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Rethinking & Recreating Your Mornings So You’re More Fulfilled

Rethinking & Recreating Your Mornings So You're More FulfilledI was a big fan of Laura Vanderkam’s 2010 book 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think. (Here are her tips and my review of the book.)

Recently, she’s written a short and valuable e-book entitled What The Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast: A Short Guide to Making Over Your Mornings — and Life. In it, Vanderkam explains what’s so special about mornings and lays out five steps to help you reorganize your mornings so you can create rituals that make you happier and more fulfilled.

Vanderkam gleaned these tips from studying how super-successful — and super-busy — people spend their early hours. She also shares examples of these individuals’ morning routines, which include everything from working on their books to exercising to praying to spending time with their kids.

When figuring out the best activities for your a.m., Vanderkam suggests picking meaningful activities — the ones that are important but not urgent (which explains why they get tossed aside). These are the activities that nurture your career, your relationships and yourself.

Here’s a peek at Vanderkam’s clear-cut and totally feasible five steps for making over your mornings.

1. Track your time.

Before you can revise your a.m., it’s important to know how you’re actually spending your mornings and the rest of your day. It also helps, Vanderkam writes, to question your assumptions. For instance, do you believe that a good mom does everything for her children? Or that a good employee has to work long hours? Or that your house has to be forever dust-free?

2. Picture the perfect morning.

What does a great morning look like for you? For instance, it might be anything from writing in your journal to eating breakfast with your family to going to a yoga class to reading stories to your kids to brainstorming ideas for your new business.

3. Think through the logistics.

Map out exactly what your mornings will look like, how long your meaningful activities will take and what you need to do to make this possible (and easier). Doing so also naturally gives you less time for the activities that don’t matter as much to you. For instance, as Vanderkam writes, if you give yourself 15 minutes for a shower that’s how long you’ll take. 

4. Build the habit.

According to Vanderkam, this is the most important step. To create rituals out of your morning activities, she suggests starting slowly — such as going to bed 15 minutes early and waking up 15 minutes early — and selecting one habit instead of an overhaul.

5. Tune up as necessary.

As our lives change so can our morning rituals. For instance, when she was pregnant, Vanderkam used to run in the mornings. But after her baby was born, she started focusing on having a relaxed and fun breakfast with her family instead.


You can learn more about Laura Vanderkam and her work at her website.

Rethinking & Recreating Your Mornings So You’re More Fulfilled

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Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.

Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. is an Associate Editor and regular contributor at Psych Central. Her Master's degree is in clinical psychology from Texas A&M University. In addition to writing about mental disorders, she blogs regularly about body and self-image issues on her Psych Central blog, Weightless.

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APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2018). Rethinking & Recreating Your Mornings So You’re More Fulfilled. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 5, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 28 Jun 2012)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
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