“I have a strict rule about not checking email after 6:00pm so I can clear my head of business before going to bed.” – Catherine Connors Share this quote on Twitter

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Catherine Connors

What is your morning routine?

I wake up before 7:00am. The very first thing that I do is reach for my phone and check news, social updates, etc. It’s how I ease into my day – checking up on what’s going on in the world and in my digital community. I don’t check email until I’m up and at my computer (more on this below!).

My husband is a stay-at-home dad and the primary caregiver in our household, so he’s usually up and about first, getting the kids ready for school. Most mornings I bring my laptop to the kitchen table and have it open to get through email and review my calendar while helping Kyle get the kids ready. (I should put “help” in quotes. He does pretty much all of the work. I sometimes help by looking for socks or for the hairbrush or just by providing nagging support).

I do a hard and fast scan of email before 8:00am so that I can identify anything that might affect my day and (ideally) get some responses out before I’m swamped by work. This coincides precisely with the most chaotic hour in our household, so it’s not a perfect system. On a good morning, by the time the kids leave for school, I’ll have dealt with at least half of the emails that have come in since or are outstanding from the previous day.

Kyle leaves with the kids shortly after 8:00am, and their departure is my cue to get down to serious work. I started my own company last year, and this year I am launching a pretty big project that requires a tremendous amount of time and energy (as these things do!), while still handling a number of clients; therefore, every minute of productive time counts. I try to take advantage of the time between 8:00am and 10:00am, when the flow of emails/texts/calls is lightest, for dedicated, productive work. I put my phone in another room, keep my calendar clear, and try to stay focused for at least those two hours.

How long have you stuck with this routine so far?

This current routine is only a few months old.

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How has your morning routine changed over recent years?

Until the beginning of this year, I spent a number of years managing teams on opposite coasts and got accustomed to rising before 6:00am to be accessible to team members three hours ahead of me… and until 2015 I was headed to an office by 8:00am.

Now that I work (primarily) from home and have let go of most of my long-distance clients in order to launch my next project, I have more control over my morning schedule.

What time do you go to sleep?

I’m not a night person, so I’m usually in bed before 10:00pm.

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

Not really. I have a strict rule about not checking email after 6:00pm so I can clear my head of business before going to bed. I may keep working if I need to, but I make sure that outside demands/requests for my attention are shut down for the evening.

I do this both to minimize distractions and to guard against the possibility that something’s going to come in that will keep me up all night worrying. (This is a holdover, in part, from my corporate career, where this happened all the time! I implemented this rule after one too many nights of fretting about some late-breaking issue that couldn’t be solved until the next day anyway).

Do you use an alarm to wake you up in the morning, and if so do you ever hit the snooze button?

Ha, never. I have kids; they drill the need for alarms right out of your system.

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

I have coffee, usually within about ten minutes of getting up. I don’t normally eat anything until mid-morning.

My first meal is something that’s easy to make, like toast or oatmeal. On days when I feel more motivated (or really in need of a boost), I’ll make a smoothie - either banana date or strawberry beet. I keep frozen ingredients at hand to toss in the Vitamix (I LOVE my Vitamix), so it’s not that making the smoothie is complicated, but rather that coffee and toast are the easy choice when even the decision between strawberries and bananas feels like too much of a distraction. ;)

Do you have a morning meditation routine?

No, but I keep telling myself that I should.

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

I use the Night Shift function on my iPhone to reduce light interference when I read on my phone in the evening (which, yes, I do - no email, never email - but I do read articles and catch up on news on the Atlantic, Slate, et al.).

What are your most important tasks in the morning?

Making coffee.

What and when is your first drink in the morning?

Coffee, first thing.

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

I get up a little later on weekends (we all do), and usually have more of a proper breakfast. I don’t drag out the laptop unless there’s something pressing that I need to work on.

On days you’re not settled in your home, are you able to adapt your routine to fit in with a different environment?

Yes, easily. When I’m traveling on my own, I don’t have the distraction of the kids’ morning routine, so it’s actually easier to just jump right into coffee/email/work.

What do you do if you fail to follow your morning routine, and how does this influence the rest of your day?

I’m pretty adaptable. If my routine is disrupted, it’s generally no big deal.

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