“Routines can be helpful in giving us a sense of constancy. But at times, breaking them can be extremely liberating.” – Manuel Lima Share this quote on Twitter

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Manuel Lima

What is your morning routine?

I normally wake up around 7:00am, when my one-year-old daughter Chloe starts chatting in her crib. I then prepare breakfast for the two of us and we eat together (she has just recently been able to feed herself with a spoon).

This is one of the best moments of the day. I might play with her for a while until the nanny arrives. If I don’t work out that day, I might jump to the desktop for thirty minutes to work on my next book. After that, I have a shower and head to work.

Manuel Lima’s one-year-old daughter Chloe

How long have you stuck with this routine so far?

Since Chloe was roughly three months old.

How has your morning routine changed over recent years?

It changed quite abruptly.

Before Chloe was born, I always tried to work out and eat healthily, but too often I would work until late, then press the snooze button several times in the morning, only to run to work without having a proper meal. Chloe made me go to bed earlier, and in the process, start enjoying the quietness of early mornings and the pleasure of an unhurried first meal. Now, I don’t think I could go back to my seemingly flexible but more unruly routine.

What time do you go to sleep?

I try to go to bed around 10:30pm, because I know that, no matter what, Chloe will always wake up around 7:00am.

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

Not really.

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

I stopped using an alarm when Chloe was born. She tends to be the most effective alarm clock with no possibility of a snooze button.

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

I have breakfast roughly 10-15 minutes after waking up. It does vary a bit, but normally one or two of these options: cereal and milk, sourdough toast with ham and cheese, Greek yogurt and peanut butter, scrambled eggs, or fruit. Coffee and milk are always included.

Do you have a morning workout routine?

On the days I work out (roughly every other day), I normally go to the gym in the building for forty-five minutes after breakfast with Chloe; then I take a shower and head to work. Other times, I might do a cardio and strength workout class on my way to work.

Do you have a morning meditation routine?

In the past, I tried doing a five-to-ten-minute meditation session every morning. I think it lasted for a couple of weeks, but then everything else got in the way. I would like to try it again, since it can have a great impact on mood and overall well-being.

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

I normally allocate one hour in the morning for email and, if time allows, some quick updates on my social accounts.

I typically do a quick scan through all new messages and flag the ones I want to read more carefully or reply to at length. After this swift triage I try to answer some of the flagged ones within that hour, but there are always a few I leave for later.

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

I tried a few in the past but never stuck with one for long.

How soon do you check your phone in the morning?

I tend to take a glance soon after I wake up to see if there’s anything urgent, but since that’s usually not the case, I only check it again on my way to work.

What and when is your first drink in the morning?

Most likely a glass of water, cold milk, or coffee right after waking up.

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

It’s quite consistent on the weekends as well, with the exception of an overall slower pace and an indispensable family brunch (my favorite meal) in a neighborhood restaurant.

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

It’s quite challenging to maintain the same routine when traveling. But I find occasionally breaking my routine to be a good and rewarding thing.

Routines are like any set of rules. They can be helpful in giving us a sense of constancy. But at times, breaking them can be extremely liberating. Being a slave to a single routine can prevent spontaneity and unexpected discoveries.


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