“Sometimes I remove tasks from my to-do list. So many things are meaningless hamster wheel activities.” – Onicia Muller Share this quote on Twitter

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Onicia Muller

What is your morning routine?

My morning routine is consistent, but there aren’t any hard rules.

While still in bed, between 6:00 and 7:00am, I pray and look at funny content my husband finds on Reddit and other sites. He isn’t fully awake, so this is our way of spending quality time without having deep conversations. Between 7:00 and 8:00am I eat, work out, and dress (when I have a meeting). Between 8:00 and 8:30am, I review my agenda. I start working at 8:30am.

Sometimes I do these things out of order. For example, when I’m working on a script, I start writing at 6:00am. Eating breakfast, working out, and looking at memes can wait until 8:30am. Creative writing requires my best energy. I strive to bust out those pages before my inner critic wakes up. I learned this from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way.

What time do you go to sleep?

No matter what time I go to bed, my brain turns on around 6:00am. The only question is whether or not I’m functional when that happens. I try to go to sleep between 9:00-9:30pm. I can pull off going to bed at 10:30pm for at most three nights a week before I become useless in the morning. I don’t drink coffee or energy drinks, so going to bed at 11:00pm or later always ends in disaster.

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

Yes! Although I’m a morning person, when my evening routine is not right, I’m not functional until at least 3:00pm.

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I update my calendar at the end of each workday (around 5:30pm). Later, right before I go to bed, I set my alarm, review my calendar, and put my phone on airplane mode. Reciting my top four tasks helps me relax. I’m able to start my day with the most important item versus wildly jumping from task to task. Having my phone on airplane mode helps me sleep better. If there’s a real emergency, they’ll call my husband.

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

After about three hours of sleep, I have this false sense of being fully rested. When I wake up before getting 7-9 hours it throws off my internal clock. To ensure I don’t start my day too early, I set my alarm for both 6:00 and 6:30am. Not hearing my alarms encourages me to keep sleeping—or at least to not open my eyes.

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

I have a super light breakfast between 7:00-8:00am. This might be a non-dairy fruit smoothie, granola with yogurt, or a simple sandwich.

Do you have a morning workout routine?

Not really. I do about 5-10 minutes of stretching with either push ups, squats, or crunches. I need to do more cardio.

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

Playwright Mia McCullough says rarely do we receive an email that needs a reply within twenty-four hours. I’ve disabled email notifications, and I respond to emails at 1:00 and 5:00pm daily. Mia is right; since I started following her advice, the world hasn’t ended.

How soon do you check your phone in the morning?

My phone always stays on airplane mode until I’m at my desk. Blocking messages and notifications helps me stick to my routine.

What are your most important tasks in the morning?

Pray, stretch, and sip tea.

How does your partner fit into your morning routine?

My husband is not really a morning person, but he always lets me do my thing. His work schedule varies weekly. Six months ago, I’d wake him at 7:30am. We’d look at memes for about twenty minutes. Then I’d return to drag him out of bed at 9:30am. Recently, he’s been copying my schedule. Imitation is flattery, I guess?

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

My brain is always on at 6:00am. On the weekends I force myself (the husband pins me to the mattress and takes my phone away) to keep sleeping until at least 7:30am. Weekends should be about family, fun, rest, and serving others.

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

When I find myself straying, I take it as a sign to audit my life.

Sometimes my agenda is too full and I start burning the candle at both ends (waking up earlier and going to sleep later). That quickly leads to burnout and chaos.

Nothing in life is mandatory. I work hard, so sleeping in or having a foggy brain means I’m working too hard. When I’m too tired to function, I take a Netflix day and evaluate what might be zapping my energy. When I’m up for it, I try my hand at mindless business administration tasks.

Again, nothing is mandatory. Sometimes I remove tasks from my to-do list. So many things are meaningless hamster wheel activities. Sometimes setting the bar too high throws off my morning routine. I rediscover my purpose when I remember that nothing really matters and I prioritize myself over my plans for world domination.

But when I can’t do the above, I take a nap and restart my day. Seriously—go back to bed and start again. You’ll very likely wake up on the right side.

Photo of Onicia by Elizabeth McQuern.

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