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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCLA chapter.

If being born into a staggeringly long line of early-birds has brought me anything, it’s an irrepressible love for mornings: morning light, morning coffee, but more than anything, morning routines. Ever since I graduated from high school, I have been constantly inventing and reinventing the structure of my mornings to derive maximum contentment (and productivity). And after several years of trial and error, I have finally found a routine that feels more and more like a ritual.

find your wake-up sweet spot

As a morning person, I know that my ideal wake-up time is very different from that of my night owl counterparts. To that I say, “to each their own,” and I promise that this is not going in the direction of “5 AM Club” recruitment; I experienced one too many 5:30 AM alarms freshman year and do not plan on returning to that behavior anytime soon. 

That being said, I’ve found that my wake-up sweet spot is between 7:00 and 8:30 AM. If I can wrench myself out of bed anywhere in that range, I’ll be a happy woman. Anytime before then and I’ll find myself snoozing my alarm for the indefinite future, and anytime after, I’ll feel like there’s not enough of my precious morning left in the day. 

While I, like others, try not to be on my phone as soon as I wake up, that pesky unnatural dopamine and all, I love my morning weather app indulgence time too much to give it up. So, if you’re stronger than me and can resist an AM phone scroll, keep it up because your dopamine levels will be looking much sexier than mine in about 40 years. 


This is the part of my morning that makes it feel more like a ritual than a routine, and an absolutely crucial ritual at that. My alarm could go off 37 times on full volume directly into my ear, but I could never feel truly awake until I’ve had the time to do my skincare. Every second that I spend standing at my bathroom sink, I am thinking about my intentions for the day and what I hope to accomplish. No matter how bleary-eyed and mentally foggy I am, doing my morning skincare always leaves me feeling rejuvenated and ready to seize the day.

tidy your space (& make your bed?)

Let me begin by saying that I used to be a capital “H” Hater of the bed-making argument. If I did “make my bed,” it was me haphazardly pulling up the comforter and calling it a day. I never found it compelling, I never found it productive, and I sure as hell never found it satisfying. 

The one and only reason that I started making my bed was out of pure guilt. As soon as I started living with two “make the bed” roommates, I had a choice: conform to what I perceived as organized madness, or be a bad roommate. And so I started making my bed — at first unwilling, and now, shockingly fervently. 

It’s not that I necessarily love the process itself or think that it makes me feel accomplished, rather that making my bed somehow magically convinces me to tidy up my space as a whole. Materially, I have become so much more organized because of it, which consequently tricks my brain into thinking that I have my life together, and what could be more worth those two extra minutes of effort than that?

breakfast & Caffeine

Growing up, I spent the majority of my school mornings sitting alongside my brothers at the table, having breakfast together. Somehow, my parents managed to wrangle us into our seats, pausing our pre-departure madness even if just for ten minutes. While I no longer get to enjoy the same company, I have learned to make do with my own.

As much as I admire the breakfast & coffee on-the-go gals, I’ve realized that nothing centers me more than taking the time out of my morning to sit and enjoy a meal. During this time, I like to either listen to a podcast/music or catch up on media so that it won’t distract me as much during my scheduled productivity time later on. On days when I have a bit more time to spare and the weather is cooperating, I’ll try to drink my coffee outside to add some morning sun to the mix as well.

Carving out time in the morning to enjoy a relatively leisurely breakfast and a cup of coffee has given me yet another thing to look forward to when my alarm goes off and helps me start the day with a grounded mindset.

cup of iced coffee and matcha with a strawberry donut
Photo by lily oneal

productivity time

The most empirical kind of evidence that I have regarding the significance of my morning routine is my increased daily productivity. As a morning person, I made the very well-justified assumption that I would be well-suited for early morning classes, but as it turns out, this exact thinking is what resulted in me turning off the lights at midnight just to set an alarm for a ripe 5:30 AM. 

While I did enjoy being in class on the earlier side, I learned that my chronic lack of productivity in the afternoon was NOT conducive to getting my homework done before an 8:00 AM. So, knowing that my independent work ethic dips in the late afternoon, I now do everything in my power to avoid classes before 11:00 AM. This way, I’m able to get enough sleep and maximize my productivity by doing my homework in the morning and spending my afternoons in class.

One of the best parts about being a college student is having the flexibility to determine what daily structure is most favorable to helping you cross off items from your to-do list and to feel good while doing it. I believe the morning part of that daily structure is what sets us up for success, because if we start the day feeling grounded and present enough to be productive, then the rest of the day is much more likely to fall perfectly into place. So, if you needed one, this is your sign to perfect your morning routine, too!

Ellie is a second-year Global Studies major at UCLA, from Charlotte, NC. Her favorite author is Sally Rooney, and she loves re-reading books, playing field hockey, cooking for friends, and photographing them on her camera. In the summer, you can find her in downtown Manhattan peeking into a vintage store or writing in a coffee shop.