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The Best Morning Routine for Online University Students

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Last Updated on October 6, 2023 by Alexandra Markin

Even though we don’t wake up and head out the door to attend in-person classes everyday, online university students still need a morning routine that sets up their day for success.

It’s so easy for us not to have routines because many online courses are self-directed, meaning you don’t need to be online at a certain time each day.

However, as an online student myself I can say from experience that perfecting my morning routine has been a critical part of my success. Before my study sessions even begin, I can feel good that I’ve already accomplished some of my goals thanks to the morning routine I’ve designed for myself.

University isn’t easy. There’s always something due or an exam to study for. If you’re taking classes online, you probably have other responsibilities as well such as working full-time or raising a family.

This post helps online university students harness the power of a morning routine and stick with it, because it’s designed to fit THEIR lifestyle!

What is a Good Morning Routine For a College Student?

Most people think the best morning routines have to include waking up early – usually at (or even before) the crack of dawn. However, a good morning routine for a college student is to create everyday habits that fit YOUR lifestyle.

When you’re in university, your morning may not begin at 5:00am, 7:00am or even 11:00am.

Maybe you’re a nursing student and your clinical practicum has you working night shift. Maybe you study best late in the evening. Or maybe you’re just a natural night owl. One of the major advantages of open university is that it really does allow you to study whenever it’s best for you.

No matter what time of day you study, having a solid routine when you first wake up sets the tone for your day, whatever time your “morning” starts.

Morning Routine Ideas for University Students

“Some people dream of success, while others wake up and work hard at it.”

Napoleon Hill, author of Think And Grow Rich

Whether your morning routine is setting you up for a productive study session or getting you ready for work, below are 13 ideas you can include upon rising.

The order of these will be slightly different for everyone, so don’t be afraid of trial and error when designing your routine.

Related content: Study Motivation Quotes for University Students.

1. Keep Your Alarm Clock Out of Reach

In the age where cell phones run almost every aspect of our lives, the great alarm clock debate still rages on. Do you use your phone as your alarm clock? Should you get an old-fashioned alarm clock? Are sunrise alarm clocks worth it?

The best option is the one that works for you, but out of the all above options, your alarm clock should not be on your nightstand. It should be out of reach, where you need to physically get up out of bed to turn it off – think on the opposite nightstand or on your dresser.

If you use your phone as your alarm clock, here are some tips:

  • Plug it in overnight in the next room where you can still hear the alarm but have to get out of bed to turn it off. If you live in a condo or small apartment, this could mean charging your phone in the kitchen or living room at night.
  • Choose a nice alarm sound. If you have an iPhone, I like the sound “Waves” because it’s not jarring.
  • Don’t hit snooze!

Once you’re physically up, move right on to the next step of your morning routine – get a glass of water and take your vitamins.

2. Drink a Glass of Water and Take Your Vitamins

Start your day off strong with hydration and vitamins. I’ve been a huge proponent of multivitamins for most of my adult life. Not only do they give you essential vitamins and minerals that may be missing in your diet, but multivitamins also give you extra energy. When I’m studying, anything that helps me study longer without getting tired is key.

I’ve been taking Progressive Active Multivitamins for Women for over 10 years and love them. They also contain stress relief nutrients and antioxidant support which are huge benefits for students. You can order them online from Amazon, and they often go on sale! Sign up for an Amazon Prime Student membership and get a 6-month free trial.

For an extra wake up jolt, prep ice water in a stainless steel water bottle. It will still be ice cold when you drink it the next morning.

3. Open Your Blinds

Natural light helps you wake up and not want to crawl back into bed, so open your curtains or blinds.

Even in winter months where it might still be dark for long after you get up, don’t skip this. It guarantees you won’t miss any beautiful sunrises!

4. Make Coffee, Tea or Morning Beverage of Your Choice

Everyone has their morning beverage of choice, probably entrenched in habit. If yours is coffee, the secret is prepping your machine the night before. Add the water and coffee so all you need to do in the morning is press brew!

If you need some extra help in becoming a morning person, try this trick: program your coffee machine to start brewing at the exact same time your alarm goes off. Even if you physically get up to shut off your alarm and somehow climb back into bed, the sound and smell of fresh coffee brewing might be just enough to coax you back up.

For this I rely on my trusty Cuisinart Brew Central 12-Cup Programmable Coffeemaker.

5. Squeeze in Some Movement

While your coffee brews, do some stretches while you’re standing in the kitchen. Even 10 minutes of slow movement will help you wake up. I added this habit to my morning routine after I read the book The Compound Effect, in which the author, Darren Hardy, shared his morning routine. If you’re looking for a book to kick your butt and help you build better habits, I highly recommend it.

As students we spend a lot of time hunched over our desks, so squeeze in some stretches at every opportunity.

6. Make Your Bed

This is such an important morning task that retired Navy Seal Admiral William H. McRaven wrote a book about it. The title Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World is based on his famous commencement speech given to The University of Texas graduating class of 2014.

Admiral William H. McRaven’s famous commencement speech in 2014.

Making your bed gives you a sense of accomplishment first thing in the morning. It immediately makes your room look tidy, takes away the temptation to get back into it and gives you a sense of comfort and relaxation at the end of a long day of being a student!

The order of the next morning routine suggestions will be a bit different for everyone depending on what you want to include in the first part of your day. For example, some people prefer to workout and shower in the evening. The key takeaway for university students when building a morning routine is to go with what works best for them.

