Morning Routines and Strategies (#253)

“Routine, in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition.”

– W. H. Auden

This is a special episode of the podcast. After more than 200 conversations with the world’s top performers, you start to spot certain patterns. These are the shared habits, hacks, philosophies, and tools that are the common threads of success, happiness, health, and wealth.

These commonalities were the premise of my most recent book, The New York Times #1 bestseller Tools of Titans — a compilation of my favorite lessons, routines, and tips of many of my guests.

In this episode, I’ve gathered some of the best advice about morning routines from:


You can find the transcript of this episode here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

#253: Morning Routines and Strategies

Want to hear another episode of featuring multiple guests and their best tips? In this episode, we explore meditation and mindfulness with Chase Jarvis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sam Harris, and Rainn Wilson (stream below or right-click here to download):

#201: The Tim Ferriss Radio Hour: Meditation, Mindset, and Mastery

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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Selected Links from the Episode

  • Connect with Jocko Willink:

Echelon Front | Twitter | Facebook

  • Connect with Seth Godin:

Website | Twitter

  • Connect with Jamie Foxx:

Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

  • Connect with Scott Adams:

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | YouTube

Show Notes

  • Why your morning should have a predictable and scripted sequence. [06:45]
  • My morning non-negotiables. [07:57]
  • Jocko Willink’s morning routines and how he structures his ideal day. [10:01]
  • Who Jocko thinks of when he hears the word “successful.” [15:00]
  • What are Jocko’s struggles? [17:44]
  • The first two hours in Seth Godin’s day, and what his typical breakfast looks like. [22:05]
  • The value of having an office. [25:29]
  • Seth’s views on educating kids to succeed in the 21st century. [26:40]
  • “Busy” as a trap, and practices parents can follow to regularly spend quality time with their children. [30:06]
  • As an educator, here’s Seth’s strategy for retaining online students. [31:34]
  • Seth on self-discipline. [34:12]
  • Jamie Foxx’s morning routine doesn’t involve coffee. [36:10]
  • Advice Jamie would give to his younger self. [39:47]
  • Jamie’s daughter’s advice to his current self. [46:08]
  • The structure of Scott Adams’s morning. [47:47]
  • On clearing and “flooding” the brain and paying attention to what the body model is trying to tell us. [49:26]
  • Moving art into the domain of craft and understanding the six dimensions of humor. [51:18]
  • Stories about coincidences and affirmations. [55:07]

People Mentioned

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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47 Replies to “Morning Routines and Strategies (#253)”

  1. Gratitude is such a game changer. Getting to a state of emotional, profound gratitude (a la the final scene of Tony Robbins Not Your Guru) has a powerful impact on my level of joy and creative thinking/problem solving. Also, as you mentioned Tim, the decrease in anxiety is significant. The only thing is, I have trouble getting there — experiencing that degree of gratitude — on a daily basis.

  2. First!

    I just had to do it.


    Thanks man, for everything. I have read your books, seen your videos and even tried some of the things in them They work!

    What more can a person ask of life but techniques that are well written and work as advertised? Really, if you have a good answer for this one please let me know.

  3. Hi Tim, I would like to acknowledge the fact that ever since I discovered your podcast, at the lowest point of my life, I have become better and better at fixing things I have control over. ie my health (physical and mental), my attitude. And along the way found great people via your site like James Altuche, Seth Godin, Derek Sivers, Noah Kagan, just to name a few. SO thank you. And I hope you continue to inspire. Also on side note it sucks that you are so on demand that it is impossible to find you!

  4. Really enjoyed this episode Tim. I’ve been going through a tough time lately (in a good way) and I have literally mapped out my morning routine to the numbers. Decision fatigue is real thing! I’ve found that by simply writing my routine down, it has taken away those unconscious moments in the morning where you stare blankly into space while sitting on your bed naked with only a towel on (please tell me I’m not the only one who does this).

    Thanks Tim, have an awesome day.

    1. // please tell me I’m not the only one who does this

      Haha! You’re not. I promise. 🙂

      Reading Elrod’s MM was a real eye opener for me on how I was self-sabotaging myself before I even got out of bed each day!

      Thanks for this episode Tim. 🙂

  5. Nice format Tim. You should keep bringing up excellent topics (sort of like Seinfeld’s Coffee and car show where he has double shots of past themes from his interviews) Keep up the great work!

  6. Dear Tim, I came to your website looking for a postal address to send you an actual hand-written thank you note, but your website/comments directed me here to post a comment on your blog. A little more open than I wanted, but I’ll embrace my anonymity :-).

