L’Express Interview: Michael and Benjamin on Morning Routines

Two months ago we were approached by Rebecca Benhamou, a journalist for France’s L’Express magazine, to answer some questions related to a story she was writing on morning routines.

The story has since been published. As is often the case with such interviews, only a small number of our answers were included in the article itself, which is why we decided to publish our entire contribution here.

All of the below questions were skillfully asked by Rebecca Benhamou for L’Express magazine:

How did you come up with the idea of launching a magazine entirely dedicated to morning routines?

Michael: The idea for My Morning Routine evolved over time. It’s hard to pin it to one specific event, but Tim Ferriss’ book The 4-Hour Workweek and Joel Gascoigne’s blog certainly pushed the right buttons in my brain to build and launch it in December 2012, with my co-founder Benjamin.

Up to that point I’d been kinda obsessed with optimizing workflows, not just with the goal of increasing my productivity, but also with a view to providing increased freedom and happiness. My Morning Routine represents that, bringing our audience a continuous stream of ideas to mix into their morning.

Why is this theme so important to you?

Benjamin: We believe that the way you spend your morning can have a dramatic influence on the rest of your day. If you spend the first hour of your day checking email in bed or rushing to get dressed because you didn’t allow yourself enough time to get ready, you’re not going to start your day in a positive frame of mind.

If, however, you spend your morning spending quality time with your family or working on your passion project before heading into work, your mornings will become a meaningful, exciting time that you’ll actually look forward to when your head hits the pillow every night.

In the past few years, there’s been many articles and books on the subject. How do you explain it? Is it a trend? Why do people care so much about it now?

Michael: Since launching My Morning Routine we’ve noticed that more people are starting to realize, as we did, that there is a better way to start your day than rushing through your precious few morning hours before you head into work.

Your morning sets the stage for the rest of your day. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to get-up very early; it means doing what’s important to you.

Does it mean that we all ‘have to’ become early risers to be successful professionally and happier in our daily life?

Benjamin: Absolutely not. This is the most common misconception of what we do, and morning routines in general.

Whether you’re an early bird or a late riser (or somewhere in between) your morning isn’t over until 11:59 every day; and even if you have a job that requires you to work throughout the night and sleep during the day, you still have that first hour upon waking up that can likely be used in a more positive manner.

What is your own personal morning routine?

Michael: My alarm is set for 6:00am, but I get up whenever I wake up and feel ready (I don’t snooze); usually that’s between 4-5:30am. I almost never need my alarm as I’ve followed my routine seven days a week for over two years now. My internal clock is great at predicting when it’s time to get up!

I used to not use an alarm on the weekend, but I’ve learned that I feel much fresher and more balanced when I get up at about the same time every day. This also means I have to be strict with my bedtime, which is between 10:30-11:15pm every night.

Upon getting up I drink a big glass of water, let some fresh air into my apartment, and do three sets of push-ups and air squats to energize myself. I’ll then fix myself some oats with cornflakes and milk, or sometimes I’ll make an egg, bacon, and cheese burrito. I’ll then either read a book for an hour, go for a walk with weights in my rucksack, or catch up on Twitter and articles that I’ve added to my reading list. I’ll then hit the bathroom and get myself ready for work.

Benjamin: My alarm is set for 7:30am, and that’s usually exactly when I’ll get up. I’ll do some light stretching exercises before heading into the kitchen to make a breakfast of oatmeal, omelettes with avocado, or toast and fruit for my fiancée (now wife!) and I while she gets herself ready for the day.

Once breakfast is ready we’ll sit down to eat it together while discussing the day ahead, our plans for the weekend, and anything we’ve read in the news lately, all while keeping a close eye on the clock! When breakfast is over we’ll pack our bags (while shouting “Keys, wallet, phone!” to each other to ensure we haven’t forgotten anything), and head out the door.

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Want to dig deeper? We’ve collected together data from our archive of 214 morning routines.