My routine has changed a lot over the past year. Four months ago I began focusing on creating a schedule to achieve consistency, with the primary goal of waking up refreshed and energized. So I began going to bed earlier (around 10:30pm every night) and waking up earlier (6:00-6:30am). I stick to a similar routine on the weekends as well.
Becoming a parent has forced me to embrace flexibility and make the best of whatever card is dealt to me on any given day. I used to always sleep 8-9 hours and start each day with yoga, meditation, and journaling. I’d clear my head and set my intentions, and I even had the audacity to be creative with my appearance. I would actually spend time fixing my hair and selecting my clothes. Ha!
I know all babies are different, but the one that we got is far from passive and easygoing. I’ve adapted just about every part of my life to support and foster his strong and fiery personality. I know the day will come when he needs me less, and I’ll be able to go back to my ideal, more-structured ways.
In the meantime, it’s a good thing beauty comes from within because these days, we play it by ear and turn a whole lot of lemons into delicious lemonade.
I try to have two days a week to ‘sleep in’ to 6:30 or 7:00am ;)
I try to keep my morning routine as relaxed and minimalistic as possible. I find that when my routine gets too packed, I feel like I have to do every little step and stress out about accomplishing everything. This routine helps me maintain a low level of stress heading into my day.
Before having kids, my routine was completely different. With kids, planning ahead and sticking to a routine is critical. It’s also much harder for me to get into the office early these days, so I tend to get my best work done late at night.
Fitting in workouts has been a big challenge lately, so I’m experimenting with a personal trainer who comes to my house one day a week. He is happy to have my little guys around, so they play near us and sometimes join in the exercises. So far, so good!
When I travel, which is about one week each month on average, some of this goes out the window (except the coffee part, which invariably amps up!).
I’d like to add morning exercise, and I’d like to wake up earlier in order to fit that in. I’m trying to be better about eating breakfast.
I’ve cut out more things than I’ve added. I used to work out first thing in the morning to “get it out of the way,” but my weightlifting routine usually sent my energy crashing within a couple of hours. Now, I don’t work out so early in the morning unless I absolutely have to. I also used to check social media pretty much as soon as I woke up, which took too much mental energy out of me so early in the day, so now I keep my phone out of the bedroom.
A recent and awesome addition to my routine is writing in the Five Minute Journal, mentioned above. I have been loving it - not necessarily the journal itself, but the practice of thinking about the day positively.
Small incremental changes happen over time, but the overall structure of my morning hasn’t changed much in years. The smart lights and soothing alarm are new additions after I received some feedback from my fiancée that she was tired of hearing me hit snooze on my defcon level alarm.
I went from waking up at 7:00am to 6:30am, then 6:00am, then 5:30am, and I finally settled at 5:00am. I used to try to meditate, but I realized I just don’t like it, so I don’t force it. Instead, I spend five minutes going through my gratitude exercise each morning, and that sets the pace for the rest of the day.
I used to try to cram everything into my morning routine (exercise, meditation, journaling, etc.), but I found that I do much better when I simply have an hour or so of study and thought first thing. It gets my brain moving, and it helps me get perspective on my day.
Now, I have a list of “dailies” that I accomplish each day, but some of them I complete later in the morning or over lunch so that my morning doesn’t feel so rushed.
I used to be more ad hoc, letting my morning work schedule determine which days I took Clara to school each week. A few months ago I decided to try a different approach. Now I take Clara to school on the same days each week (Tuesdays and Thursdays), and I don’t schedule any meetings until 10:30 or 11:00am on Mondays and Wednesdays (and Fridays, when possible); on those days, I try hard to be out the door before 8:00am so I can get to the office by 8:30 or 8:45am and have a solid two hours of focused work time.
Mornings tend to be quieter in the office. Because we have an open layout, anyone can come tap me on the shoulder at any moment, so I find that this is my best shot at a chunk of uninterrupted time.
I’ve always been a morning person. It started when I was about eight years old. I was a serious competitive swimmer and swam both early morning and night.
I like my routine currently, but I think I need to add more professional “big thinking” to my journaling routine - currently, it’s more of a personal nature.
I used to be a raw vegan, so back then I would wake up and have a big green smoothie. Huge digestive no-no! Having a cold smoothie in the morning is like putting ice-water on an already weak fire. When we don’t eat overnight, our digestive fire becomes weak. We have to gently rekindle these flames with hot tea and movement to make it burn bright again.
I used to be bloated all the time and it made no sense because I was eating so “healthy.” As soon as I shifted to a more warming diet, my entire body and even personality changed.
My body needs a bit more “lube-time” as I get older, so I am working on incorporating more time moving around, practicing yoga, and stretching, as well as moving slower into my workout.
I’ve experimented for years, often prioritizing exercise over sleep, but I eventually realized that nine hours of sleep every night is my real secret to success.
In jest, I don’t do a lot of experimentation before 7:00am…
It has not. To the degree that you can call it a routine, it is not something I pursue consciously. My body wakes up early whether I want to or not, and tells me unambiguously when it desires nourishment (usually right when I wake up) and when my mind needs a little time meditate and contemplate (usually right after breakfast).
I need these things in a visceral way before I’m ready to take on whatever task is ahead (which may or may not be known in advance).
I used to journal more than I do now. I found it hard to be consistent about my journaling, and it took a lot more time than I was hoping it would. Nevertheless, I feel like I should integrate it back in again.
I used to be a lot more hardline about my weekday routine. I think structure is important, but I also think that too much structure is dangerous. I’ve found that when you try to beat life into submission, it tends to fight back. Life’s pretty strong, so it always hurts.
These days, I allow for a little more openness. The reigns are not so tight. I absolutely finish the work I need done, but if I want to wake up at 8:00am instead of 6:00am a couple of mornings a week, I allow myself. I figure my body is asking for it, and I let it happen. I’m considering having children, and I tell myself that I had better get those extra two hours in while I can (wink).
When I quit working my “regular” full-time job to pursue Bad Yogi three years ago, I had virtually no routine and really struggled with that. I felt unproductive and aimless, and I never really stuck with the changes I made towards improving my situation.
That did not serve me well, and I continued to feel pretty disorganized until more recently. I had to really discipline myself to build a routine that would give me an anchor. It’s taken a long time for me to find my groove, but I feel like I finally have the perfect mix right now.
There are some years where running is a bigger priority and other years where yoga is a bigger priority. I used to dive into emails and office work as soon as I woke up, but I’ve learned that it’s better to exercise first and then come back to that.
I’ve become more consistent with meditation. I find that the more I do it, the more beneficial it is for my mental and emotional well-being and my overall demeanor.
I’ve experimented a lot over the years. At one point I was walking super early in the morning. I enjoyed it, but I found that it wasn’t sustainable because my schedule varies wildly throughout the year. I still sometimes go for a walk after breakfast if I’m going to have an especially hectic day ahead.
I tried exercising in the morning and didn’t enjoy it, so I went back to doing it in the early/late afternoon, which I prefer.
Well, a few practices that stand out and that I’d like to re-incorporate as time allows are:
My pre-kid mornings seem so luxurious now! If I can actually get up and get myself totally ready before my son is up, I always feel better. But honestly, it’s hard to make myself miss out on those extra minutes in bed!
Maybe someday I will get ambitious enough to actually be out of bed at 7:00am every morning so I have some time before he gets up.
When it feels like something is dragging me down, I believe in just getting rid of it. My routine used to be a lot longer and even more reflective, but I found that it soaked up a ton of time. That’s why I try to keep it relatively short and not too routine. I travel a lot, so this lets me keep most/all of the elements when I’m on the go.
I used to jump directly into work. The problem I found was as soon as people started getting emails from me or seeing tweets, they knew I was ’available’ and then I’d start getting distracted.
I’ve slowly tried to stay off the radar in the mornings (minus some pre-scheduled tweets). I honestly don’t check email for at least the first ninety minutes of the day. It feels so amazing not to get sucked into non-urgent things in the morning. And to my surprise, I’m not even tempted to check email. Once I got through the first two weeks of doing it, it just became a habit.
For a while I was meditating for longer, but I recently added back in time to write my morning pages. I find my life thrives when I give myself the freedom of freewriting in the morning. Meditation is helpful, but having a smaller dose doesn’t seem to lessen its effects too much.
I don’t check email first thing. This was a habit that I consciously had to break. If we got up in the morning and the first thing we did was check email, we’d be allowing others to dictate our priorities for the day. The important projects I want to focus on would get pushed back to later in the day, and I would be spending my most valuable mental energy time answering emails that could easily wait for a few hours.
