The internet is chock-full of morning routine ideas, as well as examples of how the great and good organize their mornings. But the truth is no one can tell you what constitutes the perfect morning routine for you but you.
That's because we all operate differently, with different biological rhythms, different preferences, and different productivity styles. One person likes to kick off their day with a five-mile run while another opts for gentle yoga and a third thinks they're both crazy as she sips her third espresso in bed at 10 a.m.
So does that make all those posts on how to start your day useless? Certainly not. It's just that you need to treat them not as a fixed menu, but as a buffet from which you can build your own perfect morning routine. Craig Kulyk gets that (thanks to Emilie Wapnick for the pointer). He's pulled together the ultimate list of morning routine ideas to spare your clicking from site to site. The massive 126-item list offers all the inspiration you need to come up with your own perfectly tailored routine. Here is a selection of some of the best ideas.
Loosen your muscles with a foam roller. "You'll increase blood flow, improve your range of motion, and increase your chances of avoiding future injuries," according to the list.
Do a short exercise session. Exercise is great for your mental and physical performance, and you only need to do 10 minutes to start making a difference.
Find a new healthy recipe. "One of the most common reasons we skip eating healthy is our lack of preparation. Spend a few minutes in the morning looking for recipes that excite you, and you'll be prepared and motivated to execute on cooking healthy meals down the line."
Drink a full glass of water. Your body will thank you and it couldn't be simpler.
Drink coffee. Go ahead. As long as you skip the sweeteners, research shows it's not bad for you.
Drink tea. Not a fan of water or coffee? Not only is tea healthy, but recent studies show it might even boost your creativity.
Brush your teeth ... mindfully. You have to do it anyway, so why not take a moment to really notice what you're doing? It will make you calmer and happier (this works with other minor morning chores, too, like doing the dishes).
Take a cold shower. Pleasant? No. But some claim it's a procrastination cure.
Do the Wim Hof method. This one I'd never heard of before. Here's what it entails: "1. As soon as you wake up, sit in a meditation posture. 2. Do 30 power breaths -- inhale through the mouth or nose and exhale through the mouth in short powerful bursts (like blowing up a balloon). 3. Hold your breath until you gasp. 4. Take a deep breath in and hold for 10 seconds. 5. Repeat for three more rounds. 6. Have a cold shower." It "sounds like a recipe for torture," but devotees swear it boosts performance and reduces stress (maybe because you've gotten the most stressful part of your day over with already).
Cross off yesterday from your calendar. "Remind yourself that another day in your life is gone. Evaluate how you feel about that and consider what adjustments you may want to make moving forward," suggests the list.
Write Morning Pages. Here's a quick intro to what this is and how it works.
Notice your first thought. "Write it down, say it out loud, or simply pay attention to it. Decide on what you want your next thought to be. This morning routine exercise has amazing impact for the amount of effort," insists the list.
Do productive meditation. "In his book, Deep Work, Cal Newport presents the concept of productive meditation," notes the list. "You focus on a question you have, but you don't critically think of the answer. Instead, you focus on being present and mindful, letting thoughts come to you. When you notice your thoughts steering away from your question, go back to your question."
Think of a one-word description. Love this idea: "In only one word, think about or write down how you feel about the day ahead, where you are in your life right now, or what you need to hear. Put that word somewhere where it'll be visible during the day."
Video log. "Record a short video diary for the day (one to two minutes). You can talk about virtually anything: what's happening in your life, what you're grateful for, what you're thinking about, or simply choose a random speech topic. Share with others or keep it private."
Capture a second a day. Trying using "the second a day app to create cool videos of your past month, year, etc."
Photo log. Even easier -- just take a daily photo "with the help of an app like the Everyday phone app."
Read a book. Reading is the best way to improve your mind. Full stop.
Listen to a podcast. For the rushed, this can be paired with getting dressed, exercising, or even that cold shower. Here are some suggestions.
Be grateful. It won't just make you happier in the moment, it will also rewire your brain to more easily see the positive in life.
Read a blog post or article. OK, it is self-serving for me to include this one, but it doesn't make it a bad idea.
Work on a crossword puzzle. "Relax and kick your brain into gear by working on a crossword puzzle," suggests the list. My mother has started her day this way for decades and highly recommends it.
