I typically wake up at 6:30am, apply my TULA Multi-Spectrum Eye Renewal Serum, then have breakfast with my kids before showering. After that, I either head to the television studio or to my office for work.
My morning routine is all about working motherhood. I wake up at 6:00am. With three kids who need to get out the door between 7:30 and 8:00am, I find that getting up early and being prepared is the best route to a peaceful start to the day for all of us. I usually do a quick perusal of the digital news and a skim of my business and personal emails when I wake up, though I try not to dive into email right away.
Growing up, my mother made clear that “breakfast was the most important meal of the day,” so I invest time in making a real breakfast and a smoothie for my kids every morning. I’m fortunate that Dropbox serves an incredible breakfast, so I don’t have to spend time feeding myself. At 7:35am, my twin daughters, my yellow lab, and I head out the door for our walk to the school bus stop and a chance to connect around the day ahead. Once they’re on the bus, Steeler and I head into the Presidio for a walk and what ends up being my morning meditation. We then head home for the next round of school departures. I drive my son to school on my way to work, and the day begins.
I have a very strict morning routine. I wake up at precisely 3:50am, dress in workout attire, drink two glasses of water, and head out the door for a brisk walk with my dogs for an hour.
I’m back home by 5:00am, and I’ll be eating a breakfast that I premade the night before by 5:10. By 5:30am I’m in the truck and driving to the gym. Strength training start at 6:00am, and takes an hour and a half. I’ll be eating meal number two by 8:00am, and I’ll be showered and at my desk with a cup of coffee in hand by 8:50am. Calls begin rolling in at 9:00.
My alarm goes off at 7:30am, but lately I’ve been jumping out of bed before 7:00am. My curtains aren’t very dark and I’m a light sleeper. That, coupled with the stress of running a business, makes it impossible to keep sleeping once I’m even semi-conscious.
The first thing I do once I’m up is crawl into my dog’s bed and cuddle with her. That’s probably the best part of my morning. (My wife and I rescued our dog - a pit bull mix - seven years ago, and she’s the love of our lives.)
Eventually I get myself out of the dog bed and start brewing coffee. My wife won’t stir until she smells the coffee. While it’s brewing, I check the Andie orders that came in overnight. I’m always surprised to see orders from 4:00am, 5:00am. We’re only available in the United States (at the moment), so I wonder who these people are who shop for swimwear in the middle of the night!
After breakfast I walk the dog through Riverside Park. I use this time to check the Andie social feeds, and do the requisite following and liking to grow the accounts.
By the time I’m back from walking the dog, my wife is usually gone, off to her job as an investment banker in midtown. I shower and get dressed, and then I begin the checklist of things for our dog before I leave: move her bed into the living room, crack the windows (or turn on the AC, depending on time of year), refresh her water, pour her some food, make sure our Nest cameras are on, and turn on her favorite Spotify channel (Sunday Jazz). Then I head to the office. I try to be out the door by 8:45am.
I routinely wake up at 6:00am each morning. I set an alarm each night and then wake up on my own about two minutes before the alarm goes off. And yet, I still set the alarm for fear there will be that one day I don’t wake up on time. I’ve had this fear for years, and I still continue to set the alarm and wake up just before it goes off.
Once up, I take care of the dog (we just got a new miniature schnauzer, and Otto insists I go hang with him in the backyard for a few minutes while he goes to the bathroom… weird dog) and then get ready for the day.
My wife laughs at my “get ready routine” because it’s the exact same every morning in the exact same order. I shave, brush my teeth, floss, gargle (note that while gargling I clean my ears with Q-tips… I know… too much information), brush my teeth again (I’m a little OCD about my teeth), and then shower. Hey, you asked for the routine, so I’m telling it to you. This “get ready” order never varies.
My alarm is set for 6:45am. I sit up and take a quick scan of my phone for emails and top news stories of the day. Then I take a shower, get dressed, and head to the kitchen to put on a pot of coffee and make a quick breakfast for myself and my youngest daughter.
At around 7:40am I head out the door with my daughter and we talk as we walk together across Central Park to her school. Then she heads in and I turn around and walk back, usually listening to music or to an audiobook I have going. Occasionally, I divert from this schedule when I have an early morning television news show to go to instead. When I get back home around 8:30am, I dress more professionally and head into my office to see patients, answer emails, go to a scheduled meeting, or work on writing assignments.
My internal alarm goes off every morning between 5:30 and 6:00am, and I immediately check my emails. Because I work in many different time zones, it’s imperative to start my day on top of any tasks or issues.
Once I feel confident that all time-sensitive issues are addressed, I have my morning treat of a Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and an outdoor activity, if weather permits. Since I’m constantly on the move, and especially since I started traveling so much, it’s became more important for me to have this morning routine. I get the work done to eliminate some stress, have a jolt of caffeine, and then take time to appreciate the beauty of my environment regardless of where in the world I am that day.
I’m fortunate enough in my life to wake without an alarm, so my mornings don’t always start at the same time. But I’m definitely a morning person. Left to my own devices, I rarely sleep past 6:30am, and am frequently up well before that. In fact, I’m typing this at 3:30am and was on my mountain bike yesterday morning at 4:50am. I also wake quickly, so long, slow mornings are not part of my life; once I’m up, I’m engaged.
While I wait for water to boil, I usually run a mental preview of the day, check my calendar, and scan my email and texts on my phone to make sure nothing urgent has surfaced since I went to bed. Then I make tea or coffee, eat, and simply plug into a four-hour block of what I call “white space,” which is blocked off on my calendar from 8:00am to noon every workday and which only I have the authority to fill. Writing, business development, board meetings, exercise - whatever. It is how I bring a sense of intent and control to what is otherwise a primarily reactive work environment and how I can structure a morning without imposing too much “structure.”
I wake up to my Amazon Echo Dot alarm between 6:00am and 6:45am, depending on what’s scheduled for the day. I’ll then drink a glass of water and move into my upstairs office. It used to be my son’s bedroom, but he is now almost thirty-two and has been out of the house for fifteen years. Adios to his bed and furniture, hello to my standing desk, laptop, printer, wireless speaker, books, and artwork that has inspirational thoughts expressed. My favorite is a picture of Albert Einstein with his frizzy, crazy hair and the E=MC squared formula. For me that formula, which I really don’t understand, represents creativity and the ability each of us has to be original.
