The 2020 Morning Routines: Reinventing What Productivity Looks Like for Next Year

Johnny T. Nguyen
6 min readNov 11, 2019

Let’s get ahead of the curve and see how to be productive next year, by studying the trends in productivity and revisiting experts in the field. I’ll translate what I discover into ideas for you to incorporate into your life, and more specifically, into your morning routine.

I’m a big believer in morning routines, as Science Says, “Willpower is Highest in the Morning, So Start Strong.”

Results of a Harvard Study on Personal Productivity

Harvard Business conducted a study with 19,957 respondents across 6 continents on personal productivity, which is defined as, “the habits associated with accomplishing more each day.”

Here are some highlights:

  • Working longer hours does not necessarily mean higher personal productivity
  • Older and more senior professionals recorded higher scores than younger and more junior colleagues
  • Overall productivity scores of male and female professionals were almost the same

The study goes on to give recommendations on what to do. Here are highlights I found impactful and needs to be included into our 2020 morning routine.

  • Plan your work based on your top priorities, and then act with a definite objective. — That means being singularly focused on that top priority, and eliminating everything else.
  • Make daily processes, like getting dressed or eating breakfast, into routines so you don’t spend time thinking about them.
  • Leave time in your daily schedule to deal with emergencies and unplanned events.
  • Check the screens on your devices once per hour, instead of every few minutes.

New Data for a New Morning Routine


Do you have a morning routine? I’m betting you do, whether you realize it or not. The trick is, are you intentional about your routine or has it evolved over time without thought?

“Win the morning, win the day.” — Tim Ferriss, Entrepreneur

A study by Dovile Sinke shows what some of the most successful people do in their morning routine:

  • Exercising (65%)
  • Checking e-mails or doing a bit of work (38%)
  • Meditation (22%)
  • Gratitude practice (22%)
  • Reading a book or a newspaper (22%)

Wake up time?

  • 50% of the 54 top successful people wake up between 6–7AM. In fact, 86% wake up before 7AM.

How can you build a strong morning routine? Danny Forest has a six-step process, where Step 1 is simple yet extremely powerful. Do this and immediately gain clarity.

  • Step 1: List down all the things you want to do on a daily basis. This is just a brain dump. Write down everything that comes to mind — however meaningless it may seem to you. This gets you clarity on where all your time goes.

Economics of Productivity


Benjamin Franklin was known for having a great morning routine. That shows having a productive morning is nothing new, but now we have the science and studies to prove it. But what should we do differently for next year, 2020, that gives us a greater edge? It’s fun to experiment with our morning routine to discover what works best for us individually, plus it’ll give us a competitive edge.

In terms of the economics and global trends, productivity is, “a measure of an economy’s ability to generate growth.” As of late 2019, productivity is a growing concern because, “growth rates remain weak and fears emerge of a new economic slow-down.”

In particular, “technological innovation was racing ahead of workforce skills and urged governments to focus on labor and education policies.”

That means it’s more important than ever to keep our current skills sharp and to learn new skills, to stay relevant. Therefore, include learning into your morning routine:

  • Listen to a podcast that teaches a skill (ex. Hidden Brain)
  • Watch a MasterClass episode or YouTube video (multitude of topics, including photography, writing, cooking, management)
  • Find experts in your field, subscribe to their content, then consume it (such as this article!)

Overcome Distractions -> Greater Productivity


Sometimes these articles may feel repetitive. Yet, it’s crucial to remind ourselves to be intentional about our life, and get off of auto-pilot. Today, author Nir Eyal reframes an old concept about what it takes to remove distractions.

Nir says that “the opposite of distraction is not focus, but traction which is any action that pulls you toward what you want to do.” He goes on to say, “time management is pain management.”

In other words, we will do whatever is the path of least resistant. We are defaulted to being lazy. It takes energy to do something that is harder.

Here are four ways Nir suggests you can develop the skill to become “indistractable” and get more done:

  1. Master the internal triggers. Pause, acknowledge and treat with it with curiosity and not contempt.
  2. Wait 10 minutes until you give into the “itch” to do something else.
  3. Make time for traction. Schedule your day or someone else will plan it for you.
  4. Hack back the external triggers. Only have reminders that lead you to traction, not the interruptions that lead to distractions.

New Productivity Ideas

  • What’s #1 Thing? — A classic and it’s still the most important thing to do — identify the one thing you should accomplish today. (Otherwise your day will be wasted.) Focus and do that one thing, no matter what.
  • Podcasts — For skill-building and inspirational stories.
  • E-learning — Learn from your favorite influencers or thought leaders. They are the best in their field, so why not learn from them?
  • Zero Waste — Commit to generating zero waster for yourself or get your work unit to be in on it. With a sustainable initiative, you can develop a deeper sense of belonging, drive, and dedication.
  • Research a “Side Hustle” — Learn something, and maybe it’ll lead to new experiences or other innovations.
  • Drink Water in the Morning — Prevent dehydration headaches by waking up and drinking a cup of water.
  • Add to a List — Hopefully you’ve already started a “bucket” list or something similar. Add to it to get your brain aspirational, and stay positive throughout the day.
  • Nature and natural light — Studies have shown spending time in nature helps improve mental abilities. More important than ever!
  • Text or tweet an encouraging message — Personalize it to someone, or share with your community.
Johnny T. Nguyen

All about the adventure of positivity & productivity. I’ve turned into my parents and now wake up before 6 AM… & crush it. 🔅