Humans have been devising productive, inspiring morning routines for centuries. Image Credit: Unsplash/Bayarkhuu Battulga

Early mornings – you either love them or hate them.

Click start to play today’s Spell It, where we learn how our attention to morning rituals can either set the tone for, or completely ‘wreck’, our day.

While life coaches and trendsetters today are still engineering new ways to seize early morning hours and optimise them, their impulse for a solid, grounding morning ritual is nothing new. Humans have been devising productive, inspiring morning routines for centuries, according to a November 2023 report in the National Geographic.

Discover below, how some of history’s most well-known figures managed their mornings:

1. Marcus Aurelius

Born in 121AD, Marcus Aurelius became the Roman emperor 40 years later, commanded one of the most influential empires in history, and reigned until his death in 180. But he, too, struggled with morning routines. Aurelius was an insomniac who hated getting out of bed in the morning. Worse, sleeping in was a big no-no in Roman culture, where it was considered a virtue to be an early riser. In his journal, Meditations, Aurelius can be found motivating himself to rise early every day. He wrote: “In the morning when you rise unwillingly, let this thought be present — I am rising to the work of a human being.”

2. Benjamin Franklin

The founding father of the US believed actions speak louder than words. He had a long list of virtues that he strove to maintain, from temperance, frugality and industry to justice, moderation and humility. One of the ways he did this was by planning out his day, hour by hour. His morning began with an early wake-up call. He would wake up at 5am and then spend the next three hours washing, eating breakfast, planning the day, and trying to answer the question: “What good shall I do this day?” It likely helped him bring a sense of purpose, focus and meaning to his work, as he went about his day.

3. Georgia O’Keeffe

American modernist painter Georgia O’Keeffe told Life magazine in a 1968 interview that she liked waking up at dawn. Though she sometimes sat in bed to watch the sun come up, she preferred starting her day with a long walk. She was known for walking around Ghost Ranch, her home outside Abiquiu, New Mexico, US, where she would sometimes stumble across rattlesnakes, kill them and pocket their rattles. It’s likely her Nature walks inspired many of her paintings, which often featured vibrant landscapes of the American Southwest. She even collected interesting rocks and bones on some of her walks.

4. Ludwig van Beethoven

While coffee was a common drink in the Middle East for centuries, it didn’t make its way to Europe until the 17th and 18th centuries. Then, its popularity exploded, and by the 19th century, a cup of coffee in Vienna, Austria cost roughly the same as a quarter kilogram cut of beef. Accomplished German composer Ludwig van Beethoven loved his first cup of joe so much, he made it the same way every day. In fact, he even measured out exactly 60 coffee beans – no more, no less – to grind.

What is your favourite morning routine? Play today’s Spell It and tell us at