I’ve also stopped reading the newspaper. Looking at the opportunity cost of my time, I began to realize I was getting more value from reading other sources of information.
My routine has changed many times in recent years due to the fact that my daughter is growing up; every year was different because of her changing needs. I tried to exercise in the morning, but I now prefer to walk one hour every morning (going to and coming from school).
Before having the baby, I woke up naturally without an alarm between 8:00am and 9:00am, but I enjoyed the mornings where I got up earlier more. It was easier to get caught up in stuff at nighttime, and I rarely went to bed before midnight.
I have learnt that I function with little sleep. Even though it is rough to get out of bed, I enjoy the quietness and fresh air once I am on my feet. The silence in the morning holds lots of expectations and is more hopeful than the silence at night.
At some point I would like to include a short run in my morning routine. I miss running, but currently I walk most of the day and rest my feet whenever I can.
Each month or so I experiment with adding a change to my morning practice. This month, for example, it’s rowing - adding fifty meters every day. But the two constants have been yoga and reading.
The only thing that has ever changed about my morning routine is whether or not I decide to exercise in the early morning or wait until later in the morning (10:00am). Right now, I use my precious morning time for writing and any other work-related tasks that need to be completed; but if I’m traveling or if it is a filming day, I fit my workout into the early morning hours.
I used to simply have the goal of working for ten minutes straight on a project first thing in the morning. Often, that would bleed into one or two hours.
Why has my time commitment increased, even though I still spend the first two hours working? Because I’m always shooting for a goal that feels ridiculously easy to me, as a “Motivational Judo” move that tricks me into working more. I’ve gotten better at focusing, so just one hour is a pretty easy goal for me.
Putting my phone in airplane mode when I get into bed and then not checking email until I’m awake and at my desk is really good for me and something that I’ve only tried to start doing in the past few months. I’m not always successful (early-morning phone addiction is powerful!), but I’m trying.
I keep changing it, playing with different routines to see what feels best. Even though I’m self-employed and could technically set whatever hours I’d like, I’ve found that I’m most productive and happiest when I stick to the same schedule that most people around me are on.
It’s kind of a “feeling in the city” thing - I like to sleep when others are sleeping and have brunch on Sundays like everyone around me is doing. When I’m out in the middle of the day on a Wednesday, I start thinking, “Am I doing this life thing wrong? Why am I the only person here at Trader Joe’s right now?” and so on, and I start to question all my life choices. To avoid this crisis, I try to stick to a “normal” schedule for the most part. I used to work at a consulting firm, and when I first quit to work on music full time, I thought I would have a non-schedule schedule, writing only when I felt inspired and so on. But I like showing up to write or practice every day, whether or not I feel like it. I think that’s what keeps me moving forward, both in terms of productivity and creativity.
Productivity-wise, I am way too moody of a person to use the “work when I feel like it” method. I would never get anything accomplished. Creatively, I love sitting down at the piano each day and writing whether or not I feel like it. It’s the best therapy. Usually the first few songs I write after sitting down are terrible and I throw them out, but then that third song will be one that I keep. And it reminds me why the “butt in chair” method works, and the cycle continues.
I try to streamline my routine and processes to ensure I have as much clear headspace as possible for the day ahead. At the moment, I am trying to shift my exercise regimen, which I usually do at night, to the morning in order to inject even more energy into my day.
2016 has been a very busy year: We kicked it off with the relaunch of Barbie’s new body in January. Then we spent the last four months planning a summit on gender stereotypes with the White House, so there have been some sleepless nights and, as such, I have had to modify my routine a bit to increase my energy and to help restore balance.
I’d like to do yoga more regularly, and I’m working on finding more time to write in the morning. Journal writing has been a lifeline for me over the years - I’ve been writing in journals for two decades. Oh, the stories I could tell… :)
I’ve made small changes over time; for example, when I lived in Los Angeles I was fond of morning walks and hikes. I’m very open to experimenting - I’m sure before long I’ll learn about something new I’ll want to add to my routine.
I’m experimenting with a bit more exercise in the morning these days for getting more consistent meditations. Sometimes, I’ll do some kettlebell swings or sun salutations.
I haven’t really gotten this down yet, so it’s a piece of my routine that’s in flux.
It has changed a lot because I’m constantly experimenting. I’ve also had some big changes over the last few years, including starting new jobs, moving, and getting a puppy. For every big change, I typically need to restructure the routine.
I’ve gone through periods where I wake up much earlier (6:30am) by forcing myself awake with an alarm. The hardest thing I’ve found to work into my routine is the meditation. If I skip one thing, that tends to be the one.
I’m currently experimenting with an idea creation exercise. Right after meditating, during the period where I write down my most important tasks, I force myself to come up with five ideas around a particular topic/problem. I’m trying to build a routine of coming up with ideas more often, since I’ve fallen out of this habit as I’ve gotten older.
I love running. And for maybe three years, running has been the primary activity of my morning with everything else working its way around it. Running helped me become the morning person I always wanted to be.
After falling in love (and then into addiction) with running, I hungered for it daily. I prepared my clothes every night and was up earlier and earlier so I could put in 6, or 12, or 14 miles before heading to work. However, after running five marathons and an ultra-marathon within three years, my body started to suffer. About a year ago I stopped running and started doing yoga. Though I did keep the habit of waking up early, and that has helped me commit to my daily prayer time as well. Luckily, after six months off from serious running I’m finally feeling good to run daily and maybe start training again. However, the entire routine takes a minimum of three hours which is admittedly quite long.
There are a few things concerning my routine that I’m looking to change:
- I don’t get much sleep. Like my dream of being an earlier rise, I also covet being the kind of “entrepre-hustler” who doesn’t need much sleep. After over a decade of trying, I successful developed this unhealthy habit and am able to function on 4-5 hours per night. But now I am questioning if it’s hindering my top mental performance, and even muscle recovery.
- I’m continually hearing about the value of drinking a cup of water first thing in the morning. I’ve tried it a few times, and though I’m not recognizing an immediate benefit, I’ll likely just do it more consistently anyway.
- I’m experimenting with adding 10-15 minutes of meditations to my routine. Sure I already do a lot, but I can honestly see a difference when I do.
Bulletproof Coffee engages my body, prayer and Bible study feeds my spirit, and ten minutes of the Calm app seems to help clear my mind.
Until the beginning of this year, I spent a number of years managing teams on opposite coasts and got accustomed to rising before 6:00am to be accessible to team members three hours ahead of me… and until 2015 I was headed to an office by 8:00am.
Now that I work (primarily) from home and have let go of most of my long-distance clients in order to launch my next project, I have more control over my morning schedule.
Recently I did a 31-day daily vlog experiment. So my creative time in the morning switched from writing to video editing. It was a good experiment, but I missed the consistent writing - I found it tougher to do later in the day.
I’ve also experimented with working out earlier (which I don’t like), and with meditation (which is great, but sporadic).
It really comes down to putting the important things ahead of the “urgent” things for me. If I can drink a few glasses of water, get an hour of writing done, and make breakfast all before 8:00am - then I know everything else will fall into place for the rest of the day.
We add new exercises all the time, but I have not deviated from the system that I use ever. New exercises include new equipment we test out like the TRX suspension trainer, weight vests, kettlebells, weighted jump ropes, and more.
Before my son was born, my routine included an hour on my laptop while walking at a treadmill desk (in my office) before heading to the gym. I stopped doing that when my son was born (since I don’t have a treadmill desk at home, though I’ve seriously thought about buying one), and never took it up again when I returned to work.
In all honesty, my morning routine is pretty recent. I left a job two months ago that had a fairly early start time (eek!) and I now work from home most days. This allows me to be more intentional about my morning routine, and to consider its effect on the rest of my day.
I’ve also been trying to expand on my physical activity. Traditionally, I’ve saved my workouts for the end of the workday and only gone when I felt like it, but I’m trying to incorporate more regular physical activity throughout my day. The stretches are a good start - I might even add some exercises in, but no promises. I’ve tried to integrate yoga videos and guided meditation recordings, but haven’t found anything that sticks yet.
I’ve always been a morning person, loving to wake up and get started before the rest of my life gets going. I used to get up before 5:00am to go to the gym, to write, to run, or to commute, in each case because I simply loved to get going before everyone else. But I’ve moved a lot over recent years - from Virginia to New Orleans to New York to Pittsburgh - and added a wife, a dog, and an infant son, and thus my days have changed drastically. My mornings aren’t purely mine anymore.
The first change came when we got our dog, and my early mornings shifted from getting out the door to go to the gym to getting out the door to walk my dog.
