31 Things You Can Add to Your Morning Routine to Increase Your Productivity

By Sean Ogle •  Updated: 10/20/15 •  17 min read

It seems like one of the most popular things for entrepreneurs to talk about online is the morning routine.

Generally speaking the idea behind it, is that if you setup a ritual of sorts each morning where you know exactly what you’re doing from the second your eyes open, until the second you sit down from work – you’re setting your day up for increased success and productivity.

For some people, it’s simple: wake up, make coffee, go to work.

Other people have elaborate 3 hour long routines they go through before they even answer a single email.

While there is no right or wrong way, I have found that having some kind of routine in the morning has been extremely advantageous to my productivity for the day.

I’m most productive from 6am to noon. During the days I take time to follow through with my routine, even though it takes away from that productive time period – I still find myself getting more done and having more focus as I head into the afternoon.

This post is not about the nitty gritty details of the how, why, or psychological aspects of your morning ritual.

Rather I wanted to create a comprehensive post of things you could inject into your morning to help you create or hone your mornings.

In this post you’ll find 31 potential things that either I, or other entrepreneurs have found to be beneficial when it comes to setting their days up for success.

My Personal Morning Routine (Video)

Want to know what I’m currently doing every morning and how it’s affecting my productivity and mental health? Here you go.

Morning Routine Basics: Something to Drink

For most people, their mornings are going to have some kind of drink involved. Maybe multiple. Here are some easy things you can add to mix up your routine.

1) Drink Cognitea

The other day I ran out of coffee – my usual drink of choice in the morning. So I pulled out some Cognitea that I was sent a few months ago, I’d tried it once, and it tasted good, but I didn’t think much of it. It’s designed to stimulate brain activity and focus.

When I sat down and drank it, I found myself get into a zone that I don’t get into very often. The next day, I tried it again, and again. I went through my whole supply without ever going out to buy coffee. Does it really work, or is it just placebo? Not sure, but it’s been a productive few weeks.

Check Out: Cognitea. You can get it on Amazon.

2) Make a good french press

Not into tea? My buddy Derek Johanson is big on spending the time to brew the perfect french press coffee. Rather than going the quick and easy Keurig route, taking the time to make french press gives you some extra time to think through your day and plan things out – not to mention drinking good coffee is infinitely more enjoyable than drinking from a k-cup 🙂

To Do: Learn how to make french press coffee.

Alternative: Want to give your brain an even bigger boost? Try Bulletproof Coffee.

3) Drink a glass of water

If you’re like me, you probably don’t drink enough water. I tend to make coffee in the morning, and then move onto alcohol in the evenings – which can wreak havoc on my body.

By initiating a glass of water into my morning routine first thing (I do it while my coffee is brewing), I not only kickstart my metabolism, but I become more compelled to drink more throughout the rest of the day.

To Do: Get a good water bottle. This is the one I use.

4) Make a smoothie

More of an on the go type person, and want to get a quick breakfast fix? Make a smoothie with your favorite ingredients. A smoothie is a great way to get a healthy kick of vitamins and protein in one glass.

To Do: Find a recipe you like. This is a great post on green smoothies.

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The Trendy Morning Routine Item: Gratefulness 

Sometimes it’s important to stop focusing on what’s next for a minute and focus on what you already have. These thankfulness exercises are a great way to start a day by appreciating all of the good that’s already in your life.

5) Send a Thank You Note

Often in the morning we’re consumed with ourselves. How we feel. What we have to get done. Building thank you notes into your routine is something that will cause you to spend a few minutes thinking about other people in the morning and being grateful for those around you.

Even if it’s just sending a thank you email. The people who receive them will be both happy and surprised.

To Do: Buy cool thank you cards on Etsy.

6) Display Gratitude

Ok, maybe you don’t feel the need to send a thank you card every single day. That doesn’t mean you can’t, or shouldn’t display gratitude to those around you.

There’s been an increasing amount of discussion on this word, gratitude, and I think it’s one to really spend time thinking about.

