Reading about the morning routines of successful people is one of the best ways to learn from them, see progress and get a motivation boost to take action.
I’ve read so many examples of rituals through the years that at some point I decided to start saving them in a document.
Now I’m sharing with you a small part of this collection that includes routines of famous and rich people, as well as not-so-famous and average ones. But they all have one thing in common – they’re trying to have a successful morning routine and do something productive, creative, healthy, positive or successful right after they wake up.
So if you run out of ideas or want to see what works best for others, that’s your ultimate resource.
In moments when I’ve felt down or lost motivation, I’ve come back to some of these morning routines of successful people. And it never ceases to amaze me how some people find the willpower and time to get up super early and get so much done before others have even woken up.
What makes it even more amazing is that they don’t need to. It’s just their choice. And in the long term, it makes them so much happier, productive and successful.
I can even say that having such a morning ritual can give you purpose, can make your life more meaningful and give you direction if you feel lost.
Morning Routines of Successful People
1. Leo Babauta
Leo is the founder of ZenHabits and an author. Here’s how his morning routine looks like:
1. Wake at 4:30 a.m.
2. Drink water.
3. Set 3 Most Important Things (MITs) for today.
4. Fix lunches for kids and myself.
5. Eat breakfast, read.
6. Exercise (run, bike, swim, strength, or yardwork) or meditate.
8. Wake wife & kids at 6:30 a.m.
2. Craig Ballantyne
Craig is the editor of EarlyToRise.com, a strength and conditioning coach, and author of Turbulance Training. His morning ritual goes like this:
“My day begins between 3:30 and 4 a.m.
I make my way to the bathroom to get dressed and cleaned up. I put on my workout clothes for later and head down to the kitchen table. A jug of cold water from the fridge and a few daily supplements (vitamin C, a probiotic, and glucosamine chondroitin) are the only nourishment I need for the next few hours.
I grab my writing sweatshirt and put on my headphones. There’s no music. Just silence. It helps me get locked in and laser-focused for the next sixty to ninety minutes.
By five thirty or six o’clock I’m satisfied with my first draft. It’s time for my daily inspirational quotes to be shared with our rapidly growing Turbulence Training and Early to Rise Facebook readership.
After this few minutes break I return to my writing. This time, it’s email drafts.
My next habit is one of my favorite parts of the morning. It is my daily document review and reading time. Thirty minutes are allotted to this important thinking session.
I move to my gratitude and achievement journal next. Split lengthwise down the page, the left hand side is for the people, activities, and the future for which I am grateful.
Time to move over to the achievement side. I list the five biggest accomplishments of the past day, and reflect on ways to achieve the same or better results today.
On I go to the many documents I’ve gathered over the years. There are the Kekich Credos, Yanik Silver’s Maverick Business Rules, and many others. Each day I review one from the list.
The first new habit is reading a chapter of a book each day. With all of the other reading in my day-to-day schedule, I’d found my book reading diminished in the last year. What better way to fix this problem than with making this a daily habit. Each morning, before the dog gets walked, a chapter must be read.
Finally, this brings us to my last habit, one that I had struggled to implement for years. Yet it is the simplest of activities. It is doing nothing, absolutely nothing. That’s right, mediation. I haven’t missed a day in over a year, and yes, I believe it has made a difference.
It’s now broaching 7 a.m.
And I watch, satisfied. I’m satisfied that my heaviest lifting of the day is done, though the city is just waking up.”
3. Anulekha Venkatram
The next person on the list of successful people and their morning routines is Anulekha, an associate product manager.
This is her morning:
5:20 am – First alarm goes off. Sometimes, it takes me 3 alarms to get out of bed. Bottom line: I have to be out of bed by the third alarm, which goes off at 5:30am and has a loud, ominous ringtone.
5:35 – 5:45 am – I’m up and about.
5:45 – 6 am – I drink a glass of water and eat a banana. Then, I make myself a nice, strong cup of coffee. While I take small sips, I put together my snacks for the day: a combination of fruit, nuts or raisins, granola & yogurt, and veggies (baby carrots or cherry tomatoes).
6 – 6:30 am – I shower, get dressed, and pray.
6:30 – 6:45 am – I eat breakfast – either a savory Indian meal or cereal/oatmeal.
6:45 – 7 am – I pack lunch and snacks in my lunch bag, put on my coat & shoes, and head out of the door.
7 – 7:15 am – I drive to the train station while listening to recordings from my most recent music lessons.
7:18 – 7:56 am – Train ride. I either read the news or study during this time.
