10 Tactics to Win the Mornings

If I can win the morning, I win the day.

Mornings are the most important times of the day for me. My morning routines set the tone for the entire day. It’s what gets me out of bed at 5:15am every day. It’s what gets me in the gym by 6:30am every day. And it’s what gets me to work at 8am every day.

The success of my morning routines starts with my sleep the night before. Anything less than seven hours of sleep will make my morning routines harder to accomplish. That’s why I’m asleep no later than 10pm every weeknight.

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I’ve seen some of the most well-known CEOs start their days at the gym at 5am. Exercise time is sacred for them, as it is for me, and getting it done in the morning makes all the difference.

Mornings also can be a time for reading, writing, meditation, a slow breakfast, getting the kids ready, or whatever is most important for you.

If more people adopted healthy morning routines, I’d bet that this world would be a calmer and happier place to live.

Here’s some tactics I’ve learned over the years on how to stay vigilant with morning routines:

  1. Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep. A discipline sleep routine is the most important thing in determining the success of a morning routine. Make your 8 hours of sleep per day sacred.
  2. Sleep at the same time every day. Especially on weeknights when schedules are tighter, commit to sleeping at the same time every day. If your bedtime is 10pm, then be in bed by 9:45pm.
  3. Wake up at the same time every day. Once you’re sleeping at the same times every day, waking up at the same times every day will be easier. When your alarm goes off, wake up immediately. Snoozing and giving yourself 10 or 20 minutes of extra sleep will add unnecessary rush through your morning routines.
  4. Drink a full cup of water immediately upon waking. This is one of the healthiest things you can do for your body. Not only are you signaling to your body that it’s time to wake up, but you also get your digestive system moving so you hopefully can flush everything out as early as possible.
  5. Don’t drink coffee or caffeinated drinks after 10am. I drink a cup of coffee every morning and limit it to just one cup. Keep your caffeine consumption limited to the morning, ideally before 10am, so it doesn’t affect your sleep cycle.
  6. Turn all TVs and screens off at least 30 minutes before sleeping. All TVs, computers, tablets, and phones should be turned off. Looking at glowing screens right before you go to sleep doesn’t induce sleep. Instead, what I’ve found to work best for me is to read a physical book.
  7. Eat dinner at least 3 hours before sleeping. The last thing you want to do is go to bed on a full stomach. Food needs a proper amount of time to be digested. I’ve found that finishing dinner at least 3 hours before bed is the best formula for me.
  8. Don’t drink alcohol right before you sleep. If you must, drink alcohol with dinner and not right before you sleep. Your body needs time to properly metabolize alcohol and if you drink right before bed, the quality of your sleep will be adversely affected.
  9. Take a shower before sleeping. This one might seem obvious to most people, but there is a portion of the population that take their daily showers in the morning. Not only is showering at night hygienic, it’ll keep your bedsheets cleaner, relax your body, and get you ready for bed.
  10. Pack all your bags the night before. In the early mornings, minutes are precious, so it’s helpful to have your bags (gym bag, work bag, lunch bag, etc.) ready to go. Not only does it save time in the morning, but it also lets you go to sleep assured that you’ll be ready to start the next day with everything you need.

If you haven’t already, it’s time to establish your morning routines. Once you’re in your morning groove, your days will be better for it.

Cliff Hsia is a writer, husband, and father, who is determined to live a better than normal life by traveling the world, slowly and purposefully, with his wife and two young daughters. His writing has been featured on MSN, TODAY, The Huffington Post, The Good Men Project, and other publications. He writes about travel, parenting, and lifestyle design.