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Wake Up Easy: Start Your Days So They Work Better for You

Just got up? What to do first? If you’re like me, it’s a good thing to answer this question before morning comes. Otherwise, it’s too easy to get distracted.

January Rose - Version 2

Photo © Jeanne Farrington

I used to think: There has to be a great way to start my days, with just the right actions, in just the right order.

Then Michael Hyatt, one of my favorite bloggers, did two things:

  1. He talked about Morning Rituals.
  2. He mentioned Erik Fisher’s podcast called, Beyond the To Do List. Erik interviews interesting, successful people and asks how they start their days.

So here were two great ideas:

  1. Morning rituals
  2. To do list

Obviously, the thing was to consciously create a morning routine, with a list to make it easy.

How to Make the List

I love Michael’s question about what you want your morning to do for you. Once you have that in mind, you can design a new routine.

  1. What’s the desired result? How do you want to feel in the morning? What do you want to do for sure? How can your morning routine set you up to get the most from your day?
    • For example: I want to feel rested, ready to get to work, relaxed, focused, and organized. I want to be showered, dressed, and ready to get things done.
    • In contrast: I’d like not to feel anxious about the day, tense, disorganized, or unable to think because there is too much on my mind. I don’t want to be distracted by email or social media right at the start of my day.
  2. What would get you there? What’s the list of things to accomplish before you start the regular part of your day (get to work, for example)?
    • For example: Make the bed, exercise, shower & get dressed, take time for reflection, make tea, eat breakfast, read the news, scan through a short list of targeted blogs, write a journal entry, feed the cat.
    • Be sure to include little things that you might sometimes forget (like a habit you’re working on or a pill you should take before breakfast).
  3. List your chosen actions in order. Keep the list handy. When you’re half asleep and wondering what to do next, use the list.

    I found a lovely, free app for the iPhone & iPad called 30/30. It’s a great way to make lists that repeat. You can…

    • List each task, in order
    • Change the order as you wish
    • Assign colors, icons, and times to each task
    • Time your actions—or not
    • Use the duration function to make your routine fit the available time
    • Enjoy your choice of sounds 30/30 can make when a task’s time is up

    30:30 iPhone  30:30 Screenshot

    For more about how great using lists can be, see The Checklist Manifesto.

  4. Try your morning routine and make adjustments. If you use 30/30, you can race the times to finish faster, add time if you’re having a slow morning, and rearrange or add & subtract actions. It’s your morning routine, so fine-tune it to work best for you.

My days have vastly improved since I finally created a more concrete morning routine. My mind doesn’t race to thinking: “Oh, no… there’s too much to do! Where do I start? Working or playing, a morning checklist can help you feel more grounded and ready to have a great day.


App: 30/30 (iPhone & iPad)

Book: The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right

Podcast: Become More Productive by Reengineering Your Morning Ritual

Podcasts: Beyond the To Do List

P.S.: An evening checklist can be a great tool, too.


What is one thing you would suggest for a great morning routine?


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