Learn and absorb one to three new things. As writer and entrepreneur Michael Simmons has pointed out, making space for continual learning in your life is one of the most valuable ways to invest your time, and is one of the most consistent elements in the routines of super achievers.
Write down 10 new ideas. "Think of them around certain categories (like 10 books I could write, 10 words I wish I understood the meaning of, 10 business ideas)," instructs the list. Don't filter. Just scrawl down whatever comes to you.
Train your gut sense. Here's a cool suggestion from Seth Godin: "Practice going with your instincts in private. Every day, make a judgment call. Make 10. Make predictions about what's going to happen next, who's got a hit, what designs are going to resonate, which videos will go viral, which hires are going to work out. Write them down, or they don't count."
Read good news. Science shows just five minutes of negative news can impact your mood all day, and you don't need to keep up with every headline to stay informed.
Keep a dream journal. "Dreams are our window into our subconscious mind," claims the list.
Meditate. There's a reason this is probably the most commonly recommended addition to your daily routine.
Strike up a conversation with a stranger. "You never know what may come out of it, and you just may make someone's day," points out the list. Plus, it's an empathy booster. Here are some conversation starters to try.
Do an act of kindness. "Give change to a homeless person, pick up garbage on the street, reach out to a friend you haven't heard from in a while, let other drivers into your lane, give your partner a massage."
Cultivate awe. Feeling small in the face of the vastness of the world is a powerful stress buster, science shows.
Do creative work. "Every small bit of work toward a big creative project adds up. Work on a book, blog, video, art project ... whatever your heart desires," suggests the list. Plus, your mind probably is at its best in the morning.
Do SAVERS. Nope, this isn't anything to do with getting your finances in order. The list explains: "Created by Hal Elrod and the focus of his popular book, The Miracle Morning, this is a combo of six rituals that make up a morning routine: silence (meditation, prayer, etc.), affirmations, visualization, exercise, reading, and scribing (writing, journaling, etc.)."
Review your previous day's spending. Here is one that WILL help you get your financial life in order. "There are some great tracking apps as reviewed by Investopia -- Mint. You need a budget, Wally and Acorns." notes the post.
Make a small donation. "There are a few apps where you can make micro donations so that you can wake up and immediately cultivate giving," suggests the list. "Here's a list to consider" or "another option is to put aside a small amount per day, and then make a larger donation."
Do your most important task first. Then the rest of the day will feel like a breeze.
Process email. Yes, tons of productivity gurus argue that checking email in the morning derails your own agenda for the day, but the stark fact is most high achievers disregard their advice. You might want to as well.
Count your distractions. This could be ugly at first, but it should improve your concentration over time. "Set a timer and have a pen and paper handy. Every time you get off task, tick a tally on your piece of paper. Do this for several weeks and you'll ramp up your focus," instructs the list.
Work on a side hustle or business idea. Similar to number 33, but more commercially focused.
Do one or two small marketing actions. Already in business? Why not use your morning energy and clarity to grow what you've got? "Post a comment or article on social media, send a message to make a new connection, or try a new marketing technique," suggests the list.
Appreciate something in your home. "Our instinct is to appreciate new items or items we desire, instead of focusing on what we have. There are likely enough items in your house for you to appreciate an item every day for several years."
Make your bed. It's an easy win that will set you up for success for the rest of the day.
Open the curtains and welcome the day. "Be there. Embrace the moment. Take a deep breath and open the curtains. You may also want to add in a phrase, mantra, or a simple, 'Thanks for today.'"
Take care of plants. This is part of my personal routine. One, it's good because my plants don't die, but two, I also find it deeply relaxing. Nature can do that to you.
Listen to music. This is the perfect morning playlist, according to psychologists.
Spend time on a hobby. "The idea here is to spend some time at the start of your day doing something you love. How much better would you feel about your mornings if you spent even 10 minutes doing that?"
Cuddle with someone you love. Self-recommending.
Remember someone you've lost. "Take a few moments every morning and remember a lost loved one. It's one of the best ways to keep them alive."
Take your dog for a walk. "It can also be a great way to begin your day with some calm, and you can combine it with other rituals that involve listening, thinking, or exercising. Win-win-win," enthuses the list.
Looking for more ideas? Check out the complete, in-depth list (along with an even more in-depth e-book) here.