Why I’ve Followed the Same Morning Routine for Decades


I’ve had the same morning routine for decades.

Sticking to a routine has always brought me clarity of thought, a positive mindset, and most of all, successful results for the rest of the day.

First and Foremost, Take Care of Someone Else


I’ve always been a dog lover. Here I am with my 2 German Shepherds, my Chihuahua and my daughter’s Pomeranian.

Every morning, as soon as I wake up, I feed my two German Shepherds and my Chihuahua, get them fresh water, and let them out for a run.

I love my dogs and I love to take care of them. More importantly, I appreciate knowing that I always have to take care of someone else first, before my own needs. 

Feed Your Brain

After I’ve taken care of the dogs, I settle into my most comfortable chair with my 2.5-pound Chihuahua on my shoulder, and I read three very diverse morning newspapers cover to cover. First, I read the Atlanta Journal Constitution to get my local news. Next, I go to The New York Times, which skews liberal, and then I read The Wall Street Journal, which is more conservative.

I’ll read every part — domestic, foreign, business, sports, even the parts that might bore me a little — because feeding my brain is an absolutely essential part of my day. And by reading a diverse selection of papers, I get different viewpoints and different perspectives on all the things that affect me, my life, and my business.

Because I read, I think broader, so I think better.

Fuel Your Body

After I’ve satisfied my brain, I put on my Fitbit, which I don’t take off until bedtime. Your goal is supposed to be 10,000 steps a day, but I always like to try to exceed that. I’ll always push myself to do just a little more — even if it’s just a few hundred more steps — just for the sheer satisfaction of starting the day with a goal and then overcoming it.

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After a light workout while I catch up on the overnight business news on Fox Business or CNBC, I get to the most important aspect of my day — good nutrition and hydration. Proper nutrition is critical to my life and affects every aspect of it. I eat berries every morning — blackberries, blueberries, raspberries — and that’s it. Sometimes I’ll switch off with steel-cut oatmeal, but nothing more. My morning nutrition, including lots of hydration, helps me control my weight, my stamina, and, most importantly, my thinking.

I weighed 193 pounds my last year playing in the NFL, and today, at the age of 75, I weigh … 193 pounds. Sometimes I’ll dip under, but 193 is my Waterloo — I’ll never let my 6-foot frame go a single ounce over 193. That discipline has not only kept me active and healthy all these years, but it prevents me from feeling and thinking sluggishly, which is the death knell for success.

Open-Door Policy

One thing that’s usually not part of my morning routine is scheduled meetings. I often deal with executives who never seem to have the time for a five-minute conversation because they’re always in and out of meetings. That’s unacceptable. Nobody is thinking or making worthwhile things happen if their mornings are filled with meetings. You can’t separate yourself from the world, whether your own world or the outside. So my door is always open. My team always has to have access to me.

My morning routine always involves visiting coworkers in the offices around me, asking questions about their projects, or just finding out what interests them or what else they’d like to do. And if I’ve had an idea of my own overnight, I throw that at them and get feedback — good or bad — and their input for possible strategies.

Having a set routine and doing these four things every morning primes my mind and body, and, most of all, positively prepares my outlook for the rest of day. And they all have one thing in common — they make me more productive so that, in turn, I can do more for anyone I come in contact with throughout the day. 

This article was originally published on Business Insider as part of the Success Series.

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Fran Tarkenton

Fran Tarkenton

Fran Tarkenton is an entrepreneur and NFL Hall of Famer, and the founder of GoSmallBiz.com and Tarkenton Companies. With a passion for small business, he’s started more than 20 businesses during and after his NFL career. Fran is a small business coach for entrepreneurs and business owners, providing advice and guidance through sites such as GoSmallBiz.com, SmallBizClub.com, and more. He has written about business issues in the Wall Street Journal, U.S. New and World Report, and USA Today, along with regular appearances on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC. You can follow Fran on Twitter @Fran_Tarkenton.