8:05 – 8:25 am – I stare aimlessly while being squished in between strangers in the subway and sigh dejectedly when there are delays because of train traffic, a sick passenger, etc.
8:30 am – I’m finally at work – assuming I had no problems with public transportation, of course.
8:30 – 9am – I grab a hot cup of tea and check my e-mail. Then, in my marble notebook, I reflect on the previous day and write down my priorities for the current day.
4. Sebastian Marshall
Vitamin C and Fish oil
Check calendar, anything interesting?
Is there anything time sensitive?
What is my most key objective for the day?
Listen to audio
Read also: The Ultimate List of Morning Habits: 32 Easy Yet Powerful Morning Routine Ideas
Clayton is a full-time traveler and the founder of SpartanTraveler.com
Heart Rate Variability Check
Every Day –
HRV Check – 1-3 min.
Meditate 10-20 min using headspace app.
Make coffee and protein shake.
5 minute journal-Write down the following (if useful get app)
– 3 things I’m grateful for
– 3 things that would make today great
– 2 daily affirmations (I am great because)
Option: 50 minutes of writing
Option: Cold shower
**Work Days -**
Visualization / priming exercise:
Visualize the best life you can imagine.
Read your Think and Grow rich statement.
6. Claudia Chan
Here’s how the founder of SHE Globl Media spends her morning:
“7am Wake, feed dog/let dog out if my husband has not done so yet, shower & dress, intentionally avoid looking at email and social media first thing.
7:30 – 8:15 If I am good, 15-45 minute yogaglo.com or exercise video, always get at least 5 minute meditation to breathe in strength and courage for the day, then I evernote/write down in detail all I want to accomplish, miracles to expect, attitude I will lead with.
8:15-8:45 Breakfast with news on in background/review notes for any 9am call/plan anything needed with husband.
8:45/9 At desk ready to go!”
7. Chris Baker
The next one of the morning routines of successful people is that of Chris Baker. He owns a nutritional company and this is how he starts his day:
“I rise with the sun, before going downstairs into the kitchen to consume a slow-carb protein shake and some Bulletproof Coffee using fresh beans from a local small batch roaster.
The first thing I do every morning is go downstairs into the kitchen and consume Bio Trust protein. I have tested my body like a lab rat, and this is in a different league to any other product on the market. It is very expensive for what you get, but it is of the highest quality, and the taste is pretty good too! Just don’t subscribe to their newsletters unless you want machines guns’ worth of email ammunition unloaded on you.
I don’t eat breakfast until I come back from the gym at around 9:00am. It usually consists of a four egg omelette with steak or chicken, and an avocado.
Leaving for the gym by 7:00am, I perform a short, high interval training session, before returning home and completing an hour of writing, after which I begin the tasks I set for myself the night before.”
8. Brian Wong
The founder and CEO of Kiip shares this about his morning routine:
“I have five alarms set, five minutes apart, rapid fire before the time I’m actually supposed to be awake in case I’m particularly groggy that morning for whatever reason.
I drink a bottle of water immediately upon waking up.
I don’t normally eat breakfast. It’s a bad habit. If I’m starving when I wake up for some reason I’ll grab a croissant, or if I want to spoil myself I grab a breakfast sandwich from Starbucks.
I wake up, check for urgent emails on my smartphone, or do an early morning conference call with New York from my bed or walking around while preparing for the day. These are usually sync calls internally, with journalists, or with our partners in Europe.
By the time I’m up at 7 or 8:00am PST it’s already 10-11:00am EST, so I have to be checking or else I can miss any number of crucial emails that need my immediate attention.
Next I’ll hop in the outdoor apartment pool for 10-15 laps (weather permitting), before jumping in the shower and driving to work.”
9. Elizabeth Grace Saunders
Next is Elizabeth Grace Saunders, founder and CEO of Real Life E® and a writer.
“My internal clock is set to 6 a.m.
If I wake up with unpleasant thoughts in my head (perhaps from a weird dream) I sometimes lay in bed a bit past 6 a.m. so I can process the negative emotions. I then get up and immediately grab my Bible and my journal from my nightstand and take them downstairs to the dining room and put them in my designated spot.
I love the fact that the house is quiet, and I’m alone at this hour. It’s very peaceful and my mind can wander and get lost in thoughts without interruption. I start my fabulous Bunn coffee maker (only 4 minutes to brew a whole pot!) and then put together a simple breakfast.
As I gather my food, I usually make a rough sketch in my mind of what I plan on eating for breakfast, lunch and dinner. That way, I know that I’m getting some variety in my three meals and enough healthy foods like fruits and vegetables. I also make note of anything that I need to buy in my “Grocery” note in my phone.
