Ask about the ideal morning routine and you might as well be asking for the key to life. We all roll out of different sides of the bed, wash differently, eat differently, dress differently. Take our coffee, tea or juice differently. The perfect morning routine? There’s no such thing.


But perhaps there’s an approximation. And if anyone should know, it’s Benjamin Spall. The co-author of My Morning Routine: How Successful People Start Every Day Inspired has interviewed 300 high achievers about their morning routines. He wrote in the New York Times about what he learned.

The Principles

Spall reckons a morning routine should suit your needs, but that there are some habits everyone should try. “Through talking with business leaders and university presidents to Olympians, fashion models and artists, I’ve learned that while there isn’t one ‘best’ morning routine that works for everyone,” Spall writes, “there are best practices that some of the most successful people I spoke with follow every day.”

So what are the essentials?

Try Different Wake-Up Times… and Make Time for What Energizes You

This basically comes down to giving yourself extra time in the morning so you’re not just getting out of bed as late as possible in the morning, pulling your clothes on and sprinting for the subway. The average wake-up time of those interviewed by Spall? A rather early 6:27am.

As for what to do with that extra time, the high achievers Spall spoke to tended to involve themselves in things that made them feel relaxed, energized and motivated. In short, they use the time thoughtfully and it sets the tone for the rest of their day.

Make Sure Your Routine is Adaptable and Don’t Freak Out When It Breaks

Sometimes you’re staying away from home, with family or in a hotel. In which case, Spall says, don’t be afraid to mix up your routine. Maybe it’s running around the block rather than hitting the gym, or switching up breakfasts when staying at a hotel, but prepare to be adaptable.

Similarly, successful people aren’t afraid of a small break in the routine — as long as they get back to it as soon as possible, even if it’s after two or three days. Basically, don’t beat yourself up over the odd mishap.

The entire piece is worth a read — as is Spall’s book, co-authored by Michael Xander — take a look here.