The Morning Routine Checklist – Healthy and Productive (With Downloadable PDF)

If you’re looking to transform your life, improve your health, enhance your appearance, increase your productivity and start making your way toward a better you, implementing a morning routine is one of the most impactful things you can do. This morning routine has been one of the best things for my productivity and my health. Whether you find yourself scrambling out the door every morning or are simply looking for a way to improve the one you already have instated, look no further. In this article, I am going to give you a morning routine checklist that you can refer to to start living your best, healthiest and most productive life.

Of course, a morning routine is not always a one-size-fits all solution—what works for me may not necessarily work for you. This checklist includes many steps and I acknowledge that you may not be able to complete all of them every single day, especially when you have children and other responsibilities to handle in the morning. However, all of the items I have included are scientifically shown to be beneficial to your productivity, health and wellbeing and are things I have made a point to include in my own morning routine. For this reason, I strongly encourage you to implement as many of these steps as you can, ideally all of them.

The Benefits of a Morning Routine

There was a time when my “morning routine” consisted of waking up at the last possible minute, turning on the coffee pot, scrambling to get ready for work and nearly running out the door. While I was able to successfully complete my so called routine in less than twenty minutes, I would spend the first hour or so of work trying to figure out what I needed to do for the day and gradually caffeinating myself to life. Things I wanted to get done that day would be pushed to the evening, and when something else came up, or I ended up working late (which happened often), those items I hoped to accomplish never got done.

This morning routine has changed my health, appearance, productivity and dare I say…life? If you’re looking to be more productive and improve your personal wellbeing, there’s no better place to start than with your morning routine. Below are some benefits of establishing a morning routine.

Increased Productivity

When you wake up a bit earlier and take time in the morning to tackle some of the items on your to-do list, or even just list what needs to get done that day, you are more likely to accomplish them.

Make Progress Toward Your Goals

As the Brian Tracy book, Eat That Frog preaches, by accomplishing the things you don’t want to do or have been procrastinating on first thing in the morning, you are more likely to do them and consistently make progress toward your goals. For instance, if you want to lose weight or start exercising consistently and you make a point to hit the gym or go for a walk before you do anything else, you are far more likely to do it.

On the other hand, if you tell yourself you will do it later, other things that are “more important” will tend to arise and interfere with your goals.

Lower Your Stress Levels

Clinical studies have shown that repetitive routines can help reduce anxiety and stress. Similarly, when you tackle looming items on your to-do list first thing in the morning, it can help reduce stress later in the day. This is also why I like to use my morning routine to plan and prioritize the other items I must accomplish that day.

Sharpen Your Mind

By implementing a morning routine that includes healthy habits such as exercising, drinking water or having a healthy breakfast, your brain can focus and get prepared for the day.

Build Healthy Habits

By implementing a repetitive routine, the things you set out to accomplish will become healthy habits.

The Morning Routine Checklist

Now, let’s go through each step in the morning routine checklist. You can skip to the bottom of this article to receive the downloadable file.

Wake up Early

close up photo of teal digital clock

This one may go without saying but I wanted to include it because this is probably the most important item on this morning routine checklist. You can’t have a successful morning routine without allowing sufficient time to accomplish it. For this reason, you cannot wake up at the last minute or snooze your alarm until 8:30.

I acknowledge that in many ways, this can be the hardest item on this list but after you do it several days in a row, it will become second nature.

How early should you wake up?

How early you should wake up ultimately boils down to how much time you need and what time you must be ready for work or whatever other obligations your day demands. I generally give myself two hours to complete my morning routine. I find that two hours gives me adequate time to do everything without feeling rushed. If you’re unsure how much time to give yourself, I suggest implementing the morning routine on a weekend to see how long it takes you and then subtracting that from the time you must be ready for the day and add 15 to 20 minutes of padding.

