Easy, Fail-Proof Morning Routine Checklist for Beginners

Easy, Fail-Proof Morning Routine Checklist for Beginners

When you’re just starting out with getting up early or even just figuring out the best, most efficient plan of action to make your mornings go smoothly, a morning routine checklist is a must. A morning routine is meant to be repeated every morning (obviously), so keep in mind that the checklist doesn’t exist to inconvenience you or make life more difficult than it needs to be. It’s there to help keep you on track, on time, and on task. A single list can even work for the entire family; no need for separate lists unless others specifically want to create their own routine.

This morning checklist might start out as a physical piece of paper, but it doesn’t have to if you prefer memorizing it. It doesn’t have to be complicated (in fact, it shouldn’t be complicated), so keeping the list in your head is totally doable. Do what feels most realistic to you.

The morning checklist that you actually use is the one you should create – not the one that just sits there and looks pretty on the wall like you see on Instagram. Keep the list items short and sweet – simple and concise. I’ll help guide you in this blog post with examples and suggestions.

morning routine checklist

The Anatomy of a Morning Routine Checklist

Before we get into what my morning routine checklist looks like, let’s touch upon the general anatomy of said checklist so you can easily create your own version that works for your life.

There are definite patterns I’ve seen in morning routines that work versus those that don’t. Of course, you must customize your checklist and make it your own, but the similarities I see are too frequent to ignore.

Every successful morning checklist I’ve seen and used myself starts the night before. It’s important to be prepared before you even go to sleep so you’re not rushing around the next morning with too many things to do and not enough time to do them.

This includes things like laying out clothes so you have one less decision to make, showering before bed, packing lunch the night before, pre-prepping breakfast if possible, putting bags, keys, phones, water bottles, etc next to the front door.

Every little bit done the night before helps immensely and your groggy, morning self will thank you. A little planning goes a long way.

going to bed at the same time every night will make your morning routine a success

The most important part of the night before section of your morning checklist is going to bed at the same time every night. The power of this one is greatly underestimated.

People tend to set their alarms for the same time every morning, but many do not make the effort to go to bed at the same time every night. Trust me, it’s worth the effort – and it should be included on your morning routine checklist. Don’t forget it!

best sunrise alarm clock

Alarm Clock

Choose an alarm that gently awakens you, like this one that does an amazing job for me. I love my sunrise simulation alarm. No more startled, grumpy me in the mornings because I’m no longer jolted awake in the middle of a sleep cycle by some obnoxious blaring alarm. No more grogginess either.

As an added perk: having one of these doesn’t tempt me to use my cell phone at bedtime anymore since I’m no longer using my cell phone alarm to wake up. My phone is not in my bedroom anymore and I feel I’m better off without it.

drink water morning routine checklist

Rehydrate Yourself

Another important item on the morning routine checklist is making sure you rehydrate before you start running all around the house doing other stuff. You didn’t drink any water all night while you were sleeping, so take a minute to drink a whole glass of water upon rising.

I keep a glass of water next to my bed so I can sit and drink it when I wake up. It’s the first thing I do after sitting up in my bed. Water should be the first thing you drink in the morning – not coffee or tea.

open curtains and make the bed as part of your morning routine checklist

Transform Your Bedroom for Daytime

Make your bed and open the blinds or curtains when you first get up. This will help wake you up and help you resist the urge to jump back into bed. Making your bed first thing also gives you a sense of accomplishment immediately upon waking. This gets your day off to a great start.

morning stretching routine


Another aspect of successful morning checklists is fitting in a minute or two to stretch and get your blood flowing. I’m not talking all-out yoga or exercise if you don’t have the time, desire, or ability for that, but everyone can at least take a few seconds to stretch and attempt to touch your toes.

My dogs know this instinctively because the first thing I see them do when they wake up in the morning is a downward facing dog style stretch. You can learn so much from pets. 🙂


After bathroom things and stretching are all done, most morning routine checklists include preparing and eating a healthy breakfast. This one is obvious, but it’s still important to include on your checklist. Even if you’re not hungry, it’s best to try to eat a little something nutritious to start your day off on the right foot.

me time is important for your morning routine checklist

Me Time

Fitting in some Me Time is a crucial part of every long-term morning routine as well. Even if it’s just a couple of minutes, do something for yourself.

It can be anything as long as you love it and find joy in it.

For example, I enjoy a 15-minute meditation session during my morning routine. Some mornings I indulge in a TV show or watch a favorite YouTube channel if I have extra time. Some people enjoy listening to an audiobook in the morning or catching up on sports stats.

Designated Me Time grounds me in the present moment and reminds me that it’s the little everyday things that make me happy.

practice gratitude during morning routine

Practice an Attitude of Gratitude

A final item that is crucial for any morning routine is to practice gratitude. It doesn’t seem to matter whether you check off this one first thing or do it later after breakfast. It’s just important that you do it at some point.

Keep your life in perspective and remember to have gratitude for everyone and everything – including the small things.

