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Morning Checklist For 2016


I’ve had a few readers ask about my morning routine and I thought now would be as good a time as any to share my routine and checklist that I follow each morning.

My morning routine is something that I have been developing over the last couple years and is influenced by countless books, articles, friends, and more.

My goal with it is to create as many good habits that will set me up for success in areas of my life as possible.

I know from experience that if I don’t create a daily habit out of something (reading the Word, exercising, etc) my frequency of doing it goes WAY down.

I suspect it is like this for most others too, but it definitely is for me.

“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily.”

― John C. Maxwell


If you are familiar with habit stacking you know that the basic principle is to take an already well-established habit that you have (like brushing your teeth, taking a shower, etc.) and then adding a new habit that you would like to create alongside it. So when you do the one, you automatically think to do the other.

My morning checklist that I follow each day is this principle on steroids.

I started by asking myself what was most important to me and what I value most. I concluded that my relationship with God, my wife, my health, and my business would be a great place to start.

From there I began looking for simple habits that I could stack on that would help me nurture and help me improve those areas of my life.

My Daily Checklist

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to a bunch of really smart people who gave me ideas and inspiration for this (thanks Bryan), because as simple as it seems, this little checklist has had a huge positive impact in my life.

If you use Evernote you can copy a template of my checklist here.

Start Early

I wake up somewhere from 5:30-6:15 using the Sleep Cycle app on my phone. It wakes you up in the lightest phase of your sleep, so it is much easier to wake up early.  That app and The Miracle Morninghave been the 2 things that helped me finally (after decades of struggle) become a morning person.

Take Probiotic And Cod Liver Oil

I am not a doctor, just doing what mine is recommending to me to improve my digestive health and get more Vitamin D in the winter months.

Wash Off An Apple And Put It On My Desk

I typically snack on stuff that is in front of me, and if nothing is in front of me I go to the pantry for something (normally not as healthy).  I have found that if I have an apple on my desk each day I snack on that instead of less healthy options.

Put On My Pavlok

This is a crazy gadget that I just got that helps you break bad habits.  I won’t go into all the detail, but for me it has worked really well and I love it.

Turn On 90 Minute Timer

I make sure to finish everything on my checklist within 90 minutes.

Put Essential Oils In Diffuser

I like to diffuse oils at my desk as I work, but I never think about it during the day – so it got added to the checklist.  By the way, I’ve tried a handful of diffusers and this one has been great.

Drink A Tall Glass Of Water

I found that drinking a tall glass of water first thing in the morning gives me a noticeable boost in energy.  Sometime I swap this out for green or white tea.

10 Minutes Of Stretching (Exercise)

I currently do weightlifting or cardio at the end of the workday, but in the morning doing about 10 minutes of stretching really gets my blood flowing.

Do 30 Circular Breaths

Another trick that gives me a boost in energy.


Not sure why, but I have a hard time doing this when I brush my teeth, so I added it to the checklist and it gets done a lot more now.

Write Down One Reason Why I Love Linda

A while ago a read a book that suggested making a big list of all the things you love about your spouse.  And it suggested that just the action of thinking on all those positive things will help your love grow deeper.

Write Down One Prayer God Has Recently Answered

Similar to above, I never want to forget or take for granted all the wonderful blessings that have been given to me.

Read Affirmations

I have found that really negative people who constantly say negative things tend to get more of it.  And I am convinced that the opposite is true as well.  So I make it a point to remind myself of the truth and meditate on them.  Here is a copy of my current list slightly modified for privacy (thanks Hal & Zig).

Read Bible

“Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”  Matthew 4:4

Journal For 5 Minutes

This is a new one for me, but here is a journal that I am excited about.

Review Quarterly Business Goals

I always want to stay focused on where I want to be headed and don’t want to leave it to chance.

Review Weekly Goals

Same as above.

Clean Desk

If my desk isn’t clean from the day before, I make a point to clean it before starting the workday.  My brain works much better without visual clutter.

Elevate Desk

I recently switched to a standing desk and I love it.  I just read somewhere that if you stand at it 4 hours a day that it is equivalent to running something like 12 marathons a year.  So I stand in the mornings and sit in the afternoon, and I need a checklist item to make sure I don’t get lazy and just sit all the time.

Check My Calendar For The Day

I look over appointments and meetings that I have scheduled for the day.

No Email Reminder

One of the biggest productivity hacks for me has been NOT checking email until after lunch each day.  And even then, I just pop in and deal with urgent emails and leave most of the rest until Monday.  And on Monday I process my entire inbox and get to Inbox Zero following the GTD system.

Identify Big Rocks And Sand

I use Todoist as my to-do list for work each day.  Each day I find one or two big tasks (that will help me reach my weekly goals) and identify them as rocks for the day. All the other tasks are labeled as sand.  Rocks get done first and sand gets done when time allows.  If you are not familiar with this analogy, this video explains it well.

Start Brain.Fm

A cool tool I found from Appsumo to help me stay focused while working.  I don’t know much about the science behind it, but I have found that it works better than any music I’ve found so far.

Start Pomodoro Timer

I have heard about using the Pomodoro method for a while but just recently started.  Basically you break your work time into 25 minutes on and then a 5 minute break and then repeat all day. Tomato Timeris a cool online timer that you can use (thanks Brian).

And Then I Am Off To The Races

That’s my current morning checklist, but I am always adding and improving it so I would love to hear what is on yours that sets you up for success!

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