The 80/20 Morning Routine: A Quick Protocol for an Excellent Start to Your Day

If you want to start a morning routine, you can find a lot of advice online.

And while most of it is pretty good, almost all of the recommended routines have one major flaw.

They assume that you have a lot of time available every morning.

That’s just not the case for most people. I know it isn’t for me—especially since I became a dad.

So, a while back, I set out to build an “80/20” type morning routine. One that delivers as many benefits as possible in as little time as possible.

And after a lot of experimenting, I’ve come up with a routine that’s worked so well that I want to share it with you.

Here’s the 3-step protocol I use every workday morning, along with a brief explanation of each step.

Step 1: 7-Minute Workout

This is a science-based exercise routine where you do 12 body-weight exercises in rapid succession1.

Researchers have found that this kind of high-intensity interval training is extremely effective.

It can deliver many of the same benefits as several hours of running in just a few minutes.

That includes welcome benefits like improved health, mood, energy, focus, and learning.

I use nothing more than an app2, a chair, and a wall to do my 7-minute workout.

Step 2: 5-Minute Cold Shower

Deliberate cold exposure provides some powerful benefits3.

Physiologically, it can improve your metabolic rate, immune response, and health.

Psychologically, it can strengthen your ability to handle stress, build your grit, and improve your mood.

And if you do your cold exposure in the morning, you’ll be more alert throughout the rest of the day.

I take a gradual approach here and shower slightly colder every week.

Step 3: 2-Minute Focus Exercise

It turns out that mental focus follows visual focus4.

So, if you want your mind to be focused, you need to focus visually.

And you can do that by gazing at a fixed spot in your environment for two minutes while blinking as little as possible.

Ideally, you want the spot to be the same distance away from you as the object you intend to look at while working.

I do this exercise by staring at a fixed spot on my computer screen for two minutes before I start my morning writing session.

Final Words

Here’s a quick summary of The 80/20 Morning Routine:

  • Step 1: 7-Minute Workout
  • Step 2: 5-Minute Cold Shower
  • Step 3: 2-Minute Focus Exercise

The whole process, including switching between the steps, takes me about 20 minutes to complete.

And while those 20 minutes are pretty challenging, the effort is well worth it.

Not just because of the long-term benefits but also because I usually drop into a pleasurable state of relaxed focus immediately afterward.

If you want a quick and effective morning routine, feel free to draw inspiration from mine.

Copy it or tweak it, then give it a try.

I’m sure you’ll be happy with the results — especially considering the small time investment.


  1. The Scientific 7-Minute Workout
  2. The 7-Minute Workout Challenge app
  3. Using Deliberate Cold Exposure for Health and Performance
  4. How to Focus to Change Your Brain

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