Do you want to be more productive and more successful? Do you want to be happier, healthier, and more energetic? Do you want to feel better or optimize your performance? EVERY day is an opportunity to get you closer to your goal, and if you want to WIN each day, it starts with your morning routine. In this episode of the BioTrust Radio podcast, we share the key elements of the most successful morning routines to help you win the day. Rise and grind!
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In this episode of BioTrust Radio, here are some of the top components of morning routines that we discuss:
- Get up 5 – 15 minutes earlier than you do right now and work on your number one priority, one morning ritual, etc.
- Start your day with joy (MINDSET); schedule something each day that you look forward to
- Ease into your morning with light/sounds that gradually increase in magnitude
- Incorporate breath work and/or meditation
- Gratitude journal and/or write a thank you note or email
- Make/review a list of what you are going to do with your day (and review that list at the end of the day to see how you did as well)
- Do some form of movement practice, exercise, or physical activity
- Get outside in the natural sunlight (if that’s not an option, use a blue light device); ideally, you can tie this into the former (e.g., walking/swimming outdoors)
- Listen to energizing, motivational music; listen to a podcast
- Eat breakfast and/or have coffee
- Hug and/or kiss someone that you love (or, call someone and tell him/her that you love him/her)
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And remember… you’re just one decision away from better health and a better body
- Tired of Being Tired? It’s Time to Reset Your Circadian Clock [BioTrust Blog]
- 11 Ways to a Better You (Add these life changing healthy habits) [BioTrust Radio #24]
- 8 Keys to Healthy Aging (NOT Nutrition or Exercise) [BioTrust Radio #14]
Transcript—This Simple 12-Step Morning Routine will Change your Life
Tim: Yeah, morning routines are super-hot right now, Shawn. Everyone wants to know what the most successful people are doing. So, if you want to learn how to get more out of your day, to be more productive, to be happier, we’re going to dive into the things that we’re doing, things that other successful people are doing, things that we encourage you to try yourself.
Shawn: Yeah, things like gratitude journals, deep breathing, and meditation. There’s so much going on right now. Yeah. So stay tuned for this episode. It’s going to be special. Thanks.
Intro: When it comes to health, fitness, and nutrition, you’re flooded with sensationalism, hype, and fads. Who can you turn to? Who can you trust? Welcome to BioTrust Radio, your premier health podcast and trusted resource for all topics related to fitness, nutrition, supplements, and living an optimal life. It’s time for another episode with Shawn and Tim. Thanks so much for joining us. Here’s to your health.
Shawn: Hey BioTrust Nation, we are back with BioTrust Radio, and this episode we’re going to dive into morning routines. And I am not alone. I am Shawn Wells, your host, and I’m here with the lovely and brilliant Tim Skwiat.
Tim: Rise and shine.
Shawn: Or rise and grind. I like that one.
Shawn: Just get out there and work your butt off. We’re big fans of stoicism here, which is, I don’t know if those listening know what that is. But basically, it’s almost like the scientific idea of hormesis, which is stimuli will help you adapt. Like things that are difficult will help you grow. And this idea of stoicism is something like that. I’ve talked about in many other podcasts, like Ryan Holiday’s book, “The Obstacle is the Way.” The nice thing is that title really sums up what this concept is because you chase things that are difficult, that may induce some fear to you because that’s where growth is, that’s where you’ll find that you come out the other side stronger, better, smarter. And that’s what we all want in life. We want growth.
So, one of the most important things that we can do with our lives is the morning. How do we start our day? A lot of hope, a lot of achievement, a lot of tone gets set in the morning. And morning routines of successful people is something that is studied quite a bit, and it is no surprise that highly successful people have very dialed morning routines, and they’re doing some very common practices amongst each other. Very uncommon things, potentially, but common with each other, that we want to dive into.
And you and I, Tim, do some of these things ourselves because we look up to these people, we want to grow ourselves, we want to be successful ourselves. Not just successful in terms of money, but successful in terms of life, in terms of marriage, in terms of spirituality, in terms of friendships and relationships. Just getting the most out of your life, quantity and quality, while we’re here for this very short time on this planet. How do we get the most out of it? And it starts with the morning.