According to Harvard, being thankful can actually make you happier. It’s easy to get caught up with the stresses of life, but if you’re reading this, chances are you’ve got it better than many.

To Do: Write out a list of 5 things you’re grateful for every morning. Spend a minute or two focusing just on those.

7) Meditation

This is going to mean different things for different people. Some people will sit down for an hour for their meditations, others will do it for 5 minutes.

This isn’t something I do on a regular basis, but on the occassions when I do, I usually look for a short audio session on You Tube to help me relax and stay on point.

Check Out: 5 Minute Meditations on You Tube

8) Journal

My friend Nick Ramil of The Elevator Life has been journaling pretty much his whole life. I still remember him showing me the post he wrote in his journal the day he left the US to move to China after graduating.

To have a way to track the evolution of your thoughts, while also clarifying them in the present is a really powerful tool.

To Do: Get a journal. Start writing.

9) Set One Intention for the Day

How often do you sit down to work, but aren’t really sure what you’re trying to accomplish for the day? Probably more often than you’d like to be.

By setting one very specific intention for your day, you have something you can keep coming back to, in order to ensure you’re making the most of your time.

For instance it could be anything from “finish building out the new email funnel” to something even more simple like “have fun.”

To Do: Download the momentum app for Chrome. Set your intention in it each day.

Momentum extension for Chrome

Momentum extension for Chrome

Best Ways to Work Exercise Into Your Morning Routine

Even a little bit of movement or exercise can make a huge difference in starting your day on the right track. It’s all too easy to just stumble out of bed and into the shower and get ready for work – but if you can carve out even a few minutes to get some movement, you’re body will thank you later in the day – and later in life if you keep the habit consistent.

10) Do a 7 Minute Exercise

Lately I’ve been using the app 7 Minute Work Out Challenge to do short 7 minute exercises throughout the day. If I need a break, I do a session. Need a legit workout? Do 3 back to back to back.

As someone who has a tough time going to the gym first thing in the morning, this can be a great intermediary step.

To Do: Download the 7 Minute Workout Challenge App.

11) Go for a Walk

Not into high intensity first thing? Cool, go get some fresh air and walk around the block. Not much else needs to be said for this.

To Do: This one is pretty easy, get outside and walk. Even if it’s just a few minutes around the block to start.

12) Go for a Run

A walk not quite cutting it for you and want to get the heart rate up a bit, while still getting some fresh air? Go for a run instead.

To Do: Lace up your running shoes and head out for a run. Only once or twice a week can make a huge difference.

13) Go to the Gym

There’s a reason that some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world say going to the gym everyday is one of their keys to success in life.

To Do: Do like Ramit Sethi and set your gym clothes right by your bed, so as soon as you get up, you don’t have any excuses, get dressed and go.

14) Do Yoga

I spend a lot of time sitting in an office chair. My body can get stiff and tight, and I’ve noticed over the years my flexibility going a bit downhill. Spending 15 minutes doing yoga stretches in the morning can help alleviate this, and keep you loose and limber throughout the day.

To Do: Do any of these short yoga routines.

15) Get Out of Bed Immediately

This one can be a killer. Often I’ll wake up at 5:30, but then I’ll just sit in bed for another 45 minutes scrolling through social media, or well, yeah probably just scrolling through social media.

I’m not going to lie, my Ooler makes it incredibly easy to fall asleep, but makes it that much harder to want to get out of bed. And if you’re wondering What is an Ooler? You’re welcome.

When I get up immediately after waking up, not only do I add extra minutes to my day during my most productive period – but I’m setting the tone for what the rest of the day will look like.

To Do: Grab the Sleep Cycle App. It sits on your bed while you sleep, tracks your movement and can sense when you’re in “light sleep.” It will then start vibrating to set you up during your set wake up hours.

Morning Routine Productivity

That’s what this is all about right? Making yourself happier and more productive during the days. So as you start leaning into work, set yourself up to be as productive as you can.  Getting in these routines can help.

Pomodoro16) Start a pomodoro

When you do finally sit down for work, how long does it often take you to actually get down to work?

