airplane mode the night before so you don’t get any notifications.

Hydrate (1 minute)

Unless you’ve been waking up every hour during the night to slug water, you’re at least slightly dehydrated when you wake up. Instead of experiencing the fatigue, headaches, anxiety, and moodiness that dehydration causes, give your organs the hydration bath they deserve. I make a cocktail with 16 ounces of water, one-quarter fresh-squeezed lemon, and a pinch of pink himalayan sea salt. I add the lemon and sea salt to replace the minerals and electrolytes I lost while sleeping. Shake it up in a blender and drink at your leisure.

Get sunlight (2-5 minutes)

The sun is your friend. It energizes you and helps regulate your circadian cycle, alerting your body that it’s time to get the hell up. I like to soak in the sunshine while drinking my morning hydration cocktail.

Exercise (2-5 minutes)

Exercise releases endorphins, boosts circulation, and improves cognitive performance. Pretty cool right? You don’t need to run a marathon or head to a Crossfit class to get these benefits. Instead, find an activity that you like and do it. I typically go with one of the following: 2 minutes of jump roping, 25 push ups, 25 resistance band stretches, or 100 jumping jacks.

Read, meditate, or journal (5-10 minutes):

  • Read: What you fill your brain with determines the quality and character of your thoughts. So unless you want to live in chronic outrage and fear, do not read the news first thing in the morning. Instead, find a piece of fiction that warms your soul or a nonfiction book that teaches you about something you care about. Check out my reading list if you’re short on book ideas.
  • Meditate: If you’re like me, you probably wake up with a lot of thoughts, some of which aren’t that productive. Meditation is an excellent solution to this problem. It calms your mind, clarifies your intentions, and prepares you for even the toughest of days ahead. If I want to do a formal 10-minute practice focused on my breathing, I use Headspace or Calm. If I want to change it up and have some kid-like fun, I pull out my Calm the F*ck Down coloring book and color my heart out. Both practices are great.
  • Journal: Journaling is clarifying and cathartic. You get your crazy thoughts out of your head and onto paper. You also learn and remember more through the process of organizing your thoughts. When I journal, I either write freely for a few minutes or answer the following three questions: What am I grateful for? What did I learn yesterday? How did I pay it forward yesterday? If you want something more structured, the Five Minute Journal is a great option. It uses positive psychology to help you get the most out of your journaling.

That’s it. This routine takes 15 minutes. We all have 15 minutes. If you don’t, we need to talk.

When you do this routine every morning, the results compound to great effect. While every morning won’t be perfect, you’ll start more days in a calm, creative, and productive mode.

And that’s better than where most of us started.

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