What’s So Great About Mornings?

Gurus market morning routines as the secret sauce for success. But are they all they’re cracked up to be?
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Josh Sultan
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Apr 14, 2022
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How long have you had your morning routine? Have you stuck to it every day?
… Have you really?
Gurus market morning routines as the secret sauce for success. But are they all they’re cracked up to be? What if your lifestyle makes it impossible to have a consistent routine?
If they’re the ultimate solution to living a happy and productive life, why are they so damn hard to stick to?
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I’m a morning person. I love waking up early, and the first three hours of my day are when I’m most productive, alert, and energetic.
That said, the way we approach mornings as a society really needs work.

The early bird gets the worm.

Whether you’re in school, a parent, or a young professional; if you’re not a morning person, the cards are stacked against you. Why do some of us do better in the mornings than others?
Some scientists believe humans evolved this way for good reason. It was smart for hunter-gatherers to have asynchronous sleeping patterns. It meant there was always someone awake, alert, and able to keep watch.
The industrial revolution changed things by cementing daylight hours as productive hours. The light provided by the sun was essential to industry, so it made sense at the time.
We don’t rely on daylight anymore, but still haven’t shed those traditions.
The result is that “night owls” tend to perform worse in school, have less energy at work, and are more prone to anxiety and depression.
Your chronotype (which determines when you prefer to sleep and rise) changes throughout your life, too. In your teenage years, it shifts to later in the day. You become more of a night owl. This leads to incorrect assumptions about teenagers being lazy.
In your twenties, your chronotype returns to normal. The problem is that society doesn’t recognise these changes. A rigid early start rewards morning larks and punishes night owls.
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That’s why it’s so common for successful people to tout bullshit advice like “earn your sunrise” and “the early bird gets the worm.”
Waking up early doesn’t make you more successful. Rather, society rewards those who happen to perform better in the morning.

Eat the billionaires?

You can’t do much about all that. I can’t change society overnight, and I’m not here to rant. I’m here to help you increase your productivity and happiness.
I recommend you let go of the dream of productive mornings. You’re much better off playing to your strengths. If you feel alert and energised at night, make use of that time.
But this kind of lifestyle design isn’t possible for everyone. Your responsibilities don’t care what your chronotype is.
The good news is you can learn to be a morning person.

Top Tips for Tip-Top Mornings

Your morning starts the evening before

Right after waking up is when my willpower is weakest. If my phone is nearby, I’ll doom-scroll. I’ll fall back to sleep. I’ll stay in bed until I start hating myself.
It’s easier to be disciplined the night before, and it increases your odds of a good morning ten-fold.
Do as much as you can for your morning, the night before. That might be tidying up, preparing breakfast, laying out the next day’s outfit, or taking a shower.
Make Time by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky is a fantastic read which has entire chapters about how to become a morning person. Not affiliated, just a fan.

Put your phone on charge in a different room.

If anything could happen on your phone which is more important than your sleep, you’re not valuing your sleep.
Having your phone out of reach in the morning also discourages you from making your first act of the day to consume social media.
Keep your mornings to yourself and don’t let the rest of the world in.

Breakfast isn’t the most important meal of the day.

I don’t eat breakfast. There’s no compelling evidence to suggest that breakfast is necessary. There’s also no solid evidence that fasting improves your performance and focus … but I think it does.
Don’t worry about eating a good breakfast. Do worry about hydrating yourself first thing in the morning.
It’s easy to forget that when you wake up, you haven’t had a drink in over 8 hours. Don’t wait for your body to feel dehydrated— It’s too late by then. Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning and get a headstart on your hydration.

Your body was made to move.

It doesn’t matter how fit you are (or aren’t), your body wants to move. It was designed to move. Exercise and exposure to nature change the game in the morning.
A short walk and a stretch are all it takes.
Your body is like an engine. If you want to fire on all cylinders, you need to warm it up.

Slow and steady wins the race.

Give yourself more time than you think you need in the morning. Set aside some time for mindfulness.
You could journal, meditate, or enjoy a cup of coffee in silence in the garden. Take a pause before your day begins. Think about what your day looks like, and what you’re going to do.
Checking in with yourself in the morning means you won’t get swept up in someone else’s priorities. Your day goes the way you want it to.
My final tip, and in my opinion the most important tip, is this:

Don’t have a morning routine.

As a digital nomad, I can’t have a morning routine. I don’t know where I’ll be or what I’ll have access to month-by-month.
This led me to the belief that morning routines aren’t supposed to be something you build your life around. Rather, you should build your morning routine around your life.
It should adapt, change, and react to your needs.
Life throws curveballs. Your priorities, energy levels, and mood are always in flux. A morning routine that forces you to take the same actions every day doesn’t respect these facts.
So, should you throw it all out the window?
But you should have an adaptive routine.
Rather than having a rigid routine, you should keep it loose.
Make a checklist for the morning that looks like this:
  • Hydrate
  • Move
  • Pause
Whether you have the energy for a full workout or just 10 minutes of yoga, the important thing is that you’ve moved.
Whether you journal and plan out your whole day or take 2 minutes to sit and reflect, you’ve paused— that’s what counts.
Regimented morning routines have their place, sure. But if you don’t have the luxury of consistency in the mornings, they’re going to make you feel like you keep messing up.
You’re not messing up. You’re doing just fine.

If you enjoyed this article, you should connect with me.
I create content that helps you live a free, joyful, and sustainable life.
If you have thoughts on this article, email me, I’d love to hear from you.

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