Here's How a Special Journal Helped Me Completely Hack My Morning Routine

I've never been that good at utilizing my morning time.

I usually wake up about 90 minutes before I leave the house in the morning, but I only take about 30 minutes to get ready. In the past, I've typically spent the other hour or so wasting time on my phone or lazing about in bed.

So when I stumbled across the Morning Sidekick Journal, I was intrigued. It's a daily diary designed to help you create a productive morning routine that ripples out into the other aspects of your life to make your whole experience better.

I reached out to Habit Nest, the company behind the journal, who happily gave me a copy of the journal to see if I could hack my morning routine to become more productive in general. Here's what happened.

Morning Sidekick Journal Covers

(via Habit Nest)


The Product

The Morning Sidekick Journal is a daily journal that's dedicated to helping its users become more prolific with the help of a morning routine. It begins by helping the user determine why a morning routine can improve their life and what it takes to form healthy habits.

The idea is that getting stuff done in the morning sets the tone for the rest of the day. According to the creators of Morning Sidekick Journal, all of the most successful people in the world already do this. With that line of thinking, the journal aims to make you one of those successful people.

It features 66 days worth of journal pages, on which users can users can track their progress and progressively see any changes they make to their lives. Each page should be looked at once in the morning after waking and once at night before bed, and filling out the fields there only takes a few minutes.

First, you record the date and the time you went to bed and woke up. Next, you determine your most important task for the day. This sets your intentions early on and allows you to build your whole morning (and day) around accomplishing this goal.

Morning Sidekick Journal Commit

(via Habit Nest)

Before you start the rest of your day, you also write down the distractions you want to minimize before bed, such as browsing your phone or watching TV, and set time limits on each.  Last, you record when you'll go to bed and when you'll wake up the following morning.

At night, you return to the journal and write down the most magical things you experienced that day. Finally, you jot down one thing that can improve your life by 1% tomorrow, as well as the things you plan to include in your morning routine the following day.

Each day also includes different tips, pieces of motivation and stories about successful people to keep you inspired and succeeding, and the book also includes recap periods to help you stay accountable, go over what you've learned and see how far you've come.


The Experience

The toughest thing about the Morning Sidekick Journal was starting. First, I was a little intimidated by the idea of creating a new-and-improved me. Second, I knew there was some reading to do before I could start, so I kept putting it off. That's exactly the kind of thinking the book is trying to counter—but I couldn't know that yet.

When I finally got into it, I found that it wasn't that scary at all. I started by reading about the importance of a morning routine and determining why I should have one, which was so I could feel healthier and cut out stress in other areas of my life.

On day one of the journal, I didn't have much of a morning routine to speak of. Instead, I set out to do my most important (work-related) task of the day and vowed to stop playing video games an hour before bed and read a book only up to my bedtime—which I tend to go over when I'm particularly caught up in my reading.

Morning Sidekick Journal Day One

(via Habit Nest)

That night, I wrote down my first set of magical moments. Overall, this was one of my favorite elements of the Morning Sidekick Journal, as sometimes it can be easy to take the most special moments for granted and forget about them. Logging them all in a journal also allowed me to flip through when I needed a little motivation to remember all of the sweetest moments in my life.

When it came to the life improvement section, I decided that I would make the following day better by tidying up. For my morning routine the following day, I kept things super simple. The journal recommends tasks that are easy to accomplish, because setting unrealistic expectations can discourage you for future days, so I did the former. I decided that the following morning I was sure to drink plenty of water, do the dishes, read a few pages of a book, eat something for breakfast and stretch a little.

The following morning, I was easily able to knock out each of those tasks within the hour I'd usually spend being lazy. I didn't know what to expect, but this legitimately made me feel more energized and productive for the rest of the day.

Wanting to get my streak going, I set a similar collection of distractions to avoid and things to accomplish the following day, and again I finished everything I set out to do. I also embraced the idea that if I could get my most dreaded task out of the way first thing in the morning, the rest of my day would seem effortless.

By the end of my first week, I'd established some pretty good habits. I was hydrating better, doing my full multi-step face-washing routine even when I didn't feel like it and finishing another house-cleaning chore every morning. Just a few days in, my home was sparkling clean, and I was getting more done during the days, too.

When I was feeling groggy and not super ready to take on the day, having concrete goals gave me that extra push to still get things done. On the occasions that I just didn't have it in me, I learned to accept that one misstep wasn't a failure and that it wouldn't ruin the rest of my streak.

After three weeks, there was another recap section in the book asking me to go over the most important aspects of having a productive morning and day and how stopping these routines would negatively impact me. I was still going strong, and considering these things helped me keep going for even longer.

Morning Sidekick Journal phase 2

(via Habit Nest)

Apparently, this is the amount of time it takes to form a simple habit—though the journal continues for more than two full months in order for you to really cement those good habits and hardwire them into your brain.

I also have to admit that I ignored one of the main tenets of Morning Sidekick Journal altogether. The idea is that by pushing yourself to wake up earlier, you can create even more productive morning time for yourself. I tend to have a hard time getting to bed, and getting out of bed earlier would only make me exhausted and put me at diminished capacity for the rest of the day. I was able to skip this step and still benefit from the book's teachings.

Toward the end of my two-month process with the journal, I had a tougher time keeping up with it. While I would still do some productive cleaning in the morning and stick to my routine, I was forgetting to track it. But what I learned still stuck with me, even when I wasn't physically using the journal. I hope to keep it all going, even though I haven't filled it all in.


Bottom Line

If you're looking for a personal trainer in book form, the Morning Sidekick Journal might be exactly what you need. It costs $33.90 in Habit Nest's store, which is a little pricey but entirely worth an overhaul of your mornings.

The book allows you to set your own goals and hold yourself accountable, challenging you to stop making excuses for laziness and actually do what you plan to do.

While I didn't technically stick with the journal the entire two months, I did stick with its teachings, and I was able to adapt it to what I needed in my life (without missing out on my much-needed sleep). I even plan to start a separate journal of "magical moments" because I found that truly motivational.

And thanks to the journal, my apartment is spotless.


If you're all about writing down your thoughts and feelings, click HERE for all the reasons everyone should keep a journal.