Now it’s time to sit down and eat. As I munch, I read a short passage and then take time to ponder what it means to me. Usually during my pondering time, I go back for seconds on breakfast food. (I eat small portions so I can go back for more!)
Next, I take time to meditate. Depending on my mood, this can take many different forms:
•Writing in a prayer journal.
•Listening to an affirmations CD.
•Laying on the living room floor staring at the ceiling and sorting out my thoughts.
•Going on a walk through my neighborhood (usually just on the weekends)
After my meditation time, I’m typically feeling peaceful, energized and in control of my emotions. As they would say in the excellent book Switch, my “elephant” is happy so now the “rider” can start to direct my focus.
Around 7:30 a.m., I start to transition from being to doing… I put away breakfast food and clean up any dishes. I go around the house fluffing pillows, shutting cabinets, collecting up stray items and generally reassuring myself that everything is in order in my physical environment so that I can more or less ignore it for the next 8 hours.
I then shower and get ready for the day completely if I need to leave the house for an appointment during work hours. (I have a tendency to underestimate how long it can take to get ready and get out of the house.) If I’m not going out until the evening, then I just put on clothes for going on a walk at lunch and leave doing hair, make up and jewelry until the end of the day so everything is “fresh.”
10. Jane Reggievia Santoso
The morning routine of this writer and entrepreneur is next:
“During the week I get up around 7-8:00am, except for Sunday when I always awake at 6:00am for church. Afterwards, I take a shower and begin my morning activities.
I usually write at night, but I sometimes like to write in my journal before I do any morning housework as sometimes a nice dream the night before can give you some good ideas.
I run a business with my mom, both of us working together from home. After eating breakfast and cleaning the house, I sit in front of my laptop and begin my work, with a nice cup of hot coffee by my side.”
11. Julian Summerhayes
Next, we have a speaker and writer.
“I am an early riser – normally around 5:00am. And this isn’t limited to Monday to Friday, but every day of the week. I don’t do the proverbial lie in. I know in the past, particularly when I have stayed over at a friend’s, it’s driven them crazy. There am I crashing about when they are still in the land of zogg.
As I say, once I’m up, I’m up. I like to spend as much of the first few hours (before my children wake up) writing, reading, and planning. More often than not, I spend the first 30 minutes editing a blog post that I have written the previous evening; and then posting it to WordPress. I read my RSS feeds (now Feedly); and, certainly, for the last 18 months have been assiduously writing a morning diary.“
12. Ben Greenfield
The next one of the morning routines of successful people is of a fitness and lifestyle performance coach.
Wake. Unless I have a flight to catch, I do not use an alarm, and ensure that I only book appointments, calls and work after 9am, so that if I do sleep in, I’m able to follow my body’s natural clock and not get “fired from work”.
I then roll over, strap on a bluetooth-enabled heart rate monitor (most models work but here’s an exact list of compatible ones), smear conducting gel all over the monitor electrodes, and do a 5 minute measurement of my heart rate variability (HRV), nervous system readiness and stress using the NatureBeat app. While I monitor my HRV, I complete a morning entry into my Five Minute Journal, practice box breathing meditation, read my Bible and pray.
Walk downstairs to the kitchen. I pour 20oz of water, into which I add 10 drops oflemon essential oil and 5 drops oil of oregano. As I drink this water, I take my morning supplements.
In the gym.
I charge back upstairs and grab the coffee, which is always caffeinated for 3 weeks, then decaffeinated for 1 week, allowing me to only be nursing a caffeine habit 75% of the time (and allow for resensitization of the adenosine receptors).
Coffee in hand, I head to the bathroom.
Do 30 minutes of morning movement.
I always finish any of these routines with my signature cold shower. Post-shower, I slather my legs with magnesium lotion and I slather my face with extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil.
Breakfast. With very little exception, 7 days a week breakfast is simply a green smoothie.
13. Jeff Finley
Jeff is an author and his morning ritual goes like this:
7:00 am: Wake up, make bed, bathroom, brush teeth (10 min)
7:10 am: Write in journal (dreams, gratitude, daily goals, affirmations) (10 min)
7:20 am: Eat breakfast, make coffee (10 min)
7:30 am: Daily focus (see above) 60 minutes
8:30 am: Shower (20 min)
8:50 am: Do dishes, tidy up any messes (25 min)
9:15 am: Reading (15 min)
9:30 am: Break, miscellaneous (15 min)
9:45am: Meditate, stretching, yoga, weights (15 min)
14. Kit Johnson
Here’s what a writer and photographer has to say about morning routines of successful people:
“Most days I’m asleep by 10:30pm, and up at 7:30am. Every one of those nine hours is precious to me, and I cannot really understand how anyone survives (or even thrives) with five hours sleep or less.
