This is a long post, but I wanted to give a complete run-down of what, exactly, my Morning Routine currently looks like. The routine is based on three principles:
- Don’t do in the morning what you can do the night before. I’m trying to create a block of time that I can dedicate to myself. If blocked off appropriately, an hour or so every morning can yield powerful results, so the ROI for those minutes in the morning can be pretty high. By comparison, in the evenings I’m not terribly efficient. The idea is to take on some of the more mundane tasks in the evening to sort of “wind down” so that they don’t waste my precious morning minutes. Some examples: showering, shaving, doing the dishes, and packing the girls’ lunches.
- Do the simple stuff first. And work your way up toward tasks that require more thought.
- Be irrationally specific. The reality is that most of the details here don’t matter all that much. But specificity itself is important – it’s a bit counterintuitive, but the more specific I am with the details of my routine, the more likely I am to adhere to them. It’s also more fun in a weird way, and helps prevent one of the biggest time killers in the morning: decision making.
So, here’s what I do:
- Wake up at 5:30, with zero snooze time. And immediately put on workout clothes which are next to the bed. If you look at the data, you’ll notice that very rarely do I snooze for just a minute or two. It’s usually all or nothing. Which means that those first few seconds are incredibly important – the idea that I’ll just rest for a little bit, or finish a thought before getting out of bed, is a dangerous one. Recently I’ve noticed that dreams have even been a culprit. I’ll wake up in the middle of a weird dream, and even after realizing that it was just a dream I’ll ponder it for a while and then slowly drift off… at one point I even tried having my alarm show this message when I woke up:
(not my most inspiring work)
- Bathroom. Including (but not exclusive to…): brushing teeth, tongue scraping, flossing, and rinsing with mouthwash. In that order, every time. The order in which you should perform these tasks is actually a fiery issue in online forums. I don’t think it really matters, but again it helps to be specific. Also, I hyperlinked tongue scraping because I didn’t know what it was until about a year ago and now I’m a huge fan. Once that’s done I put on some deoderant and drink a glass of tap water. Yes, tap water – because it’s right there, it’s easy, I live in America and room temperature water might be marginally better for you as a pre-workout. Zero time spent on my hair – I shaved my head recently, which means no more doing this in the morning.
- Workout. Right now, I’m trying a new at-home workout called The Happy Body Program. This is still in the early research stages, but I’m really enjoying it so far. It’s sort of like yoga with dumbells – a sweatless workout that I do in thirty minutes, performing the same 18 exercises every day. I ran into some injury issues with the Brad Pitt workout earlier this year, and while I think I’ll end up supplementing this with something in the evenings (lifting/swimming/boxing) right now I’m just sticking with the Happy Body.
- Meditate. 10 minutes using the Headspace app. I’ll get into this more in a later series on Meditation, but I love this app and have used it for years. I’ve gone through most of the “packs” and lately I’ve been doing the “Everyday Headspace,” which starts each session with a sort of “thought for the day” from the guide, Andy Puddicombe.
- Get dressed for work. In an outfit I picked out the night before. I used to put off getting dressed for work until the last possible moment so I could enjoy being comfortable at home. The problem is that I don’t always budget enough time to get out the door, something always comes up and suddenly I’m in a rush to get ready. The reality is that my work clothes aren’t all that uncomfortable, and I can approach the rest of the morning with ease knowing that I’m ready to head out the door at a moment’s notice.
- Drink coffee. Notice I didn’t say “make coffee.” I prepped the night before, and programmed our $20 Mr. Coffee maker to start brewing at 6:00. If you guys are looking for one, simple hack to get a win early in the day, look no further. Nothing makes you feel like you’ve got it together quite like your coffee maker starting to brew midway through your at-home workout. I don’t eat breakfast, as I mentioned in last week’s post.
- Plan my day. Using the methodology I described in detail in the August series on being more productive. I used to wait until I got into the office to do this – the idea being that it would jump-start my productivity right when I got in. But I’ve come to realize that the earlier I do this process, the better, so now I try to do it at home.
- Do whatever I want. Until it’s time to catch my bus. The 6:56 usually gets to my stop around 7:00. The rest of my routine takes less than an hour, so I usually have a good 30 minutes to read, write, outline, or just drink coffee on the balcony.
- Ride the bus. This is kind of an important one – in addition to saving money/the environment, riding the bus is a time that I actually look forward to because it’s a time I’ve dedicated to reading. I’ve averaged two books per month since I first started tracking this four months ago. I listen to podcasts from my house to the bus stop and from the bus station to work. Some of the most common complaints I hear from friends and family concern their commutes – reframing helps.
And that’s it – I get into the office at 7:45, having already gotten in a 30 minute workout, 30 minute reading session, 10 minute meditation session and 20+ minutes to do whatever else I want to do.
Again, this is best case scenario – either one of my daughters could easily throw a hand grenade into the whole process (and very often do). The point here is to have a default setting, and on the days when I pull this off, I feel amazing.