Arvell Craig provides coaching, strategy, and tools to help entrepreneurs find clarity and nurture the creativity to launch meaningful projects. Arvell currently lives in Phoenix, Arizona.
What is your morning routine?
I use the Sleep Cycle app to wake up between 4:30-5:00am. The app determines when my sleep is the lightest, and gently wakes me up sometime in that window.
Upon rising I grab my phone and head downstairs to make Bulletproof Coffee. While the water is heating up I’ll grind the coffee and prepare the French press and blender. I’ll also open up my IHOPKC app which streams live music from the International House of Prayer in Kansas City.
When the coffee is ready I go into my office to pray. As the coffee works its magic on my body, the music helps my mind and spirit prepare for the day ahead.
During the next 45-60 minutes I’ll journal and pray about what’s most concerning on me. Depending on how long it takes for me to be settle and present, I’ll pray longer or shorter. I will also read 1-2 devotionals from the YouVersion Bible app to get some guidance and encouragement.
Eventually the coffee and prayer will have done their job. Next I’ll begin gathering my clothes and computer to head out for a morning run.
Between my home and my office lies a very nice desert trail. Since I first found it a few months ago, it’s become my go-to place for running. A full loop is about seven and a half miles, though lately I’m only doing about 4-5 miles. While I run, I will also have an audiobook or podcast playing. I often find myself stopping mid-run to write down notes or ideas from the run and whatever I’m listening to.
Finally, I head to a gym conveniently located in the same parking lot as my office. Sometimes I’ll do a little weights, but normally I just shower, dress, order a protein shake, and step across the way to work.
How long have you stuck with this routine so far?
The current version of my routine has been in place for about six months.
How has your morning routine changed over recent years?
I love running. And for maybe three years, running has been the primary activity of my morning with everything else working its way around it. Running helped me become the morning person I always wanted to be.
After falling in love (and then into addiction) with running, I hungered for it daily. I prepared my clothes every night and was up earlier and earlier so I could put in 6, or 12, or 14 miles before heading to work. However, after running five marathons and an ultra-marathon within three years, my body started to suffer.
About a year ago I stopped running and started doing yoga. Though I did keep the habit of waking up early, and that has helped me commit to my daily prayer time as well. Luckily, after six months off from serious running I’m finally feeling good to run daily and maybe start training again. However, the entire routine takes a minimum of three hours which is admittedly quite long.
There are a few things concerning my routine that I’m looking to change:
- I don’t get much sleep. Like my dream of being an earlier rise, I also covet being the kind of “entrepre-hustler” who doesn’t need much sleep. After over a decade of trying, I successfully developed this unhealthy habit and am able to function on 4-5 hours per night. But now I am questioning if it’s hindering my top mental performance, and even muscle recovery.
- I’m continually hearing about the value of drinking a cup of water first thing in the morning. I’ve tried it a few times, and though I’m not recognizing an immediate benefit, I’ll likely just do it more consistently anyway.
- I’m experimenting with adding 10-15 minutes of meditations to my routine. Sure I already do a lot, but I can honestly see a difference when I do.
Bulletproof Coffee engages my body, prayer and Bible study feeds my spirit, and ten minutes of the Calm app seems to help clear my mind.
What time do you go to sleep?
I head to bed between 10-11:00pm (occasionally later). However, I am looking into how I can start getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night. I may need to look into shorter versions of my morning in order to find the time. Any suggestions?
Do you do anything before going to bed to make your morning easier?
Yes, I always iron my clothes for work, and I actually sleep in my running clothes. Sometimes I prepare my lunch for the next day.
Do you use an alarm to wake you up in the morning, and if so do you ever hit the snooze button?
Yes, the Sleep Cycle app on my phone. To snooze it, you just have to flip it over to the other side. I will snooze 2-3 times, depending on how much sleep I get.
Like I mentioned above I’ll sometimes only get four hours of sleep - those times will have a few snoozes.
Do you answer email first thing in the morning or leave it until later in the day?
In regard to email, I’m very aware of the studies and normally don’t check it until I work out. Depending on the size of my workload, I will check it briefly earlier in the morning because I have overseas contractors on many of my projects. I’ll check for updates and reply so I can get in any last minute changes before they leave the office.
So on average I’ll wait at least two hours before checking. I’d like to push it even later, until noon or even later, but I’m just not there yet.
Do you also follow this routine on weekends, or do you change some steps?
My weekends are quite similar except for the following:
- I get more sleep by waking up a few hours later.
- Since I don’t have to go to the office, I’ll spend more time running and in prayer.
- I may spend the morning just working on my blog or email newsletter. During the week I use my routine as the fuel to make it through the days that I don’t get to control. But during the weekend, when I am in more control, I don’t need to stick to all the details of my morning routine.
On days you’re not settled in your home, are you able to adapt your routine to fit in with a different environment?
When I travel, I have a very different or simplified version. If I can spend 10-15 minutes in prayer and find a Starbucks for coffee sometime in the morning, I’m happy. Anything more is a bonus.
What do you do if you fail to follow your morning routine, and how does this influence the rest of your day?
I used to stress a lot when I didn’t get my morning run. Getting coffee is pretty important as well. The other items are important, but I don’t notice any energy or mood dip due to them.
Anything else you would like to add?
When does the routine end? I would say for me, 9:00am. However, I personally would like it to end at say… around 11:00am or noon, so I can prioritize creative work.
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