Rise & Shine: Optimising Your Morning Routine

Discover the secrets to unlocking your productivity and wellbeing through the transformative power of morning routines. In this episode of The Balanced Leader podcast I show how morning routines can enhance productivity and wellbeing, in particular for busy leaders. 

I also outline the reasons why I think you should consider having a number of morning routines, rather than doing the same routine every day. 

From setting intentions to prioritising self care, this episode provides practical insights to help you design a tailored morning routine that sets the stage for success in all areas of your life.


00:22  What are morning routines

01:12  Why morning routines are crucial for leaders

01:56  What should morning routines include

02:26  A good morning routine should start the night before

03:56  The importance of having more than one morning routine

04:33  My morning routine

08:29  My top tips for getting started with morning routines

Building Thriving Teams: The PERMA Approach to Wellbeing



This is the Balance Leader Podcast, the podcast that helps leaders elevate their well being and create healthier workplaces. My name is Rob Hills, and I am your leadership and well being coach. Today, I want to talk about the transformative power of morning routines. So what exactly are morning routines?

And why do I think they’re essential, especially for leaders? Let’s break it down. Morning routines are a set of actions, habits and rituals that we do first thing in the morning. They’re not just about going through the motions. They’re about setting the stage for success and well being in all areas of our life.

Now, I know some people wake up, they roll over, they grab their phones, And before they know it, they’ve lost an hour and it’s already time to go to work. Successful people have an intention for what they want to achieve in the morning. And then [00:01:00] each day they execute again and again, as Aristotle once said, we are what we repeatedly do.

So each morning we want to execute those habits that are serving us. I think morning routines are particularly crucial for leaders because they lay the foundation for how we show up in our roles. Both at work and at home as well. Think about it. When we start our day on the right foot, we’re better equipped to navigate those challenges and opportunities that tend to come our way.

And I’m sure as a leader, you have your fair share of challenges and opportunities that you need to navigate. When we take time for ourselves first thing in the morning, it’s not a distraction that gnaws at us for the rest of the day. It means we don’t get to the end of our workday and then have to find the energy and the time to do the things that matter to us.

And I am not repeating the oxygen mask metaphor again. So what exactly should a morning routine include? [00:02:00] Well, that really depends. What are your key priorities at the moment? Are you trying to get fit? Then exercise will feature in your morning routine. Are you writing a book? That means morning pages are on the agenda.

You get to design the morning routine that works for you. So how can we make it happen? Well, as Mark Bunn said in episode eight of this podcast. A good morning routine actually starts the night before. If you haven’t listened to Mark’s episode yet, go back and check it out. It’s well worth a listen. So if you want to have the best start to your day, start preparing the night before.

Depending on what it is you want to achieve will depend on what you actually do. But here are a couple of common things that you could do. Number one, go to bed early. If you want to have a kick ass morning, you gotta get your sleep in first. So, hit the hay early. Number two, lay out your [00:03:00] tools the night before.

If you are trying to get exercise in early, then lay out what you’re going to wear to the gym. If you’re writing a book, organize your writing tools so you can sit down and start writing as soon as you wake up. Doing things like this are removing the barriers and the excuses to make your new habits as frictionless as possible.

Number three is meal prep. If you’re trying to eat healthy, organize all of your healthy snacks and meals the night before so you can spend more time on your morning routine and not have to cut it short to prepare your lunch. Or worse, you run out of time so you have to buy lunch. Again, these are just a couple of ways a good nighttime routine can help make your morning routine a lot easier.

Up to this point, I’ve basically been saying what everyone else is saying about morning routines. But strap yourself in, because I’m about to go off piste. I believe that most people should have more than one [00:04:00] morning routine. Why, you’re probably asking yourself, isn’t one already enough? Well, I don’t know about you, but my Monday is very different to my Wednesday, which is different again to my Saturday and Sunday.

