The Morning Routines of 10 Successful People


Author and entrepreneur Tim Ferriss says, “If you win the morning, you win the day.” As you might know, having a morning routine is essential to setting up the day for success. To get some ideas on how to optimize our own routines, we asked our Productivity Giants guests how they spend the first 90 minutes of their day.


Read on to see what they say:


Zack Onisko, CEO of Dribbble


We are a 100% remote team, which is a pretty amazing way to work. I can wake up, get a quick workout in, shower, walk 20 feet to my home office and do my best work of the day while my brain is fresh. I used to commute into San Francisco for my former job. I’d lose an hour each way. Beyond those commute hours, the rest of the day is free from interruption, office chatter, etc. Working from home has 10X’ed my daily productivity.


Nir Eyal, Author of Hooked


Maybe a few minutes before I make breakfast, I’ll do a quick check of my email. I don’t usually respond to any emails in the morning, but I sort them. SaneBox already sorts my emails for me automatically, but for the ones that live in my Important folder, I’ll just label them based on when I need to respond. Then, I don’t check on those emails again until much later in the day.


James Clear, Author and Entrepreneur


I try to keep my calendar free in the mornings. I typically have an open block from 8am to noon, which I use for writing, strategic thinking, and other creative work. Repetitive tasks like interviews, emails, and business “housekeeping” are left for the afternoon.


Camille Ricketts, Head of Content at First Round Capital


I’ll generally get to work, brew a huge thermos of tea and sit down in front of my email. I do my best to relegate email to only 3 times a day – morning, lunch and evening – so that I’m not continually distracted. In the morning, I will only reply if taking action on a message will take 2 minutes or less. The rest I snooze for appropriate times or leave unanswered. Then I try to dig into some writing while I still have my first-wind creative energy.


Derek Flanzraich, Founder of Greatist


I’m pretty obsessive about most aspects of my day – the morning in particular. I wake up every morning at 5:30am, but it took a long time to get there. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I work out soon after waking up. The rest of the week, I meditate first and then I get to work. I tend to do my biggest task first, which is always deep work, not just shooting emails off. By the time I have breakfast and show up at the office I’ve effectively done a day’s worth of work before I even walk through the door. Then, I’m in meetings all day and I regroup afterward. But the first 90 minutes of my day always includes waking up early, meditating for 10 minutes, taking advantage of the fact that that’s where I’m at my best.


Sheena Brady, CEO of Tease Tea


I have one of those “natural sunrise” alarm clocks as my room is very dark. It mimics a slow sunrise 30 minutes before my alarm which makes waking up a little less abrasive and a little more pleasant. From there, I make a cup of tea or coffee and take my time to enjoy it. I meditate for at least 10 minutes, review my game plan for the day and visualize what it looks like and feels like to accomplish all goals and tasks.

Shower, brush teeth, take a quick scan of my inbox in case there are fires and then I’m out the door to the office.


Eric Bandholz, Founder of BeardBrand


I typically wake around 5:30 – 6:30 and go through my morning routine of getting prepped in the bathroom, getting dressed, eating breakfast then heading either off to work out or heading off to work.

My days will vary quite a bit depending on if I’m rowing or going straight to work. For days that I row, I’ll skip the shower and have a quicker morning routine whereas days I go to work I’ll typically walk the dog and spend a little bit more time with my family.


Noah Kagan, Founder of AppSumo


Brush my teeth, take a cold shower, meditate for 10 to 20 minutes, make a cup of coffee (mixed with protein powder), and start working on my task list I set a night before.


Adam Braun, Co-Founder of MissionU


I wake up at around 6:30 am each morning and commit to focusing that first hour on human contact rather than contact with digital devices like my phone or computer. We have twin babies, so I immediately go and spend time with them, whether it’s feeding or playing with them, making sure I start my day focused on what matters most, which is my family. After I’ve spent time with the babies and my wife, I then turn to my email and start the work at hand.


Mel Robbins, Speaker, Author, & CNN Contributor


My morning routine is the secret to my productivity. It starts before bed when I put my phone out of my room. We also get the kids’ backpacks ready and lunches packed to minimize friction in the morning.

In the morning, when I wake up, my phone is nowhere near me. If you wake up next to your phone, you have a tendency to check email in bed. Do not do this. I also never hit the snooze button. My alarm goes off and I get up right away.


After getting out of bed, I get ready. As I do, I let my mind wander. I actually keep post-it notes in the bathroom. While brushing my teeth, I’ll write down 1-3 priorities for the day. Then, I’ll stick that post-it note on the back of my phone as a visual reminder.


Then, I’ll make a cup of coffee, some breakfast, and help get the kids out the door.


Once they leave, usually around 7 am, I sit down at my desk with a notepad and my coffee. This is the most important part of my morning, when I spend 30 minutes planning my day. I call it the 30 before 7:30. During these 30 minutes, I focus on getting my day organized and planning either when I will accomplish my top priorities–or actually making 30 minutes of progress on one of them.


After this 30 before 7:30, then I allow myself to look at my phone and check my inbox.


Want specific, actionable strategies to prioritize your day and amp up your productivity? Check our Productivity Giants series, interviews with top leaders in tech and beyond, to steal their strategies on hacking your life for the better.