Wake up at an ungodly hour, typically 4.30 AM. Make the bed. Squeeze a generous amount of lemon juice into lukewarm water, and drink. Work out for an hour. Take an ice-cold bath for vague health and wellness benefits. Finally, meditate/journal until it’s time for work.
Look at any YouTube video or article covering morning routine ideas, and you’ll find the same, almost formulaic recommendations.
Why? Maybe because it’s how successful people do mornings — and you know what they say, “Imitate until you emulate.”
- Become the CEO of a tech company with a $3 trillion market value?
- Crush it as a *takes a deep breath* professional bodybuilder, Hollywood action star, governor, and successful entrepreneur all within a lifetime?
- Co-found, co-chair, and lead the world’s wealthiest charitable foundation?
Supposed benefits of a morning routine
Of course, when I put it like that, the answer seems straightforward enough: probably (like, maybe 97.88%) not.
But let’s be honest.
Dismissing morning routines as utterly useless because they’re unlikely to help you become a household name? This makes for a poor argument. Why can’t you adopt morning routines to transform into a better version of yourself?
After all, haven’t we all been told that having a morning routine could:
💆 Decrease stress
🤸 Boost happiness
✨ … and more
Surprisingly, when I set out to find credible, high-quality research backing those benefits of a morning routine, I came up empty-handed.
Most statements were either anecdotal or linked to studies that studied daily routines in general instead of morning routines.
On the flip side, though, there are some pretty strong arguments against having a morning routine. Here are 3.
The case against having a morning routine
#1: They could distract from what’s truly important
What’s your “end goal”? What are you trying to achieve with your life?
Let's say you want to run your own business or win a powerlifting competition eventually — how does taking 3 hours to complete your morning routine help with that? Wouldn’t your time be better spent on:
- Market research
- Content creation
- Product development
- Training (for the powerlifting comp)
Sure, ticking off all the items on your morning routine checklist can provide you with what feels like a “quick win”.
But wouldn’t your focus be better spent tackling the bigger, more important tasks that’ll actually move the dial and help you reach your life goals?
#2: A morning routine can be a liability
In life, things come up all the time.
What happens if, one day, you couldn’t complete your three-pages-worth morning routine (e.g., your dog suddenly gets violently sick and needs to get to the vet 🐕)?
Research says this could potentially throw the rest of your day off. Yes, really.
According to a 2020 study published in Personnel Psychology, researchers found that when employee’s morning routines got thrown off, they became flustered, and the rest of their work suffered.
And if you go to the gym (which you likely do, seeing as to how you’re reading the GymStreak blog 🤪)?
Having your morning routine disrupted may impact not only your productivity but also your sports performance.
#3: It’s the habits that matter, not the routine
A final, compelling argument against having a morning routine?
Most of the behaviors in morning routines are good in and of themselves. Exercise. Stress-relieving strategies (meditation, breathwork, journaling, etc.) Hydration. But you don’t have to pack them all in the morning.
Nor do you have to perform them in a specific order to reap the benefits.
Ultimately, what matters is that you can stay consistent with them — which means you'll need to fit them into your lifestyle in the best way for you.
Hate waking up at 4.30 AM? Start your day at 7 AM, then. Find yourself getting more anxious instead of calm when meditating? Try something else. Or, you know what? Don't try anything. It's your life; you can make your own decisions.
You don’t have to follow a random morning routine template if you don’t want to.
Carefully weigh the pros and cons
Disclaimer: the purpose of this article isn't to put you off having a morning routine.
Instead, it’s simply an alternative viewpoint to the overwhelmingly positive sentiment people seem to have about having a morning routine — as though adopting one will magically make us all better, fitter, and wealthier … somehow.
If you've found a morning routine that makes you feel and perform better, keep it.
But if you’re still on the fence, perhaps giving thought to the following questions could help guide your decision:
- What are you including within the routine? How long will it take?
- Why are you doing this routine?
- How does this routine contribute to your goal?
- Might it make more sense to scatter those habits throughout the day?
To wrap it up, remember there's no one-size-fits-all routine for success. Imitating what a successful person does in the mornings is rarely helpful.
Case in point: Warren Buffet drives to McDonald's and eats a Sausage McMuffin with Egg + Coca-Cola (full sugar!) every morning.
But it's not the consumption of fast food that made him successful. Everything else he did in the day — e.g., poring over companies' financial statements to find investment opportunities — did.
So, look at things that matter.
Speaking of things that matter … we can’t overlook your health. Because, to put it simply, without your health, you have nothing.
And what are the 2 fundamental tenets of good health? That's right: a regular exercise routine and a well-balanced diet.
GymStreak, the smart, better-than-ChatGPT, AI-powered workout + nutrition planner can help with both. More specifically, receive a tailored training and diet plan that suits your unique fitness goals, lifting experience, dietary preferences/restrictions, and more.
See it to believe it:
*sigh of relief* We'll guide you through it all — step-by-step. Just download the app, and you'll be making progress toward your dream body like never before.
“Arnold Schwarzenegger Has Kept the Same Morning Routine for Years.” Men’s Health, 9 Jan. 2023, https://www.menshealth.com/fitness/a42432886/arnold-schwarzenegger-morning-routine-daily-habits-workout/.
Berger, Sarah. “Melinda Gates Wakes up Every Morning at 6:30 a.m. — Here’s the First Thing She Does.” CNBC, 15 May 2019, https://www.cnbc.com/2019/05/14/inside-melinda-gates-morning-routine.html.
Dömötör, Zsuzsanna, et al. “Superstitious Behavior in Sport: A Literature Review.” Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, vol. 57, no. 4, Aug. 2016, pp. 368–82. PubMed, https://doi.org/10.1111/sjop.12301.
“Mark Victor Hansen Quote.” A-Z Quotes, https://www.azquotes.com/quote/769235. Accessed 6 Oct. 2023.
McClean, Shawn T., et al. “Stumbling out of the Gate: The Energy-Based Implications of Morning Routine Disruption.” Personnel Psychology, vol. 74, no. 3, 2021, pp. 411–48. Wiley Online Library, https://doi.org/10.1111/peps.12419.
Rippe, James M. “Lifestyle Medicine: The Health Promoting Power of Daily Habits and Practices.” American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, vol. 12, no. 6, July 2018, pp. 499–512. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.1177/1559827618785554.
Schwantes, Marcel. “Richard Branson, Tim Cook, and Jack Dorsey Say This Is the Perfect Wake-Up Routine to Jump Start Your Day.” Inc.Com, 19 Dec. 2022, https://www.inc.com/marcel-schwantes/richard-branson-tim-cook-jack-dorsey-say-this-is-perfect-wake-up-routine-to-jump-start-your-day.html.
“Steven Adler Quotes.” BrainyQuote, https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/steven_adler_553749. Accessed 6 Oct. 2023.
“The Morning Routines of Successful People.” Ideas, 15 Dec. 2021, https://www.wework.com/ideas/professional-development/management-leadership/the-morning-routines-of-successful-people.