The second change came in moving from New York City to Pittsburgh, which removed a lot of the morning breakfast meetings and shifted my morning walks with my dog around the East Village, visiting our favorite dog-friendly coffee shops, to walks through the parks in our neighborhood, making the coffee at home.
The third change came with the birth of my son this past December. This change was the largest, but all of them have had an impact. The biggest difference is that they’ve limited the scope of things to experiment with because my morning time isn’t just my own. I’m working on getting up earlier, before everyone else, so that I can start focusing on what I want to do before the day starts. I start each work day by outlining my priorities using the 1-3-5 rule; the more I can focus on the 1-3 priorities before my family wakes up, the more I’m able to get done before responsibilities start filling up the day.
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.
I’ve tried various things to make mornings more palatable to me: Getting up earlier. Getting up later. Prepping overnight oats to give me something to look forward to. Leaving my phone downstairs. Keeping my phone close. Gentle music in the morning. Indulging in a snooze alarm. Forbidding a snooze alarm. Sweet-talking myself into allowing the snooze alarm Just. This. Once.
Nothing thus far has made me love mornings.
I struggled to make meditation a habit for years, but finally added it a couple of years ago. Another component that has evolved is my email habits. In 2007 email was the first thing I did in the morning. That was foolish and often sidetracked me from important matters.
I then resolved to open my inbox later and later each day, and built up the rituals and willpower to stay out of my inbox until I’ve been awake and working for several hours. I’ve also put in place systems that have resulted in far less email being sent and received (that’s one important tip to fight email addiction: the less you send, the less you receive!). Today I have my system dialed in to protect my magic time and make big progress on my priorities.
The morning routine hasn’t changed much. I’ve actually added more to an evening routine, which I realize is not the focus of this great interview series. At the end of the day I ask myself, “Did today matter?” and journal a few quick notes related to that question. I drink herbal tea and sometimes take melatonin to help with falling asleep.
I was never an early riser before kids, and then when they were little I just tried to sleep whenever they slept. Why on earth would I set an alarm when I was so perpetually exhausted?!
Now that we are on more of a schedule, I’ve decided I like accomplishing something before having to deal with all the hectic details of getting out the door for school. Also, I’ve realized I love the empty streets of early morning and seeing the sun rise. It is a magical moment that you can get for free every single morning! It feels like a reset every time I experience it and righteous all day long.
Over the years, I have begun to focus my mornings on preparing myself for the day’s demands and using the time I’m in transit to my advantage. Taking these moments to clear my head and get my mind ready for meetings or to stay abreast of the latest trends in design, tech, or science. I’ve also begun to eat breakfast to give my body what it needs to work efficiently.
For too long I worked without properly taking care of myself, and as I’ve gotten older, it’s become apparent that I’m no longer a spring chicken. Eating right and taking the time to slow down and plan in the morning is crucial to a productive day. I’ve also set reminders to check my Google Drive and an app called Paper to go over all of the photos and sketches I designed the day before to keep those ideas fresh.
I’ve found that sometimes ideas that didn’t work the day before may magically work for something else another day, so it’s beneficial for me to review and stay familiar with them.
Over the years, I’ve tried mixing things up – a little more in the last six months or so.
I find that keeping such a deliberate and somewhat rigid routine in the morning keeps me feeling good and productive and warmed up for a good day of work. Without any of those elements I just feel a bit off.
A life coach recently called me out for being too responsible with my routine and challenged how I might feel if I were less so. So I’ve experimented with weeks of sleeping in, and changing weightlifting and cardio to meditation. I do think that when I feel uninspired in my writing, or see no progress at the gym, that taking a week or two off and allowing myself to miss it, to feel a bit more rested, helps a lot. I’ve also learned to take the weekends off. It’s hard to be that consistent on a Saturday and Sunday.
Now that I live with my fiancée, Lauren, who is more of a night person than me, I’ve learned that I need to get my gym things and food things ready the night before and do my writing in the other room. When you have someone else in bed it can be really tempting to just stay there, but I find other ways and other times to be with her: I need my routine to keep me on track.
When I first started my website, I would get all of my writing and important work done between the hours of 10:00pm and 4:00am, before waking up at 10:00am and repeating the process.
I initially assumed that I was just a night owl and I could only work after others had gone to bed (and I couldn’t distract myself). However, since signing a book deal two years ago, I implemented environmental hacks (blocking websites, phone in DND mode, etc) to transition myself into a morning person. I simply had to built a system that allowed me to work distraction free.
I used to wake-up around 5:30am for 6:00am practice. I’d climb out of bed and basically head straight to the boathouse to start my dynamics.
There were a few months when my practice time was changed to 7:30am. This is when I started experimenting with pre-workout fuel and settled into my current routine. When my practice time was changed back to 6:00am, I knew it would be worth it to wake up extra early to stick with what had been working.
I’ve had to really adjust my work-life in order to accommodate homeschooling.
Just a few years ago I was delivering dozens of speeches each year for $15,000 a pop. I traveled two weeks out of every month. For most of my career I was running a startup. I ran three. They were all absolutely exhausting and I love that this guy calls it entrepreneurshit. He’s right. Running a startup is so difficult that when I was reading his post about how difficult it is, I had to stop in the middle. I think I might have post-traumatic stress syndrome from being a startup founder.
The key for me was being able to dream up career ideas for myself that work well with homeschooling the kids. At first it was a disaster. My career tanked and I started losing my mind. But then I started rethinking career options.
For example, people have always asked me to coach them, and for years, I have said I don’t do that. But then I realized that coaching people via phone works really well for the lifestyle I have with the kids. So now I do tons of coaching and it’s worked well for me because it also allows me to talk with smart, interesting people all the time.
I’d say the biggest change is that I now use my mornings for yoga and learning. I used to always say “I want to learn that,” or “I want to get in better shape,” and I’d try to do it after work. But that never happened.
Before focusing on design, I was focusing on learning how to code. I’d wake up at 6:30am for a two-hour pair programming session on Skype almost every day. Dave (my programming tutor) was based in Nashville, Tennessee, and this was the only time that worked for him. My brain didn’t function at that hour without exercise. It was rough and I’m glad I now exercise before learning.
If you want to get better at something, I recommend finding time in the morning to learn. It’s hard to wake up, but you’ll get used to it pretty fast and it’s worth it.
I also credit the fact that I have a girlfriend to improving my routine. When I was single a few years ago, I was going out more and staying up later.
I love spending time with Simone after work. We usually have a glass of wine and go to bed pretty early, which has been a huge change for me. I love that my schedule is more predictable now, and that I’m not tired when I go to work.
I spent thirty days writing as soon as I opened my eyes last spring. It was really fantastic, and I want to get back to that! I am definitely most productive early mornings and late nights because it’s the only time I feel I don’t have to be responding to emails, present on social media, or attached in any way to my phone!
As an experiment, I spent two weeks over the summer getting up at 5:00am and going for a run and meditating before work. It felt fantastic, but also not totally realistic for me as a daily practice.
Oh man, before I discovered running I used to sleep in, wake up, and grab a McDonald’s breakfast just before they stopped serving it at 10:30am.
I guess now they do breakfast all day? But that’s besides the point! It took me a while to find the best way to start my day, so I used to not do a warm up stretch. Then I felt like I should do something consistently every morning to make me stronger so I added push-ups to my morning routine.
It’s gotten more regimented. Adding the “make bed” part has really kicked it into high gear. I try to keep my routine simple and short, so it’s not overwhelming and I don’t fall prey to it becoming obsessive-compulsive.
I go straight for my computer to check my email and the news. I make myself black coffee, shower and get ready, go to a coffee shop and grab a latte, then start working.
Last April I moved to Portland, Oregon, and my wife left her job at that time to be self employed (she also works for my business part time). So now I have someone sitting with me to drink coffee and check email, where before she’d head off to her job. I love having another person to share my morning routine with; we have a lovely little breakfast nook in our new house which is the perfect spot to convene each morning for coffee and preparing for the day.
I really want to begin a journaling routine in the morning, and one of my major goals for 2016 is to do that each day, Monday through Friday. I work long days and am very focused on my clients and getting my work completed most days, so I think it would be good for me to have a chunk of time each morning where I had more personal time to get my feelings on paper and reflect on my life. I think the challenge will be breaking up the routine of the last eight years to fit that in.
I’ve incorporated more exercise that helps my back get strong and stay healthy. Unfortunately, I’ve got degenerative disc disease, so my spine is not in good shape and will continue to get worse as I age. To compensate, I need to do a lot of back strengthening work.
The biggest change is that my morning routine has expanded. In the beginning it was just fifteen minutes, and gradually, over a period of years and many changes, I carved out more and more time.