I truly believe that naming what I am thankful for every day allows me to accomplish, give, and receive even more. Gratitude makes the world go round and keeps your attitude in check.

social media vortex

Avoid Social Media & Email During Your Morning Routine

Do not, do not, I repeat… do not check social media or email while you’re performing your morning routine! This is very important!

This isn’t exactly a checklist item, but more like a must-avoid item.

If you get caught up in email or social media, your time will get away from you. Don’t get sucked into the vortex!

You deserve to enjoy a morning routine with as little stress as possible, and avoiding social media and email help you do just that.

Keep It Real

If you find that there are unnecessary items on your checklist that seemed like a good idea at the time, but no longer serves you now, remove it or modify it.

There’s no point looking at a checklist item every morning that you always skip over because it overwhelms you. Erase it, cross it out, or create a whole new list.

For example, when I started out, I would have never done 15 whole minutes of meditation when I got up early in the morning. Heck no. I wasn’t even doing meditation at all during that time because I was lucky just to be able to drag myself out of bed at all.

I started to enjoy getting up early and eventually added “meditate for 5 minutes” to my checklist because that seemed doable – and it was. Once I genuinely enjoyed and mastered 5 minutes with no qualms, I upped it to 15.

Do what serves you. The trick is to know yourself and help yourself get done what needs to be accomplished every morning. It’s not about impressing other people or being fancy.

It seems like everyone is meditating in the morning, but what if you don’t like meditation? Then don’t do it as part of your morning routine. Find something else that relaxes or inspires you.

My Morning Checklist

Here’s my morning routine checklist in all its glory…

The Night Before:

  • Make lunch; put in fridge
  • Set out oatmeal pan, bowl, spoon, almonds, banana; portion out oatmeal into bowl and cover with paper towel
  • Set out tea mug and put rooibos tea inside mug
  • Fill up water glass and put on night stand
  • Lay out work clothes
  • Take a shower
  • Put away electronic devices at 8pm
  • Make sure alarm is set for 5:30am
  • Walk dogs
  • Go to bed at 9:15pm

The Next Morning:

  • Wake up at 5:30am
  • Drink glass of water
  • Open window shade
  • Make bed
  • Go to bathroom: wash face, brush teeth, etc.
  • Stretch, touch toes, do a few squats
  • Meditate for 15 minutes
  • Write down 5 things I’m grateful for
  • Listen to upbeat music (usually jazz or Lindsey Stirling type of stuff) while I do the next item…
  • Make oatmeal and tea; enjoy
  • Get dressed
  • Me Time – do some writing, watch videos, watch TV, listen to audiobook, etc.
  • Walk dogs
  • Grab lunch and bags; leave for work
morning routine checklist tips

A Few Morning Checklist Tips

  • Write out your checklist the way you envision a smooth sailing morning going, not how your morning routine is right now. Don’t worry about how many of the things you’re not yet actually doing. You’ll get there – don’t worry.
  • I recommend starting with only a few of the new things you aren’t already doing on your list at a time. Work your way up to the perfect morning, one small win at a time. You’ll power through them quickly over the course of a few days and find that small wins add up to something big.
  • Your morning checklist exists with the intention of streamlining your chaotic mornings. Keep it simple and easy to work through so that it’s fail-proof. You’ll feel pretty crummy if you can’t check items off your checklist, so make them stupid easy to check off (i.e., go to the bathroom). As you get on a roll checking things off, you’ll feel very productive and proud of your accomplishments, even if they’re just ordinary morning tasks you always do.
  • Write the list assuming you will be in the worst groggy, unmotivated state possible because it’s likely that will be true until you get into the swing of things and realize the power of an easy, efficient morning routine checklist. What this means is this: keep the list concise; no elaborate rituals listed out that will frustrate you to read early in the morning. You might have an elaborate meditation ritual, for example, but don’t write all that out on the checklist. Make it quick and easy to check off and not all cluttery to look at.
  • Create the checklist in chronological order, starting with the item you will be tackling first (the night before) at the top, completing the list with the very last item to close out the morning routine.
  • Don’t sweat it if some mornings you go completely off track. Life happens and your morning routine is not going to be spot-on 365 days a year – especially if you have young children. Just try to get back to the normal checklist routine as soon as you can.
  • If you have kids, it helps to try getting them pumped up about the morning routine so that the older ones are more likely to help out and keep things moving. The more people on board with the plan the better.

Final Thoughts on Morning Routine Checklists

It’s not necessary to spend too much time organizing your morning routine checklist. Keep it simple and concise.

List out the items you’d like to check off, starting with the tasks that should be done the night before. The more you prepare the night before, the easier it will be to experience a stress-free, happy morning every morning.

Good mornings are not an accident – they are a product of an expertly executed morning routine checklist. Ask anyone you know who is successful and has his or life under control, and you will see that they have their own tried and true morning routine that they swear by.

I'm the owner of WhyGetUpEarly.com and an enthusiastic early riser. Let's discuss why that is... and maybe I can make you a believer in magical mornings as well!

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