Morning Routine Leads to Success

For the past five years, I’ve turned my back on routines. Spontaneity has been my routine of choice. Suddenly, though, I find myself bumping into bloggers and speakers who are underscoring the importance of having a morning routine. Hmmm…maybe it’s time for me to listen.

forest-872573_1920Playwright, filmmaker, and bestselling author Julia Cameron suggests writing what she calls Morning Pages: putting your first thoughts of the day down on paper before any activity has the opportunity to interrupt whatever might be on your mind as your day begins. These thoughts need not be connected – no pressure to write a novel or the first chapter of your memoir. A collection of thoughts, worries, possibilities will lead you to a good idea every now and then. But most of all, these brief writings (3 pages a day) are not for sharing with anyone. No editing here, just free-flowing, uncensored writing. Cameron believes this will enhance your creativity, bringing life to those ideas that have been in the back of your mind and allowing you to find and achieve your life purpose.

Similar to Cameron, John Gannon starts his day off with writing. His writing regimen includes three elements:

  1. Give Thanks. Acknowledge and document those things you’re thankful for
  2. Write Freely. Similar to Cameron, Gannon writes unedited thoughts to get his day off to a good start
  3. Rev Up Your Idea Machine.

Following the advice of James and Claudia Altucher. Gannon began a practice of writing 10 ideas each morning. After just 30 days, he calls this a life-changing practice. And, perhaps the most appealing aspect of this approach for those of us who are loathe to add a routine to our lives: Gannon completes this three-part regimen in under 15 minutes each morning.

Today I found a link to yet another post about morning routines in my inbox. Justin Nault’s routine is a bit more involved than those of Cameron and Gannon. Nault takes a 10-step approach: not 10 difficult steps, 10 do-able steps including getting at least six hours of sleep, making your bed, journaling, and adopting a mindfulness practice. This approach lets you feel like you’ve accomplished quite a bit before you know it, encouraging you to push through ten elements of this routine.

And then, of course, there’s Steve Jobs and his uniform. This genius branding move kept him from wasting time and brain space figuring out what to wear in the morning. While this worked well for Jobs, I’ll take a pass on this timesaver.

Why am I so focused on routine and time-saving activities? I’ve found since entering a nutrition health coach program a couple of months ago that schedules and routines are making my life easier. In addition to implementing a morning routine, I’ve also started meeting weekly with a group of women to hold ourselves accountable for moving our businesses forward. So far, so good on this front!

How about you? I’d love to  hear what you do to keep yourself productive and stay on track to achieve your goals.

About Deb

Deb Nelson, principal of deb nelson consulting, is a creative storyteller. She designs and implements communication plans that leverage strategic partnerships and provide innovative solutions for her clients. You can find her on twitter at @nelliedeb.


  1. Good stuff, Deb. I’m pretty clear that i would have more effective days if i set
    the intention and carried through on having a morning routine.

    I have had spurts of Morning Pages, both handwritten and on, and i enjoy it. I really prefer to do it upon waking but with a small child and a puppy, i haven’t gotten determined enough to wake at 530 or 6 before either of them wake up.

    I have yet to implement James’ daily routine even though it sounds wonderful. Looks like this will become a priority for me now.
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    • Thanks for checking in Susan. I’ve got no kids, no pets which means no excuses for not being productive. You seem to accomplish so much and still keep your wits about you. So while you may not have a strict morning routine, something’s working for you!! I’m looking to do early morning writing and exercise before getting to work. Stay tuned for progress.

  2. My secret sauce to experiencing a productive day is to literally get out from the right side of the bed, Deb. 🙂

    Jokes apart, I make sure that I have a relaxed morning with my cup of coffee and the morning paper before the house wakes up and make notes of priority tasks for the day and if possible schedule them into Outlook so that I am reminded to do it.

    I also make sure that I spend some time in prayer. It makes a big difference.
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    • Too funny Vatsala – but you make a good point: deciding to start the day off from the right side of the bed (or with the right mindset) puts the whole day in motion. Lots of routines can take a small amount of time yet have a huge impact on our productivity. Glad you’ve identified what works for you!
      Deb Nelson recently posted..Morning Routine Leads to SuccessMy Profile

  3. My first thought was, I’m not a routine person, however upon reflection, that is not so. It’s just I do things so routinely, I haven’t noticed. My body starts me off with awaking regularly on its own after 6 hours sleep. I do my leg exercises, deep breathing and then look at my list from the day before. I create my day on paper and so on. I await my morning cup of java for hubby who sleeps much later, but he is the maker, so I wait.
    I used to think routine would stultify me, but on the contrary- it frees me up.

  4. One of the most important things I have learned, and much later in life, is the etheric body’s need for a consistent rhythm (or routine as others call it), especially when it comes to our overall health and wellbeing. This is how healing happens. I have never been a “routine” kind of person, however, I learned that having my acupuncture treatment or massage, at the same time every week, is key to the body understanding your intention to heal.

    I must say I am a bit lax when it comes to a morning routine and often it depends on my sleep quality from the night before. And how long I have slept. I do try to eat within the first hour of waking, as our body needs that high quality fuel (protein) to start the day. I also do try to walk and get my morning chai mist at Starbucks. Most of the time. Sounds like I would be wise to go back to writing morning pages or some other practice right after waking up, as it appears to be the best way to start your day from reading this article. Thanks Deb. Definitely something to seriously consider.
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    • Lots to think about, that’s for sure, Beverley. It’s interesting to see how some routines work perfectly for some, not so much for others. Trial and error and moving forward for me!

      It sounds like you’ve found a good routine / rhythm for yourself. Congrats to you for keeping your eyes open for possible changes to improve your productivity.
      Deb Nelson recently posted..Morning Routine Leads to SuccessMy Profile

  5. I find that rather than having a morning routine, I work best if I just get onto the PC before the household awakens. I have tried to put together routines in the past but have always found that the dynamic lifestyle we live, especially with looking after horses, means that my daily schedule has to be fluid. What works for me would not necessarily work for anyone else, but that is why we are all different. 🙂
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  6. Routines are so important Deb! Thanks for sharing how having a routine leads to success 🙂 Awesome post!
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  7. My morning routine is writing in my Gratitude Junk Journal. But Stream of Consciousness writing is part of my daily routine before bedtime. A brain dump clears my mind and my meditation finishes off the evening beautifully.
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  8. Great post! I too am a firm believer in “either you run the day or the day runs you.” I have my morning rituals but I am slowly getting back in the swing of my morning routine. I feel more centered when I am organized
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