Next, I check various bank accounts online. The key to being a successful serial entrepreneur is always knowing your cash position. Budgets, projections, and fancy spreadsheets are nice, but in truth “cash is king” (and that’s not just a slogan).
Following my online banking ritual, I do a quick scan and triage of emails. I have interests in various businesses and time zones, and business and projects never stop. I also trash junk in my inbox. Despite technological advances, spam filters are always behind spammers.
Regarding emails that survive the scan, I answer the most pressing emails and check reports that I get from trusted third-party “vendor partners.” Business is number-driven for me, and numbers tell the story for yesterday and work as the barometer for today and tomorrow.
This is followed by showering and getting dressed. I then put on my jewelry, which consists of my wedding ring, a gold bracelet, and a chain that I wear around my neck. As I put on my ring I say, “Ani Li Dodi, Lodi Li.” The translation of this is “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine.” Not only do I find these words beautiful, but they represent the centrality my wife plays in my life and the life of our family, as well as how she has helped make me the person I am today.
These words are part of the Jewish wedding ceremony and come from a passage in the Song of Songs. I follow that blessing by putting my “chai” (a Hebrew letter that signifies “life”) around my neck and saying “Hear, O Israel, the Lord is my G-d, and the Lord is One” in Hebrew. I’ve done the same thing each and every day for thirty-six years.
Before leaving for work I make espresso or coffee. I’m a coffee snob; either I grind and make fresh pour-over, small-roaster coffee using one of my several toys, or I have 2-3 espressos. I then leave for work by 8:00am.
Monday through Friday, I wake up at 4:30am. I have a Philips Hue Bloom light that gradually becomes brighter to simulate a sunrise. I feed the dog, take her for a short walk, make coffee on the stove, fill my thermos, grab my lunch, and drive to work. I meditate in my office for twenty minutes, work out in the office gym for thirty minutes, shower, and then sit down at my desk, ready to start the day. I always make sure I’ve drunk twenty ounces of water before 7:00am, to get my brain lubricated.
I write scripts from 7:00am to 7:30am, eat my breakfast (usually oatmeal and fruit), and then we have a team meeting at 7:30am. At 8:00am, we record pre-production for the show, and then I continue reading my scripts and making note of questions I want to ask. I’m live on the air between 9:00am and 10:00am, and that’s basically the end of my morning.
I’m a work-from-home mom now, so let’s use the word “routine” loosely for this one!
Twice a week my son is in nursery, and I work from a coffee shop to change things up. Three times a week, though, I work from home with my three-year-old son. He keeps things unpredictable, so it can be a challenge to stick to a routine, but we make it work!
My morning starts around 7:30am. My son is usually still asleep for the next hour or so, so I immediately brew some coffee and head to my office. I take advantage of the quiet and tackle any sort of work that requires extreme focus, like writing or working through a UX problem.
By around 9:00am my son is probably up, so I get him fed and settled into an activity and switch gears to work on Roadmap. I check Slack, Intercom, and most likely Twitter and Instagram, too. Around this time, if I haven’t already, I usually outline three very specific things to achieve for the day because it can be super easy for the day to get away from me. I start working, sometimes in my office or at the kitchen table - depending on where my son is - around 10:00am.
I wake up around 9:00am, or whatever time is 9-10 hours after I went to bed (I don’t have kids, and I rarely schedule clients before 10:00am).
I get up to open the bedroom door and the drapes and then jump back into bed and lie there for at least 15-30 minutes while staring out the window at the trees and the weather.
My cat Phoenix, who is an F3 Savannah cat and is about 25 percent wild animal (he looks like a little leopard), usually jumps onboard for a snuggle, as does my husband, who has been up since 6:00am at that point. He climbs into bed with me, and together we marvel over Phoenix and check in about our moods. Am I happy? Am I sad? Am I motivated? Am I flat? We don’t try to alter our moods, just notice them - just an acknowledgement and a discussion.
Eventually I get up, throw on whatever clothing is on the floor, brush my teeth, splash water in my eyes, brush my hair, and then go check email.
When I’m done with email, usually after an hour, I go have breakfast, which I eat while reading National Geographic magazine (I read that sucker cover to cover) out on the porch in the summer and at the dining table in the winter. And that’s it!
I wake up at 5:30am, put on my workout clothes, and I grab my little hand weights (4-5 lbs, depending on the day). I get my music and headphones and walk down to the beach; it’s about a mile from my house. On the way, I get a Starbucks and leave my weights there (my friend John is always at the Starbucks every morning at the same time, he watches them for me. I have a bunch of people that are now a part of my morning routine and have become my morning buddies!)
I go to the lifeguard stand at the beach and I either do a meditation there, or I dance to 3-4 songs (current favorites include Brave by Sara Bareilles, Shake It Off by Taylor Swift, Living Inside My Heart by Bob Seger, Love My Life by Robbie Williams, Born This Way by Lady Gaga, Into You by Ariana Grande, and She’s Every Woman by Garth Brooks.) It’s awesome; there’s no one there and I just get to breathe and reflect and take time and make space for myself for the day. After that I come home, get all four of my kids up and make breakfast and lunches for them, and talk to them about their day before taking them to school. Once I get back, I finally get to have my breakfast!
I wake up every morning at 6:30am. The first thing I do is grab a liter of cold water, which I drink over the next hour as I check my email and peruse two newspapers, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. I also scan the local paper. Taking time to read in the morning is a luxury I give myself.
Next, on the three days a week that I don’t do strength training, I go to the gym upstairs in my apartment building and do thirty minutes on the treadmill at a fast pace. That’s enough to burn 230 calories. After that, my beloved of forty-eight years fixes me breakfast.
By 9:00am, I’m ready to start my workday.
My sleep is precious, so when I’m not on the road working, I usually let myself sleep in, which means waking up around 7:00am or so. First thing is to spend a little quality time with my partner and then meditate together before we start the day.
