A New Minimalist Morning Routine For Fun & Focus

Meet Gregory, a writer and the brains behind Face Dragons. He's the go-to guy for getting things done. Gregory's been living the digital nomad life in Asia for as long as anyone can remember, helping clients smash their goals. He writes on topics like software, personal knowledge management (PKM), and personal development. When he's not writing, you'll catch him at the local MMA gym, nose buried in a book, or just chilling with the family.

It seems that in 2022 everyone is still sharing their morning routines. And although they all have their own spin on them, most morning routines look like they have been copied and pasted. Real people don’t want a 20 item morning routine though. A minimalist morning routine is what you need!

With so much focus on getting more done, being more efficient and personal development, sometimes we forget that mornings can be fun too. Remember playing or watching morning TV before school? Maybe it’s time to inject a bit of fun back into our mornings.

In this post I’m sharing a minimalist morning routine for real people who want to enjoy their mornings but keep the progress mindset. If you want to skip straight to the routine, click here.

What does the “average” morning routine look like?

*Sarcasm Incoming*

  • Wake up at 4.00am and don’t look at my phone
  • Make my bed to get my first win
  • Hand grind Ethiopian coffee beans and make a pour over coffee
  • Read Nietzsche or Marcus Aurelius
  • Meditate
  • Do Yoga
  • Lift Weights
  • Cardio
  • Affirm my goals in the mirror
  • Shower
  • Skin Routine
  • Make a smoothie
  • Start my Day

This is the perfect morning routine for social media.

In fact just reading this list I can imagine the Californian sun peaking into a bright white room while someone looks out to a pool too blue to be real. Out of focus shots of someone doing yoga accompanied by bright hip hop tones and when the beat finally drops, he’s walking out the front door to start his day.

But real life is not like that!

It’s like this.

You wake up realizing that your kids are already up, you zombie into the kitchen to make coffee while they beg you for breakfast even though they can make it themselves. You sit down with your coffee and appreciate your kids for a moment, even while they’re arguing. But you don’t have more than a second before you realize that they need to be washed and dressed and out the door in 15 minutes.

While these two extreme examples were written in jest, they portray a truth that just isn’t talked about enough. It’s not crafting the perfect morning routine because we rarely get perfect days, it’s about crafting a routine that we can always do and be better than default.

A minimalist morning routine is prefect for this because the less you pack into a morning routine the more likely you are to do it.

Do we even need Morning Routines?

Successful people had morning routines long before there was an Instagram to post them to. They had them for a good reason – to have a better morning than they would have by default.

The way we get better is not through the goals we set, it’s by the systems we set up. A morning routine is a system.

“You do not rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems.”

James Clear – Atomic Habits

But of course you don’t need a routine, Joshua Fields Millburn from theminimalists wrote about his mornings and even said that he doesn’t follow a routine. Although he did admit that his days flow better when he does a select few activities. read about them here

Setting up a morning routine is a way to create a better morning every morning than you would have without the morning routine. That means you must

  • Be able to repeat the morning routine everyday without burning out
  • Add something positive to your morning
  • Or remove something negative from your morning

It Needs to be repeatable

If you try to add 3 new habits into your morning routine such as reading for 30 mins, 15 mins meditation and 30 mins writing, it’s not going to well.

You might be super motivated for the first two weeks and find yourself making huge amounts of progress but soon enough it’s going to catch up with you and you’re going to burn out. Why? Because you can’t just add 75 minutes of extra work to your day and expect it not to take a toll.

This is why the goal of your morning routine should be to be better than your default morning, adding only a minimal amount of new routine.

Add something positive

A Minimalist Morning Routine with Coffee

You might already have some good habits in the morning. For me, I’ll get up, make coffee, plan my day and read every morning without even thinking. Which isn’t a bad morning. I don’t call it a morning routine though, it’s just my default morning.

  • Get up
  • Make Coffee
  • Plan Tasks
  • Read

So to start a morning routine I need to add something else to make my mornings better. Say 30 mins of taichi.

Now, even though I already read, and plan in the mornings, adding 30 mins of taichi isn’t going to cause me to burnout because I’m adding one thing to my default morning, not three things.

If after 6 months, taichi became something I do by default every morning I could add something else (if I wanted.)

Remove something negative

Hacking away the unnecessary is a key part of minimalism and why it’s become so popular. Who can deny the appeal of living a life concerned only with that which is necessary? I like the way Joshua Becker from becomingminimalist puts it:

“It means living with things you really need. It means removing anything that distracts us from living with intentionality and freedom.”

Joshua Becker What is Minimalism

During the pandemic I stopped reading news in the mornings, I noticed a huge positive effect in my mindset throughout the day because of it. It started with a morning routine change that I made at that time.

Everywhere was locked down and I had a lot less work to do. I noticed I didn’t enjoy reading the news and usually didn’t feel good after reading it. So I wanted to remove it from my default morning and add something that would make me feel good.

I chose juggling.

So Here’s the Minimalist Morning Routine I Dare You to Try It!

  • Wake up
  • Default Morning
  • Juggle for 5 minutes

I know it seems ridiculous but hear me out!

If you don’t know how to juggle right now, words cannot express how you will feel when you get that third catch for the first time. Juggling is an amazing producer of those feel good chemicals in your brain, every time you make more throws, or land a new trick or learn a new prop, you get it all over again.

Juggling in the Morning
Me Juggling 5 balls.

Juggling requires focus. As you can imagine while you practice each morning your mind has to focus really hard to keep those little balls in the air. It’s the perfect way to reboot your brain after a good night’s sleep.

Juggling is meditation. As you get better and are able to keep those balls up for longer, you stop needing to focus on the basic pattern and you’ll find your body is making the throws and catching the balls all by itself, you become a mere observer. The repetition of the balls rising and falling becomes a kind of meditation and you’ll not want to stop.

Juggling is a workout. Juggling is hard work, working on 5 balls for just a few minutes will get me breathing heavy. After a few runs my shoulders even start to get sore and I need to take breaks, just like between sets at the gym. If you’re just juggling three, throw higher for a workout!

Juggling is fun. This was the reason I added juggling to my morning. It’s hard to be upset while you’re juggling! And after juggling you get a post juggle glow of happiness that others can see too.

So juggle for 5 minutes in the morning, you’ll thank me.

I hope you give this minimalist morning routine a try, if it’s not for you why not Build Your Own Perfect Morning Routine?