Come the morning, I head straight to the living room and put the kettle on. I love every kind of tea, especially oolong, and find it the perfect start to every day.
Breakfast is muesli with natural yoghurt, fresh fruit that I buy from a street vendor the day before, and perhaps some home-made bread. At 8:30am I go for a cold shower and then head off on my scooter to the university in central Bangkok where I work.
I didn’t set any of this up consciously as a routine; it’s developed naturally as what I most like to do. Sometimes I throw in some yoga, often I read through my RSS feeds or Twitter, and sometimes it’s just me, my breakfast, and the view out from my inner-city balcony.”
15. C.S. Lewis
Next we have a name you might be familiar with – one of the most famous writers.
Here’s what C.S. Lewis does in the morning:
“We now settled into a routine which has ever since served in my mind as an archetype, so that what I still mean when I speak of a “normal” day (and lament that normal days are so rare) is a day of the Bookham pattern. For if I could please myself I would always live as I lived there. I would choose always to breakfast at exactly eight and to be at my desk by nine, there to read or write till one. If a cup of good tea or coffee could be brought me about eleven, so much the better. A step or so out of doors for a pint of beer would not do quite so well; for a man does not want to drink alone and if you meet a friend in the taproom the break is likely to be extended beyond its ten minutes. At one precisely lunch should be on the table; and by two at the latest I would be on the road.”
16. Taylor Pearson
Taylor is an entrepreneur, marketer, philosopher and the author of The End of Jobs: Money, Meaning and Freedom Without the 9-5.
You can find him at TaylorPearson.me and his ritual to start the day definitely fits in this list of morning routines of successful people:
“Wake Up – Usually between 6:30 and 7:30am.
Drink 1 liter of water with Probiotic and Potato Starch – This is one of my recent tweaks after reading about the effect of Resistant Starch. Results for me have been better digestion and moderately decreased appetite.
Floss and Brush Teeth
Take 4000 IUs of Vitamin D3 and 2 tsps of Fish Oil (add 1 tbsp coconut oil if not drinkingBulletproof Coffee)
Bodyweight Exercises – Pushups, Pullups, Sit-ups and Foam Rolling to get the blood flowing.
Meditation – 20 minutes – I was an on and off meditator (despite seeing profound benefits when I do it consistently) until a year ago when I found Headspace. It was much more difficult for me to meditate until I started doing gamified, guided meditation.
Visualize Desired Outcomes – I keep a note in Evernote where I’ve explicitly written out the most important goals I have in my life and what a day in the life of a person that has over all those are. I write it as if I’m writing the movie script of what I want my future to look like and spend 10 minutes reading and visualizing them. (see Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich for details on writing these for yourself.)
Look over Monthly, Weekly, and Daily Most Important Tasks (MITs) and Calendar – At this point I know what my main projects and commitments are for the day and start to load up the mental ram to tackle them.
Pack Bag (including Lunch, if going to a cafe or office)
Coffee (Frequently Bullet Proof) – My drug of choice!
Put first MIT into Pomodoro App or join Producerati – The Pomodoro technique is a productivity ritual designed to increase efficiency and eliminate burnout by doing 25 minute sessions of highly focused work. Easier said than done.
Do The Work!”
17. Barack Obama
The former US president shares his morning ritual:
“Taking care of physical fitness and family are two important elements of President Obama’s daily ritual. He starts his day with a workout at 6:45 a.m., reads several newspapers, has breakfast with his family, and then starts his work day just before 9:00 a.m. in the morning. He may work as late as 10:00 p.m. some evenings, but always stops to have dinner with his family each day.”
18. Austin Kleon
Next we have a writer and an artist. This is his morning routine:
Coffee + breakfast;
3 mile walk with wife (and dog and kid in stroller);
Write/ make poem;
Email, twitter, etc.
19. Michael Spinali
Michael is a fiction writer and he starts the day like this:
“My morning routine begins at 5:00am, a time suggested in a random Elmore Leonard video, rather than invented by me. Once I’m awake I brush my teeth and walk downstairs to begin my fiction writing.
Those days, the tired days, having ten minutes to myself is a treat before I confront the blank page. I never prepare for the morning, there’s no pre-write; just spontaneous words on the page. Amazingly, a short while later, it’s done. During the 30-60 minutes it takes to write, edit, and publish that day’s continuation of the current story, I’ll make coffee and drink it.”