Then it’s smoothie time. I’m not usually very hungry in the morning, but having a morning green smoothie with veggies, protein powder, and other goodies makes me feel and function better throughout my day.
Then I like to practice yoga and spend time creating. I spend the first part of my day doing the things in my business that only I can do (e.g., writing or creating new training manuals, reading, experimenting, planning). I try to stay out of email and social media for the first part of the day so that I can be more productive early on.
I wake up at 5:30am and get out of bed to turn off the alarm, which is across the room. After brushing my teeth and putting on workout clothes (which I leave next to my sink the night before), I drink the thirty ounces of water on my nightstand, write in my Five Minute Journal, and meditate. I then make the bed and head into the kitchen to drink tea and catch up on the news via The Economist Espresso app.
I’ll then either work for an hour or exercise, depending on how much I have on my plate. My two-year-old son wakes up at 7:30am, and I spend the next two hours with him - we have breakfast, read books, and play. At 9:30am, our nanny arrives and I shower and get dressed (if I exercised early) or go work out (if I worked already).
My alarm clock is a five-year-old. He jolts me from slumber at about 6:10am every morning for cuddles. Then we get up, feed all the animals (rabbit, pig, dogs, bird, chickens, ducks, fish, etc.). Yes, I am serious.
I have coffee, and then we all make breakfast. After that the kids get ready for school. Heidi, my partner, or I drop them off, and after that the workday begins.
I’ve become an increasingly early riser, currently waking up at 5:00am without an alarm. After waking, I meditate for ten minutes, then prepare a cup of coffee (a mix of decaf and regular coffee) while I write whatever comes to mind for ten or fifteen minutes. When writing, I use pen and paper (no laptop).
Following that, I either read a book or go through an online course (on edX) for about an hour. Alternatively, I use my laptop to start writing a blog post. Then I have a smoothie.
At this point, I plan my day for 5-10 minutes. I pick one big thing to accomplish for the day and make a note of it on my calendar. I then scan my appointments and block off chunks of time to work on my most important tasks.
This takes me to about 7:45am or 8:00am, when I walk upstairs to my home office and begin my workday. I take a look at emails, moving quickly through them. I then begin my coaching work promptly at 8:00am with client meetings.
I wake up at 5:00am and immediately grab a coffee from the fridge. Then I work from my desk at home for the first few hours of the day. The first thing I do when I open up my computer is browse the BBC and The Verge websites to get a quick fifteen-minute download on world and tech news.
I start work by sorting through any urgent items in my email inbox. For the rest of the morning, I take advantage of not being in the office to get any creative or copy work done while the world is quiet!
Around 9:00am I jump in the shower, get dressed, and then brush my teeth just before leaving the house to feel as fresh as possible for the day. I live in the East Village but work in Dumbo, so it takes me around twenty minutes to get from door to door via the F train, and I arrive at the office around 10:00am.
My alarm goes off at 5:00am every morning. Ninety-five percent of the time, my son has snuck into bed at some point in the middle of the night, so I do my best to sneak quietly out of the room. Part of sneaking out includes shutting the window; rain or shine, high temperatures or low, I sleep with the window open.
Then, it’s straight to the coffee machine for me. I wake up with coffee and a cookie (usually homemade - I’m a cookie snob and think I make the best ones) to start the day. While sipping away, I make my list for the day (usually copying over far too much undone work from the day before). Then I spend what time I have before the kids wake up catching up on unfinished work.
Once the kids are up, I switch into mom-mode and get their breakfast on the table while I ask them to get dressed. Most days breakfast is waffles or pancakes - it’s little things like that that make feel a little less bad about not being as involved at their school as I’d like to be. While they eat, I get myself ready for the day. By 7:30am, we’re all out the door. I drop them off by 7:45am and then hop onto Highway 101 for the twenty-minute drive to work.
I’m an anomaly for someone who is known as a deejay, because I’m much more of a morning person than a night person. I usually wake up each day around 7:00am. There are days I’m up earlier (usually bright sunny days) and later (if I had to deejay really late the night before). My wife, Rana, usually gets up around the same time and handles the morning baby chores with our son, Myles, who is almost two.
I try to drink hot water and lemon first thing every morning. Totally wakes me up. I’m getting better at not checking email until 9:00am, but I am still guilty of browsing through texts and Twitter way too early.
From there, I head to my living room to pretend like I am being mindful. I’ve been working on my meditation practice, which is not developing as quickly as I would like, but I’m hoping at some point it all connects. My wife and I then pray briefly while I get ready to go for a run.
If it’s cold or crappy out, I go to Orangetheory because it’s about fifty feet from my front door. If it’s nice out, I throw Myles in our running stroller and we explore Brooklyn. At some point during that run, some espresso (me) and some juice (him) is consumed.
Around 9:00am we are home, the nanny is there, and the workday begins.
I wake up at 6:30am every weekday morning and around 7:00-7:30am on weekends. I try to keep my schedule consistent because it’s key to getting a good night’s sleep.
The first thing I do in the morning is check emails and sales numbers from the night before. I then head to the gym, where I take time to check my sleep stats and evaluate how my night went. Then I go back home, grab a coffee or tea, and take a quick shower before heading to the office.
I’d like to take this opportunity to preface all of my morning routine answers with this simple fact: I am the mother of a breastfeeding, co-sleeping toddler who apparently finds great pleasure in witnessing the demise of most every routine I try to abide by.
That said, on a glorious day after a successful night, I (we) wake up around 7:30am. Because my son likes to start his morning off with milk and cuddles, we usually lie in bed for a while, which allows me to wake up slowly. Suddenly, my adorable miniature dictator realizes this is boring and he wants to play. He usually calls for our dog, Annie, to join us and then wants to go outside.
Often by then, my life-saver of a husband has already started making my Swiss-water-method decaf latte with homemade almond milk and MCT oil. I recently kicked my caffeine habit in pursuit of a more alkaline diet, but thanks to Pavlov’s conditioning theory, if it looks like/tastes like coffee, it still works for me.
