Anatomy of a Perfect Morning Routine

This video was made possible by Notion. It’s no secret — I love morning routines like how a fat kid loves cake, and maybe you should too. Rather than telling you the morning routine you should follow, let’s cover some foundational components of what makes for a great way to start your day, so that you too can create your own custom morning routine. Dr. Jubbal, I’m weird. In fact, I’m so weird that in medical school and residency, I refused to rush my mornings, even at absurd hours. While doing plastic surgery, I often had to be in the hospital by 4:30AM Most of my colleagues would roll out of bed at 4:10, throw on some clothes, and rush out the door, getting to the workroom just in the nick of time. I would wake up at 3AM, take my time dropping the kids off at the pool with my strong orthocolic reflex, brush my teeth, stretch, journal, meditate, make a meal replacement protein shake, wash my blender, and get out the door by 4AM so I could get to the workroom at least 10 minutes early. As they say, early is on time and on time is late. Why would I sacrifice an hour of sleep for this? Am I really that nuts? Well, yes. But if you follow these steps and implement your own morning routine habits, you too may experience the magic of a well calibrated morning routine. If you want to see what my current morning routine looks like, or what my morning routine in medical school and residency was like, I have videos of both on my Kevin Jubbal, M.D. channel. Links in the description below. First, drop the phone. This will be the hardest step for most of you. If you start your morning by checking social media, your email, and the news, you’re suffocating the ability to set intentions for your day. This is a reactive way to start the morning, rather than a proactive way. Tristan Harris, former Google Design Ethicist, describes it well. “When we wake up in the morning and turn our phone over to see a list of notifcations — it frames the experience of ‘waking up in the morning’ around a menu of all the things I’ve missed since yesterday.” By checking your phone as one of the first activities in the morning, you are willingly starting your day on someone else’s terms. Got an angry email from a colleague? What about a confusing comment on social media? Or maybe it’s news about a politician saying something nonsensical again that makes your blood boil. In this manner, you’re limiting your starting point and trajectory of your day outside of your own control. You’re being reactive. Rather, use the morning as a blank slate, a fresh start with endless possibilities. You decide your intentions on your own terms. This way, you’re in the driver’s seat. As Benjamin Hardy describes in his book, How to Consciously Design Your Ideal Future, “The fastest way to move forward in life is not doing more. It starts with stopping the behaviors holding you back.” Chaos breeds chaos, and order breeds order. Start your day off with positive momentum with a small win by making your damn bed. Why should you make your bed? As Admiral William H. McRaven said in his UT Austin commencement speech: “If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed. If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you’ll never be able to do the big things right. If, by chance, you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that’s made. That you made. And a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.” It doesn’t have to be perfect. I take no more than 60 seconds to make my bed, and that alone makes my sex dungeon, I mean bedroom, a much more pleasant place to be. if it seems like a chore you’d rather not do, just practice doing it for a couple weeks and you’ll soon feel like it’s not a big deal because it really isn’t. When you change in the morning, this also means throwing away your dirty clothes in the hamper and tidying anything else away in the closet. Champions don’t start their day with clothes on the floor and their room in disarray. Right after waking up, you probably use the toilet, and you’ll notice your urine is quite concentrated. Take this opportunity to rehydrate and water is really all you need. If you choose coffee, keep in mind that caffeine inhibits antidiuretic hormone (ADH) release, resulting in diuresis, meaning your kidneys excrete more water than they would normally. Decreasing friction, even in small ways, is an underrated component in motivating yourself to perform certain behaviors. For that reason, I always keep a large water bottle filled nearby, as it decreases the friction to stay hydrated. This way, I don’t have to go through the trouble in the morning to go to the kitchen, grab a cup, and fill it up. I know life is tough. The nutrition piece of the equation is optional here. First, I don’t believe you necessarily need to eat anything in the mornings. I personally follow a 16/8 intermittent fasting schedule and start my feeding window at 12PM, several hours after waking up. That being said, if you are going to eat breakfast or snack in the morning, get the ball rolling in the right direction. Avoid garbage food, like sugary cereals, pop tarts, or sweetened yogurt. In fact, it’s