Mornings can be a b**ch.
That alarm goes off on Monday and the last thing you want to do is get up.
You hit snooze again and again until you’ve got the bare minimum amount of time to get ready and get work.
You practically fall out of the door and head to work before you’ve even had the chance to have breakfast.
I used to spend my mornings like this. Barely awake, rushing through my routine and tripping over my own trousers.
Though, that was only when I had work to go to. If I had the day off, my morning was…well, non-existent. I didn’t have one.
I was still in bed as midday approached.
It’s crazy to look back on that now and think about how much time I wasted.
But whether you’re an early morning rusher or a midday riser, there’s likely room for improvement in your morning routine.
And having a healthy set of habits each morning is often the key to a successful day.
So, I’ve put together 7 things every man should do each morning to set yourself up for success.
You Guessed It—Wake Up Early
I can almost feel that lethargic sigh. “Another person telling me to get up early—great.”
No doubt you’ve heard it before, but I’m here to tell you again that it’s important to wake up early in order to have a successful morning.
But depending on your schedule, early can be as late as you want.
You see, the important thing about waking up early is all that extra time you get before you start your day.
But if your work day starts at 12pm, firstly, lucky you. Secondly, that could mean that getting up at 10am is ‘early’ for you.
You’ve got four hours before you need to be anywhere. Plenty of time to get productive.
That’s the key thing, the spare time. Which hour of the day you get up is a technicality.
I like to give myself a minimum of two hours to get up, get ready and go to work. If I’m feeling particularly chipper, I’ll give myself a three-hour morning.
If I start work at 9am, I’ll get up between 6am and 7am. That way I have plenty of time to prepare myself for the day but also enough time to do that in a calm and relaxed manner.
I never feel rushed or under pressure. I enjoy my mornings. In fact, they might even be my favorite part of the day.
Essentially, what I’m doing is turning my morning into an actual part of my day. Rather than something I skip through. I enjoy my mornings just as I might enjoy my evenings.
Having this chunk of time set out means that you can get a lot done before you even properly start your day. What that might be is up to you, but by getting up a few hours before work you give yourself time and choices.
Working, exercising or reading during this time will really up your productivity but it’s not essential.
I don’t do any work in the morning. For me, those two or three hours are about getting my mind right before I start the day. I relax, have breakfast, meditate, shower and go for a walk.
These are things that I enjoy and that set me up physically and mentally for the day ahead.
Use a Proper Alarm Clock
Sounds pointless right? You just use your phone for your alarm.
Though, what do you do after you’ve shut off that alarm? I’m going to take a guess and say check your social media, emails and anything else you like to scroll through first thing in the morning.
This is one of the worst habits to pick up if you’re looking to start your day with a clear head.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in social media. To find yourself stuck in an endless scroll through yesterday’s dinner and the latest selfies. But all that’s going to do first thing in the morning is clog up your mind with junk.
You’ll find your head is much clearer if you wait 30 minutes before checking your phone in the morning.
You’ll also feel more awake and present because you’ll avoid that zombie-like state brought on by a social media deep dive.
The easiest way to avoid the temptation of checking your phone in the morning is to remove it. Leave it in the kitchen or living room and use a regular alarm clock to make sure you’re up on time.
You’ll be surprised at how much a little mental decluttering will help you in the morning.
Not only that, but leaving your phone in another room may improve the quality of your sleep. You’ll get into bed and actually go to sleep rather than spending another hour on your phone.
And hey, better sleep always means a better morning.
This firsthand account of switching from a phone to an alarm clock is an interesting read.
Drink a Glass of Water
Despite my love of coffee, a large glass of water is the first thing I drink every morning.
There are a ton of health benefits to drinking enough water. All the way from the obvious—you’ll die if you don’t. To things like better skin and an improved immune system.
But, actually, none of those, apart from the dying thing, are the reasons I drink water first thing in the morning.
I drink water before I do anything else, simply because it helps me wake up and feel refreshed.
While you’re asleep overnight, your body isn’t getting any hydration. Naturally, you dehydrate to an extent. Now, you won’t feel this in your feet or your chest, but you will notice it in your head.
You might wake up feeling a bit groggy. Maybe your eyes feel heavy or your head feels bunged up.
It’s easy to assume this is just tiredness. That you didn’t sleep well or that you’re still waking up. But this is likely because your brain has dehydrated overnight. The extreme and more obvious example of this is a hangover.
A glass of water solves the problem almost instantly and it’s such an easy thing to do. Even if your head isn’t pounding, it’s always good practice to drink some water first thing in the morning.
Here’s a video from Body Hub on some of the other benefits of drinking water on an empty stomach:
Do Something You Enjoy
Maybe a controversial one, but hear me out.
No one likes getting up. Well, not many of us at least.
One of the reasons for that is we’re getting up to do something we’d rather not do. We’d prefer to stay in bed instead of going to work for example.
To get to work on time you have to get up when it’s dark, go outside into the cold and generally do things that half asleep you really doesn’t want to do.
This makes getting up early, hard and unenjoyable. You have to force it and use your willpower just to get out of bed. But the key to consistent habits is enjoying them.
It’s far easier to maintain a habit over a long period if you enjoy it. So this tip is a psychological one.
Do something you enjoy first thing in the morning so that you slowly begin to enjoy getting up. Or at the very least, it gets a little easier.
