How To Spend The First Hour Of Every Morning

If you’re reading this in a bleary-eyed haze wondering where the morning went, there’s a pretty good chance you need to rethink your waking up ritual. The way you spend the first 60 minutes of each morning can have a profound affect on the rest of the day — especially on Mondays when any sane person would rather be in bed. Here are seven morning routines that will help you to start the day on the right foot.

Breakfast image from Shutterstock

Morning rituals are everywhere. It seems we can’t get enough of learning what successful and interesting people do with the first 60 minutes of their day.

Knowing how ‘winners’ start the day provides both inspiration to change and reassurance that we are getting elements of it right. Get enough of these elements down, we reason, and we have a framework or system to achieve success. Easy.

The question of morning rituals comes up in every Tim Ferriss podcast interview. The answers are fascinating and revealing, but not especially surprising:

  1. A lot of super-successful people get up very early – No Surprise
  2. Almost as many get up pretty late (say, after 7:30am) – Somewhat Surprising
  3. Nearly all do some kind of exercise in the morning – No Surprise
  4. Many meditate or journal in the morning – Surprising

My own routine has jumped around a lot over the years. Once I became indoctrinated into the Australian way of early starts and exercising — by a dame, of course — there was no stopping me.

Daily runs along the coastal path, Bootcamps, Crossfit, indoor HIIT sessions; I’d love the feeling of arriving at work completely physically spent, actually feeling the sensation of burning fat as I ploughed through calls and emails.

Then #superfitkid arrived and all bets were off. The 9pm bedtime and 5.15am bootcamp alarm call was replaced by the shrill howls from the nursery at intervals throughout the night. Any more than three hours sleep at a stretch was considered a triumph.

Things changed and I reclaimed the morning, training on the beach as the sun rose and Crossfitting at 6am, until old age and a wretched back made mornings painful and I had to figure out a way to work around it.

Here’s what I do today:

#1 Collect Phone

I keep my phone on my desk in my study which is just off my bedroom. That way, when the alarm goes off at 5.30am I have to get up to collect it and hit the snooze button. Before getting back into bed I also open the blinds.

In an ideal world I wouldn’t even get back into bed. But, heck, I’m a work in progress.

I have the phone set to Aeroplane Mode overnight so I’m not disturbed by emails or booty calls. Or family emergencies. They can wait.

#2 Drink Water

I fill a 750ml bottle with tap water before bed. I take a few sips in the night if I wake up. In the morning I finish off the bottle before getting up off the bed. I’ll throw back whatever medications are required. This usually ensures I’ve started the day with at least 500ml of water.

A small but significant victory before you’ve even got out of bed.

Note: if the fact that I’ve adopted this practise isn’t enough to encourage you to copy it, perhaps you’ll be swayed by the thought that I was influenced to start this by Novak Djokovic.

#3 Make The Bed

This is a common theme in Tim Ferriss interviews and something I’ve copied. It talks to creating order, preparation and, again, small victories. I have no idea if it creates orderliness in my thinking but it’s become second-nature and I like the way it looks.

It also means you won’t seem like a student if you get lucky and bring a Doris home.

#4 Walk Derek

Bulging discs and obstructed nerves (in my back) have taken vigorous exercise off the early morning menu but the urge to move remains. In fact, it’s a necessity.

After brushing my gnashers and tossing on some athleisure wear (always Nike. Real men don’t wear LuluLemon), I’m out the door with #notsofitmutt, prowling the mean streets of Clovelly like a pair of Edwardian dandies.

I’d prefer to go to the dog park and savour the ocean views but driving first-thing seems to gee up the back.

The walk, however, does wonders, loosening whatever has tightened up overnight and reducing the pain a couple of points, usually from something like a 7 to a 5.

It also provides the opportunity to…

#5 Meditate / Practise Gratitude

I use walks with the hound to practise gratitude using a simple mantra reminding me that things are generally pretty good.

It’s early and the streets are quiet which makes it a great time to switch off and just enjoy the streets, gardens and houses, noticing new things along the way.

It also peaceful internally because it’s kind of hard to be angry about anything when you’re walking a dog.

#6 Cook Breakfast

My interest in the ketogenic diet (using fat instead of carbohydrate as my primary energy source – something I heard about in not one, but two, Tim Ferriss podcasts) has changed my morning food habits more than anything else.

My old habits ranged from the sublime (delicious green smoothies) to the ridiculous (Turkish toast with vegemite…so good but nutritionally moribund) in the same morning.

If I can afford a slightly later start, I’ll whip up a one-pan keto feast of eggs, bacon, smoked salmon, avocado and spinach.

#7 Listen to Podcasts

The drive to work is about 30 minutes in normal traffic.

Listening to podcasts (mostly…you guessed it…Tim Ferriss) ensures that I’m educated or inspired or motivated, or sometimes all three for these 30 minutes.

The drive home also takes 30 minutes. That’s an hour of me listening to people much smarter than me talk about business, technology, sport, fitness, productivity, philosophy; time which would otherwise be spent listening to the radio.

That’s a bet I’m never going to lose.

[You can find a slew of podcast recommendations here.]

So there we have it: a morning routine cobbled together by necessity but stuffed with a plenty of quick and easy wins to get the day off on the right foot.

Ben Ford is the author of, a lifestyle blog that focuses on health tips for busy dads.

This story has been updated since its original publication.

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