Claire Díaz-Ortiz is an author, speaker, and early Twitter employee. Alongside writing a popular business blog, she’s a productivity hack, championing The Do Less Method.
What is your morning routine?
I usually wake up around 8:30am, without an alarm, and the first thing I do is open the curtains.
We live in a cool home my talented architect husband built on a little lake outside Buenos Aires, Argentina, and it has a wall of windows in our bedroom. The first thing I do upon waking is take the little remote controller on my side table to open them and look out. Before I had one of these remotes I didn’t realize they existed, so I get an endless kick out of it. I could open and close that thing all day.
After opening the curtains, I then open my bedroom door, in hopes that my one-year-old daughter is somewhere nearby and that my husband will bring her in if she isn’t out at the park with the nanny, or generally busy throwing rocks (yes, there are rocks in our living room, don’t ask) at the glass house or harassing the ducks. She and my husband get up about at least an hour or more before I do.
Next I drink a 16 oz. glass of water with lemon on my nightstand as I look out the windows. If my daughter has arrived, I fight with her to not steal the cup and throw the water everywhere, fling her squirming body off the bed, or eat my hand cream.
I do all my major iPhone scans for about ten minutes: my sleep stats, weather, email, WhatsApp, Twitter, Instagram, and stocks.
I then put on my running clothes, walk downstairs, and pour myself a cup of something hot (decaf coffee, decaf tea, bulletproof coffee, etc).
I then go to my blue Twitter-bird-ceilinged office and do my morning quiet time. I call this The Present Principle, and most of the seven steps in it take place within the first hour of my morning. Exercise, however, usually happens at noon. It depends on if my daughter’s naps are “on schedule” - I go out for about 75 minutes with her on a run, then a walk, then a stop at the swings, each day.
My morning quiet time is essential to the way I live and work, which is all about this thing I call The Do Less Method.
How long have you stuck with this routine so far?
Our lives have changed dramatically in the last year or so; new house, new baby, so this exact routine is about a year old, with versions of it going back about four years.
What time do you go to sleep?
Between 9 and 10:00pm. We live in Argentina, so eating late is the thing to do (it’s not shocking to see kids out at restaurants at 11:00pm on a Tuesday).
We put our daughter to bed at 7:45pm, then we eat, and then I go to bed.
Do you do anything before going to bed to make your morning easier?
Well, I have an evening routine as well, and I think that sort of prepares me to get up well in the morning. When I want to look like Bono (my husband’s words), I wear my blue-light blocking orange sunglasses for an hour or so before bed.
When I get in bed I spray magnesium oil on the bottom of my feet, put Peace and Calming essential oil on my shoulders, and put Night Night Balm on my hands. Then I light a candle while I read.
Do you use an alarm to wake you up in the morning, and if so do you ever hit the snooze button?
No, I don’t use an alarm unless I’m traveling for work (and no, I haven’t hit the snooze button since high school).
One of the things about me is I kind of live in extremes: I read 200 books a year, I travel 100,000 miles a year, and, wait for it, I spend 11 hours a night in bed. I know that’s really unusual (especially for a mom of littles), but it’s what I need, and it ends up averaging out to a little under ten hours of sleep a night. This means I don’t need an alarm. When I’m traveling for work, however, this gets thrown out the window.
How soon after waking up do you have breakfast, and what do you typically have?
Every weekday morning I have scrambled eggs with spinach, fruit, and decaf coffee (sometimes Bulletproof Coffee), or decaf tea with almond or coconut milk.
I used to have fresh-squeezed orange juice but recently have stopped because of blood sugar stuff. I’m desperate to get a great green juice with greens from our new garden, but the one time I tried it was so hideous I got discouraged. I need to find a better Vitamix-friendly recipe.
On weekends I add bacon and almond-flour crepes.
Do you have a morning workout routine?
I’m a (slow) runner.
I used to do marathons, but honestly the thought of that these days makes me want to take a big nap curled up next to a Bravo reality show. Every weekday I take my daughter out in the jogging stroller and we go running, and then we finish with a long walk in our quiet neighborhood and some swinging at the park. We have a number of swing-sets in our neighborhood and the trick is trying to distract her when we pass one early in the run and it’s not swing time, because she freaks out – it’s as if I am literally prying the swing from the clutches of her sticky little hands.
Do you have a morning meditation routine, and if so what kind of meditation do you practice?
Yes. I use the Coach.me app and I have two different meditation streams I check into, both of which provide guided meditations that I listen to that rotate through each day which are typically from 4-9 minutes long.
I also have a few different fifteen-minute guided meditations I found on YouTube that I particularly like that I’ll pull up, it just depends what I’m in the mood for and the timing I’m after.
Do you answer email first thing in the morning or leave it until later in the day?
I scan email from bed while drinking water and hanging out with my daughter, but don’t read or answer anything until I’m on my computer after my morning routine is done.
Do you use any apps or products to enhance your sleep or morning routine?
Jawbone, Coach.me, Vitamix, Sleep Pillow Sounds (white noise machine app), and f.lux (on the computer at night).
I would love f.lux on my iPhone, but jail-breaking it to do so scares me. I thought I had found a $3.00 Russian work-around, but all it was an app that only gave me Russian Google in yellow (#boo).
And then the blue-blocking glasses, and the various potions in my evening routine.
What and when is your first drink in the morning?
16 ounces of water with lemon that I put on my nightstand the night before. I would like this to be warm water, but I need to get a thermos or something to make that happen, because I like having it first thing. It’s on the to-do list.
Do you also follow this routine on weekends, or do you change some steps?
On weekends I sometimes don’t do my present time. It depends.
On days you’re not settled in your home, are you able to adapt your routine to fit in with a different environment?
I love my routine, but I admit that one of my big annoyances is that I really am not good at all at keeping any semblance of this when I’m on the road.
I’ve tried and tried to tweak a “road version” of it, but so far it just hasn’t worked. It’s an in-progress point that hopefully I can make headway on in 2015. One of the biggest issues I find is that often when traveling I get way less alone time, whereas at home we have a nanny and a routine in place where I get time in my office to do my morning routine (and do my work).
What do you do if you fail to follow your morning routine, and how does this influence the rest of your day?
If I miss it in the morning, the best thing I can do to get back on track is to do my present time later in the day.
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