10 Tips for Starting Your Day Right

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Recently I read an article on Mr. Porter about the morning routines of 4 successful CEO’s and I personally found it fascinating to see how these guys choose to get their days started.

I have always relied on my morning routine to sort of set the stage for the rest of my day. So much so, that I’ve developed a sort of religious devotion to the order and sanctity of my AM time. It’s not that I absolutely have to do things in a certain way like some kind of OCD driven tick, it’s just that I’ve found that making the time to keep a regular routine has always produced a certain clarity and focus that when disregarded, tends to leave me in a less than optimal state in which to tackle my day.

I’m sure that there’s a lot that I could learn from the aforementioned CEO’s, but for the most part, my typical morning is not all that different from theirs, with a few minor exceptions. The following is a breakdown of my typical AM routine. I share it not as a template that I think you should follow, but hopefully, as an inspiration for finding your own morning routine.

It is, without a doubt, my favorite time of day.

*Pre-List Note: In the Mr Porter article, each one of the men interviewed said they liked to check their email for anything urgent immediately after waking. I personally find this to be entirely counterproductive. These early morning hours are mine; there will be plenty of time for work later.

  • Wake Up Early: This, of course, works much better when you’ve gotten to sleep at a decent hour but I find that my best days happen when I’m up before the sun. Not only does it make room for the rest of your routine so as to not consume half your day, but there is something decidedly magic about the sunrise and the undeniable sense of optimism that observing it inspires.
  • Work Out: A man’s commitment to fitness and all that entails is a very personal thing. For some, a dedicated trip to the gym is a critical part of their day. For others, it’s jogging or biking or boxing. Whatever the case may be, I’ve found that a quick workout just after rising can set the tone for my entire day. Regardless of whether I plan to get any other exercise during my day, I always start my day with at least 20 minutes of yoga. To be more specific, I practice a routine called the Five Tibetan Rites. It’s known as the fountain of youth and I can personally vouch for its life-altering potency.   
  • Shower: As a rule, I’m a fan of soaking baths. They are the place where my powers of contemplation and introspection are at their greatest. But baths in the morning simply don’t work for me. A quick shower wakes up sore muscles and gets your blood flowing. Not that you have to shower every morning, especially if you bathed the night before, but as a general rule, doing so is step one for me.
  • Shave: Fortunately, I don’t have to shave every day. Mostly that’s because I have a beard, but since I DO shave my head every 3 days or so, doing so directly after a shower always produces the best shave and is an excellent addition to my morning schedule. Plus, I love the routine of shaving. It’s just one of those manly disciplines that I always enjoy slowing down and doing right. And it’s no secret that getting geared up with the best stuff out there is also big on my list. For more on that, check out my review of Harry’s razors. You won’t be disappointed. (A good skin care regimen is a big plus here as well. I suggest looking at Jack Black products.) 
  • Eat a Decent Breakfast: They say it’s the most important meal of the day, and I say “they” are correct. I like to eat a hearty breakfast, usually consisting of eggs, bacon and some kind of veggie. I avoid carbs almost entirely and keep my sugar intake to a minimum. Occasionally I’ll change things up a bit by giving the egg routine a break and making a breakfast shake of my own design, but usually only for a week or so before I’m back to my eggs.
  • Drink Coffee: I’m not sure I should have to say anything at all here, but just in case you’re not already doing so……you should be drinking good coffee. Sorry to say it, but if you’re drinking store bought, pre-ground coffee that you brewed in a $12 Mr. Coffee machine or grabbing a cup from your Keurig on the way out the door…..you’re doing it wrong. Buy yourself some quality beans, grind what you use daily and learn to work a French press. (Here’s a good set of instructions on how to do that if you need.) It may be a change of pace, but I promise you’ll thank me later.
  • Take Some Time: After eating, I like to sit and enjoy my freshly brewed cup of coffee while taking a moment to reflect on the coming day and shake off the last bit of sleep that my mind may still be clinging to. My whole morning routine is valuable, but this is my time. This is the point of the routine; what it all revolves around. It’s when I study, pray and open my heart and mind to hearing and understanding those things that are more grand and significant than me.
  • Groom: Brush your teeth, put on deodorant and cologne, clip your nails; all the things your mother told you to do, now’s the time.
  • Get Dressed: I like to plan and lay out my clothing the night before. As Hardy Amies said, “A man should look as if he had bought his cloths with intelligence, put them on with care, and then forgotten all about them.” This is the “put them on with care” part.

Once dressed and ready, I like to head out the door immediately and take the clarity and purpose that I’ve cultivated all morning straight into my day. On occasion I may change my routine around in order to grab breakfast at a café or meet a friend for early morning coffee, but for the most part, this routine is my daily anchor and is time very well spent.

If you don’t already have a morning routine, it can be a bit of an adjustment; going to bed earlier, taking time each evening to select your clothing for the next day, making sure you have what you need for breakfast etc. etc, and can seem a bit inconvenient. But the benefit gained from infusing a little intention into your morning is exponentially more valuable than what it may cost you to make it work. If you haven’t already, I suggest giving it a try.

What does your morning look like? 

  560 comments for “10 Tips for Starting Your Day Right

  1. October 3, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    So, Ben, what types of greens do you eat in the morning?

    • October 3, 2013 at 3:05 pm

      Usually whatever is handy. I like to throw some asparagus or green beans in a steamer or I’ll saute some spinach or kale if it’s available. Other times I’ll do some kind of squash instead; butternut or spaghetti most often. Just eating something besides straight protein for breakfast is the goal really and since I don’t do grains….veggies are king.

      • October 3, 2013 at 3:48 pm

        This is Dan G, by the way. I guess I’ve never even given thought to eating greens in the morning – for no better reason than I just never have – doesn’t seem like breakfast. 🙂 We aren’t completely non-grain, but we pretty much avoid gluten completely. Our breakfast is normally eggs, some kind of meat, and a low/no-gluten toast or oatmeal.

        • October 3, 2013 at 3:59 pm

          Yea, I saw your email address so I knew who I was talking to. When Jenni got sick we had to nix everything we normally ate, including eggs. We got used to eating basically anything we could find. Crock pot beef stew has become one of my favorite morning meals.

  2. March 6, 2014 at 9:36 am

    Thanks for this Ben. Your writing style really spoke to me and was a good wake up call. Loved my yoga practice this morning, a slow quiet time over coffee, a nice breakfast. I may have to swap out painting my nails for the intentional shave time though. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your mornings (and coffee) with us. My husband has been a long-time insta-follower and I am now as well. So good to see other men like you and my beau out there in the world. Already shared this article with a co-worker this week. Have a great day!

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