On a perfect day, husband and toddler willing, they will play outside and I will sneak upstairs for a brief (twenty-five minutes or so) meditation and yoga session.
Lately, I’ve been waking up around 4:40am. I used to get up at 5:30am, but my wife gets up at 4:30am, so I finally decided to stop pretending that I can fall back asleep for another hour after her alarm wakes me up. I’ve found that it actually works better this way, because my most creative period of the day is always between 5:00am and 9:00am.
After I crawl out of bed, I turn the air conditioner off in our bedroom, make a pit stop at the toilet, and tiptoe out to the kitchen - being careful not to wake my sleeping kids.
Next, I start the coffee maker and go to the fridge to retrieve the water bottle I filled up the night before. A singer friend once told me that you’re supposed to drink a glass of water before anything else (especially coffee) in the morning because it protects your vocal chords. I’ve never bothered to verify the science behind it because, frankly, I just don’t care. And since I couldn’t carry a tune if it were stapled to my eyelid, it is a bit ironic that I follow advice meant for professional singers. But I do give speeches for a living, and I figure if J-Lo is willing to protect her career by taking out a seven-figure insurance policy on her butt, the least I can do is choke down a glass of water every morning, just in case there’s something to it.
Once the coffee is ready, I go out to our screened-in terrace and plop down on the loveseat; always facing outside and sitting sideways with my back against the arm of the loveseat, my rear on one cushion and my feet on the other. I usually spend the next 30-60 minutes doing some kind of prayer/meditation and journaling. This part of my routine has been in effect for a solid decade now, but how exactly I do it and for how long still changes from week to week. It almost always involves reading something and then writing my thoughts about it.
Over the years, the reading has included everything from the Tao Te Ching and the Bhagavad Gita to the Bible and various works of Stoic philosophy. The one common thread has always been that it is some kind of spiritual text or at least “timeless” wisdom literature. That means no current events, no how-to advice, no productivity tips, no science; all of that comes later in the day. In a nutshell, early mornings are for Marcus Aurelius and Jesus; late mornings are for Stanley Milgram and NPR. For the last couple of years, the early morning routine has had more of a spiritual/mystical flavor to it rather than philosophical or wisdom-based.
Whether it’s reading, praying, or just closing my eyes and trying to pay close attention to the birds and the frogs chirping and croaking outside, the point is always to try to get in touch with something bigger than me: call it the Holy Spirit, the Force, the Field, or whatever you want. In some weird, paradoxical way, spending the first part of each morning focusing on decidedly transcendental topics actually keeps me grounded during the rest of the day. It reminds me that 95 percent of the things I’m going to instinctively want to flip my lid about during the day ahead just aren’t that big of a deal. It also helps me to not take myself too seriously, to keep myself humble (always a constant battle for a narcissist who gets paid to dish out advice), and to generally not be a d-bag to the people and the world around me.
For the past two months, I’ve been experimenting with “officially” signaling the end of prayer time and the start of the workday by jumping into a pool or taking a cold shower. I’m the world’s biggest weenie when it comes to cool temperatures, and even though Puerto Rico never gets anywhere close to what the average Northerner would consider “cold,” the water is a bit chilly at 6:00am. It snaps me to attention and hits the reset button on my brain.
After the polar plunge (okay, technically it’s more tropical than polar, but it still feels cold to me so back off, alright?), I go back to my office to start writing. For the past six months or so, when I first sit down, I’ve been reading the messages on the bulletin board hanging above my desk. I once read that Colin Powell stuck notes with his favorite bits of wisdom under the glass cover on his office desk so that he wouldn’t forget certain guiding principles (kind of like the guy in Memento, except less tattoo-y). Initially, my bulletin board started out something like that - scraps of paper with bits of wisdom, some short-term goals, and sketched diagrams for ideas I’m working on. But it quickly grew to include notes of a more… well, motivational nature.
I can say two things about this part of my morning routine. First, it works. I feel bolder, more confident, and more productive after reading the bulletin board.
Second, if I found the exact same notes on the office wall of one of my friends, I would a) laugh hysterically and then b) ruthlessly heckle him via text message approximately every day for the rest of his natural life. As such, if you thought I was going to divulge the contents of my notes on a public venue such as this, you are mistaken. But if you’re really dying to know, think Ross from Friends leaving a voicemail for himself and (sadly) you’ll be in the ballpark.
Then I write for the next three hours.
Sometime between the hours of 6:00am and 7:30am, one or all of my kids pop into my office to say “hi.” I used to forbid this. So did Stephen King until he nearly died in an accident. He then decided that the small productivity gains in his writing weren’t enough to offset those more valuable moments with his family. (Apparently, writing The Shining wasn’t enough to convince him that writers shouldn’t be isolated.) I have come to agree with him. Besides, taking parenting advice from the King of Horror just seems like the smart thing to do.
Lastly, a little before nine, I run to CrossFit, which puts the fork in my morning routine.
I wake around 5:30am, grab a Lärabar, take my BeetElite, and hit the road for my workout. This is typically a swim, a weight-training workout, or a run-interval workout. Right now, I am in a six-week “get fundamentally strong” block. This is what my week looks like:
Monday: Swimming long, aerobic sets.
Tuesday: Slow strength training, focusing on isolating glute muscles, etc.
Wednesday: Running intervals (descending miles and/or tempo-minute repeats), followed by a power-strength workout that consists of power cleans, plyometrics, and/or banded power exercises.
Thursday: Swimming involving lots of arms, as my legs are dead at this point (in essence, a recovery day).
Friday: Slow strength training (isolation) again and a short, five-to-six-mile trail run (easy and steady).
Saturday: Trail and/or flat running (long and smooth).
Sunday: Stretching, rolling, etc. (off day).
Even though I run a smoothie company, I am not a morning person. I really wish I were. I typically wake up at 7:00am if I want to run before work; if not, I wake up at 7:45am.
7:00am - Take my resting pulse. I’m a bit of a data nerd, and I obsess over data points. I track my resting heart rate every morning to see how well I’m recovering from workouts. I record those points so I can see how they change over time.
7:00am - Drink water. I keep a glass of water next to my bed so I can immediately drink a pint right when I wake up.
