Darya Rose is a neuroscience Ph.D, author of Foodist, and the creator of Summer Tomato, one of TIME’s 50 best websites. Darya currently lives in San Francisco, CA.
What is your morning routine?
I’m very fortunate to have a home office, so I don’t have a commute.
I wake up without an alarm on most days, usually with the sunrise. I usually have coffee and hot muesli with cinnamon and unsweetened hemp milk. If possible I like to meditate for thirty minutes after breakfast, before checking email. I never check email before breakfast.
Email is one of those things that can easily seep into your life and add stress to everything. The key realization for me was that there’s no point in opening email unless I can actually do something about it in the moment (i.e. it is hard to send important docs from my phone, so I should wait until I’m at my computer). When I see emails that I can’t take care of my mind starts thinking about them, but can’t let go of them until I take action. I knew this intuitively, but it became incredibly obvious to me when I started meditating.
When you meditate you try to focus on one simple thing, like your breath. When other thoughts come in you just acknowledge them and let them go. I noticed that if I had checked email before meditating it is far harder to focus on the breath, and most of the intruding thoughts come from obligations I need to take care of that I saw in my inbox. It’s much better to get focused and centered first, then tackle email later.
How long have you stuck with this routine so far?
At least four years. The meditation is just since last December though.
How has your morning routine changed over recent years?
The meditation has had a huge impact on my ability to concentrate and on my well-being in general. I feel less frazzled.
Mornings in particular are important, since they prime your brain for how it will function the rest of the day. Are you going to be distracted and bounce around from project to project? Or are you going to be focused and choose your activities consciously and with intention. I much prefer to be in the latter state. I get more work done and it turns out better. I’m less stressed and less reactive. So I do what I can to keep my mornings simple and uncluttered. I have coffee, eat breakfast, and meditate before doing anything else.
What time do you go to sleep?
Between 10:30pm and midnight.
Do you use any apps or products to enhance your sleep or morning routine?
No, I like to keep my morning old fashioned.
As anyone who reads my work knows, I carefully construct the habits and routines in my life. One reason for this is that the strength of habits is that they let you do important things automatically, without much thought or willpower. To this end, the less you are dependent on extraneous products and apps, the more likely you are to succeed in creating a strong habit.
What and when is your first drink in the morning?
Oh, did I not mention the tumbler of bourbon before the coffee? – lol just kidding ;)
Do you also follow this routine on weekends, or do you change some steps?
On weekends I sleep in a bit more, since my husband doesn’t have to go to work. I also love to go to the farmers market in the morning on Saturday.
On days you’re not settled in your home, are you able to adapt your routine to fit in with a different environment?
Travel is harder, but there are things I try to stick to. For instance, I haven’t been able to carve out much time for meditation while traveling, but I always try to find a gym to get in a workout in the morning, even if it’s just for twenty minutes. I’ve found that creates a similar clearing of the head.
I never skip coffee or breakfast, it’s just not always in the same order as when I’m home. For example, I may need to shower before I can leave the hotel to get food. My husband and I always try to find the best coffee shops whenever we’re in a new city.
What do you do if you fail to follow your morning routine, and how does this influence the rest of your day?
This rarely happens, but I’m definitely not the same when it does.
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