When I quit my job in 2011, I had more time. When we downsized to a small apartment, I found more time, and when my daughter started college, I had more time. It took many years, but now I have hours instead of minutes to devote to my practice.
Most of the elements stay the same, although I used to include more yoga. Now I attend yoga classes during the week, and don’t have a formal practice in the morning. I also do more reading now during my morning routine. I’d really like to develop the habit of writing one thank you card during each morning routine, so that could be the next thing I add.
Adding piano was the biggest change. I’ve always loved music, but never played an instrument. I had assumed it would be my “one regret” that I’d take with me. Then, nearly two years ago, I began taking lessons from a jazz pianist.
The daily benefits piano provides me with are meditation: you cannot learn without being completely present, and skill development: every day I can say “I can do something that I couldn’t do yesterday.”
Currently my routine gets me up and out the door to an administrative job. This hasn’t always been the case: sometimes I’ve had the deep luxury of being home and working on my art (in those rare months when it’s how I make most of my living), or working on a job from home. Then, I can use my mornings more leisurely, to exercise, get centred, and ready to be creative.
At other times in my life, I’ve felt I squandered my mornings, and I’m working now on being mindful of when my most productive hours are and when I’m most creative.
The timing has changed, and I’ve added working out.
I was an elementary school teacher for a long time so my work day started at 7:00am. I’m not the sort of person who can rush out the door in five minutes flat so that meant my routine started much, much earlier, and I read for a half hour or so instead of a full hour.
Over the years as my life has changed my routine has become more leisurely. I take more time with each thing in the morning. I live in South Korea right now, which is decidedly not a morning country. Not a whole lot opens in my neighborhood until 10:00am, so I don’t feel so bad staying in my house in the morning for a while anyway. At some point life will change and I may not have this pleasure, so for now I take the opportunity for slowness in the morning.
The only thing that changes is sometimes I’ll catch myself slipping away from the ideal morning routine and I’ll start getting lazy and less productive until I bring myself back on track. Other than that, I’m pretty happy with my current routine and think it can work for me for the rest of my life.
My morning routine has changed over the years depending on the age of my children, the changing needs of my family, and the different stages my business has gone through. Now that my children have gotten older and my husband and I both work from home, we’ve gotten into a really good rhythm as a family.
I’m in a season where my morning routine has stayed the same for a good while - mostly because I don’t have little babies who are waking up in the night and I have a better business team in place, so it’s not as demanding or time-consuming as it once was!
I’m currently mostly trying to find consistency in a phase of my life where I travel a whole bunch for work.
When I’m in Brooklyn, I am pretty good at keeping it going, but it’s easy to let it falter when I travel, which is sometimes more than half of the month. I am starting to keep yoga mats in different cities, at friend’s houses, to give me a semblance of routine for the meditation and exercise part of the morning.
My morning routine has changed quite a lot over recent years. Most of my work is related to the online world, so the first thing I would do upon waking up before is go on my phone.
I used to waste so much time in bed scrolling through Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and email, feeling anxious about all I wanted to accomplish for the day. I feel amazing now that I keep my phone on airplane mode and don’t touch it until I’m finished with my morning routine.
Alex and I are doing our best to wake up earlier now and add gratefulness walks to our morning routine. It’s not always easy as we travel a lot and change time zones. It’s something we used to do in the past and believe to be a very powerful mind exercise. It’s something we learnt from Tony Robbins’ Get the Edge program, and we recommend it to all of our family and friends. It’s a game changer in making your dreams a reality.
It started with just working out in the morning, and I’ve added elements that really make me feel even more awesome (coffee with unsweetened milk, journalising, meditating, adding a healthy breakfast, etc).
In general, I believe everything is always in a state of progress and iteration — we refine as we learn more about ourselves and what makes us feel our best!
I used to read about fifty books a year when I was living in Japan. My school commute was an hour and a half each way. When I started working (I had a corporate office job for eleven years before I moved to New York to go to art school) my commute got shorter, but it was still over an hour. Sadly, smartphones have changed the commute train scenery in Japan now, but it used to be everyone quietly reading books. Japanese designs for paperbacks are quite remarkable. The size of each book may be half the size of an American paperback, but the paper is super thin and, conversely, super sturdy. Because of the Japanese writing system, they can still keep the font size pretty big. So, efficient.
Now, my time on the subway is only fifteen minutes, and because of smartphones and tablets, I have lost the habit of reading. In the last few years, maybe I read ten books a year at the most. But to have a creative output, in my case drawings and illustrations, I need creative input, inspirations, and influences. I need to experience things I don’t experience on my own. So, the new routine I started earlier this year is to, finally, get back into reading; reading really good books that fuel my creativity.
I now intentionally take the local train instead of switching to the express train as it gives me five extra minutes of reading time per commute (I also use the time I used to waste on my phone toward reading throughout the day, and especially at night). So far, so good. I am getting a lot of reading done.
It honestly depends on what I have planned out for the day.
I am currently balancing between school and being a photographer and content creator. Let’s say I have a planned shoot scheduled for noon. I may sleep in, but I never sleep in past 9:00am because doing so is very unproductive for me. Between the hours of 10-11:00am I spend my time checking email, reading, working on a project, or editing photos.
Depending on what projects I’m working on, that is usually the only time my morning routine shifts or alternates.
I used to have a similar routine, minus breakfast and mindfulness. With that routine I used to reach for my phone before anything else, including my glasses. I’d sit in bed scrolling for an hour with one eye closed because my vision is so poor. Unsurprisingly, I usually spent the day frustrated, cranky, and wondering why I wasn’t using that extra hour for sleep.
Now I’m trying to balance spending an hour collecting my thoughts and framing my day (morning pages) and quick lightning bolts of gratitude (Five Minute Journal). I’ve tried other breakfasts, but I like my green smoothie. It basically starts the day off with a salad, so I don’t feel as bad eating a little treat later. It also means I don’t turn into a sugar-monster by 3:00pm…
My routine changes from time to time, but I always wake up early. The morning is by far my favorite time of day. As a street photographer, I’m always engaging with people, watching people, walking all day, and being fully stimulated all at the same time, day in and day out. Days become full and draining. It’s important that I get some quiet time to myself, it helps me stay balanced in such an emotional city.
When I’m working on photo projects I will adapt my routine to it. Two years ago when I was working in a photo studio I would leave my house at 7:00am because I wanted to photograph in the subways for an hour or two before I had to be at work. Now that it’s summer time and the light is so beautiful when the sun is rising I like to get out and take advantage of it.
I pretty much went from HAVING to get up early for school or work, to NOT HAVING to get up early when working for myself, to LOVING getting up early and doing what I love. It sums it up pretty well.
In terms of other rituals, I went from being less conscious about the mornings (starting the day by checking emails, getting stressed out, rushing, and not leaving any time for myself), to consciously allowing myself to prepare for the day, protecting myself from stress or unexpected calls or emails until I am fully able to handle them.
Giving myself time, care, and attention in the morning has been crucial to significantly reducing my stress levels and consistently increasing my capacity to perform, have clarity, and take action.
I’m always experimenting with my morning routine - I keep an eye out for things I can do faster, or better. In the future, I would like to go into the office less, or change jobs so that I have more flexible hours or I can work from home every couple of days.
I’ve learned the hard way that I’m not an early morning person - I’d much rather stay up late than get up early. It took a long time to admit it, but now I know that my body wakes up more naturally around 9 or 10:00am, and I can work late into the night without a problem. I usually get a second wind in the evening, but I have to make myself go to bed so that I can wake at 7:00am and match with office hours. It’s definitely not ideal.
Discovering things like this about yourself is important, and being able to experiment and change your routine can make a huge difference towards having a successful day.
I love getting up early in the morning because it’s peaceful and quiet. That wasn’t always true, though. As a teenager I slept in late. However, when I started college, I began getting up early for work and to study. Rising early became a key part of my daily ritual.
After college, I continued getting up early. I didn’t have homework, but my work days were full and the mornings were the only time I could exercise. When we lived in Davis, California (2002 to 2008) I belonged to a swim team, and I attended the 6:00am practice. There is nothing like jumping into a heated outdoor pool to get your body moving.
Things changed when we moved to Sacramento, California. I didn’t have access to a pool, so I started running with my friend, Kai. We would meet at 5:30am two or three times a week and go for a run. With Kai’s encouragement, I completed a few half-marathons and even a full marathon! Sadly, I hurt my knee and had to find another activity to keep my body and mind happy; that’s when I discovered yoga and walking. I’ve been doing both since 2009.
My morning routine has definitely changed over the years and I’m sure it will continue to change in the future. Right now, I’m experimenting with sketching in the morning. As a kid, I used to draw and color all the time. However, when I got into high school I stopped drawing. I want to learn how to draw again and I want to create visual art journals.