7:05am - Sweat. I usually keep my weekday workouts short, no more than 30-45 minutes, as I am not a morning person. If I miss a morning workout, I get in a lunchtime workout at my local rock-climbing gym.
8:15am - Head to work and meditate. On the train to work, I always do a ten-minute guided meditation on my Headspace app. After years of trying and failing to sit on a cushion and carve out thirty minutes of meditation during the day, I found that working it into an already set routine held the best results. Now I never miss a day!
After I finish meditating, I catch up on the news by reading Fortune’s daily newsletter, The Broadsheet. This newsletter is one of my favorites. It focuses on current events through the lens of women in business.
10:00am - Drink a smoothie. Every day at 10:00am, live on Facebook, I make a smoothie from the GreenBlender box that week. I want to show people how easy it is to start your day with a healthy decision and empower them to take control of their health. After that, the whole GreenBlender team drinks that smoothie during our morning meeting.
I’m such a creature of habit, so a routine is necessary for me to be productive and creative. I do switch things around every once in a while to change things up a bit.
My current routine starts around 7:00am when my first alarm goes off. I need a few minutes to shake off sleep, so I always set another alarm for ten minutes later, which is when I know I have to get out of bed. The first thing I do every morning is put the kettle on (which is my husband’s alarm - he hates the sound of it). I start my morning off with a mug of hot water and lemon followed by black tea. The first cup of tea is one of the luxuries of my mornings, and it’s something I look forward to every day. I then make breakfast or a protein shake if I’m heading to the gym for my morning workout.
I wake up around 6:00am every day, usually to the sound of my two little boys (one and three years old) talking to each other or, more accurately, yelling/throwing toys at each other. Before I get out of bed, I quickly check my schedule for the day, make sure that no urgent emails came in overnight, and hug my husband. Then, I’m off to play. Mornings are when I get quality time with my little guys during the week, so I try to make the most of it.
We are lucky to have help - our amazing nanny starts early, which helps me focus on quality time with the kids in the morning while still allowing everyone to get ready for school and work. I play with the kids while she preps their breakfast, and then I get dressed while they eat. After everyone is dressed, we often prep food for dinner (my three-year-old loves to help cook) and then I head out to take my older son to school before I head into work.
After dropping him off, I usually hop on a call en route to my office. On days when I don’t have a call scheduled, I listen to a book on Audible at 2x speed (I’m currently listening to The Fish That Ate the Whale). When I get to the office, I try to run up to our office’s rooftop deck for a few minutes of mindfulness and to set an intention for the day before I race off to meetings.
I wake up at 7:00am most mornings and immediately make french press coffee with milk.
I’ll then journal and meditate for fifteen minutes. Sometimes I read poetry - Wendell Berry and Hafez, most recently - before meditating. My journalling is very free-flowing, usually about half a page, and a combination of what I’m feeling, thinking about, and looking forward to.
Next I get dressed, pack my lunch if I have leftovers from dinner the night before, and make sure I have the right things in my bag (especially my computer and my headphones!).
I’ll then bike to the office or, if it’s really cold, take the subway.
I always claim that one of my life’s greatest achievements is being able to wake up without an alarm (unless I have a dreadfully early morning meeting - sigh). My body seems to automatically wake between 7:30 and 8:30am most mornings, no matter what.
Wouldn’t it sound nice for me to say that my sheer passion and love for what I do inspires me to jump out of bed every morning? In reality, that’s only half-true. It’s really the thought of breakfast that gets my butt moving.
After throwing on comfortable lounging pants and going through my multi-step skincare routine that I learned from after watching Korean beauty videos, I head straight to the kitchen to boil some water. I like drinking semi-hot water first thing in the morning. This is also when I prepare breakfast.
I resist the call of my phone’s emails and social media first thing. I find that checking my phone tramples over my positive vibes, because we all know that checking messages is like rattling a wasp nest. Instead, I mentally prioritize the first thing I should work on when breakfast is done, which is usually writing.
Perhaps the most important and recent addition to my routine is that I write in the Five Minute Journal while I have my breakfast. In particular, the question of “What would make today great?” has empowered me to think about not only goals I want to accomplish but also little things, like “Call mom to tell her I love her” or “Enjoy Netflix today without feeling guilty.” I find that I’m often so obsessed with “doing” that I don’t stop to think about how doing certain things make me feel or why I do them in the first place. “What would make today great?” changed the game for me.
After that, I make and have my sweet, sweet brain fuel (coffee) and set the timer for an hour to write for my own projects. Then the day is mine.
I usually wake up around 7:00am. I tend to have a hard time falling asleep, and an even more difficult time waking up. To make this a little easier I booby-trapped my bedroom with peaceful morning alarms: smart lights that slowly turn on, and a soothing piano alarm. When all that inevitably fails to get me going, my black cat will jump on me and beg for food.
After I’m up, it’s a down to the minute routine that gets me from bed to the office. I know exactly how long it takes to shower and change, when I need to leave in order to catch the light that takes too long to turn green, and when I need to open up the Starbucks app on my phone to order my morning coffee so it’s ready when I pass by on the way to the train.
I use the train time to get ready for the day: I check my email, go over my schedule, and add items to my daily to-do list. I tend to get in before the office starts to fill up so that I can get my (second) coffee and read the news before any morning meetings. Once I sit down at my desk, I pull up that to-do list and officially begin my day.
I wake up at 5:00am seven days a week. The human body wants consistency, so that’s what I give it. In my first hour, I shower, go downstairs and drink a large cup of water, then start the coffee maker. Then I take out the dog, feed her, and play catch with her in the backyard. During that playtime I go through my five-minute gratitude exercise, and then I’m ready to GSD (Get Shit Done).
By 6:30am or so I get my coffee, protein shake, another glass of water, and my MacBook and get down to business for three hours, with my phone silenced, turned over (screen side down), and pushed far away from me so I don’t get distracted. I work on the things that are in my zone of genius first; things that make money like sales copy, ads, offers, email broadcasts, and impromptu social media posts or videos. I finish off my three hours of GSD time by replying to emails and clearing out my inbox. Then I’m off to the gym from 10:00am to 11:00am where I train hard, listen to music, and keep the phone on silent so I don’t have my workout time invaded by texts, calls, emails, or notifications - this is sacred time.