By following the Pomodoro process you can jump start this.  Set a 25 minute timer and put a task in front of you. When it goes off, take a 5 minute break and then start another one.

To Do: Get a Pomodoro Timer App. I use Pomodoro Time – but there are at least a dozen that do similar things.

17) Spend 10 minutes in an online forum

When you’re working for yourself, finding a supportive community is absolutely vital to long term success and sanity. That’s why Location Rebel Academy is so valuable for so many people – everyone in there has similar lifestyle goals and can be an amazing source of support.

Work some of that community time into your daily routine, so that even if you’re alone – you’re not really alone. If you’re active in a forum you can also help other people solve some of the issues they’re working on, which can help you feel better about yourself and the day moving forward.

To Do: Find a community of likeminded people. I recommend Location Rebel Academy – but I may be a bit biased :).

18) Create a to do list that works

Do your to do lists, actually work? Are you able to cross everything off of them day in and day out?

If not, consider trying a different strategy. My to do list process is actually pretty simple, but has a few features that are a little bit more unconventional. Read about exactly how I create a to do list that works each day.

To Do: Create your to do list every night before you go to bed. You can use an app like ToDoist.

19) Fire up Focus@Will

I haven’t been shy about my love for Focus@Will. It’s an app that plays music that is specially formulated to have the same effect as ADD medication and lull you into focus mode. Is it legit, or just placebo? I honestly don’t know, but when I turn it on I find myself getting stuff done.

To Do: Sign up for Focus@Will.

Alternative: Don’t want to pay for it? Get Spotify, go to “Genres & Moods”, and then click “Focus” – lots of similar types of playlists there.

Focus playlists on Spotify.

Focus playlists on Spotify.

20) Embrace Ideas

James Altucher is a huge proponent of this. Everyday, he sits down and writes a bunch of ideas in a notebook. It doesn’t matter what the ideas are, if they are good or bad, they all get written down.

Since he’s been pretty successful as a businessman, author, and podcaster (with some pretty crazy bumps in the road in-between) he’s someone who has plenty of experience.

Not only is this a great way to get your brain started in the morning, but you never know what might turn into something awesome.

To Do: Keep a pen and a notebook (or Google Doc, or Evernote) by your bed and write down 10 ideas every morning when you wake up.

Learn Something Everyday During Your Morning Routine

Don’t have time later in the day to educate yourself? Consider doing it first thing in the morning.

21) Read a Book

Last week I was down in San Francisco with my friend Clay, and I noticed that before he even got out of bed he spent some time reading.

If you find yourself struggling to find time in the day to read, this could be a great way to ease into things.

To Do: Find a book you’re excited about. I find Amazon’s Business Best Sellers to be a good starting point.

22) Read a Backlog of Blog Posts

Not wanting to dig into a full book first thing in the morning? Start saving your blog posts to read in batches.

To Do: Follow your favorite blogs on RSS. Then get a good reader like Unread or Reeder.

23) Learn a Language

Location Rebel community manager, Liz, is a big fan of this one the last few weeks. She downloaded the Duolingo app on her iPad and schedules just 15 minutes first thing in the morning to use the app to practice language learning.

It’s a great way to feel like she’s accomplished something first thing in the morning, plus the gamification aspect of the app is a fun way to get the day going.


Duolingo for iPad

To Do: Check out the Duolingo website and download the free app to your mobile device

The Morning Routine Basics

These things are simple. In fact you probably learned them as a first grader – but sometimes it’s the simplest things that are the most forgotten.

24) Make Breakfast

Making breakfast isn’t just good for the positive health benefits it bestows. For me, making breakfast is a trigger for other positive habits. When I’m making breakfast, I then tend to drink a glass of water, which then makes me want to exercise – and so on.

To Do: Start your day off with a healthy breakfast. Can’t think of ideas? Check out these 34 Simple Meals for Busy Mornings.

25) Shower

There are some days I don’t shower until late in the afternoon when I’m finally getting ready to leave the house. This is definitely not the ideal strategy, as taking a shower and properly getting dressed immediately puts me in a “time to get to work” mindset.

