My Morning Checklist for 2016

My morning routine is something that I have been developing over the last couple years and is influenced by countless books, articles, friends, and more. My goal with it is to create as many good habits that will set me up for success in areas of my life as possible. I know from experience that if I don’t create a daily habit out of something (reading the Word, exercising, etc) my frequency of doing it goes WAY down. I suspect it is like this for most others too, but it definitely is for me. “You will never change your life until you change something you do daily.” ― John C. Maxwell

I’ve had a few readers ask about my morning routine and I thought now would be as good a time as any to share my routine and checklist that I follow each morning.

My morning routine is something that I have been developing over the last couple years and is influenced by countless books, articles, friends, and more.

My goal with it is to create as many good habits that will set me up for success in areas of my life as possible.

I know from experience that if I don’t create a daily habit out of something (reading the Word, exercising, etc) my frequency of doing it goes WAY down.

I suspect it is like this for most others too, but it definitely is for me.

“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily.”

― John C. Maxwell

Habit-stacking

If you are familiar with habit stacking you know that the basic principle is to take an already well-established habit that you have (like brushing your teeth, taking a shower, etc.) and then adding a new habit that you would like to create alongside it. So when you do the one, you automatically think to do the other.

My morning checklist that I follow each day is this principle on steroids.

I started by asking myself what was most important to me and what I value most. I concluded that my relationship with God, my wife, my health, and my business would be a great place to start.

From there I began looking for simple habits that I could stack on that would help me nurture and help me improve those areas of my life.

My Daily Checklist

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to a bunch of really smart people who gave me ideas and inspiration for this (thanks Bryan), because as simple as it seems, this little checklist has had a huge positive impact in my life.

If you use Evernote you can copy a template of my checklist here.

Start early

I wake up somewhere from 5:30-6:15 using the Sleep Cycle app on my phone. It wakes you up in the lightest phase of your sleep, so it is much easier to wake up early.  That app and The Miracle Morning have been the 2 things that helped me finally (after decades of struggle) become a morning person.

Take Probiotic and Cod Liver Oil

I am not a doctor, just doing what mine is recommending to me to improve my digestive health and get more Vitamin D in the winter months.

Wash off an apple and put it on my desk

I typically snack on stuff that is in front of me, and if nothing is in front of me I go to the pantry for something (normally not as healthy).  I have found that if I have an apple on my desk each day I snack on that instead of less healthy options.

Put on my Pavlok

This is a crazy gadget that I just got that helps you break bad habits.  I won’t go into all the detail, but for me it has worked really well and I love it.

Turn on 90 minute timer

I make sure to finish everything on my checklist within 90 minutes.

Put essential oils in diffuser

I like to diffuse oils at my desk as I work, but I never think about it during the day – so it got added to the checklist.  By the way, I’ve tried a handful of diffusers and this one has been great.

Drink a tall glass of water

I found that drinking a tall glass of water first thing in the morning gives me a noticeable boost in energy.  Sometime I swap this out for green or white tea.

10 minutes of stretching (exercise)

I currently do weightlifting or cardio at the end of the workday, but in the morning doing about 10 minutes of stretching really gets my blood flowing.

Do 30 circular breaths

Another trick that gives me a boost in energy.

Floss

Not sure why, but I have a hard time doing this when I brush my teeth, so I added it to the checklist and it gets done a lot more now.

Write down one reason why I love Linda

A while ago a read a book that suggested making a big list of all the things you love about your spouse.  And it suggested that just the action of thinking on all those positive things will help your love grow deeper.

Write down one prayer God has recently answered

Similar to above, I never want to forget or take for granted all the wonderful blessings that have been given to me.

Read affirmations

I have found that really negative people who constantly say negative things tend to get more of it.  And I am convinced that the opposite is true as well.  So I make it a point to remind myself of the truth and meditate on them.  You can get a copy of my affirmations slightly modified for privacy (thanks Hal & Zig).

Read Bible

“Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”  Matthew 4:4

Journal for 5 minutes

This is a new one for me, but here is a journal that I am excited about.

Review quarterly business goals

I always want to stay focused on where I want to be headed and don’t want to leave it to chance.

Review weekly goals

Same as above.

Clean desk

If my desk isn’t clean from the day before, I make a point to clean it before starting the workday.  My brain works much better without visual clutter.

Elevate desk

I recently switched to a standing desk and I love it.  I just read somewhere that if you stand at it 4 hours a day that it is equivalent to running something like 12 marathons a year.  So I stand in the mornings and sit in the afternoon, and I need a checklist item to make sure I don’t get lazy and just sit all the time. 😉

Check my calendar for the day

I look over appointments and meetings that I have scheduled for the day.

No Email reminder

One of the biggest productivity hacks for me has been NOT checking email until after lunch each day.  And even then, I just pop in and deal with urgent emails and leave most of the rest until Monday.  And on Monday I process my entire inbox and get to Inbox Zero following the GTD system.

Identify Big Rocks and Sand

I use Todoist as my to-do list for work each day.  Each day I find one or two big tasks (that will help me reach my weekly goals) and identify them as rocks for the day. All the other tasks are labeled as sand.  Rocks get done first and sand gets done when time allows.  If you are not familiar with this analogy, this video explains it well.

Start Brain.fm

A cool tool I found from Appsumo to help me stay focused while working.  I don’t know much about the science behind it, but I have found that it works better than any music I’ve found so far.

