“I always like to be in the middle of a bunch of books. I’m usually reading between three and five books at a time.” – David Cancel Share this quote on Twitter

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David Cancel

David Cancel

What is your morning routine?

I like to get up early. I typically wake up between 5:00 and 6:00am (closer to 5:30), and the very first thing I do when I get up is drink a pint of water, ideally with some lemon juice squeezed in it. But it all starts the night before when I set the coffee maker to turn on in the morning. I have a Technivorm Moccamaster that I love.

After I’ve gotten up and had some water, I head upstairs in my house and perform twenty minutes of yoga and some light stretching - this is the same practice I’ve been sticking to every day for over a year now. Lately I’ve added some additional exercise in the morning. This month I’ve been rowing on the ERG, trying to get in fifty meters more than I rowed the day before. It’s all about progression.

After yoga and the ERG, I head back downstairs to grab my cup of coffee and one for my wife, if she’s awake, and then I read for thirty minutes. I always like to be in the middle of a bunch of books. I’m usually reading between three and five books at a time. I don’t really read sequentially. I like to hop around books. I feel like the ideas in each book play off each other and can give me new ideas to explore (James Altucher calls this “idea sex”).

Right around then it’s time to make breakfast for my son (four) and hang out with my daughter (eleven). I try to catch up with each of them in the mornings. This is our time together; one of the reasons I hate being away is because I miss the mornings with my kids.

The last thing I do in the morning is a five-minute journal using the Five Minute Journal app. Sometimes I write what I need to get done for the day, other times I’m just scratching notes or sketching out something new that I need to be writing.

How long have you stuck with this routine so far?

It’s been about two years that I’ve been doing my yoga and reading. I started tracking this using an app on my phone 423 days ago. I can see that I added journaling 381 days ago. Those streaks have been unbroken ever since.

How has your morning routine changed over recent years?

Each month or so I experiment with adding a change to my morning practice. This month, for example, it’s rowing - adding fifty meters every day. But the two constants have been yoga and reading.

What time do you go to sleep?

I try to get to sleep between 9:30 and 10:30pm each night.

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

Thirty minutes before going to sleep, I practice some calisthenics. Then, once I’m in bed, I like to listen to an audiobook (on repeat, something I’ve heard before). But I’m bad at wanting to check email and other things right before going to sleep.

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

My alarm is my four-year-old son (and the sunrise).

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

Lately I’ve been doing intermittent fasting, and for me that means fasting in the morning - aside from black coffee. If I do eat, it’s something light after my morning practice.

Do you have a morning workout routine?

Every morning I’m stretching, doing yoga, and rowing. I used to be really into weightlifting, and then I had a CrossFit phase for a while. But now I’ve been getting into calisthenics and movement (you should check out Ido Portal on YouTube), and I work with a trainer twice a week.

I also try to work in long walks every day when possible. I like to walk during my one-on-ones with my team at Drift. It’s great to get out of the office and walk around - no computer, no notebook. That’s when the best one-on-ones happen, and we typically end up walking all over Cambridge and Boston.

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

I use Day One app for journaling on my phone and computer, and I use Momentum for habit tracking.

How soon do you check your phone in the morning?

One thing I haven’t mentioned yet is my phone, and that’s intentional. I only pick up my phone to check in and see what’s happening after I’ve finished everything in the morning (yoga, reading, family, etc.). I try to be proactive in the morning instead of immediately picking up my phone and reacting to whatever is there.

What and when is your first drink in the morning?

Lemon water, followed by black coffee.

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

I follow it exactly. No sleeping in :)

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

I try to stick to my routine. That might mean heading to the hotel gym or a local park, but I try to stick to my routine as best as I can even when I’m on the road.

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

I finish it later in the day. This is rare.

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