Tim: Exactly. As well, I think we’ll get into it and actually may start with the night before, to some extent, too.
Shawn: Yes, that true.
Tim: Yeah, there’s certainly a fascination lately with morning routines. I know like Tim Ferriss on the Tim Ferriss Show, most of his interviews he’s asking people about their morning routines. So there’s certainly a fascination with these routines of highly successful people. And there’s a reason that all of them have a routine in the morning, because like you were saying, it sets the tone.
Shawn: It’s discipline.
Tim: It’s discipline. And one of the things that I’ve noticed as I’ve looked into more the morning routines of successful people is that they can vary in length, some people up to like two hours or so. And I don’t know about you, but as being a father and having a job and things like that, I don’t necessarily have that much time. One thing that I would just like to preface as we get into this is that maybe you don’t currently have time to have these elaborate morning routines, but maybe there’s a couple things that you can pick out from the things that we’re going to go through and add them to your morning routine and practice, and figure out what works best for you.
Shawn: Well, not only they may not have the time, but they may not be able to do all these things at once and stick with it.
Shawn: Again, we talked about this with our diets and different advice we’ve given in the past, is just the best thing is to start one thing, keep it up for several weeks, make it a part of your daily routine and stick with it. If it is something that in fact works for you and adds benefit for you, then create that thing as part of your routine, build it into your life, and stick with it. Then once you’ve made that your routine, then add another thing, and just add one at a time. And that’s part of the scientific method, too. If you shotgun all these things, you have no idea like what’s working, what’s not working, and you may actually get stressed from all these things that may be overwhelming at once. So if you do one thing, then you do know what the effect is. You are able to deduce what the benefit is. So, we have a list of several things that we do, but we employed those over time and we encourage you to employ these over time, as well. Don’t feel like you have to do all these at once.
Tim: Yeah, exactly, Shawn. So I want to start off with a very simple one that’s probably overlooked and not really viewed this way, but making the bed is actually a really good part of a morning routine. I’m going to take a quote from Naval Admiral William McRaven, who shared this in his 2014 commencement speech at my alma mater, UT Austin.
Shawn: It has like a bazillion views on YouTube. So if you haven’t seen the whole speech, please watch it. It’s really excellent. It’s a phenomenal speech.
Tim: Admiral McRaven says, “If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another, and another.” So I think that’s pretty profound and it makes me think of back when I was a kid. My dad used to always have lists for the day and I always kind of laughed because there were some things that I didn’t think really belonged on the list. At the top it’s like take a shower, make the bed and things like that. I didn’t really understand why. But now I make lists every day, usually the night before or at the beginning of the week, so I know where to prioritize my time. But once you see things crossed off on that list it really does—at least for me—give me a sense of accomplishment. And kind of not only to move forward with my day, but also as I look back on the day, it feels good to know that I have some things crossed off the list and maybe it’s making the bed.
Shawn: Let’s take a second. One, we’re thankful for our men and women of the Armed Services. Two, to say an admiral said this, I hope that resonates with you all listening, that an admiral is responsible for multiple aircraft carriers that are carrying hundreds of millions of dollars of weaponry, of aircraft, like some of the most incredible planes in the world, some of the most incredible pilots in the world. Think of the thousands of soldiers, trained personnel that fall under his purview. Like this is, his or her, that this is just someone that has an unbelievable amount of responsibility. Like to me, even a CEO’s responsibility pales compared to an admiral’s. Like what they’re dealing with as far as human lives that hang in the balance of the soldiers as well as the safety of Americans, as well as the threat of insurgents, and all the weaponry, and planes, and carriers, and submarines, and all these things that they’re responsible for. It’s mind‑boggling. So when this guy says something about how to start his day, it’s something to listen to.
Shawn: I think. But I’m a huge fan of our men and women of the Armed Services. Anyway, as far as starting your morning, I know I start my morning, you open your eyes. Let me ask you. You open your eyes in the morning, the alarm clock goes off. First off, how do you wake up? Like what is what is it that wakes you up?
Tim: It’s kind of funny. For me, personally, a lot of times it’s my daughter.
Shawn: Oh, nice.