As a fully grown male, it’s a little embarrassing, but I actually fire up my Xbox first thing in the morning. I game for about 45 minutes while I have my breakfast.
I know it sounds like a teenage dream rather than a grown man’s routine, but it works. I’ve been consistently getting up early for the last three years and I like doing it. My fiance doesn’t appreciate the 6am alarms but hey, nobody’s perfect.
Afterwards, I’ve got a further two hours each morning to stop being a big kid and do my adult stuff. But that playful 45 minutes ensures I’m up for those productive two hours.
A morning meditation is by far the best way to set yourself up for a successful day.
Setting aside 15 to 20 minutes each morning for a meditation, will ensure you leave the house with a clearer mind than you woke up with.
Any troubles that might’ve carried over from the day before, that you’re still thinking about as you get ready. Can be eased with a morning meditation. You’ll be calming and clearing your mind so that’s it’s ready to face the day.
Meditation is known to reduce stress, depression and anxiety. So if you’re suffering with any of these, sitting down to meditate each morning will help you even more.
If you meditate first thing, then you’ll carry calmness and clarity into the rest of your morning. If you have work to do that day, you’ll be more able to focus on it and complete quality work.
You’re more likely to have a smooth trip to work as well as a more productive day. With the clear perspective brought out through meditation you’ll be less error prone, more efficient and alert.
To top it off, any problems you encounter that day; any little worries that you pick up in the back of your mind. Can be eased all over again with tomorrow morning’s meditation.
Consistent morning meditation allows you to function as your best self, everyday.
2 Tips to Help You Meditate in the Morning
1. Practice early on in your routine
People meditate at all sorts of different times. I’ve tried several myself and can safely say the morning is the most effective for me.
But a 3-hour morning is a broad time, when specifically do I meditate?
I always try to begin my meditation within the first hour of my day. I wake up, have a glass of water and then have breakfast while playing a game of something.
Generally that takes about 45 minutes and after that I’ll sit down to meditate before I’ve showered, got dressed etc.
That way I’m striking a nice balance. I’ve given myself enough time to wake up. I don’t feel groggy anymore but I’m also not fully alert yet. This makes for a state in which I find it easier to focus on meditation.
If I practice as soon as I wake up, my mind is still asleep and I can’t concentrate. If I practice after I’ve had a shower, I’m too awake. Energised and raring to go, I find it difficult for my mind to settle into what is a calm activity.
So I meditate somewhere in the middle.
2. Sit in lotus or half-lotus posture
If you’re flexible enough I would recommend sitting this way.
Lying down or sitting on a chair is fine. It won’t harm your practice. But lotus posture will make things easier for you if you can manage it.
I can only sit in half-lotus but it still works well as a stable position.
Again it’s about balance. I find it too easy to fall asleep if I’m lying down and too uncomfortable if I just sit on the floor normally.
Half-lotus is comfortable enough to sit in, stable enough to maintain and rigid enough to keep you awake.
Here’s an article that will teach you how to sit in lotus.
Take a Cold Shower
This can be a tough one, particularly in the winter months. But taking a cold shower before you head out the door each morning has many benefits.
First and foremost, it will wake you up—a lot.
Cold water shock will shake off any lingering sleepiness within seconds. It immediately gets your heart pumping and your blood flowing.
You also begin to take in more oxygen as you breathe faster and deeper. Though be careful about breathing uncontrollably. Try to calm and control the breath. This will help you handle the cold as well.
It’s best to build up gradually. Start by having a warm shower and end the shower with 10 seconds of cold. Add on five seconds of cold each day until you can do at least one minute.
Other benefits of taking cold showers include:
- Improved Recovery Rates
- Reduced Anxiety
- Reduced Depression
- Improved Cold Resistance
- Better Focus
- Improved Mood
- Various Physical Health Benefits
Here are 5 tips and a bit of safety information on taking cold showers:
Make Your Bed
This is a very simple but powerful piece of advice:
Make your bed every morning.
In fact, you should tidy up your whole house before you leave it each day.
“If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.” – Naval Admiral William McRaven
There’s three reasons for this.
First, you’re a grown ass man. I mean, come on.
Second, success starts with small things. Small actions that build habits and character
Making your bed means you start the day off right. Doing it constantly cultivates discipline. That discipline and the simple action of making your bed each morning will seep into the rest of your life.
You’ll find yourself being more disciplined in other parts of your day. More able to stick to routines and maintain good habits.
Making your bed each morning is the first brick laid in the solid foundation of success.
Lastly, it’s good for you.
If you’re coming home after a stressful day at work, you don’t want to walk into a home that’s a complete mess.
The living room is trashed, the kitchens a mess and the bedroom makes you feel like you’re back in your angsty teenage years. Only this time you’re moms not there to tidy it for you.
This is just going to add to the stress you picked up at work. And you’re unlikely to have the energy or motivation to clean after the day you’ve just had.
But if you’d tidied the place up this morning, you’d now have a clean and calming space to relax in.
Your living environment is an important factor in your mood. So making sure it’s a clean environment while you have the energy to make it that way, is always good practice.
So, there’s my seven tips for a successful morning routine.
There are a ton of other healthy habits you might try in the morning, some of which I talk about in our other personal-development content, but these seven have worked wonders for me.
The morning can be a great time of day if you take charge of it. And by taking control of the morning, you may find you start to take charge of your life.