Why mornings matter
How to assess your typical morning
How to leave reality behind and dream big
How to do breakfast better
Getting in the mood
How to design your morning
Top tips and quick fixes
Your viable morning blueprint
Trying it out for real
Closing the gap between viable and ultimate
Wrapping up and reporting back

How to assess your typical morning

Many attempted translations from dream to reality fail because we haven’t fully acknowledged the nature of the reality that needs changing. This lesson gives you the simple tools you need to make sure that isn’t you.

Gathering data about your daily reality


If you prefer the Excel version, here’s your tracking template for recording everything you do.


Workbook activities

Once you’re done with your tracking, turn to the workbook for all you need to make sense of your findings.

journaling quill

Journaling prompts

  1. Yesterday: Write as much or as little as you like about yesterday.
  2. Maxing out on 1 morning dimension: If you were going to max out your morning routine (whether for a weekday or a weekend) on one of the six dimensions of quality in a morning routine—anticipation, enjoyment, deliberateness, replicability, getting your day started, or substantiveness—and totally not worry about all the others, which would you choose? Why? What might a morning optimized massively for that one dimension look and feel like? 

Quick-win challenge

Laying the foundations

Do something to enhance your sleep a little bit tonight.

Maybe setting a bedtime alarm for earlier than you’d normally get to bed (decide what exactly you should do when it goes off, e.g. turn off the light, get into bed, start your bedtime routine by doing x, stop working, etc.). Or deliberately putting something nice and relaxing into the evening, e.g. reading or a bath or lighting candles in the bedroom. Or changing your bedroom environment a bit, e.g. opening a window, or getting a fan or a hot water bottle, or tidying up your abandoned clothes.

In your journaling notebook or document, make a note of what you’ve chosen and why, and then take a few minutes to note down some reflections on it tomorrow.

looking and seeing

Making a habit of looking and seeing

Now you’ve gifted yourself a nice big dose of morning insights with your tracking and analysis for one or maybe a few mornings, you’re ready to switch over to dripfeed mode: keeping your growing awareness of all things morning-related well nourished day to day. As this becomes more second-nature to you, you may well develop your own methods. Here’s a very simple system to get you started.

Every day, starting today, note down one thing you’ve noticed about how your morning went or is going. It can be tiny, it can feel irrelevant to everything, it can be a repeat of something you wrote down a few days ago. Don’t self-censor. We want to get this as low-cost as possible, in order to make it happen as reliably as possible, and feeling awkward about “is this insightful enough to be worth noting down?” and wasting time debating it is not a good way to get the costs down.

Low-cost also means timing the habit to suit you. When is there least friction? The answer may well be: in real time. As soon as you have the thought, if you possibly can, just write it down straightaway. Or it may be (especially if you’re often busy in ways that preclude quick note-taking) that a regular slot is better for you, e.g. just before lunch, or when you sit down to watch TV or read in the evening. This may mean you have to make a bit more of a deliberate mental note at the time, though, so you don’t forget the fleeting thought you had. The third option is to tack it onto the journaling and/or quick win challenges, so you do it when you’re using the journal anyway. This could work well if you’re doing a lesson every day, but obviously doesn’t help on days off. If you’re not sure, try something—and practise the meta-observational skill of observing how well your observational routine is working!

Low-cost also means getting the medium right for you. You probably already have a good sense of what suits you best: Will a notes doc on your phone and/or computer be the thing you’re most likely to turn to without it feeling like hassle, or do you always have a notebook with you and much prefer writing by hand, or would you like to print out this sheet to have a reminder of the purpose of doing this, or…? Again, fine if you don’t have a strong instinct in any direction; in that case just pick something and see how it feels.

Then there’s an optional second step for each time you note something down. This goes a bit beyond simply observing; it’s more design-oriented. It’s your invitation to draw something out of your observation that might help you with your dream morning design process, whether that’s barely got going yet, or you’re well into drawing up or even testing out some new ideals, or you’re returning to this habit after some enjoyable time living good mornings with a sense that they could do with a few new tweaks. If this feels like it’s the difference between doing something every day and not, leave it for now. You might find that one day quite soon, as you work through the material to come, you realize you have something to say in a way that didn’t seem to happen before.

So, now or later, get your journal and write: One thing I’ve noticed about this morning…

Plus then your optional second step: If I were going to consider changing something about my mornings based on this observation, I might change…