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Is your morning routine killing your productivity? Mine was…EP 6

Do you have a morning routine? If so, a few questions please…

  • How long does it take you, on average?

  • Do you feel better, worse, or about the same after you’re done?

  • Do your habits and personality align with what the routine gurus say and you’re trying to make work for you?

  • …or are you trying to force “fetch” to happen?

HINT: whether you’re making a conscious choice about your routine or not, you do have a routine of some sort.

If you’re not careful, the morning routine that you’ve become so addicted to and feel you need to start your day, might actually have the opposite effect of what you intended it for. I know at least my morning routine was…

The Holy Grail of Success: The Morning Routine 🤑

There’s no way at this point, you've escaped some guru telling you how important a morning routine is. You’ve probably heard of all these great, famous, and super productive people echo the same and then share their own what routine.

AND by now, you’ve probably tried to emulate it and failed, subsequently feeling like trash. Thinking “wow I can’t even meditate for 10 minutes? I guess I can just throw my dreams away. If Sara Blakely (billionaire founder of Spanx) does it and says its the key behind ALL her success, I guess I’ll never be successful…”

No…? Just me? Yes, I’ve been known to do this, and yes I am dramatic, don’t judge me 😆

Well, I’m sure you have tried at least somebody else's routine on that seems to work so well for them, especially when they have a quality or something in their possession that you also wish to have. And based on the fact that we’re all pretty much the same deep down, I assume you have at some point also “failed” their routine and didn’t feel super great about it.

Or maybe you’ve found a bunch of morning routine habits that you want to do and see value in. So you just keep stacking one more thing onto your pile and before you know it your “morning routine” doesn’t end until 11am and it’s soon to be lunch time and what have you done? A whole lot of nothing but mental prep with not much execution.

This is me. I’m (Amanda Cunningham) going to be “Exhibit A” really quickly.

“Exhibit A” for Morning Routine Fails: Amanda Cunningham 🙈

How It Started

Around 5 years ago, I joined this musicians program, which was an expensive failure for me personally, but let’s not get into that right now…

In this program, the founder talked SO much about the importance of a morning routine and created SO many documents and videos for it. I took from the founders routine to start since I didn’t know what I was doing and it was SO important.

This involved a BUNCH of documents that we would go through, tweak, and add to each morning for a certain amount of time to help us “visualize” stuff we wanted. This was called our “Morning Formula”

The “Morning Formula” was divided into two separate documents that were 15 and 16 pages respectively (sized 10 font Arial on a Google Doc). Big files. Lots of words.

Let’s ignore the hours this took to make and instead focus on the daily maintenance and re-reading for 10 minutes for each document (so total 20 minutes).

Let’s also add in some other stuff that I was also doing every morning Monday-Friday:

  • 10 minutes of free journaling/morning pages

  • 10 minutes of Object Writing to work on my craft of songwriting

  • 10-15 minutes of guided meditations

  • 10 minutes reading a book

  • PLUS the 20 minutes already described in the Google Doc visualizations

In total, with all of those things plus the transition time in between them, I had a routine of at least an hour every morning.

I often wouldn’t even start my actual work until around 10:15am and by that point I was hungry again because I ate breakfast around 7:45am and so I needed to go downstairs and get a snack.

The days were slipping away with an empty feeling of having accomplished nothing.

Do I Even LIKE This Routine? 💗

My morning routine that I had spent so many hours and dedicated almost a year crafting mainly felt like just another checklist to cross off each day. And when I stepped back and was honest with myself I realized I dreaded and/or mentally checked out at least 40 minutes of this routine.

I eventually tried swapping new things out for old, cutting timers in half, cutting stuff completely, etc. But for a while any change at all to this routine made me feel like a failure because I saw the value for each of them.

There was an annoying double edged sword that I felt sh*t if I didn’t do the routine because it’s what I should be doing if I want to be successful, but then I felt sh*t because the routine didn’t actually do what it was supposed to be doing for me, despite what others were saying.

How could I ever be successful if I can’t even do these things for an hour a day and feel how others feel?!

I couldn’t see how to make a routine that I liked and felt like a good use of my time.

Hashtag Acceptance #️⃣

I eventually accepted the fact that when I close my eyes all I see is the back of my eyelids, and not my heart glowing or me living a luxurious life on a yacht, I cut out all visualization exercises because they just frustrated me and wasted my time.

If I want to focus on the craft of writing then I can just alternate what I do each day instead of doing ALL the things everyday.

I did these honest tests and evaluations on myself and routine to see what worked for me instead of just trying to jam all this stuff in because someone I wanted to emulate said this was what worked for them.

My Morning Routine Now 👍

I have not touched those Google Docs in over 2 years. I haven’t done morning pages or object writing in at least a year. And I haven’t meditated in months.

My morning routine now is only filled with things I either love doing or need to do to survive/take care of my child.

The exact (approximate) schedule:

  • 5:15am wake up and go to the gym

  • 5:30-7:15am lift stuff at the gym

  • 7:30-8:10am protein shake and get a some work done before I wake my daughter up

  • 8:15-8:40 wake up the child then shower and dress in my work from home jammies for the day

  • 8:40-8:50am walk her to the bus and hang with her for a bit at the bus stop

  • 9am get back home and make tea to start my morning routine at my desk


    • 9:05am-9:45am I read a book and answer emails while drinking my cup of tea…that’s it.

But What About the “Perfect” Morning Routine? 💫

I realized the only part of my morning routine I actually liked once I got home and ready to work was reading. That was it. So now I just do that and answer emails.

I switched meditation style stuff to before bed because all it ever did was make me sleepy so I took that and put it to good use before bed. And I just cut literally everything else.

Now, I could feel bad about skipping those other things, like all the writing I was doing before. But right now that’s not aligned with my goals so I would be doing it just because I felt I should do it. Not because it made me feel good about progress. So it would just be silly to keep.

So…to reiterate, from 9:05am-9:45am I read a book and answer emails while drinking my cup of tea…that’s it.

What’s Your Point, Amanda? 🤔

I think it’s great to have a morning routine. BUT if you don’t actually like the routine, it’s taking up a ridiculous **chunk of your available working time, or it’s just full of stuff that you feel like you should be doing, then stop doing it.

You won’t feel good about it and if you feel any kind of negative way about it, then it’s not doing what it’s supposed to be doing for you.

The morning routine is for YOU.

The only routine that works, the one that is right for you. I know that’s a lame thing to say but it’s true.

I personally love working out in the morning because it wakes me up and I know I already accomplished something productive towards my health and wellbeing. However, working out in the morning doesn’t make me better than anyone else, if for example you prefer to hike on weekends with friends, take evening yoga classes, or cycle on a stationary bike in your living room while watching TV.

As long as you’re accomplishing the things you want and you feel good about it, then that’s what matters.

Soapbox speech over 🧼.


Whether you think you have a morning routine or not, you do. So make that routine an intentional one that works for you. However DON’T just throw lots of things on there because a success guru said it worked for them but you lowkey hate them.

  • The only routine that works, the one that is right for you

  • Take an honest review of your routines to check if they’re actually right for you

  • Different routines work for different people. So don’t feel bad if there’s doesn’t work for you. And vice versa, don’t make them feel poorly because yours didn’t work for them.


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