“There are always a ton of urgent and important tasks to do. I’ve found that checking email usually derails me from all of the things that aren’t in my inbox.” – Mattan Griffel Share this quote on Twitter

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Mattan Griffel

What is your morning routine?

Right now my morning routine looks something like this:

I prepare a cup of tea (coffee too early in the morning gets me a little too wired, whereas tea lets me ease into the day), after which I’ll spend fifteen minutes or so doing nine stretches as part of the Starting Stretching program – this warms up my body while my brain doesn’t want to function.

Next I’ll meditate for twenty minutes using the Headspace app – I used to meditate at night but now I find that I’m more likely to actually do it in the morning; and I have to do it before I consume any media.

After my meditation session I’ll prepare breakfast. Right now I’m on a Soylent kick so that’s my breakfast, and sometimes I’ll have a second breakfast after working out.

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After breakfast I’ll write 750 words using 750words.com – I mostly write my thoughts, it’s pretty incoherent but sometimes this turns into a blog post later. After writing I’ll shower, brush my teeth, and get dressed before starting my workout. I do starting strength on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I swim on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Next I’ll walk to work with my headphones and listen to an audiobook as I walk. Right now I’m listening to Atlas Shrugged narrated by Scott Brick at 1.5x speed as it’s over sixty hours long.

How long have you stuck with this routine so far?

I’ve slowly built up my morning routine over time.

I used to be an evening person, but as I started trying to add structure to my routine I found that it was easier to stick with stuff like writing and meditation if I did it in the morning.

I’ve written 750 words every day for the last 331 days. I’ve also been meditating every morning for the last year. The tea and stretching are the two newest parts of my routine; I’ve only been doing them for the last five months or so.

How has your morning routine changed over recent years?

I’ve tried a lot of different routines, but this is what’s worked best for me.

I started with writing every day. Then I added meditation. Then stretching. And finally the tea. I’m sure it’ll continue to change over time as I simplify.

What time do you go to sleep?

I usually end up in bed around 11:30pm, though the ideal time would be 10:30, and sometimes it’s as late as midnight. I try to get about seven hours of sleep a night, which it turns out is actually the ideal amount for most people. Any less and I can’t really function at full efficiency.

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

I use an app called Sleep Cycle to measure my sleeping patterns and wake me up at the ideal time. It sets a thirty minute range and wakes me up when I’m in my lightest stage of sleep. Sometimes I snooze it, but the snooze time gets progressively less and less, so eventually you kind of have to wake up.

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

Right now I’m on a Soylent kick and I’ll sometimes eat a second breakfast (like an Acai bowl or cottage cheese). I find that I need to eat breakfast otherwise I’ll get really hungry and/or irritated.

Do you have a morning workout routine?

Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays I go to the gym in the morning after my morning routine. My workout program is very simple – I do starting strength which means just three exercises each day: squats, deadlifts, and either military press or bench press every other day.

I’m also trying to add swimming into my workout routine, on Tuesdays and Thursdays for now. I’m not a fan of running but my current workout routine doesn’t have much cardio so I feel like swimming is a good compromise.

How about morning meditation?

I’m a big fan of meditation in the morning, especially before doing anything too cerebral. It has greatly reduced my stress, improved my sleeping, and made me a better manager.

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

I try not to look at email until my most important task of the day is done, at least until about 10:00am.

There are always a ton of urgent and important tasks to do. I’ve found that checking email usually derails me from all of the things that aren’t in my inbox.

How soon do you check your phone in the morning?

I make a point not to check my phone or computer in the hour before going to bed and waking up in the morning. It’s the same with email.

What are your most important tasks in the morning?

I use Asana to prioritize all my tasks (using a Getting Things Done based prioritization system).

In the morning I look at all my P1 (Priority 1) tasks and pick the one or two that I’m going to get done that day. It’s also the one I usually report at team standup in the morning, so the rest of the team knows and holds me accountable.

What and when is your first drink in the morning?

Besides Soylent, which is my morning meal, I drink a full glass of water when I wake up. It’s easy to forget to drink enough water to stay hydrated, but I definitely feel much better when I do, so I make sure to drink a glass of water before going to bed and starting each day.

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

I do the same routine on weekends, but it’s slightly lazier and slower. I give myself more time. And sometimes I go out for a walk or grab a coffee in between.

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

This is the toughest thing for me.

The short answer is no. When other people are around in the morning (friends or lovers), it can be hard to separate myself for an hour to do all that stuff like meditate, stretch, and write.

In this case, I’ll usually just write and meditate if I have the time. Or I’ll set an alarm to make sure I do them at some point during the day.

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

I definitely know which parts of my morning routine to cut out and which to prioritize if I’m short on time.

If I don’t meditate, I find myself getting more irritated throughout the day, and I become kind of an asshole to people. And I’d be very disappointed if I didn’t write – I’m currently on a 372 day writing streak, which is the longest I’ve ever had.

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