I’m a huge believer in routine. By putting certain parts of my life on autopilot, I have more energy to dedicate to important stuff, like building relationships and doing creative work.
A friend recently asked this question on Facebook: “what’s the activity that has the biggest impact on your life?” While certainly there are many simple things like flossing and showering that matter a lot to my health and well-being, without a doubt it’s my morning (and nighttime) routine that matters the most.
My morning routine
Before going through the morning stuff, it’s important to point out that every day starts off on the right foot with a good night’s sleep. And to sleep well, there’s a few things that need to happen. Most importantly, my mind needs time to unwind. Firstly, this means no lights, screens, or gadget-generated stimuli of any kind after 10pm. Secondly, this means a full night of quality sleep – at least 7 and a half hours.
My routine the night before:
- No screens after 10pm
- Meditate for 20 minutes
- Sleep for 7.5+ hours
If I’m having trouble falling asleep, I read my Kindle until I zonk out.
My routine in the morning:
- Wake up naturally (no alarm). This is one of the greatest benefits of working for myself and living anywhere. I’m always surprised to hear other business owners and travelers waking up to an alarm. I respect their work ethic, but also cherish the ability to let my body tell me what’s best. To quote Tim Ferriss (via Mr. Money Mustache): “The old way of work (fixed hours and work days in a fixed location) does not work well with the natural human cycle. We have waves of creative energy and inspiration, interrupted by periods of downtime”
- Slowly drink a glass of water (~8 oz)
- Meditate for 20 minutes using Headspace
- Journal my thoughts
- A mixture of what I learned during the meditation and how I feel. The purpose of this is to bring my unconscious thoughts to the forefront of my awareness. Although what I’m writing may be complete and utter nonsense, I’ve found that just a few minutes of “pure thought stream” writing is incredibly valuable and can quickly improve my mood.
- Ask power questions
- What am I most proud of in my life right now?
- What am I most excited for in my life right now?
- What am I most grateful for in my life right now?
- Who do I love and who loves me?
- These questions prime my physiology for the day. By actually feeling the emotions, I carry them with me throughout the day. It’s a habit I adopted from Tony Robbins, and have since seen other successful people asking similar questions as part of their morning routines.
- Take a cold shower (warm-cold-warm)
- Cold showers have tons of benefits, as does soaking in warm water.
- I don’t let the water get ice cold, nor scolding hot. Just outside the range of comfort is enough to do the job.
- Bioenergetics routine. I usually do this while listening to motivation tapes on 8tracks. (h/t Elliott Hulse)
- Bow for 20 breaths
- Stretch forward for 20 breaths
Head to breakfast at my Go-To Restaurants and order my type of food. I try to eat slowly and enjoy every bite.
Breakfast officially concludes my morning routine. Once I’m done, I find a quiet spot and get to work, usually 2-3 hours of writing.
As is obvious, I keep things very simple. The essential steps are:
- Get good sleep
- Wake up naturally
- Cold shower
I never understood people who try to optimize every second of their morning, seeing that as creating too much stress and anxiety. When I follow these basic steps in the morning, I usually feel great and my days are noticeably more productive.
Do you have any simple morning routine hacks? If so, share them in the comments.