“If I need to remind myself to bring something with me in the morning, I’ll usually put my car keys on top of it.” – Des Traynor Share this quote on Twitter

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Des Traynor

What is your morning routine?

I wake up around 7:00am. After showering and dressing, I drink coffee in my kitchen while doing a quick pass of emails and my calendar in case there’s anything urgent (rare) and mentally planning the important tasks I have to work on. Three times a week I have a gym class at 8:00am, which is pretty crap but necessary.

I’ve been trying the 16/8 method of intermittent fasting, which is actually a lot easier than I thought. As a result, I don’t eat breakfast.

How long have you stuck with this routine so far?

Six months for the 7:00am start. Previous to this, I was not a morning person, so it’s been an adjustment. The fasting thing is more recent; who knows how long it’ll last?

How has your morning routine changed over recent years?

Over the years it’s gotten earlier and earlier. In my mid-twenties it was rare to see me up before 10:00am, but these days I don’t sleep past 8:00.

What time do you go to sleep?

At 11:45pm, with a good consistency. It’s the “bedtime” setting on my phone. The only exceptions would be nights out, when it’s anyone’s guess when I end up in bed.

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

In general, I try to make the morning time as easy and pre-planned as possible. I leave my gym clothes out and have my water bottle full and in the fridge. If I need to remind myself to bring something with me in the morning, I’ll usually put my car keys on top of it as a hack.

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

Yes, I always snooze either nine or eighteen minutes, which are the default settings on my phone.

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

Because of the fasting thing, I don’t eat breakfast. My first meal is midday, usually on the dot, as I’m ravenous by that point. When I used to eat breakfast it was pretty random, usually a low-fat latte and some brown bread with peanut butter. On weekends it’d be a fry-up, which is still one of my favorite meals bar none.

Do you have a morning workout routine?

Three times a week I visit a gym for a full hour of foam rolling, stretching, cardio, weights, and general agony.

Do you have a morning meditation routine?

No. I would really like one, though. Everyone I know with one seems to massively benefit from it.

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

I rarely answer email until I’m at work, but I do read everything early in the morning so I can start thinking about the ideas, dependencies, decisions, etc., that will be relevant during the day. Because I drive to work, I have about twenty-five minutes worth of time when I’m “hands busy, eyes busy,” so it’s a good time to get my head straight on any issues we’re dealing with.

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

I use the default Apple Bedtime feature on my iPhone, nothing else.

How soon do you check your phone in the morning?

Within ten minutes of being awake. I know I shouldn’t, but we have three offices in Dublin, Chicago, and San Francisco, so waking up usually means that stuff has happened that I’d like to be aware of.

What are your most important tasks in the morning?

When I arrive in the office it’s usually to review the day, schedule/cancel/reschedule as necessary, and then reply to anything that needs my attention.

What and when is your first drink in the morning?

Hot black coffee and cold water. I generally don’t care about the type of coffee; my taste buds aren’t exactly awake at this point.

How does your partner fit into your morning routine?

She lies in bed asleep while all this happens. Occasionally she’ll ask for a coffee.

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

Saturdays, yes, but I add five-a-side soccer to the mix. Sundays, no; I sleep in on Sundays as late as I can and then start planning what I’ll eat at noon, which will hopefully be a fry-up or something brunch-y.

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

Mostly yes. The more I’ve simplified the routine the easier it is to follow. Example: I used to have a specific shake and breakfast every morning, but I travel a lot and maintaining that from location to location is hard.

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

If I don’t get up within a certain window of time, it kind of breaks my day. Even though I have free time on my calendar, physically I feel like I’m late to everything from wake-up onwards. Those extra 5-10 minutes (of sleep) are not worth it.

Another lesson I’ve learned is to buy the toiletries that you like in bulk. This means it’s very rare that you’ll realize you’re out of toothpaste/deodorant/shower gel in the morning. At any given point, I might have sixteen shower gels, six mouthwashes, thirty-six razor blades, etc., in my bathroom; but it’s just easier than constantly being close to running out, and it helps me keep the routine.

Anything else you would like to add?

I think the biggest realization for me has been that the simpler and less particular I can be, the easier everything is to follow consistently. Secondly, five minutes of preparation before bedtime can make mornings five times easier. Simple things like ensuring devices are charging overnight or having your clothes ready make it all a little easier.

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