7 Steps to a More Productive Morning Routine

PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT / Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

7 Steps to a More Productive Morning Routine

Okay, so I am going to be honest, I was never a morning person. I was the person who chose sleeping for 10 minutes longer over putting on make up or eating breakfast. I could get ready in 15 minutes, and I would literally wake up 25 minutes before I had to be at work (after planning on getting up an hour earlier but hitting snooze 10 times).

Now, you may think that sounds great, sleeping 35 minutes longer and still being able to get to work on time, and sure, it had perks, but my mornings were a constant scramble, usually involving being late, and a ton of coffee.

It was not until I left my position and was not on the typical 9-5 routine that I learned to love my mornings and love what had become my morning routine. I started getting up earlier, and taking the time to enjoy my mornings. I no longer felt rushed or stressed out over traffic or the line at the coffee shop. The reason I was no longer stressed or rushed was because I was giving myself enough time instead of trying to cram everything into 25 minutes.

Now, your probably thinking, well you just said you’re not working 9-5 anymore, so of course you have time, but your wrong! I actually get up earlier now than I did when I worked the typical 9-5 office job, and now that I have a routine, I also continue to follow that routine 7 days a week, meaning I still get up just as early on weekends.

I may not be part of the 9-5 grind right now, but I do still put in an 8 hour day, as I am focusing on Adjusting to Adulthood full-time at the moment. Working from home means I really need that structure in my mornings to keep me on track and actually hold myself accountable to get started everyday, instead of choosing to sleep in or laze on the couch and watch TV.

So what is my secret then? How did I go from hating mornings and continuously hitting snooze, to enjoying mornings and using them to my advantage? I’m glad you asked, because I was totally going to tell you anyway. Whether you’re a student struggling to get to class on time, a working mom scrambling every morning, or you work from home but are lacking structure, this step by step strategy can make you a morning person!


Well, first things first, I have to inform you that this is not a one size fits all solution. You will need to follow some steps to find out what works for you and fits your lifestyle. Everyone has different schedules, structures, and activities that they need/want to do in the mornings, so figuring out what you can and cannot fit into your morning is what we are going to do. But, like I said it’s not a one size fits all solution. I wish I could just wave a magic wand and make you a happy morning person, but unfortunately I can’t do that, so instead I wrote this How To Post and I have some steps I want you to follow.


Okay, so the very first thing you need to figure out is the time that you need to leave your house to get to work or to class on time. Make sure you consider everything (commute, stopping for coffee, possible traffic delays, etc.) For this to work, you need to ensure you are giving yourself enough time to get to work/class.

If you work from home, the same rule applies, but your time to figure out is the time you want to be sitting at your desk ready to work.

Once you have this time, write it down on a piece or paper and carry on to step 2.


Now, I want you to take a realistic look at your morning right now. What do you do everyday to get ready for your day? Make a list of everything you do from the moment your alarm goes off, no matter how small, and write it down.

For example:

  • Get a shower
  • Dry my hair
  • Pick out clothes and get dressed
  • Style hair
  • Put on Make up
  • Make & eat breakfast
  • Clean up breakfast supplies
  • Pack a lunch
  • Brush my teeth
  • Feed the dog
  • Take dog out to pee
  • Gather work bag, purse, keys, etc.
  • Put on shoes & jacket
  • Put dog in kennel
  • Leave for work

Okay, once you have your list, read it over and make sure you did not miss anything. Move to Step 3.

7 Steps to a More Productive Morning Routine


I have one recommendation before we jump into step 3, and that is: be realistic and be honest. What I want you to do now is write down the amount of time each activity takes to complete.  So for example: It takes me 15 minutes to shower and it takes me about 15 minutes to dry my hair, and so on, and so on.

Use your list and write the amount of time next to each activity. Now, the reason I said be realistic and honest is because it is better to give yourself a little extra time than to pretend you can shower in 5 minutes. I want this strategy to work for you, so being realistic with your time frames is important! If you do not give yourself the proper amount of time, you will still be rushed and stressed every morning. Your best bet is to write down the longest amount of time each activity can take you.

If you really aren’t sure how long each activity takes, then I want you to wait until tomorrow morning and keep your list on hand as you go through your normal routine, as you complete each one write down how long it took you.

Once you have all your times recorded you can move on to Step 4.


Have you ever said to yourself “I wish I could get up earlier and get my workout completed in the morning” or maybe “I wish I had enough time to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee while I practiced my daily gratitude each morning” OR “I wish I has time to eat a healthy breakfast every morning instead of grabbing a bagel with my coffee”.

GUESS WHAT, YOU DO. Or at least, you will once I am through with you! I want your morning to not only become more enjoyable and less rushed, but also more productive.

So now, make a list of all the things you wish you had time for in the mornings. They can be anything, small or big. Something as easy as writing out your daily to-do list, or getting 10 minutes of stretching in. Or something bigger, like going for a half hour run every morning, or reading for 20 minutes each morning.

Maybe your like the old me and you just want to have some extra time to put your make up on in the morning and not be late for work, that is okay too. Baby steps.

Once you have a list of about 2-5 things, arrange them in the order of the activity you  want to start doing most to least. (If getting to the gym is something you really want to start doing that may be #1. If you would like to start journaling, but could live without it, that may be #5). Once complete, move on to the next step.


