Traipse the productivity and personal development spheres of the internet long enough and you’ll undoubtedly come across sources advocating how you need a morning routine.

You’ve likely come across those types. The loudmouths who can’t wait to proclaim they’re part of the ‘5am club’ on social media. The others who ‘salute the sun’ and call their mushy peas guacamole. Some even sneer if you’re not working up a morning sweat like some obnoxious bro in the gym questioning if you even lift.

But the militant bro culture followers and spiritual appropriators are cringeworthy.

Fortunately, logic, experience and worldly wisdom win in the end. Using these, this article will show you why you DON’T need a morning routine and how you’re not missing out without one.

To be clear, when I speak about morning routines I’m referring to the modern conception of them which is a set of unique practices designed to help someone become ‘ready’ for their day usually under the guise of productivity.

I’m not referring to widespread habits we repeat each morning as part of daily life such as taking a shower, having breakfast, brushing your teeth and even getting up early. These are routines but not in the modern, valorised sense of morning routines (so please continue to brush your teeth).

The unwarranted hype around morning routines

I get the appeal of morning routines.

Who doesn’t want to wake up and carry out a set of practices that makes them feel like they’re ready to take on the world? Win the morning and you win the day as a saying claims.

But therein lies the problem. The belief that the morning is something to be ‘conquered’ and tamed lest it beats you back. A entity that will sabotage your life unless you grab it by the horns and steer it where you want.

Yet a morning is just a period of time. Part of a day. Fundamentally of equal importance as all other sections of the day. It is not a bucking beast attempting to undermine you.

This mindset is an adversarial approach to life and it’s a harmful one you’d do best to avoid.

This phenomenon arose from the pits of productivity predators, gurus and followers trying to find an edge to improve their efficiency. Looking for any area of life they could prey on, they turned their gaze towards the break of dawn, a period of slumber for most.

Knowing that arising at this time with energy was challenging for most mortals, they set about subjugating it through any means necessary, finding ways to battle the grogginess and keep the early rush at bay.

The result is a Swiss Army knife of countless tips and tactics to ‘slay’ the morning demons, what they proclaim as their morning routines.

This weaponry comes in all forms. Many choose a gym workout as their sword. Some prefer the blaze of hot yoga. Others arm themselves with journaling or their ‘must have’ almond milk latte. “Attack the day!” they roar as a battle cry.

Little do they know, the morning nor the day aren’t against them. They create an antagonist out of thin air and wonder why they remain lost and unhappy.

It’s not physically or mentally healthy to wage war with your day. When you wage war with your day, you wage war with yourself.

There’s nothing wrong in principle with having a routine in the morning. Our lives are full of useful routines that help us achieve what’s necessary.

But an adversarial approach to life coupled with wishful obedience to other productivity soldiers who tell you you’re missing out risks missing the core purpose of a useful routine which is to build daily habits that are useful for your particular life and goals, not some other dude’s on the other side of the internet.

The FOMO-induced hype train has gotten out of hand. Wannabes trialling a CEO’s (supposed) routine for their next piece of clickbait content. Shipments of exotic-sounding fad beverages mass ordered in the hope that a daily sip will lead to daybreak transformation.

We all have our daily habits that keep us on track. But if you don’t want to work out at 5am, don’t. If you don’t want to pay a premium for a fruit and vegetable mix labelled a ‘power smoothie’, don’t. You can achieve those things in others ways or during other parts of your day and succeed. You’re not missing out just because you’re not giving undue attention to one period of the day.

Need A Morning Routine Selective

Not everyone is nor has to be a ‘morning person’

At this point, a few of you who are fervent morning routine practitioners might be protesting “Just because you’re not a morning person doesn’t mean my morning routine doesn’t work, it does!”

Actually I’m fine in the morning. I can wake up early and get started with my tasks.

But you’re right. I’m not a morning person.

I’m not a morning person and I’m not an afternoon person nor a night owl either. I function in all parts of the day because it’s important for me to do so.

But many people function at particular times of the day better than other periods.

This is due to ultradian rhythms—biological cycles that repeat throughout a 24-hour day.

Blood circulation, blinking, hormone secretion and lots of other bodily functions all have oscillating ultradian rhythms that ebb and flow throughout the day.

This means that the ways our bodies and minds operate for peak performance differ from person to person since all the individual rhythms differ per individual too.

A typical ultradian rhythm for energy can occur over a 90-120 min cycle. But when this starts and ends changes depending on the individual.

If you awake later than someone else since you had 8 hours of sleep and they had 6 and half hours, your ultradian rhythm will differ and that’s excluding other individual variables that can alter it.

Ultradian rhythms show that you even if you don’t arise early in the day, you will still have periods of peak performance when you apply yourself best compared to when a morning person is applying themself best. It also shows the science behind why a morning person is unlikely to apply themself as well as a non-morning person later in the day.

Therefore you’re not missing out if you’re not a morning person. For those that are and have a routine that works for them, that’s great, chances are you’re operating in alignment with your ultradian rhythms.

But be wary of thinking you need a morning routine gimmick because you heard of a trend in the productivity sphere. As mentioned above, don’t become adversarial towards your day, yourself and others.

Are people who need a morning routine weaker?

There’s an angle that people who need a morning routine are weaker even though they may hold an unfounded superiority complex over others.

For example, don’t let others who fetishise coffee in the morning make you feel bad that you don’t drink copious amounts of the stuff like they do.