better to skip breakfast altogether rather than eating these highly processed foods. If you want to learn more about the science of nutrition optimization and intermittent fasting, make sure you’re subscribed as that’s a video I’m excited to release on our research explain series in the near future. If there’s one habit I never miss even going all the way back to 2012, it’s getting my body moving every morning. I created a custom mobility routine and I’m in love with it. I first roll out my thoracic spine on a Trigger Point foam roller which has Goldilocks firmness. Not too hard and not too soft. The PVC or ABS pipes are good for the lower body, but they’re no fun on your back. Trust me, I’ve tried. Next I use a lacrosse ball to roll out my piriformis and glutes, and then proceed to a custom stretching routine working on my hamstrings, hip flexors, forearms, lower back, groin, and much more. I’ll have the full routine on my other channel. I’ve noticed when I do this mobility and stretching routine every morning I stand with better posture, have more energy, and simply feel better. These beneficial effects were even more dramatic when I had a long day in the operating room or clinic. Given the compounding effects of starting your day off with such a simple yet profound habit, it’s silly not to do this every morning. You certainly don’t need to follow my exact routine but I recommend you experiment with motion in some routine form every morning. Stick with it for a few weeks and reflect on how it makes you feel. You can thank me later. Before looking at your phone and reacting to the feces flung your way by life’s proverbial misbehaving monkeys, take a quick moment to sit down and practice some mindfulness. For some people, this means following a guided meditation, for others this means going for a walk outside without distraction, and for you it may be something else. For me, it’s vipassana meditation, where I close my eyes and focus on my breath for 10-15 minutes. I won’t go into the full details of how regular mindfulness practice will benefit you in multiple ways. Just remember that even Tim Ferriss notes that over 80% of his guests of world class performers start their days with some form of mindfulness practice. Coincidence? I think not. Last, practice some reflection and set your intentions for the day. Some people like to combine this with mindfulness meditation, which is an entirely valid strategy. This may include visualization practices of what you envision for yourself later that day. I prefer using a journaling app, Day One, which reminds me with a notification and auto-populates a custom template that I fill out each morning. This morning template includes writing about three gratitudes, three long term goals, today’s targets, and affirmations. This helps me center and start the day with a plan. The three targets for the day help me gain perspective on the day’s to-do list and remind myself that just getting these three elements done would mean today is a win. I have a habit of focusing on things I didn’t achieve and how things could be different, but celebrating even the small wins is important. Sometimes my three targets for the day aren’t even work-related, like on vacation days or days where I’m intentionally trying to unwind and relax. It’s a powerful way to shift the narrative from one of glass half empty to glass half full. Incorporating all of these elements into my routine currently takes me about an hour. If this all seems overwhelming, that’s totally normal. Just try adding or modifying one element at a time, not everything all at once, and experiment for yourself. After over 10 years of intentional morning routine experimentation, I found that these are the key elements to a masterful morning routine, but let me know with a comment if yours are different! When it comes to implementing any sort of meaningful change in your life, having the right systems and processes to facilitate those behavior changes is key. And that’s why I love Notion. Notion is one of the most exciting note-taking apps and as taking the productivity and study world by storm Not only is it a powerful and flexible note-taking app, but it’s flexible structure and clean interface makes it a joy to use across multiple domains. I use it daily in managing my team at Med School Insiders and it has largely replaced Evernote as my go-to app in organizing my life. You can make a customizable to-do list, a calendar or planner with added flexibility, or even take class notes with the advantage of active recall. If you’re looking to add structure to help you dial in your own morning routine, Notion can help with that too. There’s a reason that I and several other content creators love Notion. And if that wasn’t reason enough, it’s free for students who sign up using a valid .edu email address. Click the link in the description below to get started today. Thank you all so much for watching. If you like this video, leave us a thumbs up to keep the YouTube gods happy. Subscribe for more content like this and hit that notification bell so you don’t miss an upload. Much love to you all, and I will see you guys in that next one.