Tim: She’s young, you know, and she likes to get up early. So, I’m really fortunate that I get to spend the beginning of my day with my daughter, so that’s pretty much every morning that’s my routine is to spend time with her. Often I try to get up a little bit earlier before her, and so I have a general idea when she’s going to get up. And I tend to wake up sometimes within 90-minute or three-hour increments through the night. So if I can time it properly where I’m up before her, then I just wake up with my natural biology and get some coffee or something like that.
But anyway, normally let’s just say in normal circumstances with my daughter, Parker. And I get to go into a room and it’s always a very interesting experience because she’s—this is the ultimate in my mind, the ultimate picture of how we should approach the day. She’s standing in her crib, she’s 21 months old. She’s standing in her crib and I open the door and I kind of peek in there and she just gets the biggest smile on her face, and she’s so excited to see all of her stuffed animals. She’s just has this raw pure joy and excitement to greet the day and to just play the day away. So anyway, that’s how I start my day.
Shawn: Well, that that brings up a great point, whether you have a beautiful young child, like Tim, or not, it’s important to start your day with joy.
Shawn: Right? And that’s what you’re talking about. So, for me, the first thing I wake up to is Maya, my little Shih Tzu, like my dog and just petting her and looking at her joy, wagging her tail. That’s like a feel-good. But some people it might be their cat, some people it might be some picture that they look at. But I’ll also say what wakes me up in the morning is my phone, but I choose like a wind chime noise and it’s a very nice subtle way to wake up. I also use this light that comes on over the course of about 15 to 30 minutes. You can set it at different intervals, but it gets brighter and brighter and brighter, and it simulates natural sunlight. So in the winter, especially, or if I’m getting up very early, I kind of wake up slowly with this light, and then I hear the wind chimes. And I kind of ease into getting up and becoming alert instead of hearing like a [alarm beeping sound] and something that’s intense like that, which would just be a pure cortisol rush and you start your day off, I think, is just wrong. You feel kind of fight-or-flight, right? So that’s not the best way to start your morning.
Hopefully when you’re starting your morning, think about those things. Maybe the light you’re exposed to, whether you wake up and see something that gives you joy. Maybe put a picture up or something that you can look at first thing. And then use some kind of noise that wakes you up that’s subtle, that gets you up, but isn’t too jarring or alarming. And I think that’s an important start to your morning, first thing. Then I think using some kind of breathing, some meditation. Like maybe while you’re still lying in bed, easing in. You don’t have to just jump up out of bed. You can do some deep breathing techniques and slow your heart rate, think about your day, have gratitude.
Start organizing your day. You can use a journal. This is getting very popular with a lot of these people, like Tim Ferriss, like Ben Greenfield. Almost all these guys, Lewis Howes, they all do journaling and a lot of them it’s a gratitude journal. But you say what you’re thankful for as you start your day. It’s great to always start your day with thinking like how blessed you are, because we’re certainly blessed. Anyone listening to this podcast, I guarantee you’re blessed. And then think about what you’re going to do today. What are some things that you need to get done today and how can you prioritize those and lay those out so that you execute on most of those? And then what you want to do at the end of the day.
This is a morning routine thing, but at the end of the day you want to take stock of how you did. But it’s great to start your day with accomplishment. And this is what Tim Ferriss talks about in “The 4-hour Workweek,” and not having all your email set up, to where you’re just chasing that all day long. You get in and you chase fires when you first get into work. This is why I like to do this idea of journaling. And then even working out first thing in the morning because when I’ve meditated, when I’ve journaled, when I’ve worked out, and then a shower and then I go face the day at work, I feel very accomplished. And even if the whole rest of the day is crazy, I still have started off right.
Let’s flip this and say you wake up and your [alarm beeping] and you grab your coffee, you run out the door, “Oh god, I’m running late. I’m exhausted.” Now you’re in traffic. Traffic’s crazy. You’re fighting that traffic. You finally get to work. You get into work and people are saying, “Oh man, we had this thing happen. It’s crazy. We need you immediately on this.” And you check your email and there’s all these crazy emails that you’ve got to catch up on and you’ve got to respond to immediately—fire, fire, fire. And then, surprisingly, it gets to be lunchtime and you’re starving and you’re exhausted, and you need caffeine, and you need sugar because you’re just worn out already. And then afternoon rolls around, and again, you’re starting to feel drained. Now you have to have a Coke, you have to have candy from the machine. And then you go back and fight traffic. Now you need to unwind and you’re exhausted and you watch TV. Does this sound familiar to anyone listening? Because if it does, it all starts with your morning.
