What is your morning routine?
I usually wake up between 5:30 and 6:00am. I get the newspaper, make a cup of coffee, and put on quiet classical music. Listening to the kind of music I do—my favorites are Bach, Handel, and the baroque-era composers—almost always has a calming effect on me, and the structure of the music seems to engage my attention.
I check my email and read the paper before having a light breakfast and getting ready for work.
How long have you stuck with this routine so far?
Since I moved to Washington, D.C. approximately six years ago.
How has your morning routine changed over recent years?
It has been pretty much the same, although listening to music wasn’t part of my morning routine before I moved here.
What time do you go to sleep?
Between 10:00 and 10:30pm.
Do you do anything before going to bed to make your morning easier?
I usually look at my calendar for the next day to get a sense of what my day will be like.
How soon after waking up do you have breakfast, and what do you typically have?
Within an hour. Usually cereal and fruit, except on weekends when I might have a more substantial breakfast.
Do you have a morning workout routine?
I run or go to the gym on weekend mornings. I exercise after work during the week.
Do you have a morning meditation routine, and if so what kind of meditation do you practice?
I usually meditate when I get home in the afternoon. I learned meditation through a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) class and practice the type of meditation I learned there, usually just with bells for starting and stopping.
Do you answer email first thing in the morning or leave it until later in the day?
When the email I see in my morning scan can be answered quickly or needs an immediate response, I deal with it. Otherwise, I wait until I get to work.
How soon do you check your phone in the morning?
Usually right before I go to work.
What are your most important tasks in the morning?
Becoming mentally alert and setting my intention for the day. I reflect on what actually needs to be done (as opposed to the multitude of things that make demands on my time) and how best to accomplish that. I also think about what I will do that day to take care of myself and the people in my life.
What and when is your first drink in the morning?
Black coffee, shortly after I wake up.
How does your partner fit into your morning routine?
We wake up at the same time. She usually gets ready for her day while I’m reading the paper and triaging email, and then we have breakfast together. We rarely if ever get in each other’s way.
Do you also follow this routine on weekends, or do you change some steps?
I don’t sleep in, but I do exercise in the morning on weekends.
On days you’re not settled in your home, are you able to adapt your routine to fit in with a different environment?
I travel frequently for work, and my routine varies depending on the circumstances. I miss the peace of having coffee and listening to music in my living room. Sometimes as an alternative, especially when I’m in a pretty place, I go for a walk.
What do you do if you fail to follow your morning routine, and how does this influence the rest of your day?
I try to do something to begin the day with a sense of calm and intention. If for some reason I can’t do that, I notice a higher level of stress as I go through the day.