5 Steps To An INSANELY Productive Morning

I would consider “morning hours” the first two hours after waking up. The average person will experience approximately 50,000 of these hours in their adult life.

While many of us use this time to ease into our day, I've developed the ability to turn these hours into productivity machines.

Remember, the goal of productivity is freedom, not achievement. It's to manage your time so effectively you are able to spend your remaining hours doing the things you truly love. Things that are not meant to be efficient, but organic.

Furthermore, it's my belief that our time is our most important asset. You can't make more of it. It's always running out. And it's the basis of all great memories.

Here are my : 5 Steps to An Insanely Productive Morning

1. 10 Minutes of Preparation Before Bed: I get to bed between 10:30-Midnight 7 days per week. But before I hit the pillow, I write down the following day's tasks. I don't use an app, I use a simple notebook. First, I add the date and everything I can think of (including items I didn't finish from the previous task list). Next, I add numbers next to each item to represent importance. #1 being the most critical and so forth. Then, lights out. No T.V. and no phone.

2. 10 Minutes of Stretching: From the moment I wake up, it's game time. But that doesn't mean I jump directly into Instagram or email. I get up and go through a basic stretching routine right on the floor next to my bed. I focus on my breathing and often times spend a few minutes talking to God. Then I walk to my phone, and start the day.

3. Reward Yourself With Food: The #1 item on my list is always a beast. It's the task I don't really feel like doing––especially 10 minutes after I've woken up. But I do it. Because if I don't, I can't eat. You heard that right. I don't allow myself breakfast until I finish my first task. Sometimes it takes me 15 minutes, sometimes an hour. But I crush through it and then make myself a healthy meal.

4. Quick, Healthy Meal: When productivity is the goal, there is no time for a 30 min breakfast. But at the same token, success is nothing without your health. So I've stocked up on organic items that take less than 5 minutes to prepare––bananas, organic oatmeal, egg whites, and granola bars. I eat while focusing on the next item on my list.

5. Power Window of Quiet, Focus Time: I spend the remaining 30-60 minutes of my morning in a quiet place where I can focus. No interruptions. Phone goes on airplane mode. Email is not a priority unless it's on my list. This is where I often crush through 2-3 more critical items for the day. Then, I take my first 30 minute break.

It's important to note, I stop working completely at 6pm. No matter what. No matter how important it may be. Work stops at SIX. It allows me to look back at the day's hustle and shift my focus toward my wife and daughter. It's at this moment where I think, “it was all worth it.”

Productivity without healthy relationships is nothing. Success at work without a strong home life is nothing. Let your time be used for great things, but never get too busy making a living that you forget to make a life.

What helps you have a productive morning? Share your tips with me in the comments below.

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54 Responses

  1. Best for me to get productive is a brisk 20 min walk with my dog. I never sleep in, the dog & cat wouldn’t let me, but the 1st walk of the day allows me to mentally organize my day & gets my blood flowing

  2. I also list my next day’s tasks the night before. When I wake, I double check my list and make amendments where necessary. I also do stretches. I then read my daily word and reflect on it. As soon as that is done, I meditate for 15 minutes and then i have breakfast.

    1. I’m a list person too! Sounds like you need allow yourself time to wake up and ease into the day. Smart!

  3. Great advice, Dale! What part of the day works best for you to work out? I have young children like yourself so finding a consistent time window has been tricky.

    1. Great question, Josh! Well it’s hot right now so early morning or after dinner is the best time for me.

  4. This is one of the nicer productivity articles I have read in a while!! For those of us who do not work from a home office and spend the first hour of the morning getting dressed and buying breakfast from starbucks, what modifications would you suggest between ‘Stretch’ and ‘Reward’

    1. If part of your prepare is getting together your outfit for the following day and you get your first thing out of the way before you are allowed to order your breakfast you are back at the same place.

      1. I agree, great advice Sarah! Most of us guys don’t really think about the outfit thing ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. im going to try this tomorrow and record my progress in my planner. great insight by the way ๐Ÿ˜€

  6. Just curious Dale, About what time do you wake up in the mornings? Thanks! I think I’m going to try this ๐Ÿ˜‰ I just found your site/email feed and I’ve been loving it! Thank you so much, I always look forward to reading them.

    1. It depends on the morning and how much I have going on mentally. Sometimes it’s 5am, sometimes 730am. Just depends! Glad you’re enjoying the site! ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. What a great list! This is going to help me tons. Thank you so much for sharing this. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. I had a response typed out to you but realized it may not be accurate to my actual routine. After I accomplish my #1 task for the day, THEN I reward myself with a meal and feel good to shower and get ready for the day afterward. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Well, the rewarding with breakfast system may work for you, but if you have an office job and first have to drive towards it, it doesn’t work. At least not for me ๐Ÿ™‚ But it’s a fun article though!