Tips for waking up early

  • Go to bed early (get 7 to 8 hours of sleep)
  • Create a healthy evening routine
  • Leave your blinds or curtains cracked so natural light can enter
  • Use a a gradual alarm (this is available in the Bedtime feature of the iPhone)
  • Never snooze your alarm. Ever. Wake up when it goes off, every time
  • Follow steps 3 through 5 afterward to wake yourself up

Make Your Bed & Open Your Blinds

Both of these things may seem simple and perhaps unimpactful, but both of these items take less than two minutes to accomplish and have many benefits other than simply creating a tidy and aesthetic living space. Making your bed and opening your blinds can help you improve your mood, lower your stress, and increase your productivity.

According to Charles Duhigg in his book, The Power of Habit making your bed can spearhead the chain of productivity for the rest of the day. This is the first task of the day and it takes relatively no time at all. By repeatedly completing this task it will jumpstart your productivity and help you accomplish the other items on this checklist.

Brush Your Teeth

two white toothbrush inside the white ceramic cup

Now that your bed is made and you have some natural light around you, it’s time to brush your teeth. The American Dental Association recommends that you brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time. Brushing your teeth first thing in the morning not only ensures that you have healthy enamel and good breath but can also help you wake up and feel refreshed.

I use the Crest whitening toothpaste which helps my teeth look bright and white, I also like the flavor.

Splash Your Face

I used to wash my face twice a day but found that it caused some irritation and dryness to my skin. If you have oily skin or prefer to wash your face twice a day you can certainly do it but instead, I prefer to just splash my face with some water. This will help you wake up and rinse off some of the product from the night before.

Drink Some Water

person holding drinking cup sitting

Water intake is one of the key ingredients in the glow up and therefore, is a crucial component of the morning routine checklist. The benefits of hydrating are seemingly endless—drinking lots of water can help you feel better, look your best, think better, and be more productive. After all, there is a reason supermodels drink a gallon of water a day. Starting the day with a tall glass of water can help wake you up, contribute to your total water consumption for the day and set your mind and body up for the tasks to follow.

What are the benefits of drinking lots of water?

Drinking lots of water can help increase your metabolism, improve your complexion, energize you and so much more. Here are some of the benefits of drinking lots of water:

  • Increases your energy
  • Improves brain function
  • Aids with digestion
  • Reduces bloating and regulates water retention
  • Helps you lose weight or stay thin by boosting your metabolism
  • Increase the efficacy of your workouts
  • Improves appearance of skin
  • Improves kidney function

What are the benefits of drinking water first thing in the morning?

Drinking water first thing in the morning can help energize you and spearhead the rest of your morning. Drinking it on an empty stomach also offers additional benefits such as flushing toxins out of the stomach and lymphatic system as well as boosting your metabolism.

Tips for drinking water first thing in the morning:

  • Keep a thermos next to your bed so you can easily reach for it when you wake up
  • Use a reusable straw, I like these ones.

*It’s also crucial to make sure you are getting enough water throughout the day. I suggest keeping a 26 ounce Yeti with a straw on your desk or next to you as often as possible. I try to drink at least 5 of them throughout the course of the day

Get in a workout

close up photo of woman tying her white sneakers on running track

I don’t need to preach the benefits of working out to you. You already know—look better, feel better, improve your health, boost your mood, alleviate stress, etc. If you’ve decided that you are going to start working out or you just want to be more consistent with your workouts, adding exercise to your morning routine is the best way to do it.

If you’re the person who would rather be caught dead than doing deadlifts, it’s ok. You don’t necessarily need to include a robust high-intensity plan to your regiment in order to reap the benefits. Instead, perhaps walk the dog to a good audiobook, or do a 10 minute Yoga flow.

I personally love to do a run on my Peloton treadmill and follow it Yoga. But anything you do to get your body moving and your blood flowing will reap you the benefits.

What are the benefits of working out in the morning?

While any workout is better than no workout, if you can exercise in the morning, it is proven to be more beneficial to your health and productivity. Below are some of the advantages a morning workout offers over an afternoon or evening one.