    I saw your TED talk recently about “Fear Planning” and it completely changed my perception of you. Thank you for talking about your major depressive episodes – it puts your whole body of work into a perspective I really needed to hear. I think every member of my immediate family has dealt with major depression in various ways – we’re mostly still all here in assorted versions of functionality. I’ve struggled with depression and once I heard your story, I realized all the “hacking” that you’ve done is a form for you of the “prevent” and “repair” aspects of the template that you presented on the TED stage.

    I’m 53 and a woman; I’ve been reading and listening to you since around the time your first book 4-hour Workweek came out. At least buying your books and reading parts of them – some more than others. The thing is, I thought that a lot of your “hacks” work great for you because you’re some super-masculine-macho-over-achiever type (sorry, it was phenomenally sexist of me to think this) that I see all the time around me in tech startups (that’s the area I’ve been working in for 15+ years). Now, I see that you were hacking your way to prevent and repair the frank monkey-brain-horror that major depression can be and the calamity that it can wreak on your life, and the lives of the folks you love and care about, around you.

    I’ve never been an athlete; I’ve struggled with building physical routines and disciplines; some of your stuff just didn’t frankly work for me. As you state all the time, you’re a sample of one. But your stuff does rub off. I’ve learned to get myself into a meditative state (Thanks, Headspace!); I’ve read some of the Stoics; I have a personal trainer (because I don’t think I’d do it all on my own); I keep trying! I keep coming around to listen to you even though I didn’t know – or realize – that we share that mental health pre-disposition of major depression. Pre-disposition doesn’t make it a sure thing, but the wolf sure does come up to the gate if you’re not vigilant!

    By the way, the best defense that I’ve found for managing myself is monitoring my sleep. I use my Fitbit tracker almost exclusively to track my sleep. It’s not a perfectly accurate indicator, but it is consistent and it does give me some feedback so that I can manage my emotional and mental health state. And not that you need to, but I’ve tracked my periods in an Excel spreadsheet (and graph paper before there was Excel) for years – long before there were apps for it. I could predict it within half a day with my notes and algorithms (it was also tied to my blood donations – over 100 units so far).

    So, my thank you is: Thank you for sharing about your mental health on that talk. Perhaps you’ve shared that before and I was just never in a place that I could hear it. However, this time I took it in and it changed how I hear your advice. What works for you isn’t always what works for this 53yo female, but you give me a good direction to focus my efforts. Thanks for your work and thanks for sharing so boldly with the world.

  7. Hi Tim!

    I’m brazilian and I’ve been reading and listening to you since 2008 and also exploring my routines and productive life since then.

    Obssessed about the subject and with all the freedom to create a perfect life schedule, I still struggle with daily decisions about working at home, going to cafeterias or doing more things outside just to have more adversity. I love my freedom, time alone and home office, but I realize that we need a lot everyday interaction and adversity. How is the perfect balance without doing this everyday decision?

    I believe this is a kind of energy drainer daily decision for people who have too much freedom everyday. Please explore more this subject at your enterviews… And I also would love to hear more from you in the subject.

    Thank you for all this years in my learnings!


  8. Loved this radio hour! I sometimes feel like I’m only interested in a small part of an interview, so I enjoyed the format. I would love to see one about influential reads. Maybe ones that you learned about for the first time in an interview and later found helpful.

  9. Hola ,me llamo María y como todos los hablantes de español,tengo que aprender ingles y no me desagrada aprender ingles.Pero se hace muy difícil porque hay buenos consejos pero no sabes aplicarlos y no tienes tanto tiempo como te gustaría . También tienes presión por aprender el idioma porque todo es ingles y te lo piden para todo . Es muy desagradable aprender el idioma y llevo muchos años con el ingles y no me entero de nada y no soy la única . Podrías escribir un libro para aprender ingles o idiomas ?

    Perdona si te molesta o algo

  10. Hey Tim, I really did enjoy this format as I’m sure many others did as well. I was fascinated by Seth Godin’s words on education and teaching kids. I, still a kid, was wondering what are some interesting problems that si could solve to further those skills?

  11. Favorite lesson from this episode: Scott Adams on affirmations. Is it magic? Probably not, but maybe… Let’s test it. I, Stephanie Welch, will someday have Tim Ferriss’s children, achieving limitless opportunities for world-class teaching and literal as well as figurative creating of people who are infinitely better than we are. Universe: ready, set, go! 🙂

  12. Has anyone managed to find or know the book with the affirmation exercises that Scott Adam’s mentioned??

  13. Hey Tim,

    Wanted to help get more people on your 5-bullet Friday email list or increase the number of iTunes reviews for your podcast as I know that is your current target (being a long term listener).