    1. Maybe you can substitute it for coffee, or a morning snack? Find something you’re able to reward yourself with – it will help to keep you productive! ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Love this! Thanks for sharing your tips- especially on a morning when I need to be very productive. And I also work from home so this completely applies to me.

  10. I work late, so waking up in the morning is really hard for me and it sucks be cuz it’s the only time of day I can (prefer) to workout, and do other things that I need to do.

  11. My mornings are super productive. I get up wash face brush teeth and put on a bra lol. Next I eat I can’t focus without breakfast and a tea. By 10am I’m doing my workout. Shower, then dinner time. And my day has officially gotten ten times easier and I have alot of free time throughout the day.

  12. I TOTALLY love the “reward”. This is cool I will incorporate these in my mornings.

  13. I am building a business on my own and have adopted most of this outline starting one day after you published it. I get up at 5am now, instead of 7am, and get two hours of productive work in (most days) until our daughter gets up at 7. Instead of stretching, I start with a 7-minute workout, then 3 min of stretching, and drink coffee/tea instead of eating right away, opting to eat with our little girl once she’s up and at ’em. It’s been really helpful to outline my morning in the same way I’d outline a business day and within the simplicity of your plan is true genius. It’s now become habit and I’m really grateful to you for such a great plan of attack for one’s day!

  14. Great tips. I’m guilty of non productive mornings. Sleep in, feed myself & toddler (yes, she sleeps in too), breakfast, social media & time wasters then get motivated close to lunch. On those rare days I’m up earlier, I achieve so much.

  15. Before I start my day, I write in my gratitude journal and do 15 minutes of meditation. I found that it really centers me and makes my days more productive.

    1. I love the gratitude journal. I do it when I’m in bed in the evening and 1.5 years into doing it every night my outlook on life has changed for the better!

  16. I’ve been using my journal to plan out my day for about a month now, and it really makes a difference. It gets me excited for the day ahead, knowing there’s so much I can have done by the end of it.

  17. I love the part you talk to GOD,many people don’t do this (or ashame to admit it, except he’s a preacher)… Bless you! ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. knowing the purpose for what I am doing helps me keep on focus. A few moments to rest and align myself with why I am doing what I am doing helps me stay calm.

  19. I have a routine that works for me: The first hour I do 10 Min meditation (headspace app), write my morning pages (Julia Cameron), track my mood (moodscope) and then sit at my computer for a moment to look at (and tweak) my schedule and to do list. My to do list is a “Getthing things done” system (by David Allen) implemented into Evernote.

    After that hour is up I do the most important task of my day (most of the time work related) FIRST. I am a freelance teacher, working from home when not teaching. I very consciously DON’T eat, I do intermittent fasting (eating between 12.00 and 20.00). I work far better and am more energetic if I don’t have my digestive system making me sluggish (I eat mostly plant based and quite healthily).

  20. I really like the idea of stretching first, and taking a warm bath or shower before-hand makes stretching easier for me. I like the idea of doing the #1 item on the list first before
    eating; I will need to have my hot tea to accompany me on the first task. I like the idea of stocking up with organic breakfast items and rewarding self with food! I like making a protein shake with banana and another fruit (mango, strawberry, blueberry or peach) supplemented
    with a scoop of a flaxseed/psyllium mix as well as two tablespoons of aloe vera juice. If I want something warm, I like oatmeal with cinnamon, nuts and raisins with a tablespoon of wheatgerm (no sugar or milk).

  21. Thanks Dale. Much to not and copy. My to do list is often in my head and I always do first the things I like most, meaning that the things that get left behind are important but then become a drag on me. will use the notebook and pencil and try to tackle first what I least like to do.

  22. I’ve recently added stretching/meditation to my mornings and it really does help add focus to my day. Happy to know you feel the same way and practice this also!

  23. This is fantastic! What are your thought for those of us who work really well late at night? My most productive hours are between 9 am – 2 pm. I usually sleep til mid-morning and then get a start on my day.

  24. Way to go DALE. positive thinking is Gods way. Talking to him helps, & he always will listen. ; ) thumbs up.!

  25. This is so helpful, I am always my most productive (on my blog) in the morning because I am busy with other things the rest of the day. I’m definitely going to do this!!

  26. My preparation consists of meal planning, getting the things I need for the morning ready the night before and getting up early. I always start the day with a brisk early morning five mile walk too. Best way to get going and lovely experiencing the sun rise every day ????

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