It was radically different before my daughter was born. I used to work until 3:00am, and just slept in until my body felt like waking up. Depending on that, I’d see if I still had time to work out in the morning or fit it in later in the day.
As for experimentation, I know I said above; it’s important to not always be making lots of little decisions, but sometimes, the opposite is true. Sometimes, we should throw out our routines, and question all the little decisions we make.
Paul Graham wrote an insightful essay on generating business ideas. One of his key thoughts was to simply turn off your filters and notice the world more. We all filter most of the world out. We look at almost everything and take it for granted. We have to. As Paul writes:
“You couldn’t get from your bed to the front door if you stopped to question everything. But if you’re looking for startup ideas you can sacrifice some of the efficiency of taking the status quo for granted and start to question things.”
So, often, I’ll sacrifice the efficiency of my morning routine. I’ll skip eating. I’ll work out in the afternoon. I’ll take a cab to work instead of driving. I’ll walk a different way to daycare with my daughter. I do all this so I can see life just a little bit differently than the routine I was in before. I’ll usually just go back to the routine, but sometimes I’ll return with something different.
My addition of salad to my morning breakfast was just one of those experiments. But also it’s a great source of new appreciation for things I didn’t know were there before.
Before we both joined the freelance workforce my husband had a corporate career that came with a regimented morning routine. During that time we agreed on a “no phones in the bedroom” policy. No charging, no morning scrolling, and no late night screen glow in the same room where we slept. We even got an alarm clock! When waking up without our phones we’d start our days by greeting each other instead of connecting to the internet first thing. We also got out of bed and started our days far more quickly.
The phone habit came back into our routine last year for various reasons - the catalyst was our move from San Francisco to Los Angeles. I’d definitely like to find a way to positively alter our morning phone routine again.
I’ve been one to dislike routines for the most part, preferring the spontaneous, the unknown, and the mysterious to anything repetitive or mundane. Maybe it’s part of being a writer and student that positions me thus: the privilege of pursuing the “life of the mind” on my “own” time, and not the daily grind of a 9-5.
But over the last six months or so I’ve really come to find a morning routine helpful in establishing the very things that make me accountable to calling myself a student or writer in the first place. There’s something very fulfilling about not waking up at noon, or sleeping enough so that waking up early feels like a blessing. Contrary to what many might think, being a writer requires a whole lot of self-discipline and accountability at all hours of the day.
Beyond the U.S./UK differences, I definitely wake up much earlier than I used to. When I was a tech reporter, I would typically work very late into the night, often going to bed around 3-4:00am. As such, I would sleep until 10 or 11:00am. Seven hours of sleep is my norm, but in those tech blogging days, I would often get six or sometimes just five hours a night. I sleep much better now :)
In those days, I would get up and immediately get on my computer to start covering whatever hot story was happening in tech on any given day. I would never eat breakfast, but I still drank that Frappuccino.
Not too much. A lot of people have a pretty rigid routine where they block out time for certain tasks or do a pomodoro thing. I’ve tried a lot of those and none have worked. What works for me is getting a good nights sleep and making sure to get those 2-3 things done each day.
I’m more aware of the importance of time management. I now ask mentors and role models about their routines as I aim to make the most of each day.
I’m convinced that, with time, trial, and error, I will find a morning routine that allow me to comfortably fulfill my roles and responsibilities while also enjoying myself in the process.
I like to be fully ready for the day before my children get up so that my mornings are completely focused on them. My alarm goes off much earlier these days than it did pre-kids!
It changes every day. Probably now that I’m 31 it got a little more serious, with more natural rhythms. I don’t fall asleep at 4:00am after a marathon of pop corn, a full television series, and make up tutorials anymore, so my mornings are usually more healthy.
As a child, I was a night owl. I often stayed up well past midnight into the early morning hours. Though I began to wake up earlier throughout my college years, after grad school I found myself burned out and confronted with the need to change my habits. I was constantly tired and struggled to have enough energy to get through the day. I was burning the candle at both ends: working long days (including weekends), commuting 4-6 hours every day, and band-aiding my exhaustion with caffeine.
When I learned to value energy management over time management (a concept from Tony Schwartz’s book The Power of Full Engagement) is when things shifted for the better. Most of us realize we’re more productive at certain times of the day, but a key to benefitting from this information is being able to identify those times and adapt our schedule accordingly. Pay attention to the times when you’re at peak productivity and when you’re least motivated.
More importantly, if demand a lot from yourself, you must build in periods of rest for recovery and rejuvenation – or you may face burn out. Most of us, even when we try to relax, still impulsively check email and social media, so we never fully disconnect and recharge the way we need to.
This compulsive behavior is the result of a four-part negative feedback loop associated with technology addiction that I break down in my new program, REWIRE, which is designed to help you take back control of your time, rewire your digital habits, and live a more balanced life in just thirty days. I struggled with being “always on” for years, and I saw many of my clients faced the same issue, so I put together this program to share how I was able to finally break the cycle and find ways to mentally recharge.
Creating an effective morning routine has been one of the most beneficial energy management strategies I’ve found. Mine is rooted in regulating decision fatigue which, in simple terms, means limiting making small decisions throughout the day to conserve willpower for important choices. We humans have a limited amount of brainpower for making smart choices, and that cognitive reserve is depleted throughout the day. It’s why successful entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg wear the same outfit every day: why waste mental energy on picking out clothes when you could put that decision-making power towards changing the world?
That’s why my morning rituals are so important to me. They allow me to wake up, hit the ground running, and shift straight into executing efficiently and effectively. With mundane decisions on autopilot, I don’t have to worry about decision fatigue or getting mired in choices that drain me. Instead, I save my mental and physical energy for the good stuff: creating, connecting, problem solving, and more.
This year is when I got serious about including exercise and mediation into my mornings.
The meditation has had a huge impact on my ability to concentrate and on my well-being in general. I feel less frazzled.
Mornings in particular are important, since they prime your brain for how it will function the rest of the day. Are you going to be distracted and bounce around from project to project? Or are you going to be focused and choose your activities consciously and with intention. I much prefer to be in the latter state. I get more work done and it turns out better. I’m less stressed and less reactive. So I do what I can to keep my mornings simple and uncluttered. I have coffee, eat breakfast, and meditate before doing anything else.
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.
When we bought the NutriBullet that became a more integral part of it as well. But it’s remained fairly simple and easily adjustable when new elements in our home or environment arrive on the scene. The key for me is to avoid complicating the routines I’ve put in place so I can stick to them.
It’s totally changed since launching my business. Back then I was taking care of my girls, so I was generally free of any work deadlines and stress. It was a big change at first; I think every working parent develops their own system.
Now I’ve managed to find a clear balance between both worlds – I work hard at being present and in the moment when I’m with my family or focused at work. It helps to check in before breakfast so I know what to expect from the day, then I go to have breakfast with my girls.
I have steadily increased the amount of time for meditation over the years. It used to be 10 to 20 minutes a day (sometimes just five) until I realized that it was actually the most important thing I could do in a day, not something to be squeezed in.
Through meditation I am more grateful, calm, creative, and strategic. It dissolves problems much more quickly than churning through them all day with my mind.
I moved house a few months ago, and this is the first time I’ve managed to stick with a routine that works. Before I moved I was living alone, and I used to get up at 6:00am, make coffee, write until 7:00am, shower, and go for a walk before starting work for the day.
The biggest change in my morning routine has been that I no longer use an alarm clock to wake up. I found that if I go to bed at a reasonably early time, and if I know how much sleep I generally need, my body naturally wakes up around the same time in the morning.
Waking up without an alarm clock creates a much more peaceful morning, and I find that rather than hit snooze again and again, which is what I used to do, my body wakes up when it’s ready. There are the occasional mornings when an alarm clock is needed, and I use one on those days, but I have to say that I do notice a difference between the days with an alarm clock and the days without. The days without one unfolding much more organically.
My morning routine changed dramatically when I adopted our dog Hope.
I’d always wanted a dog (I’ve had a cat for eleven years) and I’m so grateful for the way her daily needs force me to get outside of my own head and actually leave the house to move, get fresh air, and meet other people who have nothing to do with blogs, which I love.
It’s funny you ask that.
I recently came across a notebook of mine from about three years ago. At that point in my life I was working around the clock and dating a man where I didn’t feel completely safe in our relationship. In giant letters on many pages I wrote: OVERWHELMED. OFF-CENTER. NEED TO PRIORITIZE SELF-CARE. I could barely recognize myself in the journal entries.