Start Pomodoro timer

I have heard about using the Pomodoro method for a while but just recently started.  Basically you break your work time into 25 minutes on and then a 5 minute break and then repeat all day. Tomato Timer is a cool online timer that you can use (thanks Brian).

And then I am off to the races

That’s my current morning checklist, but I am always adding and improving it so I would love to hear what is on yours that sets you up for success!

So let me and everyone else know in the comments below!

Bob-sign-gray

28 Comments
  1. Samirian

    Thanks for sharing Bob! I got tired somewhere near the end, lol! I am establishing my routine and I can pick up some pointers here like turner on a timer and the sleep apps you mentioned.

    • Bob

      Go get it Samirian!

  2. Joanne Ikani

    Thank you so much Bob,

    This is what I desire my entire life but don’t know how to attain. I will put all into full practice and still get back.

    I’m eternally grateful to God for opening the link. Usually I don’t do such.

    Joanne

  3. Caleb

    It looks like a lot of good things to look into and try. How long does this routine take?

    • Bob

      Caleb, normally I can get it done in just over an hour. I have a hard stopping point at 7:30 which is why I use the 90 minute timer

  4. Tamara

    This was very insightful. Thank you very much for sharing!

  5. Wazo

    Bookmarking this. I will be back to use it.

    So far the only new thing in my routine is to keep the kitchen and kitchen sink clean. It has brought so much energy and its unbelievable how I have been hanging out in the kitchen every single day since 2016 started.

    I have also been tracking my expenditure daily… So much work but such great revelations!!! I pray I can keep it up.

    Happy New Year!

    • Bob

      Wazo, I’ll buy that! I find that I avoid, or at least feel uncomfortable in, cluttered or messy areas so that makes perfect sense to me!

  6. alfred

    Bob, this is very inspiring especially for me who lives and works in Africa (Uganda) where time is not a limited resource, a minute is “more than 60 seconds”…!

  7. Janell

    Thanks for sharing this! I have a simple morning routine but have not been as productive as I want to be. Looking forward to trying something of your ideas out.

  8. Valerie

    Thanks for sharing. I said that this year I didn’t want to be just another person with a new year resolution, but that I want to be a life with a new beginning. So I have Begun to do & be different. The Struggle is daily. My mom has always told me to right things down & make a list. I always thought ” why so I can see on paper all that needs to get done only to feel overwhelmed & then feel like a failure when none of it gets done. No thanks! ” But I’d never thought about putting things down like flossing or drink a bottle of water or doing daily readings. That I can do! So here I go, I’m going to try it. So thanks a bunch!

    • Bob

      Yea Valerie, I don’t really like the term “new year resolution” mostly because there is so much failure associated with them, but I love starting the year fresh, trying new things, and planning for success. Go for it!

  9. Michael @ NTPNW

    Some great ideas Bob. I am off to check out the Pavlock. Thanks

    • Bob

      Michael, I think you are gonna like it

  10. Elva Fonseca

    Thanks for sharing Bob. Great morning routine! I am adding a few of your tips to my morning checklist.

  11. Clare Kennedy

    oh wow, this list is so wonderful and helpful for me! thank you. i am so glad that i found your list!! 🙂

  12. AiVy

    Thank you so much for sharing your miracle morning checklist. I’m trying out the brain.fm and loving it. I’m so glad I found your blog. I absolutely love everything about it.

  13. Terungwa

    Hi Bob,

    It’s interesting to read how your mornings are structured. Personally, I’ve struggled with keeping my morning schedules but unfortunately, things always find a way of popping up to interrupt (especially as I work at home).

    Do you face similar challenges? If you do, any tips?

    Enjoy the day.

    Always,
    Akaahan Terungwa

    • Bob

      Yep, the thing that helped me more than anything was to just wake up before the distractions wake up 😉 – that way I can squeeze in a good hour or so to get my day started right

  14. steve

    How do you use this as a template? I have done some research on this and trying to use templates on Evernote is pretty frustrating for a lot of people

    • Bob

      Yea evernote is far from perfect, but I love their checkbox feature – so I just open the note and check each item off as I go through it

  15. Becky

    Thanks for the ideas! I am definitely going to check out the sleep cycle app!

  16. Andy Telev

    For those who find Evernote too complex, Google Keep may fit the bill. It is fairly versatile and free.

  17. Sarah Mueller

    Great list! I have 4 small kids so quiet morning time is not always guaranteed, but I do cherish it and love to get my head on straight in the mornings and be filled with God’s power before life starts happening around me. I am struggling with prioritizing my soul as I’m investing more in my business (any new subscribers? any new messages? write article, etc.), so it is encouraging to see Christian business people and know there doesn’t have to be a conflict of interest. I would love to get to inbox zero! Will check out that link.

  18. Formative Fortunes

    Great Article! My mornings are always a mess this check list will put me in line!
    Thanks!

  19. Phil Danley

    Thanks Bob for the Evernote template. I just signed up with Evernote on January 1st and I’m looking to get myself better organized in 2016. I appreciate the start from you!

  20. Mindy Jollie

    This is a fantastic list! I really liked your suggestion to set a timer for 90 minutes and make sure that you get your checklist done in that time. I never thought of doing that, but it’s a really great idea because it will definitely help me to be more productive and a lot more accountable! Thanks for the great post!

  21. rob shirley

    Very cool bob! would love to see this article updated as you find other things that are helpful!