    We’re launching a card game inspired by you (you feature in the Kickstarter pitch video) that helps friends have life-changing conversations by posing unusual scenarios which friends answers one by one.

    6 months and 100+ hours of testing has gone into it to make sure it meets the claim.

    As this would strongly resonate with your audience, I wanted to send you 50 free decks (worth $950) you could share as an incentive to get people to join either your list or leave a review?

    I’ll set up the page, script it out, and handle the fulfilment of course 🙂

    Let me know. [Moderator: additional text and links removed.]

  14. Hi Tim, I’ve enjoyed your podcasts, but I’ve noticed that most of your guests are successful at selfish ambitions. Whether your guests are good at business, chess, working out, meditating, investing, etc., very seldom do these individuals sacrifice their own interests for other people. They win awards, they make money, they are widely known, but rarely are these individuals good at things that (I believe) matter most – service, justice, . I would love to hear you explore the world of altruism. What makes these people devote their lives to helping others instead of themselves, and how are they able to make such a big difference? One of the most common questions you ask your guests is “What makes a person successful?”. I think a widely held belief is that a successful person leaves the world better than they found it. I would argue that someone who is good at investing, memory, working out, eating healthy food, writing, acting, karate, or any a lot of the other ambitions repeatedly sought after by many of your guests – leave the world exactly as they found it. Maybe they’ve improved the tech world, the business world, the sports world – but what the world needs most – health, education, support, advocacy, love, justice etc. remains unchanged. Just as an example, I would love to hear you ask the same questions that you ask many of your guests to someone like Dr. Paul Farmer, a physician who has devoted his life to healing the world – leading projects aimed at improving health and social justice in Haiti, Russia, Malawi, Haiti, Lesotho, and other countries, while still a practicing physician here in the United States. Why does he do what he does? I would love to know what his daily rituals are, what his favorite books are, what inspires him, and what he would put on a billboard! There are countless other individuals – physicians, community organizers, scientists, social activists, teachers – who may not be very successful at investing or meditation, but are instead successful at things that truly matter and make a difference! It would be very inspirational and help me and the rest of your audience place a greater focus on that part of ourselves that wants to help others. Especially today when it’s so easy to waste our lives worrying about social media, how healthy we are, how many friends we have, how nice our abs look, how big our bank account is – and all those other things that really really don’t matter – let’s be honest – and distract us from what’s important 🙂 Sorry if this message is long and preachy, but I really do think that would be cool and that you’d be great at it. I’m starting to hear the same themes over and over in your interviews and I think it would be great if you ventured out into exploring other areas of success.

  15. Tim, you asked for feedback on the format. I loved it. Listened to it this evening working out. Especially loved the veteran piece. My dad was part of the Army Airborne infantry. The Military piece you did touched me especially since I no longer have my dad here.

    The format this week was great. It fed the soul, the mind the need for information and the lack of bringing it all together as I hadn’t heard some of those people speak. It was great. Thank you.

    I volunteer as a Chaplin at my AMVETS post to help keep that memory alive. I hope that everyone that listens to your podcast and reads this blog understands the sacrifices given by the men and women that serve this country. If you can do nothing more – just say thank you.

  16. Wonderful episode Tim, especially because morning routines are a passion of mine. Loved the reminder about affirmations from Scott Adams! The format made it really easy to get a cohesive picture about the rituals and strategies of your previous guests. Thank you!

  17. Listened for the first time in a while intrigued by the headline/title. Feedback-wise, I enjoyed it all, but would have probably preferred a few more “morning routines” and maybe shorter snips from each contributor to get more in. But still really liked it.

  18. Seth Godin’s AltMBA was good. The way he designed it to get maximum output, that’s something worth learning.

  19. Hi Tim,

    I’m reading Tools of Titans now and got across the real world MBA section. I was wondering if you have any books or reading to recommend to learn more about that subject or if you would like to do a podcast focusing on steps for high school students as I am one.

    Thank you!

  20. Hey Tim! I’m such a believer in all you have going on. That said–your content and feature interviews skew heavily male. A big miss that sends the wrong message. There are so many incredible females who would be fantastic contributors to your podcast, blog and more. I’ll be waiting…

  21. Tim! This podcast came at a perfect time in my life. I have been struggling to establish and maintain my ideal morning routine. This episode made me realize that the key elements I am missing are: waking up long before 7am and limiting the my decision making by knowing what I will do for exercise and eat for breakfast the night before.

    Because I work for myself I will often do too many good things in the morning and then start work after 10am which stresses me out because then I don’t have enough time my day to get my work done. I am trying to find the balance between winning the morning and still starting work by 9am. Recently I have been going for a swim in the ocean almost every morning and it makes a big difference in my day.

