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4 Hacks to Create a Productive Morning Routine, Even if You’re Not a Morning Person



Waking up

You’re smart. You know how early rising can boost your chances of success and a powerful morning routine will supercharge your day and fast-track your progress towards your goals.

You’ve tried a lot of things to get up early and with a lot of energy. But somehow your morning routine is not working as well as it should. You don’t always wake up looking forward to the day. You spend a lot of time trying to motivate yourself to start working. Your mind is slow and easy to distract, and you waste valuable time and energy trying to keep it on track.

The result, your morning routine is unproductive. Forgotten tasks, unfinished projects, and deadlines are piling up, adding to the stress and sense of failure. It’s hard to establish a good morning routine if you’re not a morning person, not sleeping well or feeling sick/tired. But it doesn’t mean this is impossible. On the contrary, you can still supercharge your morning routine, even if you’re not a morning person.

I am a morning person, but I’ve been through a period of sleep problems, which resulted in me waking up with a sore back, muddled head and a hard-to-shift tiredness. But with a full-time job to go to, a side business to attend to, and a new book to write, I had to find ways to make the most of my mornings.

Here are a few hacks that can help you stay productive:

1. Start your tomorrow tonight

This strategy works particularly well if you’re more of an owl than a lark. Before you go to bed, plan your day for tomorrow. Make a list of tasks you want to work on first thing in the morning.

But don’t stop there – make it even easier for yourself. Start working on the first step of your first task before you head for bed. It may be something as simple as getting all the necessary tools ready on your desk. Or, if you’re writing a new post – opening a new document and typing the title.

The first step is the hardest, and getting over that initial hurdle the night before will make it easier for you to get on with the task in the morning.

“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” – Alexander Graham Bell

2. Get up to something you genuinely enjoy doing (guilt free)

There are many great strategies to start the day a winner, but sometimes, no matter how much you try to exercise, meditate, or visualise, you just can’t get going. On days like that, I rely on simple pleasures of life, e.g. my favourite brand of coffee or something special for breakfast to get me out of bed.

Whatever it is that can make you feel energised, take your time to enjoy it and do it guilt-free. Be careful not to overindulge and set yourself a time limit, so you still have time to complete at least one task.

3. Make your morning routine the default option

Do you know that decision-making drains our energy and causes us to procrastinate? The more choices you have to make, the bigger the impact on your mental energy, and hence the more likely you are to procrastinate. This phenomenon is called decision fatigue.

Many successful people understand how it works and limits their decision-making by automating some of their daily choices, e.g. always dressing the same way, or having set menus for breakfasts. This principle extends to your morning routine, too. To limit procrastination and make the most of your morning, minimise decision fatigue by limiting your choices.

Get up always at the same time, every day of the week. Have a set routine, identical for every day. Maybe you want to start your day with a meditation session, a prayer, a few jumps, or a cup of coffee while reading a book – do it every day at the same time, in the same order. No hesitation, no bargaining. Save your time and mental energy for more important decisions.

“Every day I feel is a blessing from God. And I consider it a new beginning. Yeah, everything is beautiful.” – Prince

4. Take it easy by aligning your tasks with your natural rhythms

One of the biggest mistakes people make when planning change in their behaviour is to assume they’ll be able to deal with difficulties without much problem every day. When you’re motivated, you feel you can move mountains, and you jump out of bed in the morning. But if, for whatever reason, you wake up not feeling energised and excited – it’s much harder to get up and start your day.

You can overcome it by creating a routine that fits in with your natural rhythms. If you’re not a morning person, yet want to create a morning routine, try optimising your time by tracking your energy levels (physical, mental, emotional and spiritual) during the day and week and then adjust your schedule to match your best time with the type of tasks you’re working on. The same goes for days when you’re not feeling 100% yet still want to work on your goals.

If your tasks require creativity, look for peaks in your spiritual or emotional energy. If you need to prepare a tax return, or proofread your article, you’d need a good level of mental energy. Preparing for a difficult conversation with an unhappy customer or your boss requires emotional energy. Identify which type of energy you’re able to access and work on tasks that require it.

If you’ve tried to implement a morning routine and failed before, if you’re not at your best in the morning, you can still create a winning morning routine. Choose your strategies and test them. Don’t ignore simple tweaks, no matter how small. You’ll be surprised how much you can achieve by taking those little steps. Your morning productivity will soar.

