5 Things That Might Be Sabotaging Your Morning Routine

Are you guilty of these?

The way we begin our day sets the tone for everything that comes after. And along the way, we’ve learned what behaviors in my life foster a successful morning routine, and which ones can sabotage it.

But first, why have a morning routine? It’s about starting the day proactive rather than reactive. By intentionally setting aside this time to focus my thoughts for the day ahead, prioritizing what’s most important to you and channeling your energy into that, instead of dispersing it among whatever happens to pop up throughout the rest of my day. Remember we only have a certain amount of time and energy in a day, and we can choose how we spend it.

Make each day your masterpiece.

John Maxwell

Convinced yet? If you’ve tried and struggled to establish a solid AM ritual, it might be that one or two behaviors are getting in the way of fully experiencing the power of this time. Scroll on for a few things that could be sabotaging yours, along with tips for a successful morning routine.

Staying up too late.

Staying up too late is the quickest way to render your morning routine powerless. You need at least a solid 7 to 8 hours of sleep in order to feel refreshed, alert, and energized, and carrying that energy into my ritual is essential for sparking creativity and being fully present. We would always lump anything into this category that results in bad quality sleep: drinking alcohol or doing social media before bed, to name a couple of the biggest offenders.

Remember that if you need to get up 30 minutes earlier than usual in order to make time for your morning routine, it will require going to bed 30 minutes earlier so you don’t sacrifice sleep in the process. Setup your “bedtime mode” on your phone and aim for consistent Z’s.

Forgetting to prep the night before.

A little advance planning goes a long way to removing barriers to your morning routine. It’s also helpful to set aside a few minutes in the evening to decide how you want to spend your time in the morning. The point is, by planning what you’re going to work on the night before, you don’t end up sitting with your coffee and journal, staring off into space in a half-awake state — you can dive right into whatever it is you want to get done and make the most of the first hour of my day.

Looking at social media right when you wake up.

Have you ever made a plan to work on an important project, but first you take a “quick peek” at your email, texts, or social media… and suddenly 30 minutes have gone by and you haven’t done any of what you intended? This is the barrier that trips up the most people, and we’ve all certainly been there. We’ve learned the hard way that you have to practice some discipline with your inputs in order to make this time sacred. So, if you want to get the most out of your AM routine, turn off distractions and notifications, close out your email, and put away your phone. Prioritize the most important things first.

Another destructive part of looking at email or social media first thing in the morning is that it can make you reactive, seeing a certain DM or triggering post can derail your mindset within 5 minutes of waking up. Instead, be proactive with the energy that you’re bringing to this part of my day. There’s power in knowing that you can choose how you want your morning routine to go.

The act of living a full life by giving time to what matters is a balancing act. Extraordinary results require focused attention and time. Time on one thing means time away from another.

Gary Keller

Procrastinating what’s the most important.

There’s a saying that goes, “Do the hard things first.” And setting aside time in the morning, before you’re pulled in a million directions by other peoples’ priorities, is the perfect time to do it. If there’s something important that you’ve been putting off, try doing it first thing, before anything else can get in the way. Sometimes when you’re planning the night before, write down the one thing that is most crucial for you to get done the next day. Funny enough, it’s often something that only takes a few minutes, so carving that into my morning routine sets me up for a productive day, no matter what happens during the rest of it.

When you’re feeling unmotivated or just outright lazy, use “The ‘Do Something’ Principle.” It’s based on the observation that action is not just the effect of motivation, it’s also the cause of it. That is, not only do we take action when we feel motivated to do so, but taking action creates motivation to take even more action.

And so if we can just manage to do something, anything really, this almost always sets off a chain reaction where action begets motivation which begets more action which begets more motivation… and so on.

Not feeling like working out? Just put on your workout clothes. See what happens…
Not feeling like making those work calls? Just go to your desk and open up your notebook/planner and get a little more organized for the day. See what happens…
Not feeling like working on that book you’re writing? Just start on an outline for a section of a chapter. See what happens…

Not drinking water.

It may seem small or obvious, but try drinking a lot of water throughout the morning and see how much more alert and engaged you are when you hydrate first thing. The idea that coffee dehydrates you is a myth. Although caffeine has a mild diuretic effect, our bodies quickly compensate, so yes, coffee and tea have a net hydrating effect, not to mention a myriad of other health benefits when consumed in moderation.

Having water right next to you at all times is a good idea because you’ll be drinking water without evening knowing. And when you do, you’ll be more alert, and less likely to reach for random handfuls of granola for an energy boost.

So, what are the things that lead to a successful morning routine?

Aside from avoiding the sabotagers, there are so many proactive ways to establish a morning routine that changes your entire day for the better. Here are a few simple things to make time for in the morning:


Once you settle in your chair with your coffee and journal, start with one minute of deep, mindful breathing that grounds you and reminds you to be present.

Prioritize your time.

Read through your goals, priorities, and “people” list to make sure that how you’re spending your time is aligned with what’s important to you. Hold them up against your calendar that day to see if your day is directed towards those priorities. If not, find a space to carve out time for them.

Create a ritual.

Morning routine includes little cues that speak to your senses, reminding you to be present and acknowledge the moment as sacred. When you get up, pour your coffee into your favorite mug, turn on a chill playlist without vocals, and light a candle that sits on your desk. The repetition of those sounds and scents reminds me to get in the zone.

What’s your morning routine? What barriers have you run into? What practices foster a meaningful start to the day?

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