    I am a huge fan of your work and I think you will be a huge fan of my tea! [Moderator: text removed.] I would love to send you a sample of this delicious, instant, organic tea mix. You can add it to your pu erh tea or to coffee! I am a 28 year old woman/mermaid/entrepreneur. I am behind grateful for the wisdom you gather and share. The tips I have learned from you show and your books help me to be the best version of myself. My mission is to spread wellness, mindfulness and joy through the distribution of [Moderator: product name removed]. My dream is to some day soon be on your pod cast!

  22. Hi Tim! I just wanted to say a massive thank you!! Reading Tools of Titans has changed my life! I have highlighted a millions paragraphs and dog-eared 75% of the pages! It’s become a sort of bible for me! Thanks for your authenticity in your podcasts and your writing. I’m heading to San Francisco on August 11th for a Californian west coast holiday from Sydney winter! Its a long shot but if your up for having a coffee and a conversation with a Sydney sider, I’d love to buy you one!


  23. Good Episode, enjoyed that.

    Since coming across it on this Blog, probably around two years ago, morning routines have become really important to me, and I’m really starting to tighten down on it, and paying more attention. The more seriously I take it, and fine tune it, the better the results.

    Now, instead of being something I do occasionally, and get a bit of a boost, I’m just not right without it.

    Between that, and experimenting and fine tuning my diet, I’m astounded at how clear headed and steady I can feel, when it all comes together right, for the first two hours of the day.

    I’m also starting to take more care over night time routines.

    I really need to tighten down on Journaling too. It just works so well when I’m under pressure, but I kind of let it slip when things get easier. Harnessing that sort of power when I’m feeling great anyway, should be able to push me a great deal.

    Being as I’m already putting pen to paper, I’ll try the affirmation thing. Heighten ones awareness, conscious or subconscious, of the instances that can lead one to ones goals. Or align the universe to work for you, whatever. I don’t really care, so long as it works.

    Thanks for the Blog, Keep doing what you keep doing.

  24. Tim, I work midnights in the biomed industry.Being somewhat of a night owl yourself,what tips,routines would you have for the rest of us?


    Carey Hall

  25. I usually love your podcasts but I can’t say I was a fan of this one at all. I come to you for distilled advice and I thought a podcast on morning routines (one of your favorite subjects I’m sure) was sure to be an incredibly informed and inspiring one. But you muddled the episode with interludes that had nothing to do with the actual morning routines and were just interesting tidbits from the podcasts. Like great, if I wanted that then I would go back to the episode. You even included Jamie Foxx singing a song- I don’t get anything about improving my morning routine from that whatsoever. I would have preferred if the episode was far more focused, comparing and contrasting routines from a variety of people and offering your personal experience with creating and sticking to ones. Instead it seemed to be uninterrupted cuts of a few different podcasts that were loosely related to a morning routine.

  26. Tim! These podcast episodes are outstanding! My favorite quote is the advice Jamie Foxx gave to his 30 year old self which was “it’s going to go fast”. I love that question and would really enjoy hearing more podcast guests try to answer that question. More of that please!

  27. Hi Tim, hope you are not offended by my silly comment but, as a subsciber to 5 bullets friday ( thanks excellent content! ) I’ ve noticed that the email design looks like an obituary in a newspaper. As you know, for safety and speed, most email clients do not download images. As a result your email, when opened, is simply sorrounded by a black bold border, hence the obituary analogy. Sure you can fix it and bring back a smile on your avid readers 😁 even those too busy… ops…lazy to download images.

  28. Tim your Force multiplier concept has been a life game-changer for me thank you.

    I am working the mofo Force multiplier like nobody’s business.

    Actually applying Parkinson’s law has been a top 3 game changer for me.

  29. Seth’s and Scott’s were favorite podcasts of your first 100, and so I enjoy how Radio Hour re-cuts and sends us revision on some of the most important points.

    Morning routine has been a “therapy” that has just tightened and tightened for me over the years of dandering around in the Ferrissosphere…it is the Tool of Tools for creativity, boundaries and habits that are valuable levers. It was good – in this episode – to be reminded where it all started. Thank you for the rinse and repeat!

  30. Jocko made me thinking … it is the ”machines in Zone”, the guys of brisk decisions and manly leadership who always win. Be it chicks, Tim’s attention, praise or fame [compared to unattractiveness of say prudent double trials, zen or non violence ways]. The universal soldiers who get hooked [addiction brings withdrawal shit] on adrenaline, since how else one can survive this risky business than learn to be in a zone and face the fate with utter heroism. Sadly these machines are the ones who spred the mess [damage to the Nature and peoples’ souls] in World. They have orders but [as Primo Levi sais] they are to blame too….