100 thoughts on “Anatomy of a Perfect Morning Routine

  • Love the video.

    Question 1: what if your partner gets up later than you ?
    Question 2: what if you have to be up at different times from day to day ?

  • The latest video you uploaded to the "So You Want To Be A…" playlist is marked as private and inaccessible. I don't know if this is a mistake or not. Just wanted to let you know!

  • I couldn’t find your stretching routine. I need it. I’m so bad at moving and getting energized in the mornings.
    Anyone know where the video is. Thanks.

  • I wonder what would be a good example of a non-sugary cereal? I remember most of the cereals I ate growing up having some form of sugar.

  • okay i need some help.. it seems no matter what time i go to bed i have to wake up at 7:45. like if i wake up at 7:30? TIRED 7:15? TIRED 7:40? TIRED. like WHY??? will it ever be possible for me to start waking up at 7 everyday or is it a biological clock thing?

  • i do my medetation by prayers it feels so good specially when you talk your ideas to got and hope that they get done
    ps: i'm a muslim

  • The trigger points are no joke thought it was just me !!!! 🙂 can you plz plz plzzzz let me know which foam works exactly?

  • Sgt. Ripping you a new asshole for being on "Time".

    Moral of the story, in the military if your on time your LATE. You should be there 2-3 hrs in advance.

  • This reminds me of islam where the morning is very important in the religion and there is a fajr ( morning ) prayer which requires a set of movements and it helps you meditate whithout doing "yoga" which i think it's cliché , I LOVE MY RELIGION ❤

  • I recently got an internship and I need to wake up two hours earlier than I normally do, so this video came at the right time.

    1. Starting proactive – Guess I should extend the DND on my phone to 30min after I wake up, so I won't see notifications when I first open my eyes even if I try.
    2. Organisation – Well, I always keep my room tidy so I don't feel like I accomplished a task when I make my bed. Come to think of it, I don't have anything in my morning routine that feels like I did the first task of the day.
    3. Nutrition – I always wake up so dehydrated that I always need to drink something in the morning. Looking forward to the nutrition video, since nutrition is so complicated and I don't know what to believe or practise.
    4. Activity – I need this. My posture and flexibility are awful. Any suggestions for this type of exercise without equipment? I'm sharing a room with my brother so I don't have any space to roll around on the floor.
    5. Mindfulness – I find meditation and mindfulness practices to be very difficult. When I sit down and focus on my breathing, I end up having breathing difficulties and becoming quite uncomfortable after a few minutes.
    6. Reflection – This sounds really helpful. I usually keep my goals as a mental checklist and of course I'll usually forget them. I've tried doing something like this before but I never stuck with it, so I'll try to pick this habit up again.

    Loved the humour. Edit: I have no idea how people can get ready in 20min or less. I always give myself an hour so I can sleepily stumble my way around the house.

  • I love these tips. For me the nutrition one is extremely necessary. It gives me the calories I need to get moving! Great video

  • I think your intermittent fasting routine is driven by Crohn’s. My morning is identical to yours, except I eat breakfast and make it my largest meal. The reason is that I have always been struggling with constipation, so eating breakfast in the morning certainly helps to go to the bathroom regularly.

  • Am I the only one that loooooves a good morning routine? Thanks for watching and if you want to support channel sign up for Notion, a great FREE tool for students!

  • What type of protein shake did you consume in med school? And what does your diet consist of now (sample day)? When do you work out/ what does your workout consist of? How do you feel about doing the gratitude/targets/etc at the and of the day? When do you typically get up and go to bed/ how many hours a day of sleep do you aim for?

  • Do you have any videos about failure and motivation? i wrote the Canadian exam and failed and now I am miserable, demotivated, confused and hate everything! need to study again in order to pass

  • Would you show us how to use Notion as a student? I would like to see all the possible practical applications and an example of a full university planner! 🙂 There are some videos like this already on YouTube, but I really find your practices most rational and effective.