Most of the buzz around morning routine practices is psychological—people’s subjective state of mind is altered through a unique practice.

Maybe it gives them a sense of control. Maybe they feel akin to a tribe (see below). Maybe it even averts existential dread.

But ultimately it’s all subjective priming.

A specific tea from the Far East isn’t the reason they nail an early meeting presentation. Muttering self-affirmations in the mirror isn’t why they ‘win the day’. It’s all subjective. Even meditation isn’t a universal key to success. As I’ve written before, you should meditate because it’s good in and of itself, not as a vessel to an external outcome.

When you realise that much of the behaviours pre-work/study etc. are interchangeable, you’re gifted with the most empowering practice of all which is the ability to vitalise your state of mind without reliance on anything else.

Need A Morning Routine No Reliance

The selective omission surrounding morning routines

The productivity community flaunts examples of morning people, their routines and the supposed link to their success.

Yet what we don’t hear about is the abundance of successful people who don’t need a morning routine at all.

It wouldn’t fit the productivity community’s penchant for trying to homogenise human behaviour into a binary ‘make it or break it’ mold. So examples of successful people without notable practices are conveniently omitted.

This selective omission is prevalent across the personal development space. We need to ensure the scope of our examples is large enough before we jump to conclusions and assume all successful people share similar behaviours.

For example, Elon Musk has little to no particular routine in the morning. He wakes up at a normal time for work mornings and showers. He often skips breakfast and gets on with his workday given his busy schedule.

Winston Churchill used to wake up at 7:30 but didn’t get out of bed until around 11am. His housekeeper served him a full English breakfast in bed (not the healthiest meal, take it from an Englishman) and he would do some work from this position while enjoying the odd glass of wine and cigar.

Karl Lagerfeld, the renowned former creative director of Chanel for over 30 years slept 7 hours every night no matter what time he went to bed meaning he woke up at different times. He also drank Diet Coke from the minute he got up to the minute he went to bed.

The point is there are many successful people whose routines vary widely or who have no routine at all. All that matters is that the way they set themselves up in the morning works for them.

Understand that not having a morning routine does not mean you don’t have a daily one.

No morning routine ≠ no daily routine

Routines are important, we all have behaviours we enact daily in line with our goals.

But if we’re not careful, routines, including morning ones, can undermine us.

Routines can create rigidity and remove the power of creativity that comes from slack

Furthermore, days may differ as the world doesn’t revolve around you. The world moved in its own way before you were born and will continue to move in its own way after you’re gone. Better to adapt than to solipsistically think the world will change just for your routine. A meeting with an overseas client or some unforeseen occurrence require adaptability outside of your normal working hours for example.

The truth is much of the fetishisation of morning routines is down to adherents value signalling that they are part of a club, the productivity monster club, and that through allegiance to this ‘vaulted’ club they are better than other people.

The problem is this supposed dominance is anecdotal rather than empirical.

I call this digital tribalism: it’s very easy to find ‘anecdotal evidence’ in the Internet Era. Google long enough and you’ll find others in their own fixated chamber echoing your sentiments. Or worse, members projecting how they wish to live to alter their perception in the eyes of others and failing to live that way in actuality (you’ll be surprised how many YouTubers fall under this bracket).

Correlation is not causation. As there’s no universal definition of ‘success’, we can’t benchmark the inputs towards success on a quantitative nor qualitative level. What constitutes success for one individual differs for another.

This means attempting to average out ‘successful inputs’ by gathering a bunch of morning routines and picking the parts that are shared the most is a flawed way of operating. Likewise, following someone else’s routine to a T just because they’re successful is folly. Foolhardy because the successful people themselves didn’t think this way to reach success in the first place.

Think about it: if each successful person has a different routine that works for them, how can there be a notion of a set of universally successful practices? Those people didn’t take an average of the routines from others to form their own modus operandi.

Do what works for you. Don’t follow the madding crowd simply because an ‘influencer’ brandishes a shiny new trend on social media. In a similar vein, don’t try and emulate the exact routine of someone you admire. The context of their life differs from yours and carrying out the exact procedures they do will likely not work the same way in your own context.

Better to understand how they do things on a principled-basis and treat it as inspiration for you to form your own way of operating. After all, that’s what they did.

Need A Morning Routine Correlation Isn't Causation


Morning routines have become something of a cult trend. A badge of honour for those attempting to showcase their lives of productivity.

Yet behind the hype of individual practices lies an adversarial approach to life. One that personifies the morning and day as enemies to be conquered in pursuit of productivity.

Avoid an adversarial approach to life. Not everybody is a morning person. We each have unique ultradian rhythms that change the peak and trough times of our energy cycles. As long as we learn when our peaks occur we can have successfully productive days regardless of a morning routine or not.

Most morning routines are subjective priming. They work almost like a placebo on a patient—what matters is the belief in how the routine readies you for the day not the particular practice itself. When you understand that the trends are interchangeable if not unnecessary, you empower yourself to get on with your day without reliance on any routine.

The productivity space also commits selectivity bias when it comes to finding those who need a morning routine. There are plenty of examples in the media of morning routines of successful people yet most successful people past and present probably lack anything special in their mornings, it differs from person to person.

Lastly, beware the value signalling that accompanies morning routines.

If you have a morning routine, avoid trends and hype and focus on what works for you. But most important of all, understand that whoever you are, you don’t need a morning routine if you don’t want one, just get on with your day.