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Morning Routines

"You should wake up before 5am!"

I’ve heard this more than a handful of times already in 2018. I’m definitely a morning routine person, but 5am is pretty early.

This post is an exploration of mornings and whether getting up at 5am is worth experimenting with or not.

What is a morning routine, and why should you have one?

For most of us, our days consist of interruptions, notifications, and meetings. This can make it hard to get a solid couple of successive hours of creative and focused work in. However, those interruptions don’t exist in the early hours of the morning. This is especially true if you have a family.

The theory is that if you can get up early and knock out the most important things first thing in the day, then you can sail through the rest of the day with grace and ease.

My anecdotal experience proves the effectiveness of morning routines to be true.

I’ve had a morning routine for at least the past 5 years and it is unfailingly energizing and nourishing. I mentioned my morning routine in a recent article ("Inspiration is for Amateurs") with reference to time boxing your morning to get the most out of your day. But I’d like to go a little deeper here.

I’ve helped a number of clients create morning routines and I’ve studied the morning routines of Navy Seals, Astronauts, Executives, Authors, and more and what I’ve discovered is that every single one of them is different.

The key to a good morning routine is developing one that serves your best interests.

That being said, there’s a number of widely adopted and proven activities that can amplify the energy of the morning routine.

1 alarm:

  • Set a single alarm and put it across the room so you absolutely have to get up and out of bed. Put it in the bathroom if you need to so that it gets you to the next place you’re headed.

  • If you hit snooze, you lose the first battle of the day.


  • 30 pushups

  • Quick run

  • Light stretching

  • 10 minute yoga flow

  • Jumping Jacks


  • Power Oatmeal

  • Yogurt and granola

  • Avocado toast

  • Eggs and Toast

  • Coffee / tea


  • Reading

  • Meditation

  • Philosopher’s Notes (I watch a PNTV episode on Youtube every morning)

  • Affirmations

  • Journaling


  • Cold shower

  • Making your bed

  • Night time routine

This is not meant to be a checklist, but merely directional for the types of activities that a wide range of highly effective people use and find helpful for starting their days off on the right foot.

You might do 1 from each category or 1 from the entire list, or come up with your own idea that works for you. The point is to experiment and find out what gives you energy and confidence as you go throughout your day.

Why is a morning routine important?

The fact is that meditating one morning might make you feel better that day, but probably isn’t going to change your life. However, if you consistently meditate every morning for the next 5 years, your life will be drastically different for the better.

You will have developed a sense of calm collectedness, and understanding of your habitual thoughts and tendency to emotionally react to certain thoughts in specific ways, among other things.

Conversely, if you change nothing about your mornings, you won’t necessarily have a bad life, but you might be missing out on actualizing your own potential.

The difference a small habit like meditating every morning makes is the difference between a few degrees of a ship that leaves the harbor from New York to the UK and ends up in Africa. It’s a small shift, but it has dramatic consequences over the long run.

Now, compound that effect with healthy eating, healthy movement, and healthy mental activity every single morning for the next 5 years and imagine what you could be capable of.

Could you learn a new skill or language?

Could you lose 20 lbs?

Could you finish that book you’ve been working on?

The fact is that your life is waiting to be created by you, but when you wake up and immediately respond to the world, it becomes immensely more difficult to have any say in the path your life follows.

Now, back to our original question of whether or not I should start experimenting with the 5am provocateurs.

My initial reaction is, "Why not?! I like a challenge."

My second thought is, "No way, that’s way too early."

My third thought is, "Gee, Dennis, you just wrote an entire article on the benefits of trying new things in the morning and you’re going to back away from this? No way. You can sign me up for 5am for the next 21 days. I'll use the Habit Builder (Yours free at the bottom of this document) to help me keep track of my progress."

So here’s what I honestly think about the time that you wake up. If you’re a creative or a producer, it probably doesn’t matter. If you're in control of what you get done every single day, then regardless of what time you wake up, you have a certain amount of hours in the day to get your work done and whatever works best for you is undoubtedly the most appropriate.

That being said, if you manage teams, projects, or families and people are depending on you to do specific things at specific times to move the flow of life and work along, then it probably does matter what time you wake up because what you can accomplish before a certain expectation is required to be fulfilled is created externally.

I’m allowed to be wrong though, and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

What is the most important part of a morning routine to you and do you think that waking up early matters and/or depends on the type of responsibilities you have?


With gratitude,

Dennis McGinley

Founder, Performance & Adventure Coach

"See life as an adventure!"


If you want to expand, grow, and develop, the following resources are available to you 100% FREE!

1. The first will pop up after a few seconds on the site (I know, sorry about that, but it’s a really awesome resource and it’s 100% FREE so I feel like it’s a fair deal). It’s called the Habit Builder, and I designed it to help create momentum in the tasks that are important to you by visually tracking your progress over a few weeks.

2. The second is a worksheet called “Gaining Clarity” and is a series of open ended questions that encourage you to think deeply about what the most appealing version of your life looks like and helps you create a ROADMAP for thinking through the steps to achieve that end.

3. If you've done both of those and we haven't had a conversation yet, it's time to schedule a free Discovery Call with me so we can find our more about each other and see if we can't make your life more incredible!

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