If you find yourself typing away in sweatpants and a tank tap a little too often, this is a great way to kickstart your focus for the day.

To Do: Consider Cold Shower Therapy.

26) Floss

Like drinking a glass of water is for me, flossing can be a gateway habit. If you do this everyday, it becomes easier to build other minor habits that can lead to a positive life.

To Do: Start now. No really, go floss. Your dentist will thank you.

A Few Other Fun Things

These didn’t quite fit anywhere else, but could be great additions to any morning routine.

27) Take a Photo

One of my favorite routines I’ve seen are those people who take a photo a day, either for Instagram or simply for themselves. By taking a few minutes each morning to take a new photograph, you’re forcing yourself to get creative early which can help with other creative work tasks.

To Do: Setup an Instagram account for your new routine.

Also follow me, @seanogle!

28) Write 1,000 Words

This is one of my favorite routines in this entire list. Why? Because for me, writing and creating is what I do. The more I write, and the more content I put out, the more good things happen and the more the business grows.

I was first introduced to this idea by Chris Guillebeau years ago, and I still think it’s as good now as it was then.

It doesn’t matter what you write about, but by getting to 1k words a day, you’ll not only improve your writing skills, but you’ll have a growing arsenal of content you can deploy in your business or blog.

To Do: Get an app that will allow you to easily organize your writing. I like Evernote.

29) Plan something fun for the afternoon

The easiest way for me to be productive is to know that if I’m not productive, I won’t be able to do something fun.

I often wake up early and work until noon. I’ll schedule something fun early in the afternoon (like a round of golf), and if I don’t get my work done – then I can’t go. This is a really positive motivator.

To Do: Think about what fun things you really wouldn’t want to miss out on. Then schedule your week with them and force yourself to get the work done.

30) Listen to music

For me, music always sets the tone for what I want to do. If I’m going to the gym, I’ll turn on something that’s going to pump me up. If I want to chill, I’ll turn on some downtempo electronic music. By listening to music early on in the day, you can change your mood and get the day started right.

To Do: Get Spotify. I know I mentioned this earlier, but it’s the easiest way to get access to just about any kind of music you could ever want.

31) Practice a Passion

So many people have a passion project (hmm does golf count?) but find it hard to make the time to do it. If you can’t find time, do it in the morning. Wake up even 15 minutes earlier than normal to work on your crafts, art project, stamp collection, fantasy football team, whatever it is.

It will help you start your day off with a smile, and you’ll be able to have that special quiet time dedicated to something you truly love.

To Do: Set your alarm 15 minutes earlier than normal and work on your passion. If it takes a bit of time to set up, do it the night before so you can get right to work.

How Do You Start Your Day?

There you have it, 31 things you can add to your morning routine to help you get the day started right and boost your productivity in the process.

What did we leave out? What do you do as part of your routine that we didn’t cover?

Did I miss anything? What are some of your most important morning routines? Let me know in the comments!

Sean Ogle

Sean Ogle is the Founder of Location Rebel where he has spent the last 12+ years teaching people how to build online businesses that give them the freedom to do more of the things they like to do in life. When he's not in the coffee shops of Portland, or the beaches of Bali, he's probably sneaking into some other high-class establishment where he most certainly doesn't belong.
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28 comments on "31 Things You Can Add to Your Morning Routine to Increase Your Productivity"

  1. Bingo!

    Perfect timing as I just brewed my morning coffee here in, well, Colombia. Coffee straight from the source, what’s not to love.

    Here are my “non negotiable” morning actions:

    1) Coffee
    2) Write 1000 words (90% of the time I get this done first thing, unless I’m extremely tired or hung over…then I push until the afternoon).
    3) Shower and dress like a Boss. Haha, that sounds a bit arrogant, but I think there’s some truth to it. When you get clean, and make sure you look good….you feel good. And, as we all know, when you feel good, your confidence and motivation have a way of moving in lockstep. Plus it feels like you’re taking yourself and your business more seriously, than if you had just loafed around looking unkempt until the afternoon.
    4) Read. This has changed radically for me in the last few months. On the advice of James Altucher (my favorite blogger on the planet), I’ve moved away from purely non-fiction and have been discovering some amazing Sci-Fi and short stories. Seriously, if you want to feel more creative, inspired and to have an endless well of new ideas….fiction is where it’s at. Can’t go wrong with Ray Bradbury…the master of the short story.