I spend fifteen minutes in the car after my workout just relaxing and gathering my thoughts. This is when I give myself permission to “screen suck” by replying to texts and posting on social media. I get a chicken salad from The Habit at 11:30am, eat it at the restaurant, then walk into the HQ by noon to meet with my leadership team and work with my own team.
On weekdays I wake up at 6:00am on the dot. I pour coffee (which I set to brew the night before) and then eat the same breakfast (oatmeal with frozen blueberries and a handful of cashews) every day in my home office while I study.
I spend the first hour of my morning studying and writing. I sit at my desk or on the sofa in my office and read a book with pen in hand, taking notes and writing observations in my notebook for later review. At the close of the session, I spend 15-20 minutes in silence - meditating or considering what I just read and how it applies to my life and work. Sometimes I also journal during this time.
Because I sleep through any alarm, my husband, Tad, kindly wakes me up. That’s usually around 6:45am. I’m glacially slow to wake so I can’t just hop out of bed.
After I finally open my eyes, which takes 5-10 minutes (my eyelids feel so heavy!), I like to read the news on my phone to get my brain engaged. I’ve become addicted to “Mike’s Top 10”, one of Axios’ newsletters. Once I manage to slide myself out of bed (which is usually when I hear Tad’s footfalls coming toward our room to check on me), I drink a large glass of water. This wakes up my senses. I’ve also convinced myself that it washes away any impurities from sleep.
Tad makes our ten-year-old twins breakfast and reads aloud to them while they eat; I’m usually ambling into the kitchen at about this time. I make our kids’ lunches and listen to whatever story is in progress; right now it’s Lord of the Rings.
Once their lunches are packed, I spend 5-10 minutes doing yoga and then take a very hot shower. The last fifteen minutes of getting ready usually involve me running late and scrambling out the door with kids in tow and bags and sunglasses not quite on.
I’m up sometime between 6:30 and 7:00am; i.e. whenever Henry, our two-year-old, decides it’s time for the rest of the house to be up. He just yells from his crib until someone comes to rescue him. Clara, our five-year-old, typically hops into our bed once she’s up, and both kids watch an episode of SpongeBob while my husband, Jonathan, and I take turns showering and checking our phones for any urgent work messages and news.
During this time, Henry makes multiple attempts to escape our bedroom; in-between brushing our teeth and getting dressed, one or the other of us has to make sure he isn’t sliding down the banister or putting his fingers in an electric socket or something. We also take turns making sure Clara is fully clothed. Depending on the day, this is either an easy task or an epic battle.
When our babysitter arrives around 7:30am, we send both kids downstairs for breakfast. I head down around 7:45am to chat with the kids while they finish eating, pack up my lunch, and make sure Clara has everything she needs for a rigorous day at pre-K. If I’m going straight to the office, I head for the subway a little before 8:00am, picking up a coffee on the way. On the days I take Clara to school, I usually make coffee at home (I’m on a Chemex kick and drinking it out of this mug makes me happy), and then we’re out the door by 8:15am.
I typically get up at 4:40am. I like the quiet of morning. For me, that first hour sets up the day. I like to do some professional reading and journaling. I’ve kept a journal since I was eight years old (a creature of habit!) as it helps me clarify my thinking.
I train from 6:00-7:00am. I live two minutes from the CrossFit that I’m currently training at (I used to train at home but I’m really enjoying CrossFit now).
I return home to feed and walk my dog, shower up, and go to my Fit Body Boot Camp. I go into camp (with my dog) for about ninety minutes most days. I work with my assistant there on Mondays, and on other days I chat up clients and then head into the office to work.
On weekdays, my twelve-year-old daughter Laurel is my alarm clock. She gets up at 6:00am because she has to head out to the bus at about 7:00am! I get myself up when I hear her get up so she has some company while she’s getting ready. Typically, I get out of bed, pull on workout gear, and sit in a demented haze for about ten minutes on the couch with Laurel while she brushes her hair and also attempts to wake up. Then I get up and make coffee and go through the routine of getting Laurel out the door and my five-year-old daughter Violet to kindergarten.
Ideally, I build in some kind of exercise right at the start of the day. My favorite way is to make it part of my commute; for example, typically Violet and I walk to school (it’s close to a mile) and then I run a 2-5 mile loop home, depending on how I’m feeling and if I’m training for anything. Last fall I was training for a half marathon, so I was on a specific plan with regard to distance. If it’s too cold out (it’s currently really cold in Boston) I opt for at-home yoga or circuit training. Exercise is pretty crucial to me, not only to help me fit into my pants (I love cooking and baking and eating!) but also to burn off my crazy and keep my mental balance in check.
I typically sit down to work by 9:00 or 9:30am. I have another cup of coffee and start by reviewing my to-do list, starring critical items, and then syncing up a plan of attack based on my schedule that day. I then do preliminary email triage; I always start by (rather ruthlessly) deleting emails that are irrelevant, poorly pitched, or indicative of mass PR pitches (sorry, PR people – personalized outreach is what it takes!) and bouncing back quick-action responses.
These preliminary steps position me to work efficiently through my to-do list the rest of the day. I have several work buckets: blog, podcast, consulting work, video work, freelance client work, and now a t-shirt design shop, and also the everyday personal matters that hop on one’s to-do list.
During my windows of time that aren’t dominated by meetings, I basically round-robin through my clients and projects, making sure that I touch every single client and project every day. I have each client and project on my to-do list set up as a recurring item each day. Some days a particular client or project won’t need attention, and then I can just check it off the list. This system helps me keep on top of and feel connected to everything I’m working on.
On a good day, I also find time to call my mother. She loves phone calls!
I wake up around 8:00am and before I open my eyes I try to recall my dreams. I have very vivid dreams and they always signal me messages on what I need to be working on or looking out for. Once I open my eyes, I set intentions for the day. I choose an emotion I want to feel for that day, like creativity, and will create an affirmation like “I am creative and ideas flow through me” and repeat it mentally ten times.
