10 Morning Routine Habits to Jump-Start Your Day

Do you have a morning routine? If not, it might be time to fix that.

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All this week, we're sharing simple ways you can live better in 2017. We're swapping unrealistic resolutions for quick, doable solutions to all your home hang-ups, from organizing to tech to a healthier kitchen. You won't believe how easy it is to start small!

As we kick off the new year, it's the perfect time to start some brand-new daily habits (instead of resolutions). And guess what? You'll be surprised to know that many of the most successful people across all industries credit a regular morning routine as their key to a productive day.

Here are some things you can add to your own unique morning routine. Remember: This is just meant to be a starting point, so don’t feel like you need to do all of these things.

The goal is for you to pick three to five of the items below, mix and match and create a routine that makes the most sense for you and your life. You really don’t need to dedicate a ton of time to any of these each day. Even setting aside 10 minutes for each one can make a big difference in your life.

And give yourself a break, too. Developing your daily routine might require some experimentation and a bit of adjustment before you hit on your perfect set-up. Don’t be afraid to switch things up to ensure your routine is best suited to you.

Prep the Night Before

Blue Bedroom Nightstand With Retro Design

Blue Bedroom Nightstand With Retro Design

Minimal and functional accessories add a whimsical start to the day when placed on a bedside table. Design by HGTV Star contestant Jessie Miller

No matter what your daily routine looks like, preparing the night before is a great idea for everyone. Especially in the early stages, getting your ducks in a row the night before will help ensure that you kick off your day in the right way. Prep can take several different forms depending on what your routine looks like, but here are a few things that might help you get sorted:

1: Make sure you get a good night’s sleep each night.

2: Set your alarm for the following day.

3: If you plan to exercise, make sure your clothes are laid out (or even wear them to bed so you’re ready to jump up and go).

4: Set the timer on your coffee maker.

5: Keep your daily calendar, journal or any other needed items in a convenient pile for you to grab in the morn.

6: Make sure you have any apps downloaded that you might need.

7: Think about switching your schedule around. For example, if you're short on time in the morning, consider switching your shower schedule to the evening to allow more time for your morning routine.

Meditate

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young woman meditating in the bedroom on the bed

Photo by: ©iStockphoto.com, elenaleonova

©iStockphoto.com, elenaleonova

Even if you don’t consider yourself a "meditation person," you might want to think about giving this daily habit a whirl. Those who make meditation a daily practice typically report an incredible difference in their level of calmness and overall outlook. If you have no experience with meditation, you might find it useful to use an app such as Headspace to help you begin to build your practice. It offers a series of guided meditations for you to listen to based on both the amount of time you have as well as what you’d like to focus on.

Exercise

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506217394

Young Woman Doing Yoga Meditation and Stretching Exercises. Stock photo.

Photo by: ©iStockphoto.com, da-kuk

©iStockphoto.com, da-kuk

Exercise is something that many of us aim to tackle at some point in our day. But making it a part of your daily morning routine can help you turn it into a solid habit. Don’t get bogged down with the idea that you can’t exercise if you don’t belong to a gym or have a spare 60 minutes to devote. Exercise can mean something as simple as a walk around your neighborhood or 10 minutes devoted to an exercise routine on YouTube. Commit to a certain amount of time, and choose an activity that will keep you engaged and excited each day. (And don’t be afraid to switch things up either!)

Read a Little

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Girl holding cup of hot tea and reading in bed. Around her in bad earphones, book, smart phone. Decorative lights in background.

Photo by: ©iStockphoto.com, petrunjela

©iStockphoto.com, petrunjela

As we continue to age, reading has been proven to help us keep our brains sharp if we do it regularly. If you’re required to read a lot for your job or for school, consider starting a morning routine that allows you to simply read for pleasure. You can either choose a designated amount of time to devote to your book, or choose to read a chapter or a certain number of pages each day. If you prefer to read the newspaper, you can set the timer on your phone for 30 minutes each morning and give yourself the space to quietly absorb the news of the day.

Keep a Gratitude Journal

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525737425

Portrait of a young woman sitting at home with pen and paper

Photo by: ©iStockphoto.com, m-imagephotography

©iStockphoto.com, m-imagephotography

For 16 years, Oprah Winfrey has been keeping a gratitude journal. Each day she writes down five things in her life that she is grateful for. She often credits this practice as the "single most important thing she’s ever done." Tracking what you're grateful for can often go a long way in helping you see the things in your life you should be grateful for, even on days when it seems like nothing is going your way. You can track your gratitude in a special dedicated journal, or simply write down your five things in the daily calendar that you keep.

