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John Zeratsky

What is your morning routine?

Most mornings, I wake up around 6:30am—a little earlier in the summer, a little later in the winter (I live in Wisconsin, where the sun rises at 5:00am in June and at 7:00am in December).

I sit up in bed and grab my glasses and watch from the nightstand. I have a sip of water, say good morning to my wife, Michelle, and then walk into the kitchen. I start coffee and feed the cats. One cat eats faster than the other, so I have to monitor them during breakfast. By the time they are done, the coffee is ready, so I pour myself a cup and go look out the window for a minute.

So far, about twenty minutes into my day, I haven’t looked at a phone, computer, or other screen. We charge our devices inside a cabinet in the dining room, so they are out of sight and mostly out of mind. The physical barrier forces a deliberate decision about when to take that first look, and I’ve configured my devices to make them as distraction-free as possible. Normally I’ll check my phone first, turning on the screen without unlocking it to see if I missed an important text or call overnight. Then I’ll grab my computer and sit down at the dining room table with my coffee.

I like to start my day with a meaningful chunk of work. It might be writing an article or working on a presentation. It could be some design work or web development for Make Time or one of my other projects. Occasionally, it’s not on the computer but maybe a project around the apartment or even some reading. This is my daily “Highlight” that I describe in Make Time.

I view the first few hours of the day as “free,” unclaimed time. If I don’t use it deliberately, I’ll squander it on email or Twitter or the news or some other mindless timesuck that doesn’t make me feel good. Plus, I’ve learned that my focus is better in the morning than it is later in the day; I want to make good use of that time.

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After an hour or two, I eat breakfast, drink a second cup of coffee, jump in the shower, and get dressed—not always in that order. By 10:00am I’m ready to head to the office, continue working at home, or have a meeting—although I normally save meetings for the afternoon.

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