  • Improve exercise consistency
  • Increase your energy
  • Incentivize healthy choices throughout the day
  • Burn more calories and boost your metabolism
  • Improve focus and brain function throughout the day
  • Improve sleep quality

Tips for working out in the morning

  • Use an apple watch or fitness tracker to track your progress
  • Find an exercise you enjoy doing or something you can incorporate that will make you enjoy it
  • Compete with your friends (many fitness trackers, including the apple watch, offer this feature)
  • Reward yourself afterward (a cup of coffee is my reward)
  • Set a goal (a target weight, waist measurement, or fitness event that you want to do well in)

*make sure you stretch after your workout

Meditate

Because I incorporate Yoga into my workout routine, I skip this step. The reading and journaling item of this checklist also can serve many meditate v But should meditation not be a component of your exercise regiment, you should certainly include it in your morning routine checklist. Meditation can help reduce stress, improve focus, lower blood pressure, and set you up for success later in the day. It’s also just a great way to ground yourself and use the morning peace and quiet to your advantage. Try using a meditation app and setting aside even just 5 minutes to be mindful.

Coffee or Tea

photo of coffee mug on top of book

This part is optional if you are not a caffeine addict like me but I find this to be my favorite part of my morning routine. Something about a mug of hot coffee in the morning mentally prepares me for the day and gives me a little boost of energy that I need.

Personally, I love to sit down and enjoy my coffee as I continue to wake up, rather than taking it with me out the door so I generally start making the coffee as I get started on breakfast and I will drink it as I eat and read or journal (coming up later in this list.) Notably, I have been experimenting with matcha some days, instead of coffee. Aside from the taste, I haven’t noticed much of a difference from choosing one over the other but I will keep you posted in my later posts.

What are the benefits of drinking coffee in the morning?

As with any good things, too much coffee can be bad for you. But two to four cups a day can offer several health benefits such as:

  • Boosting energy levels
  • Reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Preventing against disease and aging
  • Promoting weight loss
  • Reducing the risk of heart disease

*Whenever possible, you should try to make your coffee at home and minimize any added cream or sugar as these items can mitigate the benefit the coffee would otherwise offer. They can even make this otherwise healthy and productive part of the day unhealthy. I personally add a splash of oat milk.

What are the benefits of drinking tea in the morning?

Tea offers many of the same benefits of coffee although tea gives more of sustained level of energy. Coffee generally has more caffeine per serving so tea may be a better choice for people who are very sensitive to caffeine. Black tea also has almost twice the amount of caffeine as green tea.

Eat a Healthy Breakfast

There were many years of my life where I went without eating breakfast. It has only been the last year or so where I have made a conscious effort to eat a healthy breakfast in the morning and I have found it to be incredibly beneficial for my work performance, productivity, appetite and overall

While my coffee (or tea) is brewing I start making breakfast. For me, breakfast is the easiest time to get in a healthy and nutritious meal. It doesn’t require any meal prep, is not usually subject to social temptation, and generally is pretty quick to put together. So use this as an opportunity to kickstart your metabolism and get in some veggies or fruit that may be harder to sneak in later in the day.

I love to make this healthy green smoothie because it is packed with nutrients and you can easily modify it based on what you have in the kitchen.

Reasons to eat breakfast

When we are running out the door or feeling rushed, it can be tempting to skip your first meal of the day. In fact, you may even think you are doing your body a solid by opting out of the calories. However, eating breakfast may actually offer advantages toward your health and wellness goals. Here are some reasons to include breakfast on your morning routine checklist:

  • Sharpen your mind
  • Control your appetite
  • Boost your metabolism
  • Get extra energy
  • Make healthier food choices throughout the day

Front loading your calories (eating more in the morning and less in the evening) has been shown to help with weight loss so if you’re trying to achieve or maintain a a slim waist, eating breakfast may be one of the best ways to achieve it.

Here are some healthy breakfast ideas that take only a few minutes to make:

  • Healthy green smoothie
  • Oatmeal and fruit
  • Greek non-dairy yogurt parfait
  • A protein shake (I like to throw in flax seeds and greens)
  • Chia pudding
  • Just egg with spinach and berries

Read or Journal

person reading book and holding coffee
Photo by Vincenzo Malagoli on Pexels.com

Next up on the morning routine checklist is to spend at least ten minutes reading our journaling. Obviously, the more time you have to dedicate to this task the better. I personally choose to read most days, but some days I will have some ideas or thoughts that I feel are worthy of documentation.