Track Your Goals

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Closeup of a teenage girl's hand with the phrase "Believe in your Dreams" written in permanent marker on it, with her smiling face blurred in the background

Photo by: ©iStockphoto.com, wundervisuals

©iStockphoto.com, wundervisuals

The simple act of writing down your goals on paper each day can be incredibly powerful. In fact, studies have shown that you’re 42 percent more likely to achieve your goals just by writing them down. You can tackle your goals each day by simply writing down what you hope to achieve that day. Or you can keep things more broad and go over larger goals for the year, your career, your family or anything in between. For ongoing goals, you may want to also write them then display them somewhere where you’ll always see them.

Take Time for Self Care

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Woman applying mask moisturizing skin cream on face looking in bathroom mirror. Girl taking care of her complexion layering moisturizer. Skincare spa treatment.

Photo by: ©iStockphoto.com, Voyagerix

©iStockphoto.com, Voyagerix

Many of us spend way more time caring for others than we do for ourselves. In fact, the only way I’ve been successful remembering to take my daily medication is by taking it right after I give my dog his pills, because I never forget to give him his medication. If you’re someone who needs to make self-care a bigger part of your life, consider adding it to your morning routine. I’ve decided to focus on skincare over the past year, so I now dedicate at least 10 minutes each morning (and evening!) to taking care of my skin. Instead of just slapping on the creams and serums, I take time to light a candle in the bathroom, put on a podcast and really spend time on each step. Some other ideas might include: dry brushing, taking a quick bubble bath instead of a shower or simply putting your eye cream in the refrigerator for a cooling effect.

Focus on Your Pet

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500395780

Young beautiful girl walking with her dog in a park at sunset - Asian woman playing with her dog

Photo by: ©iStockphoto.com, oneinchpunch

©iStockphoto.com, oneinchpunch

If your normal routine every morning is to let the dog out in the backyard for two minutes as you rush to get the kids fed and jump into a lightning-fast shower, you might want to think about carving out some dedicated time for your pup. In fact, you might even be able to combine this with some exercise if that's on your list, as well. Depending on how much time you have available, you could simply commit to taking a 20-minute walk around your neighborhood. Some other ideas include: going to the dog park, walking on a local hiking trail or spending 20 minutes throwing a ball back and forth at your local beach.

Be Creative

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Pretty young hipster girl in black hat, taking a photo with a modern camera. Close up, outdoor portrait. Backgrounds of spectacular cloudscape and lively green field.

Photo by: ©iStockphoto.com, Kosamtu

©iStockphoto.com, Kosamtu

Another wonderful thing to add to your morning routine each day is the simple practice of being creative. This is something that might look different for everyone depending on what you’d like to focus on. If you’ve always wanted to be a writer, consider spending 20 minutes each day writing in your journal. If you're focused on photography, set aside 20 minutes each morning to go outside and photograph your surroundings. No matter what your creative pursuit is — knitting, painting, scrapbooking, collaging — you can set aside time each morning to honor your creative spirit.

Fine-Tune Your Calendar

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614963196

Cup of cocoa staying on open book and glases on the bed with blanket, Good morning.

Photo by: ©iStockphoto.com, lyulka

©iStockphoto.com, lyulka

Even for those of you who don’t like your day to be too structured, you'll likely find that your day is much more productive when you plan it out. If you’re looking to bring some general organization to your days, consider spending 10 minutes each morning carefully planning out your to-do list and assigning times and tasks. For example, you might dedicate 9-10 a.m. to administrative activities, such as answering emails and paying bills, but after a 15-minute break, you can tackle an important ongoing project. If you want to take things one step further, you can plan out your days based on the day of the week. For example, Mondays are administrative days, Tuesdays are project days, etc. Play around with your schedule until you figure out a game plan that works best for you, then really try to commit to it. You’ll quickly find that your days become so much more productive and satisfying.

