The Morning Routine that’s Suffocating Your Life

Photo by John Haslam:

Photo by John Haslam:

If you want to create something worth while with your life, you need to draw a line between the world’s demands and your own ambitions. – Mark McGuinness

“I have more technology than I know what to do with, yet I have less time than ever.” Does this ring a bell? It’s what I hear from most of my clients when I come to help them straighten out all their technology and figure out how they can best utilize it.

Most of us start the day looking at our phones. We check our email or social media and this immediately puts us in a state of reaction. 

We start reacting to other people’s needs on us at the beginning of the day, trying to figure out how we can put out that fire, reschedule our day to accommodate someone, or we’re mindlessly flicking through our friends’ lives.

The problem with this is if we are reacting to everything, we usually are not being proactive in planning what WE want our day to look like. Our months, our years, our life.

If you find the projects that are important to you keep getting pushed aside for something more pressing, or you simply haven’t had the energy to work on it, you’ve probably been reacting to the world’s demands on you.

The vast majority of people are most creative in the morning. We come up with the best ideas and we’re most focused on the task at hand. Could it be because we haven’t been exposed to thousands of different possibilities yet in the day and our consciousness is a clean slate in the morning?

Most successful people I read about make it a point to describe their morning routines and guess what’s not apart of that routine? They are not starting the day serving others. All of them are taking care of themselves with food, exercise, reading, and/or writing.

Once we open ourselves to the world’s demands on us, it doesn’t stop, does it? It’s the beginning of the assault on our consciousness, with every marketer, boss, client, coworker, and friend screaming for your attention all day long. Open ourselves up to their needs first and watch our dreams and ambitions get pushed aside.

Here are a few things to think about when you are tempted to hop online in the morning:

Most people’s creativity is at it’s peak in the mornings. If you have something you want to work on that you never have the mental energy for later in the day, start with this.

If you have a hard time waking up or getting your mind going in the morning, start with some sort of exercise, from a good set of stretches, or a hard workout. I stretch or ride my bike.

Set your phone out of reach in the mornings. When we resist temptation it drains our focus so that we can’t concentrate properly at what we are trying to work on. Studies show when leave an unfinished problem and move onto something else, our minds torn between solving the new problem and the old at the same time, resulting in poor performance all around.

If you’re not proactively planning your day, month, years, you’re going to be shoved around by the worlds demands on you.

Take care of yourself first and you’ll be able to serve your clients, boss, or students better than ever, and you won’t be surrendering your own ambitions to do it.

Question: What have you been giving up in the mornings to react to someone else’s demands on your life, and what are you going to do about it?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • I was in the habit of immediately checking emails on my iPhone when I turned off my alarm in the morning. I found that I was stressed out before I even rolled out of bed after reading my work email. My solution was to set the alarm on my FitBit instead and then not check email until I actually arrive at work. It gives me more time to do my devotions in the morning and keeps me focused on planning proactively for the day rather than immediately reacting to things before I have even made a plan. Great post, by the way – always nice to have reminders about this kind of stuff.

    • I was feeling the same way. Using the Fitbit is a great idea. I was doing that for a while, then I lost mine and still haven’t found it.
      Thanks for your comment!

  • Great post, Shawn. So true!

    • Thanks, Michael! 99U has been blowing my mind.

  • mushroombrain

    I lose all my precious mornings to sleep. School and work and extra projects and the fact that life really sucks in general drains all my energy.

    My biggest passion – or the closest thing I have to passion – is writing but I’ve realized that I don’t do it anymore. That’s why I’ve been trying to create some space and time in my life for that and I’ve realized that if I manage to wake up in the morning and write, the whole experience turns out to be a much better one because there is nothing to interrupt me. I started to use an app called HabitClock which basically forces me to wake up and go through my morning routine a couple of days ago. It’s still killing me to wake up early but I guess I’ll have a nice sleeping routine if I keep doing it, as well.

  • This is all so true, Shawn. And exactly why a morning routine is so precious and crucial to success!

    • John,
      Have you read any of the 99U books? I think they would be right up your alley!

      • No, I haven’t. I’ll have to look into it. Thanks!

  • Before getting on social media or my email, I try to take time for personal and spiritual growth content. I’ve found it really sets me up for a good day! Good post here!

  • Hi Shawn…such a good word. I used to get sucked into email first, then blogs, then my writing. I have switched that around now and don’t do anything until I’ve written at least 500 words of my manuscript and spend time in spiritual growth content and then…and only then…if I have time, email. I have also followed Michael Hyatt’s advice about getting to a zero inbox fairly quickly through folders. See Thanks for the great tips!

    • Very cool, Linda! Thanks for the comment!