7 Top Tips to Becoming a Productive Morning Person - Blog Image

7 Top Tips to Becoming a Productive Morning Person

Posted on Mon 2 September 2019
Written by Alan Finlay

(and the Daily Routine of 7 Successful People Who Have Mastered It)

I was never a morning person. I’d wake up at 11am, go to sleep at 3am (earliest!) and tut at people with 9-5 jobs. Then I became one of them 🙂

Not feeling sick at the sight of food at 7am, going to bed early and not watching reruns until 3am in the morning was (back then) my idea of hell! Don’t get me wrong…when people say ‘you’ll get used to it and it will just become second nature’ they’re right. But to train your brain to do the opposite of what you’ve been doing for what seems like forever is no easy feat!

One year later, one serious caffeine addiction and a bedtime routine not much different from my Gran’s….I’ve finally become a morning person. The reason?

“Either you run the day or the day runs you.” — Jim Rohn

So here are my top 7 tips for becoming a morning person:

1. Give yourself a pep talk.

Steve Jobs – For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today? And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

Sunrise Image

The biggest battle I had in changing from a night owl to a morning person was changing my mind-set. I had to learn to find the positives in getting up early and stop focusing on all the things I was missing out on. Let’s face it…when you really think about it, watching reruns and getting up late and being unprepared for the next day aren’t exactly hard things to give up! If they are then a serious re-think needs to be made (see how I even pep-talked myself there? 🙂 )

If that pep-talk didn’t help, try this:

According to research morning people are more likely to be happy and able to achieve their daily goals – LifeHack, 2015

2. Use the commute to kick start your brain

Benjamin Franklin – One of the Founding Fathers of the United States and a stickler for his morning routine used his time to address ‘Powerful Goodness’, ‘take resolution of the day’ and have breakfast.


During my 45 minute commute from Newcastle to Belfast every morning I take the time to catch up on the latest in the Marketing world (in between belting out Beyonce tracks on those dark mornings when no-one can see or hear me!)

Most people ask me how I can be bothered with this commute and do I not get bored? The truth? I love the time to myself! I get to plan what I need done that day, I have time to totally wake up (sort of essential what with the whole ‘driving’ thing) and I get to listen to Marketing podcasts. All of this I wouldn’t have time to do if I got up late and worked 5 minutes away.

Result: I go into work with a clear goal of what I need to achieve and how I’m going to achieve it!

3. Exercise

Anna Wintour –  the Editor in Chief of American Vogue is known for her demanding and intense work ethic so it’s not much of a surprise that her daily routine includes getting up at 5.45am every morning for an hour long tennis game!


I admit to being biased on this one. My Mum’s a PE teacher so the importance of exercise has been engrained in me from the moment I could walk. BUT the facts are there as well: studies show that getting your blood moving in the morning makes you more alert and productive for the day. That’s obvious though? Exercise releases endorphins, endorphins make you happy, energetic, proactive and fight away a number of illnesses…it’s a win win! It’s getting up and starting that’s the difficult part. Recently I was forced to go to the gym every morning (when my bathroom was being re-done, I’m in no means a fitness nut), so trust me when I say that no amount of scrambled eggs and coffee will equate to the level of energy you have after doing exercise in the morning!

4. Water. Caffeine. Water. (In that order!)

Leo Babauta – The creator of Zen Habits documented his morning routine in a 2013 blog post for the Buffer Social blog and low and behold the first thing he documented in his morning routine was ‘drink water’.


Water first. Coffee second. Always!

If drinking a glass of water isn’t the first thing you do when you wake up, change that now! I could list a number of articles and research papers that prove water’s usefulness to help everything from colds all the way to depression. As I define myself as a ‘caffeine based life form’ I wanted to make myself a guinea pig on this one so for one whole week I’d get a shower, drink a glass of water, go to work and THEN have coffee. I have to say I felt great (did I mention your level of happiness can be effected by water too? 🙂 Get drinking!)

85% of brain tissue is water so why do so many of us neglect it’s importance…especially first thing? – 

Operation Fitness, 2015

5. Plan your morning the night before

Barack Obama – President of the United States gave this advice back in 2013 on how to have a productive day “Get a head start on tomorrow, tonight”.


We’ve all had those mornings where we run around like a headless chicken and your usual half an hour routine to get ready stretches to over an hour and you don’t look any better…in fact you look worse, you feel worse and you’re constantly ‘catching up’!

So why not change it up? Have a calming morning! The night before make your lunch and organise your clothes and, leading on to my next point, you might even have time to do something that you love in the morning …

6. Do something you’re passionate about

Isa Adney (Author & TV Host) – back in January 2015 this women made the Huffington Post’s “13 ambitious Millennial women” list for her morning routine. With a 5am start, then 3 hours of breakfast, goal setting, gym and a daily to-do list, it’s not surprising she got a mention! 


If you’re a ‘I’ll do it when I go home’ or ‘I’ll do it later’ person when it comes to the things you love then this is one for you. Do something you’re passionate about in the morning and start your day off on a positive note. Some of the world’s top exec’s (Starbucks, Disney, Apple etc.) get up 4 hours before they have to head to work just so they can focus their mind, write, walk, read, play tennis, meditate, spend time with their loved ones, eat, exercise and essentially make sure they have a positive and relaxed mind for work.

7. Sleep in Multiples of 90!

Ok so there wasn’t anyone famous or successful that I could find (documented) that uses this method so I decided that I would be the guinea pig (again!) on this one too. 


The idea of sleep cycles was introduced to me through a LifeHack article on the ’90 Minute Sleep Cycle’. I was very sceptical to say the least. I have (luckily) never had a problem when it comes to sleeping  so the thought of having to cut it short if I didn’t meet the multiple of 90 rule didn’t exactly excite me! One week later, one poor boyfriend who has been tortured with my night time equations and I am a convert!

The only way I can explain the results is… ever had one of those mornings where you wake up from a dream and can’t quite remember if you have in fact stolen a Dragon, escaped from a Dark Overlord and fallen down a set of invisible stairs and it takes you a few seconds to get back to reality and you don’t quite ‘feel right’ for the rest of the day? Sound familiar? This is because, according to the research, you have disturbed your REM sleep:

“Studies show that the length of sleep is not what causes us to be refreshed upon waking. The key factor is the number of complete sleep cycles we enjoy. Each sleep cycle contains five distinct phases, which exhibit different brain- wave patterns. For our purposes, it suffices to say that one sleep cycle lasts an average of 90 minutes: 65 minutes of normal, or non-REM (rapid eye movement), sleep; 20 minutes of REM sleep (in which we dream); and a final 5 minutes of non-REM sleep.”

Centre for Applied Cognitive Studies (from LifeHack’s Leon Ho’s blog).

Now I’m not by any means suggesting you try sleeping for 3 hours but any of these multiples are recommended:

  • 4 and a half hours
  • 6 hours
  • 7 and a half hours
  • 9 hours


Do you have any tips for becoming a productive morning person? We’d love to hear them. Feel free to comment below.

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