My Morning Routine has come a long way in the past twenty years. Which is saying a lot; after all, it took a lot of work to put this getup together every morning:
It might be helpful to go back and review a brief history of David’s Morning Routines:
- Elementary school. I have a vague memory of my dad helping me develop morning habits involving a list with boxes to check and some sort of reward system. Stickers, toys… even money perhaps? I’m hazy on the details but I do remember 1) that it worked, and 2) that I had an alarm clock with two settings, one which I called “the beezer” which was the most terrible sound imaginable, and another which turned on the radio to Magic 96.1 which was more fun but not as effective. Breakfast: Apple Cinnamon Cheerios.
- Middle School. Somewhere along the way the wheels fell off. Way off. There was never, ever enough sleep. Personal hygiene suffered as I focused all of my efforts toward staying in bed as long as possible. At one point I remember my dad waking me up and telling me to shower. I went to the bathroom, turned on the shower, wet my hair under the faucet so that it looked like I showered, put on my clothes, and went back to bed… setting a twenty minute alarm and waking up with a strong odor, wrinkly clothes and formidable bed-head. Nothing a little Old Spice a big glob of L.A. Looks hair gel couldn’t fix. Girlfriends were inexplicably in short supply. Breakfast: Kellogg’s Low Fat Granola With Raisins. I devoured this stuff for years and as I’m typing this I can still taste it. I remember spending many a morning mindlessly reading the back of the box while I ate.
- High School. Hygiene improved, but sleep took a backseat in favor of AOL Instant Messenger and a killer lineup on [adult swim] including Space Ghost, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, and Family Guy (a show which, were it not for [adult swim], you might never have even heard of). I slept through an astonishing number of my classes (including this incident) and in retrospect it’s weird how normal I thought this was. Breakfast: Still eating the Granola, still reading the box. Actually here’s a picture of it – apparently these are selling on Amazon for over $50 and I’m not entirely sure what’s going on:
- College. Free to pick my own schedule, I rarely attended classes before 11 a.m. This didn’t result in getting more sleep, but staying out later. Drinking the night before became the new norm, and the line between hungover and perpetual tiredness began to blur. Classes got harder and I started to normalize my schedule a bit to compensate. Breakfast: Quaker Apples and Cinnamon Oatmeal, V8 Juice, and Lipton Powdered Green Tea shaken up in a Deer Park bottle. Very weird… not exactly sure how this nutritional profile fell together. Went through several roommates who all complained about empty V8 cans lying around the house. I ended up marrying the last roommate.
- Young Adult. Habits normalized further in order to navigate 9-5 jobs and not fall asleep at various desks. I began to dabble with meditation and working out in the mornings, although not on the weekends as Friday and Saturday nights are still spent staying out late. But that was OK, because on Saturday and Sunday I could sleep in as long as I wanted because I hadn’t stumbled into the next phase…
- Dad. Drinking spiked, and then plummeted when I realize that “recovery time” was now unreliable at best and nonexistent at worst. I began setting alarms earlier, and babies still interrupted them. Working out became a privilege that I actually looked forward to whenever I could make it happen. Paradoxically, the stage of my life where my time has been the most limited ended up being my most productive phase yet, both personally and professionally. I don’t know how to explain it, other than the fact that nothing makes you want to get your shit together quite like having a kid. Sleep becomes more precious than gold, even more precious than the middle school days. Breakfast: 16/8 intermittent fasting – water and the blackest of coffee, nothing more.
As you can see, my road to developing an effective Morning Routine hasn’t been a smooth one. It’s had ups and downs and is still very much a work in progress. And my current routine still doesn’t happen every day – for example, this morning’s “morning routine” consisted of waking up at 5 a.m. and scrambling to get the family to LaGuardia to catch an early morning flight.
The idea here isn’t to develop a rigid system where I feel like I’ve failed if I don’t do everything consistently. It’s to develop a default setting where I wake up most mornings with intention, and with a little bit of time to work on myself each day. That word “intention” is important. It can be easy to look at the data I’ve tracked so far and assume this is a series about getting up earlier. It’s not – as far as I’m concerned an effective Morning Routine can start at 4 a.m. or 11 a.m. but it has to start with intention. That’s why overcoming the snooze button is so important.
Because my alarm clock is more than just a suggestion – it’s a promise to myself. And I’ve come to find that the key to personal growth of any kind is keeping those promises.