Shawn: You can change the shape of your whole day by starting your morning right by waking up to the wind chimes, by getting up maybe 5 to 10 minutes earlier.
Shawn: Doing some deep breathing. [inhales/exhales] Deep breathing, relax and get into your gratitude. Here are the things I’m thankful for. Here are the things I’m going to plan out my day with. All right, I’m going to roll into my day. Now, like some of the things I do, I use a blue light device. Like there’s the HumanCharger that you can put in your ears, or there’s blue light glasses. I have a portable Philips blue light that I use, and I like to do that especially if it’s dark in the winter or it’s a gray day. It really helps me. I get seasonal affective disorder, so it really kind of recharges me and sets my circadian rhythm. But if you are somebody that wakes up a little later and you can go take a walk, you can go do some sunbathing and you can “charge yourself up” out on the and on the grass.
Take a walk with your dog, take a walk with your spouse, your significant other, then that’s a phenomenal way to start the day and get some sunshine, get some fresh air. But those are some of the things that I really like to do. And again, then I roll into, maybe as I’m driving to work, I might listen to some energizing uplifting music. I might listen to a podcast that’s a constructive, positive thing for me to learn, which sparks my creative juices, and again, I feel like I’ve accomplished something.
Shawn: Podcasts can be very short, by the way. Not only can they be 30 minutes, like this one, but they even have some that are three-minute quick hits. Don’t say time, like I don’t have enough time. Everyone says they don’t have enough time. You’re not making time. I guarantee, if you set aside this time and make time, you plan your day, you breathe deep, you feel gratitude, you go into your day with purpose, and you’re accomplished, you will achieve far more in far less time and you can make the time. I guarantee it. I guarantee it. I guarantee that you can get more out of your day this way that I’m talking about than if you say like, “I don’t have enough time. I can’t do all that. That’s crazy.” And again, you don’t have to do everything; just some of these things.
Tim: Right. No, that’s awesome, Shawn. I love the idea of scripting your day, and that’s what I think kind of coming back to what I was talking about earlier is sometimes the night before. Like you said, spend some time with it in the morning and I think that’s great, too. It doesn’t matter when you do it, but spend some time to script what your ideal day looks like. Bear in mind, the flexibility or that you may have to be flexible, that you can’t control your entire day. But that comes back to starting you can control usually the mornings, like waking up.
Craig Ballantyne often talks about getting up 15 minutes earlier and just working on your number one priority, whatever that is. If it’s relationships or work, or for me, spending time with my daughter. Whatever it is, get up a little bit earlier. But I like the idea also of at the end of your work day, kind of recapping what you’ve done, and also scripting what you’d like to be doing the next day. So you see yourself, so that way it’s there, and then when you get there in the morning or whatever it is, then where to go and where to invest your time.
Another thing along those lines that I that I found pretty profound is to schedule something for the following day that you look forward to. I mean, for me, it could be something as simple as scheduling a haircut every once in a while. It’s like something to look forward to. Or, for me, it’s making sure that I schedule time to go to the gym a couple times. It’s something I look forward to. Maybe for some people it’s scheduling a lunch date with a friend or scheduling a phone call with a friend, or something like that. So I think that having something to look forward to. And some people may look forward to every aspect of the day already, but the average person may need to have something special to look forward to each day.
Tim: And so I think it’s a pretty profound thing. Another thing you talked about that I would have hit on would be to go outside and get that sunlight. It’s so important for circadian rhythm, that sunlight. But like you said, there’s some cool devices that you can use now. But if it’s possible to get the sunlight, it’s so important to entrain that healthy circadian rhythm. We hear a lot about excess light exposure at nighttime and how that can be damaging to the circadian rhythm, and that’s true. But what’s probably even more profound is the lack of that sunlight that people are not getting during the day. So getting out there can actually, not only get the clock ticking, so to speak, but it also helps recycle melatonin so it’s there at the end of the day when you need it.