Benefits of reading in the morning:

Make a point to read (preferably something educational—be it the news, a self-help book, your favorite personal development blog (hopefully this one :)), or a nonfiction book) but any reading can help set you up for success during the day. Here are some of the benefits of reading every day:

  • Stimulate your brain
  • Reduce and prevent stress
  • Learn new things 🙂
  • Practice mindfulness
  • Improve focus and memory
  • Retain more information

Benefits of journaling in the morning:

Journaling is not my personal style, I’d rather learn than write things down (probably because I write a good portion of the day for work…) but either way, journaling can offer a lot of the same benefits as reading and is especially helpful when you want to set and track progress toward specific goals.

  • Stimulate your brain
  • Reduce stress
  • Practice mindfulness
  • Increase likelihood of achieving goals
  • Document thoughts or ideas for future reference
  • Improve focus and memory
  • Create inspiration for the day

Make a To-Do List and Prioritize Your Day

**You can also do this the night before if you’d prefer.

Now that your brain should be focused and awake, it’s time to prioritize your day. This is one of the best ways to maximize your productivity. Take some time to think about everything you must do that day and assign a priority for each item.

Creating a to-do list can help ensure that you have direction to your day and gives you something to work off of once you get to the office, or your desk. This can also alleviate stress and anxiety.

Complete an Item on Your To-Do List

**This is a personal thing that I like to do to help me feel less stressed and get more done in the morning. However, this only makes sense if the task does not too intensive and you can afford yourself time to complete it.

If you are able to, I strongly encourage you to check an item off your to-do list as part of your morning routine checklist. This will help you feel more in control and less stressed for your work day. I also find that I am most productive in the morning so I can accomplish a lot more in less time. For this reason, I try to accomplish the highest priority item that I can do in a minimal amount of time.

Take a Shower

This hopefully goes without saying but since you worked out and hopefully broke (at least a little bit of) a sweat, you gotta clean yourself up.

Deodorant

This also maybe doesn’t need to be mentioned but if you are using this checklist as I intend you to, the deodorant step should be included. Let’s be honest, we have all had those days where we forgot to deodorize before leaving the house and let’s just say, this small step has the power to make or break your day.

Vitamin C Serum

cut juicy fresh oranges in black ceramic bowl
Photo by Any Lane on Pexels.com

There are few skincare items that are worth including on any sort of routine checklist, however Vitamin C is the exception. Both men and women can benefit from including this simple yet mighty ingredient to their morning regiment.

I also suggest eating a good amount of vitamin C throughout the day, because Vitamin C can help boost your immunity and fight free radicals, therefore helping prevent degenerative aging, heart disease, cancer, and more.

However, using a vitamin C serum on the skin is an essential part of the morning routine checklist. Vitamin C is one of the most effective skincare ingredients and can help

Benefits for using a vitamin C serum

Using a vitamin C serum on your face can help you fight the signs of aging, fight free radicals and keep your complexion radiant. A good vitamin C serum can:

  • Prevent aging and wrinkles
  • Even skin tone and lightens dark spots
  • Protect against sun damage
  • Increase collagen production
  • Fight against free radicals and damage from external factors
  • Reduces redness
  • Help heal wounds

This is my favorite, affordable Vitamin C Serum

Sunscreen

If you could only do one item on this morning routine checklist, it should be this one. As I mentioned in my things I wish I knew in my early twenties post, sunscreen has the power to keep you from aging, prevent skin cancer and so much more.

My favorite sunscreens include:

Get ready and have an awesome day

Alright, now that you’ve completed the morning routine checklist you are setting yourself up to be the best version of yourself and have an amazing day.

Download the Morning Routine Checklist

Disclaimer: I make a small commission on some of the affiliate links above. If you chose to purchase any of the items through the links, I appreciate your support in that way!

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