7. Journal

Journaling takes many forms. People like to write for different reasons, and there is no right or wrong way to do it. Here are some journaling prompts your could write on each morning:

  • A diary entry to record your feelings
  • List 5 things you’re grateful for
  • Write out daily affirmations
  • A summary of the previous day’s events

You can journal for a few minutes or up to an hour, depending on how you’re feeling. Get everything down on paper to help clear your mind for the day ahead.

8. Meditate

Scientific research on the benefits of meditation for students is overwhelming. Meditation has been shown to help improve your grades, reduce study burnout and enhance your creativity.

Sit in a comfortable position and focus on your breath. When your mind starts to wander, come back to focus on your breathing. That’s it!

Unroll your yoga mat to sit on maybe light some candles. This way, your yoga mat will already be out for another activity in your morning routine: exercise.

Practice meditation at any time of the day when you feel overwhelmed or anxious.

9. Listen to Music, a Podcast or Motivational Video

Start your day with something energizing, educational or motivational.

The best part about this morning routine idea is that it’s adaptable to how you feel on that particular morning. Tired? Listen to some upbeat music. Feel like learning? Listen to a podcast episode. Lack motivation? Watch a motivational YouTube video.

Looking for recommendations? Try these:

  • I’m a longtime fan of the Alux YouTube channel. It’s is perfect for students who want to learn more about business, finance and self-improvement while working towards their own luxury lifestyle. Bonus – they also have a podcast.
  • The Diary Of A CEO with Steven Bartlett podcast isn’t just reserved for students planning to become CEO’s – it’s valuable for everyone. Bartlett shares the highs and lows of his personal experiences running a business and interviews other founders and CEOs from some of the worlds biggest companies.
  • If you love learning about other professions in the sciences, Ologies with Alie Ward is for you. Biology, oneirology, enigmatology, mycology – I didn’t know some of these ologies existed until a friend recommended this podcast!

I like to sync my JBL bluetooth speaker to my iPhone and listen to my workout playlist while I’m getting ready for the gym.

10. Read

As university students, putting aside time in your morning routine to read a non-fiction, personal-development book might be the last thing you want to do, especially if you have a lot of textbook reading planned.

Even reading 10 pages of a self-improvement book every day can equal one book per month – 12 books a year.

Some of the best personal development books that have helped my formal education journey are:

  • Talent Is Overrated by Geoff Colvin
  • Atomic Habits by James Clear
  • Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

11. Get Some Focused Work In

For some of us, first thing in the morning is the best time to get in an hour or two of focused work. There are no distractions before all the busyness of your day sets in.

When you do sit down to work or school after you’ve finished all your morning routine activities, you can feel good you’re already ahead of schedule.

12. Review Your Annual Goals

Taking a few moments each morning to review your annual goals can be extremely motivating and help you remember what you’re working towards. Most of us specify several annual goals in many areas of our lives (school, health, family, relationships, etc.) so it’s helpful to review them each day to stay on track.

If you’re more visual and like to keep a vision or dream board, you could review that instead.

I dedicated an entire page to annual goals in my bullet journal.

Related post: Essential Bullet Journal Spreads For Online Students

13. Write Our Your Daily To Do List

The secret with this one is to not write down more than 3-5 tasks for the day (and yes, one of these must be studying!)

This helps you keep on track and focused as your day goes on, not matter what distractions pop up.

14. Eat a Healthy Breakfast

Start your day strong with a nutritious breakfast. Your brain needs proper fuel to function!

Some of my favourites are:

  • Scrambled eggs with fruit and whole wheat toast
  • Overnight oats
  • Smoothie bowl
  • English muffin with peanut butter and banana

15. Exercise

No matter how much studying you have to do, don’t skip daily physical activity. It doesn’t have to be an hour long workout or high-energy cardio everyday: a 20 minute yoga video on YouTube is perfect for those days you feel tired or are really short on time.

Decide what your exercise regimen is going to be the night before, along with laying out your workout clothes so you have no excuses.

16. Shower and Get Ready for the Day

After exercise, take a refreshing shower and put yourself together for the day. Even though I’m an online student and work from home, I always do my hair and makeup. I’m much more productive when I’m put together because I don’t feel like a slob with my unwashed hair in a messy bun.

Also – you never know when you’ll need to leave the house on short notice!

Tip: add one luxurious self-care activity to your morning routine – something that makes you feel good. For example, I love to use my gua sha. Although I haven’t seen any miraculous changes, I run the pretty pink rose quartz stone under cold water and find it really helps de-puff my face and under-eyes and just generally feels amazing.

17. Get Dressed (Properly!)

As online students it’s tempting to just throw on sweat pants, and old t-shirt, yoga pants or anything that’s “low effort.” However, it makes a huge difference for your daily productivity when you get dressed properly as if you’re heading to work or an in-person class.

This doesn’t mean wearing jeans or dress pants if you don’t want to, but putting effort into your outfit every morning will make you more productive. My favourite outfit no matter what the season? Dresses! Sweater dresses for winter and sleeveless cotton dresses for summer. Not only are they super comfortable in long periods of sitting, but throwing them on takes less time than pulling on sweat pants and a t-shirt!

And as mentioned above, you never know when you might need to leave the house on short notice. Be ready for an opportunity that comes you way.

What does your morning routine include as an online university student? Share in the comments!

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