For many years, my morning routine was a result of how other people expected me to show up. I was overwhelmed and off-center because I was ignoring the messages my body was sending me.
I thought that to thrive in the world of technology and entrepreneurship (the industries I was working in at the time), I must work around the clock, eat lunch at my desk, and wear my lack of sleep like a badge of honor. There seemed to be a high degree of human doing-ness, and I felt a complete void of human being-ness.
So I paused. I slowed down. I started asking myself what rituals and routines supported my creative flow. I got curious about the environments and interactions that led to my greatest work. What I discovered was a natural rhythm of productivity. Thriving was a matter of aligning with and trusting that flow.
For instance, on most days, I go to sleep by 2:00am and rise by 10:30am. I sleep about an hour more in the winter, and enjoy rising earlier in the spring. I have the most energy for project launches in September, mid-Jan/early-Feb, and May. I love to go off the grid in July, and slow down in December.
As a maker, I thrive with large spaces of creation each day, and tend to avoid meetings, phone calls, and technology for long stretches of time. I work best in sprints so I go all in for days or weeks at time with pause and recovery in between. My best writing emerges around 11:00pm and ideas tend to flow so long as I’m challenging and inspiring myself.
Initially, stepping into this way of being brought about a sense of guilt. I wondered if I could really take this much ownership of my schedule and I worried what other people would think. What I eventually realized is that we each have a flow that works best for us. What works for me may not work for you. The important thing is to get curious around finding your own unique flow, and then creating the space for those around you to do the same.
A few years ago I was getting up at 5:30am and writing until I left for work. Then the kids were born and my mornings have been all over the place since then. I’ve gone from waking when they wake, to trying to get up before them. It’s been a hodgepodge, but the current morning routine seems to work really well.
I didn’t really have a morning routine after graduating college. I hit some pretty dark times; I like to call them the valley of shadows. There are glimpses of light, but not too much. I felt a little bit lost of what to do. I had lost all structure out of my day. There was no discipline.
I then looked back on my college days and being a college athlete. Your life has to be incredibly structured and organized. If you’re not organized you just won’t get through it. You simply quit. It’s a shame, but you see it a lot with college athletes. You are juggling an awful lot, from working out at 6:00am every morning to attending class, getting your assignments done on time, and putting the hours upon hours of practice in. Oh, and then on top of all that, you’re trying to find time for yourself and any other half which you may currently have. Your time keeping and management has to be exceptional.
Suddenly, after graduating, all of that was gone, and I didn’t implement any routines in what I did. I just woke up every morning and tried to take on the world with no real plan. Implementing routines put me back on track to a focused end in mind.
I am a huge believer in discovering what works best for you and then amplifying it. I am utterly useless between the hours of 1-4:00pm. I take this back, again, to college, as these were the times I used to practice or go outside. It would be the definition of insanity for me to work during those hours, so I don’t. I learned this the hard way, by trying to be productive in this period and discovering that my mind just didn’t operate. Now, I’ll either take a long walk or schedule a call/coffee with a friend or mentor during these hours.
I’ve recently added in the morning exercise, but other than that it’s largely stayed the same.
Drastically! During my bartending days, I was the co-founder of a fashion startup. After working a 10-12 hour shift at the bar, I would wake up around 10:00am, pull my laptop into bed with me and start working with one eye open. It was often between noon and 1:00pm by the time I got myself out of bed to eat breakfast.
I cringe thinking back to those days but at the time, I didn’t understand self care and perceive productivity like I do now.
It has changed me in a very good way.
I like to keep a healthy routine, and frankly I think I need it. Years ago I didn’t stick to fixed hours with regards to when to go to bed and when to get up. I had the bad habit of working way too late because I was in direct contact with a few clients based in California (over iChat), which is a nine hour time difference with Belgium. When I worked late I usually got up late too.
Other times I got up very early, like 5:00am, to meet a deadline on a project. The past couple of years I’ve stuck to a regular bio rhythm, which is way better and healthier.
I’ve gotten a lot better at defending my early hours as “my time”.
While I was at university, it was easy to protect my mornings and use them productively because no one else wanted to be awake that early! When I started working after school, I had a long (too long) commute — nearly two hours each way — and my mornings disappeared into a rush to get out the door on time to catch my shuttle. I got frustrated that I didn’t have time to get centered and accomplish things before the day got started, and disliked that a lot of my morning habits and writing activities were getting pushed to the late evening hours.
When I quit my Silicon Valley job to travel, I had no idea what would happen to my morning routine. What if I wasn’t even actually a morning person? Turns out that regardless of country or time zone, I still really love mornings. I never know quite how a day will unfold in a foreign country, so the time right after I wake up is sacred space for me to take care of anything that I might need or want to get done. After I take care of the things I “gotta do,” I’m free to say yes to whatever adventures might come my way.
I’m sure I’ll have to adjust my morning routine again when I’m done traveling sometime later this year, but it’s been really enjoyable to discover what “sticks” about my routine despite a total lack of consistent structure or context.
A couple of years ago I’d spend long hours working. It was a bad habit. I’d often go to bed way too late, sometimes past 3:00am, which shifted the whole day, making me tired, late for meetings, and generally non-productive.
I had to switch it up. Since then I’ve manageed to switch to a stricter and more productive schedule, and I really enjoy it.
The whole not checking Instagram, Messenger, or email first thing in the morning was the biggest change I made to my morning routine in the past year. All signs point to how unhealthy and unproductive this habit is; it’s just the worst to receive an irritating email while still lying in bed, and it’s even worse to try and respond! I almost always feel a pang of regret after hitting send.
The luxury of working from home and not having a job-job is that we’re able to wake up slow and take our time easing into the day. There’s no frantic rush to get in the car and get somewhere. And since we get up so early, I’m usually at my desk not that much later than when I worked at an agency.
Obviously going from college to the professional world changes schedules quite a bit, but my ideas and what I feel I need to do has rarely wavered. I’m definitely a creature of habit.
I’ve been out of college for four years now. When I got my first “real” job (an internship and then full-time job at Wired magazine), my routine was the most consistent it had ever been; in bed every night by midnight, up at 8:00am on the dot, out the door at 9:00.
My next job (at Lifehacker) allowed me to work from home a lot, so my routine got thrown to the wind. I also went through a long bought of insomnia, so my sleep habits and morning routines were all over the place. I’m getting back into a more consistent routine now (thanks Fievel!).
I had a similar routine during the last school year, but I unintentionally abandoned it during the summer. Now school has started again I’m working on recreating a similar routine.
The no email in the mornings rule is probably the newest change. It has also had the biggest impact. Why? Because it means you’re not starting the morning behind the ball. Instead, you start with wins.
Specifically with writing, it allows me to approach it fresh and clear headed. The last thing you want when you’re writing is the specter of 46 UNREAD EMAILS looming over you. That doesn’t lend itself to existing in the moment well.
My morning routine has evolved over time with changing technologies; from real alarm clocks, to iPhone alarm clocks, to wearable alarm clocks. The most notable change in recent history being the addition of Hue and UP24 (and losing my dependency on screeching alarm clocks).
Mostly the time I get up when I’m in the UK and the fact I now have an office to go to when I’m in Bath. Before then I would work a lot from home.
I tend to take life in chapters.
The previous chapter of my life was fun, exciting, and worry free, based on long travels around the world. The current chapter is set in Chicago, with a boring and less thrilling, simple lifestyle centered around domestic pursuits of work and grown up concerns like job satisfaction and purpose.
Fortunately I work from home so at least my commute is pleasant.
In the past I used to go to sleep at 2-3:00am and wake up around 11:30am, but that wouldn’t leave a lot of time for anything but work. I was never an early riser and have been fighting hard to change that.
Over recent years my morning routine has become more tight and focused. The older I get, the less time I want to waste.
I’ve always been an early riser - there’s never been a time in my life when I enjoyed sleeping in. I always wake up with a certain hunger and specific purpose for the day.
When I went to school and (afterwards) got myself a job in an office I’d wake up much earlier. When I had a commute I’d read saved articles in Pocket or an eBook of sorts. I never used to bother with email or social media until much later in the day.
When I used to work in an office, I’d have a rough routine where I’d get up, get dressed and leave the house all within fifteen minutes. I didn’t get up an hour earlier to sit with a cup of coffee and read a book and I didn’t stop by the same local bagel shop. I literally just went to work; no interruptions.
That’s kind of a morning without a routine. I did that for about a year.
I used to have terrible habits. I’d oversleep, eat a high carb breakfast on the commute to work, and be miserable all morning. I was not a morning person. A lot’s changed since then.
Before this routine I’d go in waking up early spurts but rarely did that last a week. Before turning 38 I’d never had a consistent morning routine.