Then I go to the bathroom, brush my teeth with plant-based, fluoride-free toothpaste, scrape my tongue with a copper tongue scraper to remove toxins, and take my daily supplements with some room-temperature water. Then I put a spoon of coconut oil in my mouth for an Ayurvedic practice called oil pulling, which further draws toxins from the system.
After this I’ll walk into my kitchen and turn on the stove, which has a pot of spice-infused water (ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, cloves, and star-anise) that I set out overnight. These tonics are really warming for the digestive fire and actually enhance your digestion for the entire day. I’ve noticed a drastic change in my mind and body from drinking these warming, healing, homemade teas.
Next, I feed my dog, clean the kitchen, and get dressed for yoga all with the oil still in my mouth. Ayurveda recommends oil-pulling for twenty minutes a day but I usually make it to about ten. Then I spit out my oil, rinse out my mouth, drink my tea, and head to yoga. I eat breakfast afterwards when my digestive fire has really been warmed up and my body is ready for food.
I usually set my phone alarm, but most of the time I wake up before it goes off between 5:00-6:00am. The alarm generally acts as a beacon, giving me a sense of what time it is without making me take a look. I often set the alarm a tad earlier than I actually want to get up because I like to linger a bit and ponder the thoughts running through my mind about the coming day.
Just before getting up, I do a quick stretch and set an intention for the day - this is a word or phrase that will guide how I move through my day. It’s usually something like “compassion,” “joy,” “gratitude,” “mindfulness,” or whatever I choose as a guiding force. Today, for example, with a writing deadline looming, my word is “focus.” This means that whatever I’m doing, all day I’ll come back to “focus” as my guiding intention.
Once I get up, I put on the workout clothes (for running, biking, swimming, lifting weights, practicing yoga, or a combination of the above) lying in a pile next to the bed. I hit the bathroom, brush my teeth while walking around and filling a water bottle or organizing gear, and then I’m off to do one of the above-mentioned activities, which can be followed by another immediately or later in the day. I always plan my workout ahead of time, but sometimes I decide to change it up right before I get out of bed.
I can usually be out the door within 10-15 minutes of getting up. I don’t try to hurry, but I just don’t see the point in lingering. I love the quiet and stillness of early morning, so I am motivated to get up and out in it - to feel like I have the place to myself before the rest of humanity stirs.
Starting the day with physical activity is like brushing my teeth - it’s ingrained in me. It’s something I enjoy that also sets up my day on a positive note.
My morning routine begins the night before. I sleep for nine hours, meditate, exercise, meditate again, and then begin the workday.
Sleep and exercise are my health priorities. By figuring out how much sleep I actually need and sticking to it as a health priority, both my life and work have changed for the better. I wake up nine hours after I go to sleep, so the exact time varies, but I aim for it to be as early as possible.
Well, it’s admittedly a bit hit or miss in these parts. I’ve got two morning routines: my survive and my thrive. Currently, with a six-month-old baby who doesn’t yet sleep through the night and an early-rising four-year-old, I’m smack dab in the middle of survival mode.
Here’s what it looks like:
Sometime between 2:00am and 4:00am, my husband wakes me up just as he heads to bed (he’s a night owl and takes the midnight feeding) so I can feed Scout and rock him back to sleep before heading into the kitchen to start a condensed work day. I’m a full-time mom first and a blogger second, so the bulk of my work is relegated to those wee hours in the day when the house is dark, the room is quiet, and my own small world is sound asleep. It’s admittedly one of my favorite parts of the day.
I start my morning by writing first, always, and then I sneak in a few more logistical matters (emails, interviews, social media, etc.) before my four-year-old daughter wakes up. Once she’s up and at ’em (around 7:00am), the computer is closed in lieu of breakfast and books, puzzles, and play.
I usually wake up at 6:45am, depending on my plans for the morning (if I’m doing a class, I wake up at 6:30am). I listen to five minutes of news radio before my alarm actually goes off, and I give myself one snooze, which means that I actually get up at 7:00am.
I really try to get more than seven hours of sleep a night. It’s better for you than any skin cream, energy shot, or superfood. I religiously listen to NPR/WNYC in the morning. I’m a complete news junkie, but I try not to read it on my phone because it leads me to check my email, which forces me to get distracted and lose my whole morning. If I’m really planning ahead or don’t go for a workout, I will eat breakfast at home. If not, I buy a smoothie.
I have a five-minute walk to work. This is a big perk of picking the office location. I scan my emails on the way over looking for things that need to be responded to quickly. And I definitely check our @sweatybetty Instagram account to see which posts have been tagged overnight. If our Flatiron store team is in early, I say hi to them on my way upstairs to the office that’s located just above. Most mornings, I have a meeting at 9:00am with the UK teams, and off we go…
I’m an early morning person. I’m almost always out of bed by 5-6:00am, sometimes before that. Usually, the first thing I do is brew a pot of coffee and make myself a hearty breakfast. Then, if I’m home, I’ll spend some time answering emails, reading, and contemplating. If I’m outdoors, I take some time to quietly watch the world around me waking up, paying attention to light and life and put all else out of my mind for about an hour. It’s my favorite form of meditation. This is about as close to a routine as it gets for me.
Despite being an outdoor photographer, I very rarely rush to make images at sunrise (or sunset, for that matter). Certainly, such images are beautiful, but they also tend to be easy and formulaic. There are enough photographers in the world who do that type of work very well. I find much greater satisfaction in creating with light and land, rather than documenting them. To me, the wild natural world is beautiful at any time, in any light, and under any weather conditions. When I feel ready to work I just venture out with no expectations or plans, and just immerse myself in the experience. From that point on, nothing that I do is dictated by any kind of routine.
Ideally, I like to get up at 7:30am, do twenty minutes of Vedic meditation, and finish with three minutes of gratitude practice to set the tone of the day. Then I put on a podcast, where I can learn about business, personal development, creativity, or entrepreneurship to help get my mind in a good space. My favorite podcasts are The Tim Ferriss Show, The School of Greatness, and my own, NIONradio (not that I’m biased, but I choose guests because I’m fascinated with them and their creativity; I like to go back and listen to the episodes to take notes, which is not something that I can do easily while I’m actually conducting the interviews).
