Ann Handley is the author of two books aiming to make business marketing and writing fun, and the Chief Content Officer (CCO) of MarketingProfs. Ann currently lives in Boston, Massachusetts.
What is your morning routine?
I am gently awakened between 6:30 and 7:00am in the morning by the sweet calls of the downy-throated songbirds welcoming me into a new day. I arise and dine on a firm scramble of eggs, laid at dawn by my cluck of heirloom chickens, and sip coffee from the rarest Kopi Luwak bean, harvested deep in the Sumatran jungle.
So after that… you can imagine that I flit to my desk and dip the nib of my fountain pen in the corner inkwell, and the marketing insights spill out of me onto the page with the same intensity as the yolks of those heirloom eggs as they spread across my breakfast plate.
Or: I’m woken by a small furry dog sniffing around my head because her breakfast is late. Again.
Still groggy, I sit down at my computer and force myself awake by slugging coffee. Mornings are actually my least favorite time of day, although I feel sheepish sharing that here.
At some point during the first few morning hours, I wander to my backyard Tiny House. It’s really a tiny office. But it’s a dedicated space that helps me focus and do the work I need to get done. I do my best writing there.
I actually have zero chickens and no songbirds, in case anyone is wondering.
How long have you stuck with this routine so far?
My allergy to mornings started in adolescence. I guess I never outgrew it. So… pretty much since then, with some variations based on life stages and responsibilities.
The truth is that I wish I were a morning person. Often I try to be. I suspect I’m just not.
How has your morning routine changed over recent years?
I’ve tried various things to make mornings more palatable to me: Getting up earlier. Getting up later. Prepping overnight oats to give me something to look forward to. Leaving my phone downstairs. Keeping my phone close. Gentle music in the morning. Indulging in a snooze alarm. Forbidding a snooze alarm. Sweet-talking myself into allowing the snooze alarm Just. This. Once.
Nothing thus far has made me love mornings.
What time do you go to sleep?
I fight bedtime like a toddler. I try for 10:00pm. I usually drag myself to bed somewhere around 11:00pm, after making various bribes and allowing myself umpteen glasses of water and another chapter of the book I’m reading.
Do you do anything before going to bed to make your morning easier?
I prepare a pot of really good coffee the night before and set it to brew just before I wake up.
Do you use an alarm to wake you up in the morning, and if so do you ever hit the snooze button?
Yes, and yes.
Side note: I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t hit the snooze button. It’s the greatest invention known to modern humans.
How soon after waking up do you have breakfast, and what do you typically have?
I don’t eat breakfast, but I do eat breakfast food at lunchtime.
So is that breakfast, or is it lunch? Brunch? Leakfast? Something else entirely? I’ll ponder this on my time, not yours.
Do you have a morning workout routine?
Actually, I suppose I do. It’s called lifting the coffee mug to my mouth, and putting it back down. Then lifting the coffee mug to my mouth again, and putting it back down.
I work out in the afternoon, by the way (in case anyone should think of me as the walking equivalent of a jelly donut).
Do you have a morning meditation routine?
My “meditation” is a little pocket of quiet I have every afternoon when I walk my beloved little dog in the woods near my house (thereby redeeming myself for her chronically late breakfasts).
Do you answer email first thing in the morning or leave it until later in the day?
First thing. I’m a bit nutty about it, really. I can’t stand the idea of starting my day with unprocessed mail. I don’t necessarily spend time answering it until later on in the day… but I do process it by either deleting or setting it aside for response later.
Do you use any apps or products to enhance your sleep or morning routine?
I recently downloaded a sleep app called Sleep Cycle. I’m using it to see if I can find a way to improve the quality of my sleep, which might in turn make me embrace mornings more.
Crazy logic? Maybe. But I’m never gonna quit you, AM!
How soon do you check your phone in the morning?
I try to not check any notifications until I am actually upright. Otherwise, it just prolongs the whole business of getting out of bed, which frankly is prolonged quite enough as it is.
What are your most important tasks in the morning?
- Getting out of bed and settled at my desk by 8:00-ish,
- Slowing becoming less cranky,
- Processing email,
- Processing MarketingProfs’ Twitter notifications,
- Writing something every morning (after 2, 3 above),
- Becoming fully awake and able to recognize that most people are good and decent and there’s nothing to be cranky about, really.
What and when is your first drink in the morning?
Coffee, two cups. Followed by orange juice. I tried fresh-squeezed (again, trying to love mornings more); that was a heroic and tasty but short-lived effort.
Do you also follow this routine on weekends, or do you change some steps?
It’s pretty much the same. That’s the “luxury” of working from home.
On days you’re not settled in your home, are you able to adapt your routine to fit in with a different environment?
I travel a lot: at least once or twice a week during the spring and fall conference season. Even on the road, I keep the same basic routine.
And because most airport and airline food is terrible, I travel with a home-packed snack bag containing healthy foods, like raw almonds, apricots, figs, and granola bars. And I drink a LOT of water.
I also try to schedule flights so that my morning routine isn’t disrupted, because that can blow my whole day.
What do you do if you fail to follow your morning routine, and how does this influence the rest of your day?
Life happens. Plans are disrupted. Routines are thrown off. So when it happens, what else can you do but deal with it and know that tomorrow will be a little bit better?
Our recommended book this week is Pivot by Jenny Blake. We only recommend three things a week that we believe will be of interest to our readers. Please take a moment to check it out.