I was not a morning person for a long time, and could sleep until noon if you’d let me. However, since I became a teacher, work starts fairly early most days (summer school starts later) which has required me to wake up earlier and earlier over the years. Depending on what job I’ve worked, I’ve gotten up anywhere from 5-6:30am.
I didn’t really have a routine when I was on the Open Badges team at Mozilla. I was travelling almost every week, which has a knock-on effect upon getting into a routine.
Previous routines I’ve had were dictated by institutional hours (school/university) and commuting time. Not having to commute is amazing. It’s really good for my mental health to be able to choose which days to really crank and which days to take it easy. It’s even better deciding when to take PTO (Paid Time Off – or ‘holiday’ as we call it in the UK). When I was teaching I got more time off, but it wasn’t necessarily at times I needed it.
I’ve added the gratefulness habit in (I also say one thing I’m grateful for before I eat dinner each night) and I’ve added the reading piece.
I think a morning routine should be simple and repeatable (at some point, if you add too many pieces to the mix, you’re not really doing a morning routine anymore, but simply a daily routine).
My routine has generally stayed the same for the past couple of years. When I was in university my mornings were a lot more flexible and I was more likely to stray from my routine.
I had an office job for four years, so there was a routine but it wasn’t my own. Once I kicked that, I took a year off travelling when there was no routine. This is a new part of my life.
A ton, but I’m happy with this one.
I’m up early enough to just enjoy the morning when it’s quiet, right before the chaos of the work day starts. Years ago my morning started at 5:30am, then switched to 9:00am, and so on and so forth. I’ve always woken up fairly early, and don’t mind doing so, so long as food follows not long after — otherwise I’m a monster.
I no longer go straight on the computer after waking up; I really enjoy taking a lot more time to get ready.
I have become more disciplined and realized the value of having a superb morning routine. I embrace it seven days a week.
It depends entirely on what I’m doing and where I am. I’ve had several different jobs, and studied and travelled a lot, so my routine hasn’t always been the same. I’m always adjusting to what I’m into at that current point of my life.
My routine has been reasonably consistent in that I love to wake up early and start my day by writing. I moved to New York last year which really disrupted by whole life, but the simplicity of these rituals really helped to ground me amidst the chaos.
The main thing that has changed is that I have a routine, as a few years ago I would just snooze for as long as I could.
I found that it’s better to focus on being productive in the morning, because after work it’s very difficult for me to do things like practise my music.
Three years ago I was still in grad school; so my morning routine changed every semester, and last year I was living in a different country each month so I had to accommodate my schedule depending on where I was living.
Now I have a more set schedule.
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.
It has slowly developed over the last few years as I tried out various different lifehacks and did research for my blog.
For example, it used to be sitting first thing in the morning, in the dark – but reading up on the body’s need for hydration and the effect of natural light on our neurochemistry added in those steps. The coffee/journaling is a simple exercise in classical conditioning: if I don’t get coffee unless I journal, I tend to journal more.
Since creating this routine it has changed quite a bit.
Things have been added, deleted, updated, and moved around. I feel like it is a moving thing, just like my life. I try to add or change things every time I feel like I should adopt a certain habit, but the basic routine always stays the same.
It has changed mainly with the time I get up, as I used to live in Denmark, another time zone, and just six months ago I moved my daily workout routine to the mornings instead of the evenings.
Another thing that’s changed is I’ve started drinking coffee. After moving to London in January 2013, I found myself sleepy quite often so I wanted to sharpen my focus throughout the day.
In June of 2013, I left my job at Parnassus Books and began a sabbatical to work on some personal projects and diversify my skill set. During my senior year of college I worked as a night auditor at a hotel while attending school full-time, and ever since then I’ve been going warp speed so it has been wonderful to catch up on sleep and relax a little.
Now that my sleep deficit is gone, I’ve been free to find my own personal rhythm. Nine hours is the perfect amount of sleep for me, so I’ll typically go to bed around midnight or 1:00am and wake up around 9 or 10:00am in the morning.
This has proven to be the biggest change in my routine and the one that has yielded the greatest results. Finding out what your body needs in terms of sleep can be difficult, especially when you’re young and people around you are running on three or four hours of sleep, but sleep is so crucial I can’t justify the trade off to myself anymore.
The biggest change was getting my single speed bicycle last year to commute to work. Best decision ever.
I haven’t always had a bedmate or cat, they came along in the last year.
I added a cat just a month ago. She’s always awake early, so I indulge her with attention while I’m in bed in the morning.
Before taking my current job, I was a student and also the Editor-in-Chief for a technology blog, so my routine was quite a bit different then.
Each day was different with classes, homework, and blogging. Now that I’m on a set routine, I’m happier, healthier, and have more energy than ever before.
The only real change to my routine is the drive to work. I now live further away, so the travel time to work is now longer, unfortunately!
Coffee has always been (and always will be) my ritual in the mornings.
I had to get up slightly earlier when I went to school because it was a longer walk, and I used to spend much longer in the shower.
I went through a stage a few months back where I’d get up around 7:00, allowing myself to have a coffee and do a few more things around the house with my morning; but ultimately I wanted to refine my mornings so I exchanged these things for a later start.
Over recent years I’ve gone from hating every minute of waking up early to absolutely loving it, and actually looking forward to it every evening.
Before I started my insanely early wake ups I was constantly rushed and always late. I also had a tendency to break things in the wee hours. I now feel more in control and enjoy my mornings tremendously.
My morning routine has changed immensely in the past six years.
I used to watch the news in the morning as I was getting ready for the day, but it was too negative for me and I had to stop. Then, I watched sports talk shows, which were entertaining and fun but didn’t move me forward in any way.
I finally started listening to personal development podcasts every single morning about four years ago and added the meditation part about three years ago.
I used to abide by the “work starts at 9:00am” mentality, so even if I woke up at 7:00, I’d just read a magazine, browse through Flipboard, or do some half-assed yoga until it was time.
I soon realized that was a huge waste of time, because my mind is most active in the morning, and I’m far more productive knowing I can call it quits early and have the afternoon to myself.
Honestly, I have always been a morning person, fond of walking in wet grass and listening to birds chirping up in the trees, though of late I’ve added mindfulness with prayers and gratitude to my mornings, expanding my spiritual horizon.
Our morning routines have changed quite a lot over the last few months.
We were travelling non-stop around Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, and Sumatra for fourteen months, so we didn’t have a home to have a routine in. During this time we used to wake up and boil some water for tea/coffee first thing while chopping some fruit for breakfast, something we’ve kept up since settling down in Korea.
A few years ago I didn’t have a routine at all which in retrospect made me feel pretty chaotic.
I work for myself and travel quite a bit, so no one day is ever the same. I’ve discovered that being relatively set in my ways with my morning helps to ground me for the rest of the day.
Things just keep getting earlier and earlier.
I think the only things that changes, as I have moved from school to school, is getting yourself comfortable with that school’s routines.
In the last two years I would always get in for 8:00am. However, I am now in earlier because I want to be able claw time back at the end of my day, to be able to have a little more personal time in the evening… even have the luxury of having a social event mid-week.
Before living in Bangkok I worked a 9 to 5 in the UK. Back then I would struggle to wake at 7.30am, and on days off I could sleep through to midday. Mornings are a lot easier when the weather and lifestyle are less miserable.
Earlier this year, I struck a deal with the company I work with to be able to work remotely. I travel a lot, so having the freedom to work from anywhere is so liberating!
When I’m in town, I come to the office only twice a week (half-day each in the afternoon), and when I’m traveling all communications can be made via email or Skype. Now I have more time to myself in the morning; something I am truly grateful for.
As a student my routine generally changed whenever my university timetable did. Recently, I have become set in the routine of waking at 7:30am.
It changes every week!
On the nights that we have a social engagement or if I know I’ll be working late, I usually wake up an hour or so later. On the days that I have Krav Maga I am up much earlier.
Funnily, there have been times on a Sunday when I am up at 6:30am jotting down some notes on my latest blog post.
If I settle in a particular place for a while, my routine changes as I will be working full time.
Most of the jobs I have done are shift work, so the routine changes completely. In some of my recent jobs, I’d finish work at 5:00am (in a bar for example) and be home for bed as the sun is coming up!
I’ve roughly followed this routine my whole life, with a few variations in timing depending on my work situation.
The biggest change has been my waking up earlier. In college, I just… didn’t do mornings. Once I graduated and got a 9-5 job, I forced my body into a feasible pattern to get me to work on time while looking semi-presentable.
I’m currently self-employed as a musician, and I definitely see the benefits of a structured morning routine.
