How to Create the Perfect Morning Routine

February 9, 2020

How to Create the Perfect Morning Routine | Best Life Book Club by Happy As Annie discusses Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis

Imagine: If we could just manage to create the perfect morning routine, we’d never get up on the wrong side of the bed ever again!

Well, I wouldn’t go that far! But, how can we at least get closer to the perfect morning routine for us? After all, it’s one of the foundations for success Rachel Hollis suggests in Behavior #5 in Girl, Stop Apologizing.

Why do mornings matter so much?

Mornings are important because they set the tone for the rest of the day. A bad morning certainly doesn’t guarantee that the rest of your day will be total crap. But, it’s often difficult to recover from a frantic, stressful, or annoying morning.

To set ourselves up for success then, it makes sense to focus on creating a morning routine that increases the chances of having a wonderful day.

In fact, I am pretty obsessed with morning routines. For much of December each year, I write, rewrite, toss out, start over, tweak, then try my hardest not to completely disregard a painstakingly crafted morning routine for the coming year.

That’s how much I buy into the importance of mornings!

As a planner and failer of many a morning routine, here are some questions to consider to help create the perfect morning routine for you.

Question 1: What time should you wake up?

Like Rachel, I need to be the first to wake up or everyone will regret it. Fast. My husband happens to be a night owl, which means he usually goes to bed later than I do. This also means he wakes up a little later than I do. So, for the first couple weeks of this year, when my morning routine consisted of me waking up before everybody else and going on a brisk walk by myself, everything worked out wonderfully.

But then my dog Jagger caught on and started waking up a minute (yes, precisely one minute) before my alarm went off! And it ruined everything. The whole point, as Rachel says, is to have mornings to yourself! I don’t want to get up and have to walk and feed the dog. He had been on the same schedule as my husband, and it was GLORIOUS! But dogs create habits like it’s nobody’s business and he, for lack of a better way to put it, hijacked and ruined my morning routine.

And like I said before, if I am not the first person up, my entire household regrets it.

So, we had to adapt.

Enter: my husband and coffee.

Coffee in white mug that says "begin" on a wooden table

Question 2: To caffeinate or not to caffeinate?

I drink coffee like a Gilmore. In fact, I can’t remember life before we had a coffee maker. How and why did I even wake up in the mornings? I don’t care if it sounds a little shallow or just plain sad, but the best part of waking up really is Folgers in your cup! (Blegh, not actually Folgers, but you get the idea.)

Since my darling Jagger ruined my hope of being the first to wake up in the morning, I decided that coffee would be my saving grace. So now we all wake up at the same time, my husband deals with the dog (aka takes him and leaves the house) while I make coffee. By myself. With nobody in the house. I make the bed, which is my absolutely favorite thing to do because the bedroom magically looks a thousand times tidier than it did just five seconds ago, open the blinds, get washed up and dressed all by my lonesome with nobody talking to me or making unsolicited noise before I’ve had my coffee.

Question 3: To journal? Meditate? Or both?

I am bad at meditating, so I read and journal. I don’t know if the latter are adequate substitutes for the former, but that’s what we’re going with. If you’re interested, you can read about my fifteen-minute spiritual practice on my blog, Happy As Annie.

Question 4: To move or not to move?

I mentioned my goal to take a morning walk every morning when we were talking about the January chapter in The Happiness Project. But I’m ashamed to report that temperatures in LA dropped below 55 degrees in the morning so my walks came to a crashing halt.

Also, because I rationalize like a queen, I realized that movement isn’t that important to me in terms of clearing my head or getting pumped for the day. It’s just not who I am. Reflection, setting intentions, and easing into my day rather than diving head first into the shit storm of student emails and coronavirus headlines is way more essential to my mental health.

Question 5: To work or not to work?

Rachel Hollis works on her current project before her meditation, journaling, even her green juice. I love the idea of working on a priority or passion project before everything else tugs at your attention and distracts you indefinitely.

I, however, need everything else in order before I can sit down with my giant mug of coffee to work.

How can you improve your mornings?

So, what insights have you gained about your ideal morning after reading Behavior #5 in Girl, Stop Apologizing and this post? What do your mornings look like now, and how is that working out for you?

Are there any simple (or not so simple) changes you can implement to better set yourself up for success each day? Let us know in the comments below!

Want to keep reading?

If you missed them, check out our previous discussions on Excuses 7-9 and Behaviors 1-3 from Girl, Stop Apologizing.


  • Reply Barbara Cramer February 9, 2020 at 11:29 am

    I’ve totally fallen off the reading bandwagon. I can go from reading two books a week, to nothing for a month. Hmmm, trying not to be hard on myself and just go with the flow.

    • Reply Annie A. February 10, 2020 at 10:57 pm

      Hi Barbara! Yes, please go with your flow. That’s great advice for so many contexts, at least for me!

      I’m curious though. I try to write these posts in a way that still allows people who are in a different spot in the book (or not even reading at all!) to still get something out of it and be able to contribute their own insight if they wanted to. I’d love to hear if that makes sense for you or if you read these posts and go “Nope–no idea what she’s talking about because I haven’t read this chapter yet!”

      Let me know! 🙂

  • Reply Catie February 9, 2020 at 1:44 pm

    Mornings are my JAM. I am naturally a morning person. I feel like my brain is wired to do its best thinking and I feel very motivated at this time of day. I wake up around 5:15 most mornings (somewhere between there and 6:00 typically on weekends). Some things I always do include catch up on social media for about ten minutes, pack lunches, sit down and eat a quick breakfast, do a quick pick up on the house, and get myself out the door for work on weekdays. Some things I sometimes do include a morning stretch routine, read my devotional/whatever book I’m reading at the time, and review my notebook list of things to do for the day. I am much better at doing these things consistently on the weekends, but I want to make them happen everyday. I feel like I get up early enough so I don’t want to try to wake up even earlier to get them done. Ideally, I could cut that ten minutes of social media time out to do ten minutes of something else. Routine can make you wonderfully productive but can also be hard when that routine may not be the absolute most optimal!

    I love how you figured out a way to get some alone time in the morning! It may have not been what you originally had in mind, but that’s great your husband is on board to take care of the dog so you can do some things around the house and enjoy that coffee. I also like some alone time in the morning. Something about being productive but having some quiet time helps get the mind right!

    • Reply Annie A. February 10, 2020 at 11:05 pm

      I am a morning person too, Catie! After dinner, my brain is basically mush, although I surprise myself sometimes if inspiration strikes.

      Let me ask you this: Do your mornings have to be quiet because everyone else is asleep? And if so, does that ever annoy you, or do you like the calm?

      And THANK YOU for noticing how adaptable I was with my morning routine! I was so annoyed when it didn’t work out the way I had painstakingly mapped it out at first, and being a perfectionist, flexibility is not always easy for me.

      Like Barbara said in her comment, I really have to just go with the flow sometimes and not beat myself up about changing course.

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