    Oh man I could go on and on, but I’m gonna leave it at that for now. If anybody wants to know more about my fiction book list, just give me a holler!

    Great list, Sean!

  2. Great post Sean – love all the ideas too. I’ve used the following morning routine now for over a year and it’s been working great for me. After reading this post and all the great ideas in here, I may just have to add in another one or two new ones to my routine (meditate and spend 10 minutes in an online forum). For the past year, my morning routine has consisted of 1) drinking coffee 2) display gratitude by writing one thing I am grateful for that day in my journal 3) setting one absolute must-do (or intention) for that day 4) read 5) exercise 6) have breakfast. This routine had served me well. It’s definitely increased my focus and productivity. Great stuff man… Thanks again – Cheers!

  3. Hi Sean,
    I like this list. To tie a few of together, some positive benefits of adopting a very active dog (besides cuddling time) is that I wake up before work and take him for a run outside, which then prompts me to shower, make coffee, eat breakfast, etc., and think about somebody else’s needs first. And if I don’t, the bark alarm will remind me to do it anyway. Not that I recommend a dog just for that, but I’m sure other owners would agree on the happy and healthy effects being a dog parent can have.

  4. Sara Param says:

    It is a very good blog Thanks for your advice.

  5. Ferdy says:

    Great post with some awesome ideas! Having a morning routine really changed my life. It may seem a bit contradictive at first, but waking up a few hours earlier can give you so much energy for the rest of the day.

  6. Ray says:

    Thanks for sharing this – lots of good ideas, here. Personally, I’m a night-time person. Once the family are sleeping I get the peace and quiet I need to do my writing.

  7. Christina says:

    I love a morning ritual. This is mine:
    *I wake at 5.30am
    *Brush teeth (and tongue – very important!)
    *Make a cup of tea – Earl Grey – also very important 🙂
    *Go back to bed and get out my journal and write my gratitudes for everything I am experiencing and all that I have achieved, even the seemingly small stuff, so that I know that I am moving forward.
    *I go through my emails and then social media and respond to what I need to and highlight what can wait
    *It’s Spring here in Australia now, so I spend 30 minutes outside doing yoga and then normally I go down to the beach and throw myself into the beautiful ocean.
    *Home, happy and hungry so another cup of tea and breakfast and then down to work

    Thank you for asking for us to share. By articulating my morning ritual here I realise just how important it is to me and the way my day unfolds.
    Take care
    Christina x

  8. Martin says:

    Awesome list Sean. Does it count if you wake up at noon? Just kidding (kind of!).

    I like to chug a glass of water, then a cup of coffee, then write like mad!

  9. Hello Sean,

    I’m not really a morning person, but I’d like to be a full-fledged one. Due to current circumstances, seems I’m better off rising early 🙂

    Drinking a glass of water is a must, then a cup of coffee 15 minutes after that.

    What I’d like to try now, is the pomodoro, though I admit this sounds tough to me–I like working straight! And I’m working on my word count per day.


    1. Sean says:

      You can make your pomodoros different lengths as well 🙂 Sometimes I go for 50 minute sessions instead.

  10. LOVED this post, Sean! The one thing I do that just makes my day is to ride my horse as the sun comes up. I get up really early for most folks, 4 AM. It is just the most magical time of the day for me so I get up and meditate for a while and then head out to the barn. One of my favorite rituals is to share the sunrise with my horse. It makes the day even more magical and my horse seems to enjoy it as well. I’ll paraphrase a quote from the film “The Emperor’s Club:”

    “A day that begins on the back of a horse is infinitely preferable to one that does not.”

