“Over the past couple years I have transitioned into being an old man. I rarely drink alcohol or stay out too late, as that would just end up ruining the next day.” – Brian Balfour Share this quote on Twitter

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Brian Balfour

What is your morning routine?

Ideally I wake up around 7:30 to 8:00am. I usually don’t set an alarm and try to wake up naturally. I immediately drink a couple glasses of water before putting on my gym clothes and heading to the gym in our building.

I work out for about forty-five minutes, stretching, running a couple miles, and doing some light lifting. The workout gets the blood going and keeps the negative thoughts away. After the gym, I shower and get ready.

Next I’ll meditate for about twenty minutes, after which I will write down the top few items I need to get done for the day. By this time it is about 10:00am, and I make a cup of coffee and get to work. I try to spend my first two working hours on the one task that is going to require the most mental energy. That typically involves writing, content creation, or some other form of “creating.”

How long have you stuck with this routine so far?

This has been my routine for the last few months.

How has your morning routine changed over recent years?

It has changed a lot because I’m constantly experimenting. I’ve also had some big changes over the last few years, including starting new jobs, moving, and getting a puppy. For every big change, I typically need to restructure the routine.

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I’ve gone through periods where I wake up much earlier (6:30am) by forcing myself awake with an alarm. The hardest thing I’ve found to work into my routine is the meditation. If I skip one thing, that tends to be the one.

I’m currently experimenting with an idea creation exercise. Right after meditating, during the period where I write down my most important tasks, I force myself to come up with five ideas around a particular topic/problem. I’m trying to build a routine of coming up with ideas more often, since I’ve fallen out of this habit as I’ve gotten older.

What time do you go to sleep?

Typically between 9:30-10:30pm. I’ve found that I need about nine to nine-and-a-half hours of sleep to feel my best.

Do you do anything before going to bed to make your morning easier?

The biggest impact on having a great morning is how well I sleep. As a result, I’m addicted to my white noise machine. I also have earplugs sitting by my bed in case it gets noisy outside our window, or in case my dog decides he wants to snore that night.

How soon after waking up do you have breakfast, and what do you typically have?

I typically don’t eat until 10:00am, when I’ll usually have a protein bar. I don’t like to be full in the morning.

Do you answer email first thing in the morning or leave it until later in the day?

If I’m expecting a super important response, I will check email in the morning. This tends to be a trap, though, and I get sucked in. But most days I won’t seriously go through email until around noon or even later.

Do you use any apps or products to enhance your sleep or morning routine?

When I travel I use a white noise app on my iPhone. It’s a must for hotels.

What are your most important tasks in the morning?

I think the most important task in the morning is getting yourself in the mindset to have a productive day.

That is different for different people, but I feel “optimized” when I combine a short workout, meditation, and reflection on my priorities. Do what it takes to get yourself in the right mindset, especially if you’re working at startups or in other volatile environments. It will help you deal with whatever comes your way.

What and when is your first drink in the morning?

Water, water, water. The first thing I do when I get out of bed is go drink a couple glasses of water. I have my cup of coffee after I work out and right before I start working.

Do you also follow this routine on weekends, or do you change some steps?

Over the past couple years I have transitioned into being an old man. I rarely drink alcohol or stay out too late, as that would just end up ruining the next day and my weekend. As a result, my weekend tends to follow a similar 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 for business, I try to make the most of it in the shortest amount of time. That usually means back-to-back meetings for ten hours straight each day, and it ends up disrupting my routine.

When I’m traveling for leisure, I usually adjust my routine to the schedule of the person I’m visiting, as I’m there to spend time with them, after all.

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