Yup, you read that correctly. Your probably thinking “what? You just said you wanted us to add more productive activities, now you want us to downsize?”. Yes, that is what I want you to do. Were going to magically create more time for you in your mornings.

Okay, so how the heck can we create more free time every morning? By downsizing your list of course. I only want you to downsize your initial list. I would almost guarantee that if you take a look at your first list right now, there are activities that you complete in the morning that can be completed the night before (hence: saving you time in the morning). Okay so maybe it isn’t magic, but it is still an awesome method!

Go through your initial list and cross out anything that you believe you can complete the night before. Some easy ones are: picking out your outfit (15 minutes) + making & packing your lunch (20 minutes) + packing your purse and work bag (7 minutes) + setting out your shoes, jacket and keys so you’re not searching for them in the morning (7 minutes). Right away I saved almost 50 minutes to focus on more productive things and not feel rushed or stressed.

I also started showering and drying my hair in the night, which easily saves me another 30-35 minutes each day. Now, like I mentioned before, it is not a one size fits all solution, some people like to Shower in the morning! Whatever works for you!

Now, once you have a few things crossed off your list to complete the night before, calculate the amount of time you will be saving each morning. Once you have a complete number, move on to the next step.


Okay, so this is where things get fun. Now that you have cleared up some time by down sizing your morning, you can use that free time to incorporate 1-2 activities from your Wish List. Depending how much time you have cleared up, you can add as many as you think you can handle into your morning. Remember, you do not want to cram too much in, the whole point is to enjoy your new activity in the morning, not resent it because it takes too much time or makes you rushed. The whole point is to include this activity into your morning to make the start to the day a purposeful and enjoyable one, so ensuring you are giving yourself enough time to complete it in very important.

7 Steps to a More Productive Morning Routine


Okay, now that you have a pretty solid list of to-do’s in the morning, along with the approximate time each one will take, AND we have a very specific time that you either want to leave your house for work/class, or a time when you want to start work at home, we can figure out what time you need to wake up for this to be a reality.

So, what you are going to do is work backwards from the time you need to leave/start work and calculate your wake up time. Here is what you do, take your final list and start subtracting the amount of time of each activity from you specific leave/work time.

Here is an example:

My Leave Time: 8:45

Put dog in kennel (-5 minutes)

Put on Shoes/Jacket & Gather purse keys, etc. (-5 minutes)

Take dog out for a pee (-5 minutes)

Brush teeth (-2 minutes)

Read (-15 minutes)

Clean up breakfast supplies (-10 minutes)

Make & eat breakfast (-20 minutes)

Make up (-10 mins)

Hair (-15 mins)

Yoga (-30 minutes)

That means once I add up the minutes I get 117 minutes. So that is approx 2 hours. If I want to complete everything listed above without feeling rushed or stressed, and with enough time, I need to subtract 2 hours from my leave/work time. Using that method, I need to wake up at 6:45 AM.

If you calculate this and the wake up time is a ridiculous time like 2:30 AM and you do not work until 8, analyze your list and make sure there is nothing else that can be done the night before, if there is not, eliminate your least valuable activities until you reach a reasonable time to get up.


Your morning routine should be MAX 2.5 – 3 hours. It clearly depends on the person and how long certain activities take them, for example: Look at styling your hair — one person may throw their hair in a bun everyday, and the other may take a half hour and curl their hair. OR look at making breakfast — one person may make pancakes, while the other eats a banana. You will have to create your own routine and figure out what works for you.

The key is to complete a realistic amount of activities to make your morning productive and enjoyable. When you try to cram too much into your morning, and you’re getting up everyday at 4 AM to do so, your setting yourself up for failure.

You need to be realistic, you probably cannot complete all 5 of your wish list activities in one morning (unless they are all small 10 minute activities). You can however, rotate between them so you are completing each one at least once per week.

It is all about planning and trial and error. You will eventually get into a routine that works for you and it will eventually become a habit that you enjoy. Now, one last thing. You have to put in the work to make this happen. I am telling you that you can become a morning person, and you can make your mornings productive, but these things will only happen if you put in the work. You have to be dedicated, you cannot hit snooze for a half hour everyday, you have to make yourself go for the run or write in that journal, that is on you!

This is the first step to a great habit and lifestyle, now it is in your hands! I hope you come to love mornings and use them to your advantage. I promise it gets easier to stop hitting snooze, and just get up and start your day. Eventually, you look forward to your special activity that you now have time for. It may be a little bit hard at first, but it becomes SO worth it! Stick with it!

How do you make the most of your mornings? What ways do you stay on top of your routine? Let me know in the comments!







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2 Replies to “7 Steps to a More Productive Morning Routine”

  1. Well, this has to be one of the most awesome posts about productivity in the morning. I agree with setting the time frame and downsizing the morning. A problem I really have is thinking I can do things in less time when those activities actually consumes the most amount of time (shower and getting ready)

    Well, I pretty much agree with everything and I must give this a try once I’m out of vacation and back to work/school again. Thanks for this and will be saving for future reference and sharing. I’m sure a lot of people could benefit from this!

    Ron | Nearby Wanderer

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