What is your morning routine?
I work a variety of specialized jobs (classical trumpet teacher at a university, recording engineer, coffee roaster), so my routine has to be flexible. I find it easiest to follow an ordered routine instead of a time-of-day one, so after long nighttime concerts I can sleep in and still maintain some normalcy.
I wake up approximately two hours before my first engagement of the day by the Sleep Cycle alarm which I snooze infinitely (entirely defeating the purpose). I immediately go downstairs and make a pour-over of coffee, a process which takes a total of fifteen minutes (the pour-over itself takes only four minutes, but I digress).
If I’m in a hurry, a quick bowl of cereal and some light reading at the kitchen table (currently Mason Currey’s Daily Rituals, appropriately!) are all I can afford. If I have the morning, though, I take my coffee into the living room and sit on the couch with my computer. There I do a Lumosity brain workout followed by thirty-some minutes on Kahn Academy, just to keep myself at a basic level of intelligence (I may have a master’s degree, but advanced high school math can still be tricky for me if I don’t practice).
Afterward I’ll have a big breakfast or brunch: thinking hard and drinking coffee really works up an appetite! Finally, a shower before I leave the house, so my teeth are brushed and the rest of me is clean going forward with the day.
Typically I go to work at one job, then have to shift to a second job in the afternoon. But no matter what work I do I must warm-up and practice trumpet every day for at least an hour (not unlike an athlete, musicians must stay in shape!). I have to do this first-thing when I return home, or it won’t really get done properly. If I wake up early enough and have enough time I try to do this before work, but this remains a difficult change to make. When practicing, I enlist the help of a highly-structured timer (an app called Seconds Pro) that I’ve designed to tell me what to play and for how long. Completion of this timed routine is all that is requisite, though it is often followed by a long session of unstructured practice.
As a coffee roaster (for Recess Coffee), the focus is on production efficiency. Quality comes first, but hourly employment of this kind demands a great deal of high-quality output for a minimum of hours paid. Between roasts (which themselves are carefully timed), I use a timer to make sure I have cooled the previous roast sufficiently but not let the roaster cool too much, a precise 5 minutes and 20 seconds. With the timing passively controlled for me, I can focus on quality without distraction!
At night, if I have been home for long enough to get a few things done, I try to keep the artificial light to a minimum and go to sleep with the sun (it’s very hard to brush your teeth in the dark!). Of course, most nights are either playing or recording concerts, so I’m home long after the sun has gone down! On these nights I relax with a heavy philosophical text that is difficult and tiring, and promptly have no difficulty falling asleep.
How long have you stuck with this routine so far?
I’ve kept up this routine for a good number of months now, and really for years as a basis. Schedule changes at any given job can mess up my routine for weeks, but I’m fairly protective of my mornings when I can afford it.
How has your morning routine changed over recent years?
I was raised to be an early-riser, though it never seemed to agree with me. I find I’m a lot more satisfied and intelligent when I get the proper amount of sleep, which for me is 7-9 hours.
In the past few years, I’ve worked hard to clear my mornings, though I generally still wake up with plenty morning left. It is a nice luxury to know that no matter what gig is keeping me out late, I’ll be able to get enough sleep each night.
What time do you go to sleep?
This really varies. I’ve enjoyed going to sleep at 10:30pm or earlier when I’m in my best habits, but often can’t get home, much less to sleep, before 1:00am. Sometimes further preparatory work keeps me up past 4:00am, but I try to keep that very rare.
How soon after waking up do you have breakfast, and what do you typically have?
Right away I have coffee, and usually something small while I make it (like a bagel or bowl of cereal). If I have time, I make an extravagantly large breakfast, though, sometimes with bacon, eggs, toast, pancakes, orange juice, grapefruit juice, fresh cut fruit, and really everything in the house.
I get to do that about once a week.
Do you have a morning workout routine?
No, although trumpet practice is not unlike a workout, including stretching, breathing, and some intense muscle-use!
How about morning meditation?
Reading or doing Lumosity is sort-of meditative. There’s a single-mindedness to it that is not unlike meditating. I sometimes meditate at night to prepare for better sleep.
Do you see to email first thing in the morning or leave it until later in the day?
Before I get out of bed, I take a look at what’s coming up today. If there are urgent emails, I answer them. Otherwise, there’s plenty of time later.
How soon do you check your phone in the morning, either for calls/messages or social media and news?
I use my phone for email, so I guess right away. I steer clear of social media or other things, though. I really don’t want to be bothered by anything until after breakfast. I usually get my coffee-roasting list via text around 8:30am, and I reply to that if need be.
What are your most important tasks in the morning?
Definitely some coffee and a shower are non-negotiable items. The rest I try hard to get, but sometimes have to go for days at a time without! Those are far more stressful days, and less possible as I get even a small bit older.
What and when is your first drink in the morning?
Coffee coffee coffee! This sort-of counts as work, though, since I bring home a bit of what I roast to make sure the quality is up to par. Perks!
Fresh-squeezed blood-orange juice is an amazing treat, when I can get it.
On days you’re not settled in your home, are you able to adapt your routine to fit in with a different environment?
I’m on the road a lot, playing gigs. In these situations it’s important that I’m in top shape more-so then than when I’m home, really!
The only real change I have to make is finding coffee and breakfast out, which necessitates a nice morning walk. I guess it means I do the things out of order, too, since I simply must shower before leaving, but that’s not an issue. Usually things on the road happen early, so I tend to stick with my abridged schedule and get to work. I have been known to bring an entire box of coffee-brewing equipment along just in case…
What do you do if you fail to follow your routine, and how does this influence the rest of your day?
Depending on what part fails: If I don’t get coffee, I can be pretty grouchy. If I go for a few days having to wake up and go straight in to work with almost no routine, I get downright angry and things turn counter-productive. I have learned to protect my morning space well, but occasionally a late music gig will come right before an 8:00am coffee-roasting call time, and I feel a little trapped.
I try to avoid this at all costs, and when it happens I try to get home early and recover.
Our recommended book this week is My Morning Routine by Benjamin Spall, Michael Xander. We only recommend three things a week that we believe will be of interest to our readers. Please take a moment to check it out.