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How I Manage My Morning Routine with a To-Do List

Morning routines are key to mentally and physically preparing for your work day. You already have one. It might be unintentional, ending with hunting for your keys to leave the house.

Or it could be intentional, setting up an environment to put you in a good mood to greet your day. I prefer the intentional kind of morning routine, and to make it stick, I’ve implemented it in my to-do list.

My morning routine is influenced by the AE Rituals course I took and reviewed. It includes everything I need to do before I can feel totally ready for the day.

This routine (or ritual) is in a to-do list that gives me notifications on my phone. To-do lists that can have recurring tasks are great at reminding you to step through your routine each morning. I’ve tried a few systems and settled on OmniFocus a few years ago. I find it to be the perfect system for home life organization.


The image above is my actual morning routine for the last couple years. If I follow those exact steps in that approximate order, I’m ready to leave the house or sit down and work. It takes me about 90 minutes on a normal day, and I can compress it to 60 minutes if I have an early meeting.

Your routine will be different. It might include exercise but skip meditation. Or whatever, you get the idea. The only guideline is that it should be no more than 90 minutes.

Setting Up a Morning Routine in Your To-Do List

First thing you need to do is open your to-do list and make a new task. That could be in Remember the Milk, Todoist or Toodledo – they all have recurring task capabilities.

Create subtasks for the items you want in your first draft of your morning routine.

Set the recurrence on the task to daily, and set a time by which you want to be finished.

That’s it! Check your to-do list on your phone first thing in the morning (not social media!) and prepare for a great day.

Using OmniFocus for Your Morning Routine

OmniFocus is a more complex system, so I’ll show you a few screenshots of how mine is set up.

First, create a Project for the routine to live in. As you can see, I have a Folder for all my routines. Then each routine is a Project.


Set the Project’s recurrence to daily. You can set days of the week, but I recommend keeping the same routine all seven days. Try it both ways and see what you think.

Check the box for “Complete when completing last action.”


You can see I’ve set the review for every 6 weeks because my routine if working well for me. Review often at first and tune your routine until you love it.

Not sure what to put in your morning routine? Check out 13 Ways to Have the Best Morning Ever