20. Cat Noone
Cat is a designer and entrepreneur. Her morning ritual goes like this:
6:00am: The first time I wake up is to take Dex outside to use the bathroom, after which I go back to bed for about an hour while he does the same.
7:00am: I wake up a second time because Dex is officially up and chewing on his toy bear or kong (grateful we bought the both of them). While he occupies himself, I’m watching him play and going through email and notifications to see what I’m working with for the day.
I’ll then put my phone down so I can actually boot my brain up before I’m out of bed and working. I’m trying to get into the habit of not checking much on my phone until I’m fully awake and ready for the day to start.
7:30am: I’m out of bed (again) to feed Dex breakfast and walk aimlessly around the house before I pick out my clothes for the day.
8:00am: Breakfast time! I love eating, so this is one of my most favorite parts of the morning.
9:00am: Time to shower, brush my teeth, get dressed, etc.
10:00am: Dex goes for a quick walk, post-breakfast.
10:15am: My work day begins and I organize my to-do list for the day, prioritizing, adding, and checking off items as I go.
10:30am: I’m checking, responding to, and sending out emails that were on my list.
11:00am: I get to work on Liberio, whether it’s answering support tickets, designing, marketing, or business related stuff.
21. Ernest Hemingway
The morning routines of successful people list won’t be completed without Hemingway.
“Hemingway described his writing ritual as starting just as the sun began rising, then working straight through until whatever he had to say was said. He likens completing his morning of writing to making love to someone you love–being both empty and fulfilled at the same time. Upon completing that morning’s work, he would wait until the next morning to begin again, going over his ideas in his head and holding on to the anticipation of starting again the next day.”
22. Jonny Blair
Jonny is a traveller (almost 80 countries) and has 2 different morning routines. One when he stays in the same place working and one when he travels. Here’s his travelling routine:
“I try to get up early, around 7:00am, to get washed and changed in the hostel ready for the day ahead. I normally have breakfast in the hostel as it’s usually included in my accommodation costs (I tend to look for hostels that have free breakfast).
During breakfast I plan what I’ll do that day: sights to see, transport I’ll use, and a rough budget. For this I use a travel guidebook and a notebook. If I’m with my girlfriend we plan together. If not, I either travel alone or with a few others from the hostel.
Next I’ll have a quick check online at my e-mails, Facebook, Twitter, and take care of any business associated with my blog. I won’t spend more than thirty minutes on that in the morning.”
23. Bryan Desloge
Bryan is a businessman, elected county commissioner and president of Desloge.
“From Monday to Friday I wake up at 4:35am and get to the gym for 5:00am.
I skim emails and newspaper headlines when I wait for the gym to open. However I usually don’t start responding, unless it’s critical, until I get to one of my offices, which is between 7-8:00am.
I usually eat when I return from the gym; approximately 6:15am or so, unless I have a breakfast meeting.
My workouts alternate depending on the day. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday I run with the same group I’ve run with for almost fifteen years. We run about 4-6 miles and solve all of the worlds problems along the way.
On Tuesday and Thursday I usually swim or do weight training. On weekends I’m normally up between 5-5:30am.
When I can I attend daily mass at 7:00am.”
24. Nicole Antoinette
Nicole is a distance runner and vintage dress hoarder. Here’s what she has to say about what she does first thing in the morning.
“The cornerstone of my morning routine isn’t actually what I do, it’s what I don’t do – and that’s check email in bed. This was a really tough habit for me to break, but by buying an alarm clock to use instead of my phone, and by keeping my phone in another room at night, I’ve been able to create a routine that lets me get my most important things accomplished before getting sucked into the world of email and Twitter.
Typically, my routine involves getting up around 6:00am, making peppermint tea, and doing an hour of writing/work for Life Less Bullshit. Then, I’ll make a green smoothie (my morning staple!), answer important emails, and head out for a run.
Getting my writing and running finished before moving into other things helps me feel my best, because it ensures that I’m carving out time for the two things that are most important to me, regardless of what else is going on.”
25. Betsy Ramser
The last one of the morning routines of successful people is that of Betsy, an entrepreneur.
“My day usually starts by waking up between 7:00-7:15 am. I’m by no means a morning person, so it usually takes me a few minutes to get out of bed. Then, I make myself my morning smoothie and afterwards I’ll enjoy a cup of either Mr. Espresso or Starbucks coffee (black).
During this time I’ll spend at least ten minutes in prayer, and a few more minutes reading.”
Which of these morning routines of successful people did you like the most?
Save the ones that resonated with you the most and created your own morning ritual thanks to that.
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