    PS> Afterwards I go to Location Rebel and check for updates on the forums!

  11. I really believe that if you start your day right, everything else follows. I mean, if you think positively, only good vibes will follow. I always live a busy life where there is a challenge everyday when it comes to my field of works. But the best part of it is that, I love my work so I enjoyed what I do. And just like the old saying goes, you have to love your work so you don’t really feel like working at all but enjoying every bit of it. And everyday I wake up, I decided to live with that principle. And oh, a healthy and full breakfast helps me become productive everyday too. Thanks for the tips!

  12. Hi Sean,
    A couple of remarks on morning routines and productivity.
    To begin with you’ll have to realize that how you function in the morning is in large part dependent upon the quality of your sleep. On my website (www.psylogic.eu) you’ll find some more information on that. In the same way your sleep in dependent upon your evening ritual.
    There are a couple of things you can do to give yourself a good start in the evening. To begin with do away with the laptops, tablets and smartphones after, say 10 pm. The bluish led light in the screens, comparable with daylight, will lower your melatonin levels, creating a sort you self induced yet lag which will hinder a normal sleep pattern. You’ll turn yourself in a “night owl” type of sleeper, giving you trouble to function at an optimum in the morning.
    From a fysiological point of view, it’s best to start your morning in an active way. Get some daylight (which will lower your sleep hormone melatonin level), and use that body (walk, run, jog, do yoga), activating your energy resources. Your morning is the time where you are most focused, most creative. Do not sleep late! The quality of that part of your sleep will not leave you very active or refreshed. Afternoons are for routine jobs.
    Best regards, from London,

  13. David Acosta says:

    #15 is probably one of the hardest things to do, at least in the moment, and especially when you like to get up early (eg. before the sun rises). The best way to solve this “problem” is just to go to bed earlier, but we all know that’s quite often easier said than done!

    1. Sean says:

      haha it definitely is

  14. Leo Welder says:

    I switched from eating cereal in the morning to having a full breakfast (or a smoothie when I’m short on time) a few months ago, and I’ll never go back. I have so much more energy when I’ve eaten real food.

    A trick I learned for the smoothie: figure out your favorite smoothie ingredients and proportions, then spend some time on the weekend to freeze them in vac seal bags, so when you want a smoothie, all you need to do is drop the ingredients into the blender, add whatever juice or milk-like product you like and boom- you’re done.

    1. Sean says:

      Love the smoothie trick. I’m all for making things easier!

  15. Oliver says:

    It’s alway a pleasure to get new tips and good advice in becoming more productive and a better person in gerneral. Thank you.

  16. Craig says:

    Meditation didn’t just make my mornings better, it made my entire days better! I highly recommend it.

  17. Rich Pearce says:

    Thanks for the suggestions. I really struggle with #18 – “Create a to do list that works”. I have discovered, however, that when I limit how often I check my email, I do much better.

  18. Colin says:

    Dude, I know the negative effects of #15 all to well.

    To add to #3 though, I would instead say, drink a glass of warm-hot water with half of a lemon. Among other things, it wakes up your digestive system and is alkalizing in your body, which is great since most of our diets tend to be overly acidic.

  19. Rehana Ali says:

    As salamu alaikum (it means -peace be upon U) EveryOne !
    Thanks indeed for a very helpful, informative, encouraging piece of advice. I would like to share two things which has benefitted my husband, my family, my friends immensely.
    ☆☆ 1–Listening & Reading the Quran early in the morning specially. ( it challenges that it brings calmness to ur heart.
    I have tried it and it works wonders even if u dont understand a word. The melody of different reciters is so so soothing n beautiful.

    ☆☆ 2- Drinking water with lemon. Mix one big citrus in a litre of water & drink it as much as you can.

    Appreciate your emphasize on morning walks. My husband would love you for that. He is 70 & so fit. I am too lazy but i feel the difference. Also cycling helps to keep you fit. I learnt it here in Denmark where oldies like 70-85 year olds even riding bikes.

    Thanks once again for the very valuable contribution & for letting us share our experiences as well.

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