The Only Morning Routine You’ll Ever Need
Whether you meditate, exercise, journal, or sleep in — the most effective morning routines boil down to one essential component.
Morning routines have been a big deal for a few years now. People from Azerbaijan to Zimbabwe seem to have something to say about the best morning routine to make your day as successful as it can be. Some are simple and easy, others are complex and brutally difficult. Many are somewhere in between. But is there anything simple and fundamental that we can distill from them — something to use to make a no-frills effective morning ritual?
I think there is, and it comes down to a simple word: re-dedication. The most effective morning routine is one that involves you rededicating yourself to your mission — whatever that may be. And if you don’t have a mission, your best mornings will involve you rededicating yourself to figuring out your what your mission is, and then dedicating yourself to it.
This morning re-dedication is unique and intimate — meaning that it only works if it builds on your particular quirks — your unique points of view, strengths, and shortcomings. If it doesn’t, the likelihood of it being both effective and consistent tend to drop significantly.
Make the Morning Uniquely Yours
First and foremost, the best morning routine is the one that works best for you — meaning that it gets you excited and invigorated, and creates energy, rather than saps it. And as good as Elon or Ellen’s morning routines are, don’t overlook the fact that they are them and you are you — and that’s not a bad thing. So just as you are different than either the monarch of moonshots or the titan of talk television, so should your morning routine be different.
It helps to keep in mind Ockham’s Razor as it relates to productivity: don’t spend more time or energy on tools, habits, and hacks than you would actually doing the stuff that needs to get done.
This also applies more specifically to morning routines — meaning that you shouldn’t adopt a morning routine that takes a bunch of time and energy to set up and keep doing. Yes, you need to push yourself to do something different and uncomfortable — that’s how growth works. But the more different and uncomfortable your new morning routine is right off the bat, the less likely you are to stick to it early on, and thus the less effective it will be.
The best approach to building a morning routine is to make a few changes at a time — unless those changes are ones that your over-tired, sluggish, hungry, thirsty, and lazy morning self will be excited about. But here’s the real trick: the details of the morning routine are less important than you think.
The Magic Component: Re-dedication
Whatever the details of your morning routine, the one thing it should always include is an element of re-dedication. If you’re already interested in adopting a new morning routine, you’ve probably already got goals, objectives, a mission, or some kind of aspiration that you’re working toward.
The heart of a great morning routine is your act of rededicating yourself to whatever valuable thing you’re working toward. The reason for this is simple: we are almost never more energized and focused than when we have a heightened awareness of our purpose or mission. An act of re-dedication to that purpose is a great way to cultivate that heightened awareness — which cultivates increased energy and focus.
For me, the re-dedication ritual is intertwined with various things I do each morning. I have my trusty list of objectives, projects, and tasks — where it’s easy to look at the mission and re-dedicate myself to it. But I also re-dedicate myself while I’m exercising, or while I’m engaged in my morning spiritual practice (which for me is a combination of chanting and meditation). Even in the shower — if I’m really on my morning routine game — I will re-dedicate myself to the important goals in my life.
It’s really very simple. When I don’t do that — when I don’t spend time rededicating myself to the important missions of my life, I am simply not as likely to be effective. So whatever I did in the morning — no matter how great it sounds on paper — if it didn’t include acts of conscious re-dedication, it probably hasn’t done much for me.
Great Mornings Expand Beyond the AM
Some of the best morning routines don’t even begin in the morning; they begin the night before. They begin with preparing yourself for re-dedication in the morning — making that easier to do. They begin with making a list of things that are nagging at you, and committing to doing something about at least one of them tomorrow.
Great morning routines are really just expressions of a great approach to the day. This is not to say that you can’t have really productive morning activities without sitting down the night before to plan. But when you spend at least a few minutes the night before doing some planning or setting intentions for the next morning, you place a heavy burden on the very groggy and usually less energetic version of yourself.
The last relevant point I’ll make here is this: don’t place too much of a burden on yourself with the morning routine business. Just because you read an article about meditating and journaling that got you really psyched about morning routines — that doesn’t mean that you have to stick to those practices for any period of time.
Journaling, list-making, and other morning routines are not valuable in and of themselves; they bring value through structuring your awareness around certain things. It’s re-dedication, just in different forms. You can just as easily rededicate yourself to your mission while you quickly pack your bag and hurry off to the airport.
An effective morning routine not about the specific physical actions you take; it’s about what your mind is doing as you start your day. It’s about whether or not you sincerely rededicate yourself to what you’re trying to accomplish.
You will never be more productive than you are with a clear mission that is front of mind. The morning routine that pushes you to clearly understand and dedicate yourself to that mission is the best morning routine for you.