What do you do to create a productive morning routine? Please leave your thoughts below!

Joanna Jast helps career changers, entrepreneurs and freelancers accelerate their learning and personal change so they can adapt faster to the new environment. If you want to learn more about her approach to creating new habits, check her website and grab a copy of her new book Hack Your Habits and start improving your habits today.



  1. Thea

    Dec 14, 2016 at 1:42 am

    Great post. It is very optimistic. I don’t consider myself as morning person but usually wake up very early. Will try this tips 🙂

  2. Sonia Voldseth

    Dec 13, 2016 at 1:10 am

    Great post Joanna, thank you. I’m far too optimistic with my time as well! It’s nice to know how much you are balancing too and that you still find (make) time to write.

  3. Mark Tong

    Dec 8, 2016 at 10:09 pm

    HI Joanna- useful tips. I especially want to do more of #2!

  4. Quinn Eurich

    Dec 8, 2016 at 8:13 pm

    All good advice and I already do some of it.

    Now if I could only get to bed at a time that will support the getting up early piece! LOL!

    Great post Joanna!

  5. Rosemary

    Dec 8, 2016 at 1:44 pm

    Great tips, Joanna. I use simpleology which I find helps get my thoughts in order, especially if I do it the night before.

  6. Stephen Roe

    Dec 7, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    Thanks for the advice, Joanna! Great to see you here. 🙂

    I’ve just recently (in the past week or so) started to wake up early–consistently. It’s incredible how much more I accomplish when I start the day off correctly. Tip #2 (enjoy the first thing you do), is something I need to be more mindful of. Gotta figure out how to include that in my morning routine. 😛

    • Joanna Jast

      Dec 7, 2016 at 4:59 pm

      Hello Stephen – great to see you here 🙂

      Having been waking up early consistently for about 20 years, I can vouch for the ‘wake up to something you enjoy’ strategy. So definitely, find something – a cup of coffee (or a healthier drink), a little bit of peace and quiet, sunrise.

      All the best

  7. Joanna Jast

    Dec 7, 2016 at 6:04 am

    Hello Natalia

    Thanks for your kind words.

    It’s great to hear you’ve also found the-night-before planning helpful.

    And I can relate to that ‘being too optimistic with your time’ – I always think I’ll have more time in the future and commit to many things and then find myself always superbusy – and again thinking: I’m too busy right now, but I’m sure I’ll have more time next week…


  8. KeriVandongen

    Dec 7, 2016 at 1:13 am

    Interesting thoughts Joanna.
    You suggest reinforcing yourself for getting up early, and tacking tough motivation tasks later on. This differs from most success habits.
    I like it.
    Perhaps we should alter habits to suit our personalities and daily energy.

    • Joanna Jast

      Dec 7, 2016 at 5:45 am

      Thanks Keri 🙂

      I agree with you – I think if people are struggling to adapt their lives to fit with good habits, they should try to alter their habits to suit their personalities and daily energy.

      Being someone lazy by nature and with rather poor willpower and drive to achieve success, I’ve come up with my own little system to establish habits – just as you say.

  9. Charlene

    Dec 7, 2016 at 12:24 am

    Hi Joanna,
    Such a good article. I use to be a morning person and as I aged I no longer hop out of bed. I loved your term decision fatigue, I find that works well for me when it comes to meal planning, the easier the more likely I am to eat well. I will try to implement the start your tomorrow tonight as that will have me half way there. Thanks for the tips!

    • Joanna Jast

      Dec 7, 2016 at 6:01 am

      Hello Charlene

      Thank you for your kind words.

      Decision fatigue does affect our ability to live the life we want to live, so I agree with you – the easier, the better, because we’re more likely to actually do it. It may not be perfect, but hey, it gets us to do what we want to do: eat healthier, exercise, get up in the morning.

      All the best and I hope my little tips will help you

  10. Natàlia

    Dec 6, 2016 at 6:19 pm

    Great tips, Joanna. I’m a morning person although too optimistic with my time, so I always struggle with trying to fit everything I want to do in my schedule. Planning ahead the night before is what has worked the best for me so far.

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