5 realistic ways to start your morning if you hate waking up early and work full time

realistic morning routine

If you’re a full time worker, don’t really like waking up early, and you’re looking for realistic ways to start your day well, read on…

I love reading self help books, discovering life hacks and listening to motivational podcasts. Do you?

Even more so if the topics discussed touch on ‘ways to start your morning well’. I’m a sucker for tips to help me wake up motivated.

The thing is, all those ‘how to start your morning well’ articles tend to say the same thing.

  1. Wake up early

  2. Exercise for an hour

  3. Meditate, write, or do a whole list of other activities

What if you’re not great at waking up early and don’t have time to squeeze all this in before your commute to work?

morning routine

I wrote about my experience of Miracle Mornings that I tried last summer and while I got along very well with it, waking up between 5am-6am to start the day, doing exercise, meditation, blog writing and more, when winter came in, miracle mornings started to get more and more difficult.

I quickly found it impossible to wake up early when it started getting dark outside and when work got tough, I felt like I was getting tired very quickly through the day and needed to conserve energy to do my job well.

Then, a reader got in touch asking me to share alternative things I've adopted that seem to improve my day without having to commit to 5am starts. So in today’s post, I thought I’d share the 5 ways I start my morning on days when I simply can’t wake up early. They’re quick, easy things that are enhancing my day while not costing precious sleep.

5 ways I start my morning for a better day ahead

1. Use your commute to catch up on a podcast

The commute to work is such an overlooked time of day to be productive. I used to aimlessly scroll through Instagram, Facebook and read Stylist articles on the bus, wasting the hour it took me to get from my house to the office.

But after going through a spell of hating my routine, feeling fed up of the daily grind, I realised that podcasts really pick me back up and can switch my mood from ‘cba’ to ‘let’s do this’.

I started using my commute to listen to podcasts like Letters from a hopeful creative and Make it happen, covering topics such as productivity, innovative thinking and new ways of working.

Every time I tune in they genuinely pick me up and get me ready for the day.

Action: Load up your iTunes, Podbean, or Pocketcast app with podcasts or audiobooks that make you feel good and get listening! If you don’t yet receive my Happy Home Club newsletter, I sometimes recommend some great listening in the fortnightly round ups.


2. Have a coffee/tea + chill before you get ready

Meditation is great, but it doesn’t work for everyone. Personally, I love it, I just can’t seem to form the habit to stick with it as a daily practice. So this is an alternative I really want to do more of.

Start the day with a cup of tea or coffee in bed or chilling on the sofa or in the garden, no screens, no phones – well, maybe check in on phones sometimes! – and just sit there waking up for a bit.

As it’s a non-rushed, restful thing to do before the day starts, it’s almost like meditation in itself and has put me in a calmer mood before the day rushes in.

Action: Set your alarm 10 mins earlier, when it goes off, nip to the kitchen and stick the kettle on and chill out for a bit before the day gets going.

Pro tip (can you tell I’ve done this before?) add a splash of cold water to your tea/coffee so you’re not waiting for it to cool for an aaage!

3. Look at your calendar then write a to do list before you start any work

So what about when I actually get to work? I have formed habits for when I arrive at the office too.

The first thing I do every day is open up my calendar to check on meetings I’ve got scheduled in, then flick through emails and use Trello to map out what I need to work on for the entire day.

Tasks might be things like switching promotions over on company websites, preparing reports, checking analytics and briefing the team and designers on campaigns (I’m a Marketing Manager full time so no 2 days are the same.)

When my to do list just looks impossible to achieve in the time I’ve got, I flag the highest priority items with a red label so I know what must be done today. As someone who is spinning a lot of plates daily, running marketing campaigns for 5-6 companies, I need this strict routine so that I can dial down non-priority work in my brain, and find focus on tasks in hand. It really helps me manage overwhelm.

Action: Make it your daily habit to check what you’ve got coming up for the rest of the day, and complete your to do list before you start any work. Prioritise tasks if you need to.

4. Complete the hardest task on your to do list first

If you take anything away from this post to practice yourself, let it be this. Complete the hardest task on your to do list first. This is widely taught in the self-help/productivity/habits books I’ve read and really works. Starting your day or week completing the task you've been putting off or feel apprehensive you may not get done, is the best feeling of self accomplishment. And feeling self accomplished so early on in the day can only lead to better productivity for the rest of the day!

5. Plan a walk, or fresh air at lunch


It's pretty easy when you work in an office to get quite glued to your computer or laptop screen and just about tear yourself away to microwave your lunch when your stomach rumbles. But it's so refreshing for to escape the office and get some fresh air even just for 30 mins. I make sure I'm not looking at screens for the whole day by always planning a lunchtime walk with my friends at work and I've found it gets me through the morning. When the phone rings and I clock that it’s Sally, Grace or Celia from across the office, I know it’s about arranging our daily walk! Best part of the day for me :)

I hope hearing about how I spend my morning has helped you consider ways to shake up your routine and try something different to keep yourself motivated.

Do you have any morning habits you recommend? I'd love to hear in the comments below!

Thanks for reading,

Fifi xoxo