A Simple 3 Step Morning Routine For A Better Day: “Move, Pause, Plan”

Joe Holder
4 min readSep 14, 2022


Each Tuesday I’m going to publish a “Quick Tip” on one of my social platforms that will allow you to apply a concept that will improve your health quickly and simply. Last week it was the power of chewing, among other things, on Instagram. This week I just want to share a simple 3 step plan for the morning that has helped me and doesn’t take much time.

Even if I admonish it I too occasionally find myself sucked into my phone immediately when I wake up. If I don’t leave my phone in the other room before I go to bed, it is easy to grab and end up sending a couple emails, text, or hit the social media speed ball. In a rapid moment it seems 15+ minutes have passed and you’re down on yourself for another “self-care” transgression. But f*ck it. It happens. I laugh when I feel the need to do this. At the end of the day I am not nearly important enough to think it is necessary to grab my phone immediately. The world will survive. And so will we if we don’t check it immediately.

Instead of telling you NOT to do something, here’s a simple morning flow you can replace the phone with. If the phone is not a temptation for you, this is also a practice I have found helpful for me even on days where the phone is not around. This can take as little as 10–15 minutes.

Step 1: Move

Wake up, move, and get into yourself. There’e no need to stress over exercise when you can just add it in at opportune times. An easy moment for me, and likely you too, is after the wake-up.

Why: Movement in the morning allows you to “get back into your body” after having slept for 6–8 hours and being still. For me I have seen the benefits of improvement with interoception, or basically ability to understand the messages with body is giving me, with morning movement. Am I stressed? Tired? Excited? Whatever it is, I can take a moment to listen to pay attention to my body through movement.

Movement can also improve our digestion through a function called peristalsis which helps move contents through our digestive system. Let’s be honest, you shouldn’t always need a cup of coffee to go to the bathroom in the morning.

When I have a bit more time, I like to go for a morning walk immediately upon waking. Maybe add in a few twists and shoulder shrugs. This also adds in the benefit of getting exposed to morning sunlight, helping our wakefulness in the moment and regulating our circadian rhythms so we can sleep at night.

So don’t overthink it. Just get up and move.

Time allotment: 5–10 minutes

Additional Resource: If you need ideas about morning movement routines, find a couple less than 10 minutes Exercise Snacks here and here.

Step 2: Pause + Reflect

Take a moment to pause and/or reflect after movement. Allow your brain and mind to take a moment to center and pay attention to what bubbles up.

This doesn’t haven’t to be meditation if that isn’t your thing. I personally like to sit for 10 minutes and literally do nothing but totally fine if not your wave. You can sit with a cup of tea or your coffee and just be in the moment. You can go in the shower and hold your loofah or washcloth as you muse. Just be where you are for a second. I’ve seen the benefits this has for problem solving. Take a moment and you’d be surprised how quickly the solution you need pops up.

Why: This is inspired by “reflective practice” used in education where a teacher reflects on the lesson plan of the day before to see what connected with students. This is done by taking a pause and collecting oneself in the present moment so they can objectively view a situation without intense judgement. You can do the same for your own life.

Time allotment: 5–10 minutes

Additional Resource: “The Reflection Toolkit” via The University of Edinburgh.

Step 3: Plan

“Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection, will come even more effective action.” — Peter Drucker

We moved, we paused, now we plan and attack.

Why: If you have a good plan you don’t have to actually believe in yourself all the time. This is the conundrum of motivation — it is not always there. The plan or the framework for success can be though. That comes from understanding, planning, testing, and then reevaluating one’s chosen course of action.

Planning also removes much of the stress of the “guessing” game of the day, especially if you work for yourself. My plan for each day is pretty simple. I write down what are my “MITs” or “most important things” that help move towards medium term goals and economic stability. These things are both important and urgent. Then I write down a list for research or long term goals I need to be aware of. This is important but not urgent as the lead time is longer. Lastly, I write down basic/mundane tasks such as emails, invoices, etc. These are often not that important but are urgent in terms of the time frame they need to be accomplished in. Admittedly, this is part of my weakness as I spend too much time on everything but the urgent. This leaves many emails going unanswered but applying this framework has helped me get better at not letting things in those three categories slip through cracks!

Time allotment: 5–10 minutes

Additional Resource: Power of Less by Leo Babauta. One of my favorite books but you can read the notes here.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this read give me a follow on Instagram or Twitter. Also check out my GQ columns here.



Joe Holder

Founder of The Ocho System™, Plant Based Gang, and Exercise Snacks. Writer for @GQ. Consultant for various, primarily @nike @hyperice @dyson. Views my own