Amit Sonawane is a reader, writer, and devout tea drinker. Born in India, Amit has lived his life on four continents, spending many years in the UK and US before coming to rest in Santiago, Chile last year.
What is your morning routine?
My morning routine changes frequently but there are only a few different versions. Most days it begins with me waking up, drinking coffee, reading and writing, and a light workout (if any at all).
Weekends are usually slightly different where the reading/writing is replaced by a walk to the local farmer’s market to buy food for the rest of the week. Also, since moving to Chile, some mornings are spent on buses/flights on the way to discover new places – not all the time, but it does happen.
How long have you stuck with this routine so far?
It has probably been this way for pretty much my entire adult life. I’m 26.
In college, some mornings were spent nodding off in the class, but besides that it has remained pretty much the same. As far as routine is concerned, for me it is not so much when I do certain things but what things I do. I think if I ever went back in time and tracked the exact time I’ve woken up for the last 15 years or so, you’d see 6:45am as my wake-up time 90% of the time.
How has your morning routine changed over recent years?
It changes all the time.
I really enjoy waking up early but I let my body decide when it’s time to wake and once I am up, I get going instantly. Snoozing or being lazy in bed is the girlfriend’s job, not mine, haha. I am the one who wakes early, reads, writes, and makes tea/coffee for both of us. I enjoy it. So, as long as there is some contemplative thinking, reading, and making of a hot beverage involved, I don’t stress out too much over when and how I do it.
What time do you go to sleep?
Again, just like waking up, I let my body decide when it is tired. I am usually in bed by 11:00pm on most weeknights. On weekends that might differ. The idea is to get the body tired enough to deserve that rest. So I make my mind and body earn their sleep.
Do you use an alarm to wake you up in the mornings, and if so do you ever hit the snooze button?
Snooze? Never. If I didn’t use my iPhone and used an alarm-clock instead, the snooze button would be the newest, shiniest button on the console.
As far as setting the alarm goes, I do tend to use an alarm as a backup on days I must be somewhere in the morning on time. Funnily enough, I end up setting my alarm more often on weekends than weekdays because those are the days I am meeting someone for coffee, traveling somewhere, or catching a big Chelsea game on TV.
How soon after waking up do you have breakfast, and what do you typically have?
For the last couple months, I have been experimenting with Intermittent Fasting. I also have been experimenting with high-fat, low-carb diet.
On waking up I make my Bulletproof Coffee and that’s all I have until 2:00pm. Then I only eat between the 2:00pm-8:30pm window. Nothing else. Bulletproof Coffee involves brewing some delicious, wet-processed, single-origin (rainforests of Guatemala) coffee and then adding a ton of grass-fed, unsalted butter and blend. It’s not as gross as it sounds and tastes like the most creamy, delicious, cream coffee you’ve had.
I am a tea-lover and am only drinking coffee these days for the experiment’s sake. My girlfriend hates the thought of putting butter in the coffee, but I have convinced a few other people.
Do you have a morning workout routine?
For the purposes of the experiment, I’ve reduced my workout to very, very little effort. I do a few dozen pushups, sometimes combined with some squats, before showering. That’s about it. I love working out and when I do workout, mornings are my favorite time of the day for it.
Since moving to Chile, I have been walking a lot too. I walk everywhere during the day and also try to take a stroll in the morning or after dinner. I love walking and can walk for miles at a stretch.
How about morning meditation?
This is something I’ve gone back and forth on for a while now. Finally, I have settled on the idea of being in a meditative state of mind while I carry out my morning routine. Meditating is an act of simply being aware. I tend to do that when I am making a fresh pot of coffee (the smell, the feel of cold water as I wash the pot, the gentle warm steam on my face as I bring the cup closer for a sip, etc), or while reading or taking a walk.
I have realized that I don’t have to be physically sitting down to meditate. Many times we begin meditation and make our body still, but the mind is still racing. Ideally, you want to have both mind and body still, but if you’re busy like me, I’d make the mind a priority over the body when it comes to meditation.
Do you see to email first thing in the morning, or leave it until later in the day?
I usually answer all my emails in the late afternoon. Unless there is something pressing I am aware of in the morning, I do not check my email. I have disabled emails on my iDevices so I don’t get bombarded with notifications every two minutes.
How soon do you check your phone in the morning, either for calls/messages or social media and news?
I was hoping you wouldn’t ask this. I am trying to quit checking my phone first thing in the morning. Usually, I grab my phone as soon as I wake up since it’s right next to me. However, I do not open any social-networks unless I see a notification on my iPhone that I think is too important or interesting to ignore.
At this moment, I have disabled all notifications on my iPhone and iPad besides: Facebook inbox messages, Whatsapp, Twitter DMs, and the Reminders app. Also, my phone is always on silent (not even vibrate-mode). I only turn on the ringer if I am expecting an important call.
I do check my Feedly reader to see if any interesting posts are waiting for me. I am only subscribed to eight RSS feeds. For all the other blogs and sites – if it is important to me then I am sure I will check them periodically. This saves me from information porn. I haven’t been on a news-site (e.g CNN, BBC) in over two years and counting.
What are your most important tasks in the morning?
Being unstructured. I live a very structured life and I’d like to think that I am a very organized person. I like to do certain things in certain way, at certain time, with certain people. However, until 11:00am or so, I like to untether myself and just go with the flow. That’s not an excuse to be lazy, but it’s important to just give myself the space and time.
What and when is your first drink in the morning?
Water, and then the Bulletproof Coffee. That’s the only time I drink coffee throughout the day. After that its all Yerba Mate (Tereré in summer) and tea; Pu’erh is my favorite tea to write to, Matcha is an early-morning favorite.
On days you’re not settled in your own home, are you able to adapt any of your routine to fit in with a different environment?
Yes, absolutely. If not everything, I make sure I get some reading and light writing done in the morning from my iPhone. Yes, I write on my iPhone. I wrote decent sized blog posts for Fishing Buddha from my iPhone for twelve months because I was experimenting (unintentionally) living without a computer for a year.
What do you do if you fail to follow your routine and how does this influence the rest of your day?
The beauty of giving yourself time and space in the morning is that you become unflappable. It’s hard to have a bad start to your day if you don’t set any expectations. I do have a little checklist that I keep for my daily routine, but if I miss something then I just put a note (e.g. didn’t read today) and move on to other things, no big deal.
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