12 Healthy Make-Ahead Breakfasts

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Apple Cinnamon Overnight Oats

Perfect for a portable breakfast, this overnight oatmeal combines heart-healthy oats, ground flaxseed, apples and walnuts then mixes with nutrient-rich milk for a delicious make-ahead breakfast packed with fiber, whole grains, healthy fat and protein. Serve the oats warm or cold with an extra dollop of Greek yogurt for a protein boost. Get the recipe >>

Tags: 
  1. breakfast
  2. healthy

Photo By: Holley Grainger, MS, RD

Southwest Breakfast Burritos

Because some mornings you just don’t want to cook, keep your freezer stocked with these yummy breakfast burritos filled with eggs, southwest seasoned veggies, cheese and bacon all rolled up into neat little packages. They reheat quickly so you’ll have a warm, hearty breakfast in no time. Get the recipe >>

Tags: 
  1. breakfast
  2. healthy

Photo By: Amanda Finks, RDN

Freezer Smoothie Bags

No need to chop in the morning when you create custom smoothie bags to keep in your freezer. Just pop the ingredients in, add 1-1½ cups liquid and blend. Your morning smoothie prep just got cut down from 15 minutes to two minutes. Get the recipe >>

Tags: 
  1. breakfast
  2. healthy

Photo By: Rachael Hartley, RD

Cinnamon-Puffed Rice Cereal

What are your requirements for a delicious cereal? Crunchy, sweet, filling and nutritious? If so, make a big batch of this simple, gluten-free breakfast cereal on your meal-prep day and enjoy it during busy mornings throughout the week. It is a must try since it can be made in under 30 minutes and tastes delicious both hot and cold. Get the recipe >>

Tags: 
  1. breakfast
  2. healthy

Photo By: McKel Hill, MS, RD

Super Easy Breakfast Cookie

Cookies for breakfast? Indeed! There’s nothing easier or more exciting for little ones than a nutritious (and equally tasty) cookie for breakfast in the morning. This quick stir-together-and-bake cookie gives you everything you want in a breakfast without the extra sugar and junk you don’t. Get the recipe >>

Tags: 
  1. breakfast
  2. healthy

Photo By: Gretchen Brown, RD

Yogurt and Flaxseed Waffles

Break out the griddle on a lazy weekend morning and make a triple batch of homemade, healthy waffles. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers in a large zip-top plastic bag, then pop in the toaster for a speedy breakfast during the hectic weekday morning rush. Top with fresh berries and a dollop of Greek yogurt. Get the recipe >>

Tags: 
  1. breakfast
  2. healthy

Photo By: Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD

Egg Muffins

Need a breakfast that gives you the staying power needed to get you through the morning? These egg muffins are high in protein, low in carbs and — paired with a slice of whole-wheat toast and a glass of milk — will keep you full for hours while packing in the veggies first thing in the morning. Get the recipe >>

Tags: 
  1. breakfast
  2. healthy

Photo By: Meme Inge, MS, RD

Baked French Toast Cups

For a portable, kid-friendly breakfast that is lower in added sugar compared to many store-bought varieties and higher in homemade flavors, these little French toast cups are a dream! Make a batch on the weekend, freeze and reheat in the morning when you’re ready to eat. Get the recipe >>

Tags: 
  1. breakfast
  2. healthy

Photo By: Katie Serbinski, RD

Blueberry Protein Pancakes

Eggs, oats, a ripe banana and fresh blueberries are all you need to make this fiber-rich, protein-packed breakfast. For homemade pancakes ready in less than a minute, make an extra batch, allow to cool and freeze between layers of parchment paper and store in an airtight baggie in the freezer. To reheat, microwave for 30 seconds at a time. Get the recipe >>

Tags: 
  1. breakfast
  2. healthy

Photo By: Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN

Overnight Hashbrown Casserole

Three ingredients (plus some basic seasonings) and just a few minutes prep the night before result in a hearty and comforting bowl of hashbrown casserole goodness in the morning. Pop the casserole in the oven when you wake up and in just 30 minutes you’ll have a warm bowl of cheesy hashbrowns. Get the recipe >>

Tags: 
  1. breakfast
  2. healthy

Photo By: Regan Jones, RD

Blueberry Cheesecake Muffins

These better-for-you breakfast muffins boast a secret ingredient to boost the moisture and protein: cottage cheese. Plus, they’re packed with fresh blueberries and kissed with a crispy and sweet whole-grain oatmeal streusel topping. With all this goodness, you’ll be begging for a second! Get the recipe >>

Tags: 
  1. breakfast
  2. healthy

Photo By: Kristina LaRue, RD

Yogurt Parfait on a Plate

Looking for a different way to do yogurt? Plate it! Simplify the traditional stacked parfait by spreading all of the ingredients into a thin layer and then layering them one on top of the other. This speeds up prep in the morning and assures that you get a little something of everything in each bite. Get the recipe >>

Tags: 
  1. breakfast
  2. healthy

Photo By: Katie Morford, RD

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