I used to think I had to be extremely efficient from the moment I get up, as that is the general norm. Now, because I’m naturally an evening person and usually get my best work done later during the day, I try to learn to honor that, and have given myself permission to dedicate my mornings to self-care and creative activities.
With that said, when I’m in the phase of having new exciting ideas, I tend to skip my usual creative routines and get to work as soon as I wake up.
It changes frequently. I was living in Bangkok for several months before I came to Hong Kong, and there it was a bit all over the place. I also travel quite slowly overland so in the week it took me to travel between those two cities, I didn’t really have a routine.
I used to go to the beach for all my physical and breathing exercises, including meditations. It’s nice to be at the beach, facing the sea; to be close to nature.
One thing that has changed in the past seven years is I now think it’s more important to eat something at breakfast time. It happened when I moved to Africa and my survival instincts took over!
That said, occasionally I realize if I eat breakfast, I won’t be hungry at lunch, so I don’t. I prefer to have one large meal a day.
I used to have a quick routine before going to work, but last year I quit my day job to become a full time yoga teacher and coach, meaning I gained control over my schedule and could extend it as much as I needed to.
I’ve tried to incorporate things like meditating, juicing, yoga, workout DVDs and the like… but sometimes they didn’t seem to fit naturally. I’ve come to realize I need to let the process evolve, and not force anything too abruptly. Eventually I’d like to add different things, but for the time being I haven’t found a way to make them stick consistently.
This routine started last year when I began training for my first triathlon. Because there are three sports involved, it’s important to utilize mornings and evenings for workouts. I was also learning how to swim, so at the time I’d spend up to four or five mornings a week at the pool.
I’ve made a conscious effort to use mornings to my advantage. I used to never consider making lunch in the morning. Sometimes I’ll even go grocery shopping. Going into work at 9:00am after accomplishing a few things feels amazing.
I used to get up much earlier, about 4:30am, as I started work at 6:00am. That routine was really good as it meant I had some quiet time first thing.
I have also recently gone through a relationship break-up. Looking at the positive side of that though, my routine is much quieter and easier without having to work around other people using the bathroom.
Other than my wake-up time (kids have a way of changing this), my morning routine has largely been unchanged for eleven years.
My routine has changed very little throughout the years. I would love to be an early morning workout guy, but I’m just not. I get my best workouts done after I’ve been up for a bit and caffeine is running through my veins. I guess one welcomed change is that I rely on my alarm less and my son waking me up more.
Way back when I was funemployed, I would wake whenever and eat whatever, and rely on four cups of coffee to fuel my day ahead.
I no longer rely on caffeine. I no longer allow a consumer-minded, touchscreen-lit awareness to take root in the hours given to me each day. Before, I was often mentally engaged in email, but thankfully, I broke that routine and have refocused my attention to that surgical precision instead of the butter knife spread of awareness it would create for me unnecessarily.
I’ve had four different jobs in my twenties and worked in six different offices; so where I’ve been working has always altered what time I go to bed and wake up.
My early twenties were filled with a lot of YouTube and sitting around my apartment. As I’ve embraced writing in my late twenties, I have found myself carving out time for my personal projects which have grown to become more significant.
In this same time I’ve started eating healthier. I always love eating breakfast immediately after waking up, but when I worked for a company that supplied food, well, I decided to stop spending money on breakfast and would just eat at work.
There are so many factors of my morning routine that are constantly in flux; where I’m working, what kind of work I’m doing, whether or not I’m spending the night at my girlfriend’s apartment, all of which contribute to my day, therefore being too reliant or dependent on a consistent routine can be debilitating.
My morning routine has changed due to obligations (work, class, other commitments) and the fact that for a very long time, I despised waking up. Giving up sleeping in for Lent has made me much more productive throughout the day and I now look forward to taking on the day.
I get to sleep more than I did in college! But I’m also pretty minimal in the morning.
I don’t do very much other than grab food, pack my bag, and put some comfortable clothes on. It’s probably the 20+ years of swimming, and having to change in and out of swimsuits and showers that made my routine as minimal as possible. I like to just get up and get going.
It’s remained pretty much the same.
On weekends I try to stay away from email and instead start the day catching up on reading (I use Pocket to bookmark articles around the web and catch up on weekends), and/or I go for an early AM run.
It depends on travel and my work schedule. I’ve found that regardless of how late I get in, I manage to get to the gym or get out the next morning and just tough it out.
Honestly, it hasn’t changed much, the only difference is where I have been living. I’ve moved so many times in the past ten years; I have gone from waking up on the ocean, to the city, and now to farmland.
I only got my pet rats seven months ago, so prior to those little ladies I woke, brushed my teeth, made coffee, and checked email and twitter.
I used to sleep until the last possible second, and my husband and I would carpool to work. I was a crabby mess until I’d had at least two Coke Zeros. Now I’m up earlier than ever, don’t drink soda any more and take the bus to work.
Oh, and wrangle a toddler!
Prior to the past year, I didn’t really have a routine. I’d wake up, check email in bed, and just start reacting to it. I felt a lot of pressure to be available to everyone all the time, which meant hours and hours of reactive work with very little time and energy spent on the things that matter most to me, since I was always too exhausted for them by the end of the day.
Adding lifting in the morning is relatively new. At other times I’ve been a runner — although I always had trouble running in the morning.
When I was teaching a few years ago I would get up at 4-4:30am to prepare my lessons for the upcoming day. That was a crazy time — even for someone who loves the morning as much as me.
I add things, I remove things. What stays pretty standard is that I do a little exercise every day at home, and then, if I have a gym nearby, I try and do that, as well (though later).
I tend to eat breakfast and check my email and social media accounts to see if there’s anything I need to handle right away. Otherwise, I’ll slowly edge my way into ‘work,’ which means answering emails, writing, and working my way through any to-do items I might have in my inbox.
The only thing to change for as long as I can remember has been shifting the schedule from an 8:00am start to a 7:30am start. I did this because I wanted to slow things down, have more time, and especially to be able to get some yoga in sometimes before I start the day.
I used to try and work out (usually running) first thing, but I’ve discovered that my brain and overall creative functions work a thousand percent better in the morning, and I have a relatively short window of time in which to remain extremely focused.
In the afternoon my brain completely shuts down, so that’s a better time for me to get some exercise and get the oxygen flowing… of course that means it’s much easier to find excuses not to exercise as the day progresses; I’m still trying to find a solution to that problem!
Well, when my son was in school and we lived in London, we would get up at about 8:00am, get dressed and have breakfast — cornflakes and juice for him and coffee and cigarettes for me, then leave to walk round the corner at about 8:45am. Now we really don’t have one. Pretty much the only thing we always do — and Zac does without any prompting — is brush our teeth.
It changes all the time.
I really enjoy waking up early but I let my body decide when it’s time to wake and once I am up, I get going instantly. Snoozing or being lazy in bed is the girlfriend’s job, not mine, haha. I am the one who wakes early, reads, writes, and makes tea/coffee for both of us. I enjoy it. So, as long as there is some contemplative thinking, reading, and making of a hot beverage involved, I don’t stress out too much over when and how I do it.
A few years ago I was trapped in 9-5 hell so my morning routines were fairly regimented involving the usual shower breakfast coffee combo.
The one highlight that I sincerely miss from those days was my cycle ride across London to my former offices in Covent Garden. That’s a luxury you just can’t indulge in the hot chaotic mess of Southeast Asian traffic. Not that I actually have an office to commute to any more; it’s more a shuffle from the bedroom to somewhere with quick access to WiFi. Then it’s a quick scan of the email followed by the onslaught of other unhealthy habits.
When I was a student I really wasn’t a morning person. At the time I put it down to my anaemia but I don’t think the nights of drink and drugs helped. I reached a point where the whole thing completely lost its appeal and now I’m annoyingly perky.
This year, I trained formally as a Zen meditation and mindfulness teacher, I took Jukai (Precepts) as a lay ordained Rinzai Zen Buddhist, and I became a trainee Zen teacher.
This upped my game significantly, strengthening my daily practice in so many ways. I have sat one day
My current routine started when I started working for myself and had the flexibility of my own time, but to be honest I’m up, exercised, fed and watered by 7:00am so it’s something I could have been doing while working in an office.
Over the years my morning routine has gone from high school student (wake up as late as possible, arrive ten minutes late everyday, saving approx. two weeks of school time over the year), to college & university (waking up at the crack of dawn to catch a bus thirty odd kilometres for an 8:00am start), to work (early starts).
Over the years there’s been a bit of early morning wake-ups, running and gym, depending on how tight the pants have felt or if summer is imminent and you don’t want to look like a pork chop at the beach.