My minimalist morning routine

Just because I’m a minimalist, doesn’t mean I’m an early riser.

Are you surprised?

I used to be a strong supporter of the idea of waking early (I still am) but I have discovered over the years that I have so many reasons not to (even though I very much admire people that do). For example, my brain tends to be more productive in the evening. If I try to go to bed too early, I know I will probably waste a good few hours tossing and turning around in bed thinking about things I have to get done, when I could have actually done it.

Also, I am absolutely blessed that I live only a few minutes by walk + bus away from my university, so I really don’t need to get up early. If I push myself, I would probably make myself unnecessarily tired during the morning, which is usually a crucial time for me. I’ve found what works for me, which is not too early, but not too late either. You may think I’m trying to make excuses, but being the non-conformist that I am, I would prefer to do what I feel is right, rather than what others tell me.

my morning routine

I’ve been getting a few emails about it, but to honest there’s nothing superhuman or special about it. I have to leave by 8:45, so by trial and error I worked out a routine which I can comfortably follow to the minute. I tried to minimalize as much as possible, so after a month of practising, this is what I came up with:

7:30-: Get up, bathroom, brush teeth.

7:45-: Exercise, put away futon.

8:00-: Make up

8:15-: Hair

8:25-: Change clothes

8:35-: Breakfast

8:45-: Leave house.

That’s it. Simple – exactly the way I like it.

A few tips that I can offer are:

1. Get a pleasant alarm clock. Although my iPhone doesn’t work in Japan (long story) I still use it everyday to wake me up. I have an app called Alarm Tunes which allows me to pick any song I want as the alarm. That way, I can choose nice ‘pick-me-up’ tunes to wake up to, which gives me a pleasant start to the day. If you don’t have an iPhone/iPod, I know you can buy little clocks that you can upload mp3 tracks on to.

2. Don’t miss exercising in the morning. Even if it’s just ten jumping jacks, don’t leave it out. I find just doing five minutes of stretching makes all the different for the rest of the day. If I ever forget or didn’t have enough time for some reason, I definitely feel sluggish or tired for hours. My morning stretch is possibly more important that remembering to brush my teeth.

3. Don’t dawdle. Sometimes I put on music because I can listen to it at the same time as getting ready. But I never watch TV in the morning because it’s almost guaranteed to slow me down in some way. The more time I spend getting ready, the more time I could have spent sleeping, who needs more motivation than that?

4. Pack the night before. It’s such a simple tip, yet it works so well. I just put everything I need in my bag before I go to bed so all I have to do is slip on my shoes grab my bag and go. No running about looking for stuff and NO forgetting anything as I’m halfway up the road. There’s nothing worse that having a bad feeling you’re forgetting something and only remembering past the point of no return 🙂

5. Whatever you do, have a system. If you’ve ever met me, you know I’m a pretty laid back person. I usually like things to be spontaneous and different (my weekends are usually free for whatever life in Japan wants to throw at me) but when it comes to my mornings I’m the complete opposite. I like efficiency. I really do love my sleep and besides that I have better things to do than to waste too much time flaffing about. So even if you don’t have a specific agenda to complete, just trying to wake up at the same time and leave at the same time most days is quite an achievement, it will at least reduce the chance of you waking up stressed and rushed which really does put most people in a bad mood.

So to sum up, the most important thing about your mourning routine is that it sets you up well for the day. Try to find a good that suits you and your own preferences and circumstances, whether your an early riser or not. Every day is a brand new beginning and a chance to live differently, so take it on wholeheartedly and have a nice day!

Update: See my my post on My Morning Routine

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  • Great post! I agree with you that not everyone is a morning person. I’ve also seen that early-morning trend on minimalist blogs. I think that, ultimately, everyone’s different, so no one should feel pressured to get up early. Especially if it makes them less productive during the day. I myself have a pretty good morning routine down, but I never really planned it out, it just happened. The one thing I’m missing from my routine is exercise, so that’s something I can improve on. Anyways, great post. Keep ’em coming!

  • Thanks for sharing this! I was curious about your morning routine. What I find amusing is that my routine is almost exactly the same as yours but an hour earlier. I rise at 6:30 AM and leave the house at 7:45 AM. I don’t like to waste time that I could be sleeping so efficiency is quite important to me. I have a “tomorrow drawer” set up for the next day’s outfit and my bag packed for work the night before so I can just go after I have my breakfast (smoothie I bring in the car with me).

    I should add in stretches as some days I’m quite sluggish. Is there a stretching routine you follow?

  • Valeria

    This blog is a wonderful surprise! Being a minimalist myself it is really refreshing and encouraging to read your thoughts… and feel part of a lively, minimalist community 🙂 Thank you for sharing, Jessica – keep up writing! 微笑み! V
    PS Yesterday you were mentioned also in a major Italian newspaper (online version), here you are the link: (which answers to the question about how I came here 😉 )

  • Hey! Interesting routines! I totally agree that workout in the morning is really great. Not only does it get you more energized for the day, but also you have it done before you even go to school/work! Which means that the excuses and plans you have for the afternoon/evening don’t work, because you’re already done 😀

    And you sleep better if you keep about the same sleeping times every night, so the body and the mind can adapt to it 🙂

    Keep it up, I’m going to check out the rest of the blog now.

  • Abby

    Great post. I agree with you that it’s best to exercise even a bit in the morning. I take 1 bus then walk the rest of the way in the morning. It’s not strenuous exercise but if I do nothing I feel “blah” the rest of the day.

    I’m inspired by your routine. I’ve tried to plan my mornings, but always end up pressing snooze then standing in front of my closet half asleep, etc.

  • Alisha

    You’re mornings closely resemble mine. Except I only wear make up to work and I’ve picked up skipping as my morning exercise routine. Ten minutes of skipping gives you an excellent workout so I have to include a quick 15 minutes shower in my mornings instead of make up and hair since I have female version of a fauxhawk it suits me well. I found eating more raw foods saves sooooo much time and it’s healthier then going for the packaged stuff.

    🙂 – Koo

  • Hi Jessica,

    Thumbs up for the great blog you’ve created. I like your approach on simplicity in everything that we do.

    I’ve also noticed that I tend to work more productively in the evening, which is why I’ve abandoned the practice of waking up early—at least for now.

    Some routines, however, are key when we want to get certain things done on a daily basis. I’ve structured my days so that I do whatever I have to do during the day, and start working on my main project no later than three hours before going to bed. I also start my evening exercises an hour prior to bedtime after which I allow myself to read until I become sleepy.

    Keep up the good work! 頑張れ!