  31. Listener feedback:

    I loved the idea of this podcast Tim but personally I felt disappointed at the lack of prescriptive or practical advice (eg. how to avoid the snooze button, how to avoid procrastinating between waking and work, how to reduce morning decisions etc) and also the lack of specificity and synthesis of the information: there were grabs from interviews which included lots of discussion of things unrelated to morning routines (eg affirmations, Jamie’s change in musical direction etc..).

    I was super psyched to listen to the podcast because I had imagined there would be short strictly relevant grabs from 10+ former interviewees with the signature Tim Ferris number crunching (eg ‘I found 30% of interviewees meditate as soon as they wake, of these 80% are creative proffesionals, sporting professionals were more likely to eat then excercise etc..’). I know many of your guests have discussed morning routines so I was looking for a podcast entirely focused on this aspect of performance.

    I’m a massive fan, thanks very much for your books and podcasts.

    Sweeney Young

  32. I love this idea of reducing decision fatigue. As a mom of 7 and business owner, I have enough taxing my brain lol! I eat the same thing for breakfast: half decaf (working on it!) coffee with cream and powdered collagen, and a high protein gluten free muffin in a mug with grass fed butter. I also have a tiny wardrobe and outsource shopping (a dreaded activity) to Stitch Fix. I love Scott Adam’s story! I have also seen the power of affirmation in my business success.

  33. This quote by Seth Godin really stuck with me so I wrote is out and am sharing it with all my friends who are parents:

    “Busy is a trap. Busy is a Myth. So what could possibly be more important than your kid. Please don’t play the busy card. If you spend 2 hours a day, without an electronic device, looking your kid in the eye, talking to them and solving interesting problems, you will raise a different kid than someone who doesn’t do that.”

    1. Really loved this episode, especially the format. Please do more of these. I listened to this today, feeling a little in the dumps over some of my decision-making over the years. Listening to this picked me up and gave me some reason, motivation, energy. Thank you.

  34. I was excited when I read the title of this podcast, “Morning Routines and Strategies”. I was looking forward to hearing how different people start their day. I was shocked when all the contributors had no interaction with their significant other or kids in the morning (the only contributor who even mentioned family was Seth Godin). Perhaps I’m not in doing it right, but almost every morning is different for me because my wife and kids influence how my days begin. I do have morning routines such as making the coffee and feeding the dogs, trying to squeeze in some exercise and so on…but am I doomed to never be a successful world changer because I choose to let my wife and kids into my morning routine? Or did the contributors give their ideal morning routine, but didn’t mention that they only achieve that 3 out of 7 days? Unlike most of the podcasts by Tim, this one left me a little confused and questioning myself.

  35. Hi Tim,

    Love your content man.can you help me out with this problem :

    How to make your bones stronger,?

    I have really weak bones

    Please help me out

  36. Everything always comes back to – get your morning right and you are set for the day. Pick up habits weekly – increase and refine them. Focus and ground yourself before 8am and no matter what the day brings you will overcome it with greater strength and focus than if you just rolled out of bed and put on your work clothes, grabbed your keys and ran.

  37. Tim,

    Your books and podcasts changed my views on business and Entrepreneurship. I’m a big fan and the network that expands from you to your audience is incredible, half of the books and people I follow and read and look to for advice come from your show.

    I know you always love to change up your style- you’ve never interviewed really early stage entrepreneurs or younger generation “Millenials,” generation.

    How about a little change up in your content style and getting in the mind of the most vilified generation of all time.

    I went from a pharmaceutical sales rep to ultimately starting a marketing company with my best friend from college after we moved in together and realized we hated the directions our lives were going.

    I felt as if I was effectively being paid to poison people, and then being paid on how many people I did.

    The best part is- the relationship between my roommate and I began when I told him I was reading the “The 4 Hour Workweek,” and the rest was history. Your email is impossible to find, and i’ve searched high and wide to find a way to contact you, so here’s my only shot.

    [Moderator: Email address removed.]

  38. Question. Morning rituals like e.g. Tony Robbins ice bath work for me in the summer. I live in Germany where it is cold and dark until sometimes 8am. Do they also stick with it/would they stick with it in a way darker and colder environment?

  39. Great format, kind of wished it was a bit longer. I really enjoy your long format shows. Thanks for your hours of teaching, your work is truly inspirational.

  40. So bad that your articles are only podcasts; For foreigners, it’s very difficult to understand voice, more difficult than text …