Kind of along the same lines of circadian rhythm, another good morning routine ritual to get into is either eat breakfast or have coffee of some sort because in addition to light and temperature, food is also an important driver of circadian rhythm. So, whether or not you need to eat breakfast for health or weight loss, I don’t know the answer to that, but it can get that clock going.
And that’s especially powerful if you’re traveling. If you’re traveling across time zones, breakfasts or eating your first meal of the day at the normal time in the new time zone can really help get your circadian rhythm in the right pattern. But coffee can have the same effect, actually. So anything that really gets the liver going can have that type of effect.
So, those were a couple things that come to mind. I like the idea of using music or podcasts on your way to work, if you have to commute to work. I live in Austin, Texas and I am fortunate enough to work remotely, but I know that a lot of people are very upset about the amount of traffic that’s there, but I think you have to look at that the right way. Like, how can I use that time? Can I call someone? Can I call a friend or family member and just say thank you for being awesome? Can I use that time productively? Can I listen to a podcast that helps me get the creative juices flowing? Can I listen to some music that puts me in a good mood? How can I use that time instead of being negative about things? So, those were a few things just to kind of piggyback on what you were saying.
Shawn: Yeah, working on your relationships. I mean, is there anything more profound than that? We talked about in one of the prior podcasts about literally it’s deemed the greatest study of all time. Over a 75-year study from Harvard, where they found out tracking all these people, families, and looked at biomarkers and labs, and all this stuff. And what they found that actually enhanced mortality, like had people live longer lives, wasn’t the supplements, wasn’t the red wine, wasn’t the Mediterranean Diet, wasn’t this or that, it wasn’t exercise. It was relationships. Quality of relationships.
Yes, all those other things are certainly factors that we talk about all the all the time. But relationships is critical to your well-being and feeling like you have purpose on this planet. I mean, I think if you take for granted how important these relationships are, you’re missing something. So think about the value of these relationships. And that’s one thing that this gratitude journal can help you do is appreciate the people around you that are making your life better. And maybe you also need to take stock of the people around you that are making your life worse.
Shawn: It’s time. It’s time. It’s time, people, to surround yourself with the right people. Your life will feel a hundred times better. Things will feel like they’re on almost autopilot if you have mentors around you, if you have people that are building you up, that are offering you constructive criticism to make you better, and are honest with you, but are building you up in the right way. Or are offering solutions and not just cutting you down. Not just offering negativity. Like you model these people around you that are doing unhealthy behaviors, addictive behaviors. I mean, look at people that are doing the right thing and put those people around you.
The people that you want to be, seek them out. The people that you admire, seek them out. Put them around you, whatever it takes. If you have to move states, do that. If you have to go to a different college, do that. If you have to change jobs, do that. Whatever you have to do, literally, there’s nothing more important in your life than to go do this. Put the right people around you. Find a mentor. Find someone. It doesn’t have to be someone older. It just has to be someone who’s one step ahead of where you are and what you want to be, and put them around you and ask them, “Can you help me? Can you help me get here?” And I would say also that’s enriching to your life, is be that mentor to other people.
Tim: Yeah. Absolutely. That’s awesome, Shawn. A couple of things that just, again, kind of give another routine or task or something that you can do, is to write some kind of thank you note.
Tim: Or some kind of thank you email, even.
Shawn: That’s huge.
Tim: Basically taking a couple of things you just mentioned right there and putting it together.
Shawn: Gratitude and relationships.
Tim: Yeah. Exactly. That I find really helps me just feel good about the day and feel good about myself, if I do that in the morning, with specificity. What do I mean by that is like if you’re going to thank someone, try to thank them very specifically for something that they’ve done for you. I always find that specific feedback is very useful. And it could be email, it can be a thank you note. I think handwritten notes are making a comeback.
Tim: For good reason.
Shawn: How often do you get one? I mean, for you people listening, how often do you get a handwritten thank you note? And how much does that mean to you? And think back to the golden rule, right? If that’s something that you really would say, “Wow! That’s so impactful. That was so special.” So why don’t you do that for someone?
Shawn: Again, model the behaviors that you think are so impressive, that you think are so impactful. Like you say, “Man, that was so incredible that someone did this for me.” Well then, you do that.
Tim: Do it.
