Revisiting My Morning Routine

Awhile back, I published a blog post on building a routine for the perfect morning. The piece was titled “Rock the First Hour of Your Day” and included some habits like preparing the night before, eating a solid meal, avoiding the snooze button, and prioritizing the items on your to-do list.

Since I now work from home as part of Automattic, my morning routine (and in fact, my entire day) has become a bit more lax. The fact is that it really doesn’t matter what time I wake up in the morning as I can work whenever I want throughout the day. I still practice many of the habits in the post mentioned above, but my mindset has changed quite a bit over the last few months as I’ve been working on perfecting my morning routine in light of the lax time demand. I thought it would be cool to document some of the things I’ve experimented with and where I’ve seen the best results/biggest improvements.

Ignoring Electronics

I’m a compulsive email, Twitter, and work checker. Chances are if I can check up on something from my phone, I’m going to do it to a fault. One of my main goals in June of this year was to eliminate technology from the beginning of my day. I wasn’t able to completely go commando as I use my phone for an alarm clock. But, whenever possible, I would just allow myself to wake-up naturally or ask Charlotte (my fiancee) to wake me up before she left for work. I knew that if I wasn’t stirring by 6:30AM anyway, I would be greeted by a pair of wagging tails and wet tongues ready for food.

Here’s what a typically morning would look like in a perfect world (it doesn’t always happen):

5:45AM – Wake-up
6:05AM – Grab a cup of coffee
6:06AM – Plant my butt on the couch with a book and read
6:45AM – Write for 30-45 minutes (Normally in iA Writer with WI-FI off.)
7:30AM – Take the dogs on a 15-20 minute walk
8:00AM – Make food
8:30AM – Turn on WI-FI and start reading/working

I found out three really important things:

  1. I’m actually unimportant. There’s a mindset that if you don’t respond to emails, pings, or tweets immediately, the wheels of progress will stop turning. That simply isn’t true. No one will notice if you take 30-45 minutes to enjoy a cup of coffee and some non-digital entertainment.
  2. Normally, when my head springs off the pillow, I’m in go-mode until I hit the sack at night. Setting aside 30-45 minutes for coffee, a short walk, and some pleasure reading helps to put things into perspective. I was calmer and more relaxed than usual.
  3. You can get a ton more done if you turn off your WI-FI. Seriously, it’s a huge distraction. If you need to get something done that doesn’t require internet to do (writing in my case), turn off your WI-FI and set a timer.

Mellow Movement

I used to be the guy that hit the gym hard first thing in the morning to get it in. I’m much more mellow in the mornings now.

Whereas breakfast used to be a Café Cubano (espresso and sugar) compounded with an hour of beating myself to hell in the weight room, I’m content now with just a light walk with the dogs.

There are several reasons for this that I’ll highlight in another post, but the main reason relates back to being more relaxed. I understand some folks have to hit the gym hard first thing in the morning in order to fit it into their schedule. Fortunately, I don’t. By moving my gym session to later on in the day, I get to relax first thing in the morning rather than heave a heavy bar on my back. That “relaxation” carries over into my work day and leaves me feeling less stressed.

Be Selfish

Part of revamping my morning routine was born out of my selfish desire to have more time to myself. Despite what I might want to believe, I’m more of an introvert at heart. If I don’t have enough time by myself, I get a bit cranky (just ask my fiancee, Charlotte).

Regardless of whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, I think it’s important to take time to do things that leave you feeling rejuvenated. For me, that’s writing and reading. For that reason, I try whenever possible to put those things first in my day. If I don’t put them first, they often get left out.

If the first thing you do in the morning isn’t 100 percent for you, selfishly, then the rest of your day will be spent not doing anything for you. Micah Baldwin

I’d argue that we all need to be more selfish across the board (not just in the mornings), but I’ll leave that for another post as well.

The changes mentioned above are exceptionally small, but they’ve made a huge difference in my happiness in the morning. If nothing else, I’d recommend becoming more selfish with your morning time and setting out some clear guidelines to help you protect the precious few hours before you start in on work. If you’re not selfish with your time, you’ll find that it’s going to be used up on someone else.

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