  • So this was the video related to your insta story about people being touchy about the fat kid expression. Wow. Those people's level of humor goes down faster than a fat kid on a seesaw 😉

  • That's so true, since I stopped doing my morning routine my life is like falling apart pieces by pieces. By the way, I really like the routine you have built during these years, it is so balanced.

  • I only recently started to look at social media on my phone in bed and its only to make sure I dont go back to sleep. It helps to wake my mind up enough to not fall back asleep. I def dont check emails in bed though.

  • I find mornings a perfect time for studying/reading while drinking tea. The calmness and the complete silence helps me to focus on the task. There are no distractions, no friends messaging you (because they are sleeping), no one can tell you what needs to be done housework wise etc. It also helps me to set a productive note for my day. 
    Waking up early also helps with the beginning of the day – I'm fully awake when the schoolday starts (no more half-sleeping during the first lesson)

  • App suggestions: Morning Routine & Timeglass
    After setting it up, these can guide you through your streamlined routine in your goal timeframe. Timeglass is just a multi-step timer.

  • Really enjoying your Channel. I am currently working on my second degree that will line me up for med school. I like watching your channel to try and start good study habits and techniques. I was wondering if you could talk about being sick and keeping up study habits. I have been sick for over a week and mustering up the energy and mental fortitude to study is exhausting……. Have any tips and tricks?? Thank you

  • Hey Dr. Jubbal,

    I absolutely love your videos. Even though I am no longer a pre-med, or in the medical field, I do watch your videos for the positive outlook on life, as well as, being efficient in life. I was hoping if you can create a weekly, monthly list of books that you read that you can recommend. I am subscribed to your newsletter, I'd love it if you can make a list and add it to that.

  • Dr. Jubbal: here is the anatomy physiology pathophysiology and histopathology of a perfect morning routine at 3am
    Me: unmade bed, dirty clothes all over the floor, don't exercise or meditate, haven't drank pure water in 18 hours
    Also me: omg I just CAN'T figure out why is my life such a mess????

  • I work 9-5 job and study 5-10 five days a week recently I decided that instead of taking a was going to walk, well that change my life 🥰💯

  • I tried doing my bed right after waking up a couple of time, however my still sleeping boyfriend seemed kinda pissed by that and i eventually had to stop doing that…

  • Okay, now for the serious comment…
    First off: I dont know what's making your content so sassy lately, but I dig it! Keep it up. It's awesome.
    Over the years I started applying some these routine steps without thinking much about it. I'd realise that using my phone in the morning would fuck my mood up and just stopped doing that. Eating would make me feel bloated and uncomfortable, and since in Germany we had to work with corpses every morning for a couple of semesters, feeling the food in your stomach wasn't a great plan, so i automatically stopped eating breakfast. I would combine some stretching with mindfulness exercises and I'd feel like I could move mountains – which I did. Studying Medicine + rocking three jobs + experimenting with some YouTube videos + working out + making time for my hobbies and relationships.
    And you know what?! I wouldn't be SHIT if I hadn't found your channel years ago, learning how to manage my time and work on my system to achieve my goals. Insane. Thank you for helping me (and many others!)

  • Dr J, that was some very wry sense of humour we don't expect from you. Please refrain from what the crowds like. As a long MSI subscriber, I did not like it. I don't think it's helpful for your channel either.

  • Kevin can you talk more about your affirmations? I know there are some that “work” and some that don’t, could use some guidance

  • I still live with my parents. Cant even workout in peace. Being reactive to their schedule is just crazy. Dunno what to do

  • "I take no more than 60 seconds to make my bed and that alone makes my sex dungeon, I mean bedroom, a much more pleasant to be." (Jubbal, 2020)

    I love the humor tho LOL

  • I use the brightness of my phone screen to burn my eyes into awakeness in the morning. Crucial part of my morning routine.

  • I'm so excited about the video about nutrition!!!
    That one was great too btw, keep going, your videos are absolutely AMAZING! 👏🏻👏🏻

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