Each day has its own set of unique requirements. based on the exercise I’m doing, uh, family commitments, or even my work commitments. If I tried to stick to the exact same morning routine every day, I would be setting myself up for failure. So what do I do? I have my key priorities, my non negotiables that have to go in every day.

But how I structure it will differ depending on what I’ve got going on. So this is what my day usually looks like, and please note I’m using air quotes here for usually. I usually wake up early, somewhere between 5 and 6am. I don’t set an alarm unless I have an early morning appointment. I hate alarms.[00:05:00]

That noise takes me back to high school and never wanting to get out of bed. Nowadays, I’m lucky that my body clock is pretty consistent, so getting up is just the way I roll. The first thing I do is I meditate for 10 minutes, every morning without fail. I mostly do this in bed, particularly during the cold Canberra winters while I’m waiting for the heater to kick in.

Meditation is crucial in helping maintain my mental health, and that’s a non negotiable for me. Next is water and sunlight. I try and drink at least a glass of water as soon as I’m up and moving. And as soon as possible, I’ll get outside and get some natural sunlight. As Dr. Christy Goodwin reminded us in episode 9 of the podcast, the brain starts producing the sleep hormone melatonin 16 hours after your first exposure to sunlight.

Aren’t our bodies clever like that? Next on my agenda is exercise. This could be going for a walk, uh, [00:06:00] indoor cycle, elliptical, or weights, depends on the day. Generally, I’m aiming for weights three times a week and cardio three times a week. And on that last day, I’m either doing something fun or nothing at all.

And this is where we reach the fork in the road. I do not like doing weights on an empty stomach, but I love doing cardio fasted. So if I’m gonna hit the gym and do some weights, I’m gonna have breakfast first. If I’m doing cardio, then it’s straight into it. This is a great example of having different routines based on my preferences.

Next up is stretching after exercise. Now, this one’s negotiable depending on time. I do have a nighttime stretching routine because I find the older I get, the more grease this tin man seems to need. After that, it’s usually time to wake up the kids and get them moving as well. And then finally, it’s shower and off to work.

That’s my bare minimum. If I have more time, I might add [00:07:00] something in. Lately, my focus has been around this podcast. So, I might be researching, guest booking, marketing. Because the podcast is a key priority for me right now. My morning routine has actually changed and evolved over time. And it also changes with the seasons.

For example, if it’s summer, I may be doing more outdoor activities, whereas winter is definitely something more indoorsy. What happens when it doesn’t go to plan? Well, it happens. In fact, it happened just this week. Sometimes I wake up a little bit later and then I don’t have the time. Sometimes my son wakes up early and wants breakfast straight away.

Sometimes I have to catch an early flight. I adjust. Worst case scenario, I miss the entire morning routine. Am I all zen about it and just let it go? Sometimes, but often not. I have my little moment. And then I let it go. I try and bounce back quickly and remember, I get another opportunity in less than 24 [00:08:00] hours time to do this all again.

The key is to not beat yourself up, but it’s also not to let yourself off the hook so you feel like it’s okay to miss tomorrow. It’s all about balance. Yeah, I said it again. Anyway, hopefully this has helped shape your thinking around your morning routine. Take what will help you, implement it, and then just discard the rest.

We are all different and we all have different priorities and different requirements, so do what works for you. Before you go though, here are my top tips to make your morning routine as successful as possible. Number one, start small. Don’t try and bite off more than you can chew. If you are new to morning routines, just start with one thing and then work your way up.

Number two, be consistent. Consistency is the key to your success. Number three, be willing to adapt as needed. And finally, number four, be patient. Do what works for [00:09:00] you. Now, I know I’ve said that already, but it’s so important that it bears repeating. Remember, the goal isn’t perfection, it’s progress. And above all else, be kind to yourself when things don’t go to plan.

Thanks again for tuning in to today’s episode. I really hope you found it beneficial. Enjoy the rest of your day, and I look forward to speaking with you next time.