Shawn: Go do that. Go do that thing that is so special. Tell all these people around you that are important to you, that have made your life better, “Thank you. I really appreciate that.” And maybe even someone who’s not the greatest person all-around, but does something really well, that might change their life path. That might change their effect in your life. Tell them thank you for being there for me. Thank you for giving this thing to me. Thank you for taking your time. Honestly people, there’s nothing more important than time.
Shawn: And if someone sets aside their time, that means more than money, that means more than almost anything, as someone is saying I’m taking my valuable time and energy and putting it into you, and saying thank you for that. That’s something special.
Tim: Absolutely. One other thing that came to mind was to hug and/or kiss someone that you love in the morning.
Shawn: That’s nice.
Tim: You’ve talked about physical touch and how important it is and how it validates who we are. Human beings just thrive on that. I think there’s a certain number of touches that we’re that we require a day.
Tim: And there’s some research that men who kissed their women before they go to work live on average five years longer.
Tim: Yeah, or 20 to 30% less likely to get into a car accident, make more money, and things like that. It’s associative, of course.
Shawn: It’s nice.
Tim: But if you are fortunate enough to live with someone that you love, make sure you tell them that you love them each day. That feels good to you to hear it, so it feels really good to the other person, when it’s unsolicited. Now obviously, that can become a habit real quick, so just be mindful when you’re telling someone and mean it, and don’t just do it to do it.
Shawn: Yeah, not like a habit, like kiss on the cheek and like, yeah, okay let me check off this box.
Tim: Right, right.
Shawn: Or like, I love you/I love you too.
Shawn: No, I love you/thank you.
Shawn: Thank you for helping me this morning, helping me get my coffee going, helping me grab my keys, helping me start my day. I appreciate you, I love you.
Tim: And like you said, Shawn, time is the most important thing we can give. And even though the mornings may seem chaotic and we don’t have a minute to give, you have five seconds to give that person that you love. It’s crazy to me. Like when I was a trainer, I would spend more time with my clients than they spent with their loved ones, really. Like more quality time. And why I mentioned that is just because you don’t have that much time with those people, so make the time that you have with them count. And tell them, “Thank you.” Tell them, “I love you.” Like I said, the research shows that it tends to improve quality of life, or is associated with a better quality of life, so just make sure you acknowledge them and share that gift of touch and gratitude with them.
Shawn: Basically, slow down, right.
Shawn: Slow down. If you are getting up with your alarm to have the bare minimum time so you can get out the door, you’re starting your whole morning wrong. I’m telling you, you start in you’re like, “I don’t have enough time. I don’t have enough time.” It’s probably because you’re sleepy. Probably because of poor sleep hygiene, poor diet, poor decision-making. But that’s a whole other show, as other things we’ve talked about.
But make sure you get enough sleep, but set aside an extra 15 minutes. Just start doing this. If there’s one thing I can tell you, just set aside an extra 15 minutes and slow down. You don’t have to do all the things we talked about, but just slow down a little bit and I think you’ll have more time to appreciate some of these things we’re talking about. You’ll take more time to think about your morning. You’ll take more time to spend it with your loved one, significant other. You’ll take more time to eat, maybe, that good food instead of some drive-thru crap, instead of some caffeine and sugar at some gas station. Take a little extra time and slow down and breathe and think about how you’re going to execute your day, and make it a good day. Happiness is a choice, so choose to be happy. Slow down and have a great morning.
Tim: That’s profound, oh wise one. And I think that’s the perfect place to call it a day here at BioTrust Radio headquarters.
Tim: That was awesome.
Shawn: Yes, and we want to say thank you for you. We want to have gratitude for you, the listeners. So thank you for taking time out of your busy day and listening to BioTrust Radio. Please go to the BioTrust VIP area, which is now at BioTrust.com/VIP. So very simple, and you can go to our VIP Facebook, which has over 5,000 people that are amazing, that want to help you be your best. You can have great accountability, get great advice. Also check out our blog on BioTrust.
And we are on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play. You can download the podcast. You can subscribe and get alerts for when the next episode comes out. And, if you go to BioTrustRadio.com, then you can see the transcripts for each episode. So, a lot of ways to listen to us. Again, we really appreciate it. So, thanks everyone.
Tim: Thanks, guys.