Photography by  Bri Hammond   of  Georgia Frances King

An experiment in morning routines proves finding the perfect one is overrated – instead, you can experiment and find what works for you. 

Words by Madeleine Dore
Art by Amelia Goss

With each morning comes the promise of a clean slate, a new day unspoiled by the haphazard rush of our daily lives. We’re told that if we learn to master our mornings, we too can experience endless productivity by setting our day up for success before the rest of the world wakes. 

Yet despite our best intentions to rise early without a groan, many of us continue to reach for the snooze alarm. Observing my own follies when it comes to making the most of the morning hours, I realised I was making one key mistake: I was placing too much emphasis on what time I started the day, instead of what I was doing to kick-start my morning. 

Whether you’re a night owl or an early bird, setting up your day has less to do with the time we rise, and more to do with how we choose to spend the beginning of each day. To put this to the test, I spent a month trialling morning routines.

1: Eat the frog

Mark Twain once said that if you eat a live frog first thing in the morning, nothing worse will happen to you for the rest of the day. 

Popularised by author Brian Tracy, the eat the frog technique suggests we tackle our most dreaded first thing in the morning when we are less susceptible to distractions.

Each night I would determine my frog for the next morning – the thing I didn’t want to do, but actually needed to do. I woke up naturally each morning, made a cup of tea and opened my laptop to eat my frog.

This routine gave the feeling of getting two days in one. With the hardest task behind me, I’d then reset, shower and attend to tasks that are usually swallowed up by the snooze alarm – exercise, a full breakfast, and daily meditation.

2: The Miracle Morning

Popularised by Hal Elrod, the Miracle Morning is a set of rituals wrapped in the acronym SAVERS: Silence, Affirmations, Visualisations, Exercise, Reading and Scribing.

This morning routine sequence can be completed in any order and in as little as six minutes, or paced out to fill an hour. Taking the advice of Elrod, during this week I got up an hour earlier than usual to fit in my sequence: twenty minutes of meditation; five minutes reading a positive affirmation and making mental visualisations; ten minutes of free-form writing; ten minutes of reading; and a twenty minute jog or HIIT workout.

The results were divided. The mornings I did manage to get out of bed with the alarm I felt energetic and motivated by the sequence.

As the week wore on, the routine lost its glow. The sequence felt more like a daunting to-do list to power through than a leisurely and mindful way to start the day. My snooze alarm habit was quickly resumed, and the miracle morning quickly became a guilty morning.

3: The Faux-Work Routine

For anyone working outside set office hours, not having a specific start time can be both a blessing and a curse. It’s liberating to construct your own day, but can equally feel directionless and chaotic.

As a freelance writer, this week in the experiment had me returning to my nine-to-five work routine. While I didn’t have an office to hurry to, the faux-work routine required I be at a café or library no later than 9:00a.m.

The structure proved to be a great way to force me out of bed instead of scrolling on Instagram till the mid-morning. Yet once I was at my faux-workplace, I fell into old work habits of getting trapped in my email inbox till midday. The latter half of the week I combined this routine with eating the frog with great success.

4: Working from bed

It’s reported Winston Churchill maintained a steady morning routine throughout his career: he would wake at 7:30 a.m. and stay in bed to enjoy breakfast, read his mail and the news, work and dictate to his secretaries before finally rising at 11:00 a.m to bathe. 

The verdict? Four out of seven mornings I fell back asleep. The mornings I did manage to stay awake, I answered emails and conducted a meeting from the comfort of my bed. Despite being somewhat productive between the covers, it was hard to shift the sense of laziness for leaving my bed just before midday.

* * *

Post-experiment I’ve found enjoyment in switching between the various morning sequences. There’s a notion that our daily routines must be fixed in order to be geared for success, but when we experiment with different mornings, each day becomes its own choose your own adventure story.

The Eat the Frog Routine is best for people who are prone to procrastination. Completing the hardest task first creates a sense of accomplishment and momentum for the rest of the day.  

The Miracle Morning Routine is well suited for those who want to ‘win the day’ and take to new habit formation quickly.

The Faux-Workplace Routine is ideal for freelancers, students or self-employed individuals who thrive best with structure and deadlines.

The Working from Bed Routine can work for those who like to ease into the morning in comfort – and feel no shame attending Skype calls in their pyjamas!

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