Once the podcast is over, I do a twenty-five-minute plyo training workout in my apartment. I like the plyo training because it’s the highest impact in the least amount of time. It gets my metabolism going. After I finish working out, I make a protein shake and then sit down to read some emails. I get into my work day around 9:30-10:00am.
I try to follow this routine as many days as I can, but sometimes it varies when I’m traveling or staying at my girlfriend’s. If I can get in one piece of the routine on the off days, that’s ideal. Typically, I work out 4-5 days a week when I’m home.
I get up around 7:00am. I go to the living room, put some music on, open my laptop, and go through my emails.
I like getting up early so I can have some time to relax on the sofa while I check my plan for the day and week. Apart from my university classes and work at C/O Berlin, I have photography freelance work, appointments, and events that I try to fit into my schedule. This extra time in the morning allows me to plan everything. After I have planned my schedule, I like writing down some ideas about upcoming projects or shoots.
Four days a week, this is what I do:
I wake up at 6:00am, before anyone else in the house. While still in bed, I have a little routine that happens only in my head: I send grace to everyone I’m going to meet that day, one by one. I imagine them in my mind, and I send them a bunch of good vibes. I also say “thank you for this day.” The days I do this are so much better than the days I just spring from the bed.
Next I make my way to the living room, make up my gym bag (for later in the day - I always have to write before I work out), make a smoothie, and pack my lunch. Then I head out to my favorite café where they often have my “usual” - a cup of coffee and a Perrier - waiting for me. I sit at my regular table in a back corner of the café until about 10:00am. That whole time, I’m writing. Once 10:00am strikes, I let myself start troubleshooting, responding to emails, making phone calls, etc. By that time I’ve already gotten some really solid writing in.
I wake between 7:45 and 8:05am simply because it’s early enough that I feel accomplished but not so early that I’m depriving myself of sleep. This is very thought out, haha! Then I brush my teeth, wash my face, and head out to the living room where I get situated for my meditation.
I meditate for 10 minutes and then immediately put pen to paper and write for about 20-30 minutes. It’s usually stream-of-consciousness stuff or my thoughts about any random topic I think of.
After that I head into the kitchen and empty the always-full dishwasher while my breakfast cooks. Once the kitchen is cleared up, I eat breakfast while reading emails and deleting any inbox junk. Then, I finally get to my to-do list.
6:45am: Open eyes,
6:47am: Stagger to the bathroom,
6:49am: Shamble to the kitchen,
6:51am: Make some creative thing while the kettle heats up.
I have various little projects for this first slice of the day. For a while, I sat at the kitchen counter, looked into a mirror, and drew a selfie. Each day’s drawing looked totally different, depending on how I felt and how I felt I looked.
During another period, I drew the view out the right hand kitchen window, of the tops of the trees in Washington Square Park. I sometimes draw what I’m eating for breakfast. I have spent thirty minutes just drawing every nook and crevice on a slice of rye toast.
Recently, I started drawing my tea cup in a special sketchbook just for drawings of my tea cup. It’s more or less the same cup each day, but my drawings still differ with my moods and degree of sleepiness. At another point, I borrowed an idea from my old pal Tommy Kane and I would draw a photo from the front page of the New York Times. That became depressing after a while.
I don’t always draw. This summer, I went through a period where I’d take my dogs to the park and write down ten ideas on my phone. Some days, I’d just come up with a list of lists of ideas. (Here’s an example of part of one of those lists: 10 ways to make kids more creative, 10 ways to fix meetings, 10 ways to be a good boss, 10 places I’d like to live for three months, 10 short documentaries I could make, 10 ways to eat less, 10 benefits of aging, 10 undetectable ways to kill someone, 10 improvements to a tea kettle, 10 things they should teach in school but don’t.) Then on other days, I’d open up the next list and make myself think of ten ideas under that heading. James Altucher put that game in my head and it was fun to play along.
At other points, I would start the day by writing a blogpost. Or at least the germ of an outline of an idea for a concept for a blogpost, a few paragraphs that I might polish once I’d had my cuppa tea.
Generally I keep making something until my wife gets up and I have to take the dogs out. Usually, half an hour tops.
My family moved from New York City to Madrid a little over a year ago. Here in Spain, my days start and end much later than they did in New York.
These days I get up at 8:00am to get my daughter to school at 9:00am. It’s a short twelve-minute walk to school, so usually I make breakfast and help her get ready while my husband gets himself ready and takes her to school. (I pick her up in the afternoons, although sometimes we switch roles, depending on our schedules.) Once everyone is out of the apartment I either go out for a run or do a little yoga or ballet. I need to exercise almost every day to feel good. Then I do a little stretching (if I run), take a shower, and, at long last, sit down to work. I focus much better when I’ve exercised.
My routine varies depending on the season because we have such extreme temperature differences in Moab, and it also varies depending on the weather. In summer, I get up before sunrise and go out immediately for a short trail run with my dog before it gets too hot. In spring and fall, I get up at first light, get some office work done, and then go for a longer run. In winter, I get a lot more inside work done because it’s really only warm enough to do things outside between about 11:00am and 3:00pm if the sun is out.
Depending on the day, I’ll follow the run with a weights or hangboard workout before coming home and answering emails or working on writing projects. On alternating days I go climbing or BASE jumping instead of working out in the gym. My life has a pretty seasonal flow: in summer, spring, and fall I’m playing catch up all the time, but during the shorter days in winter I catch up on business and home projects and sleep.
If I’m on a trip for business, climbing, or BASE jumping, I really don’t have a routine, so it’s nice when I’m home in Moab.
I usually wake up around 6:00 or 7:00am, depending on where I am. I’m flexible with this, but I generally believe that getting enough sleep and getting high-quality sleep is more important than being strict about the time I wake up.
I start the day by feeding my mind its breakfast and drinking water or hot tea. The first part of this process is journaling. I free-write for as long as I need or want to. Sometimes it’s one page; other times it’s six pages. If I have a major issue I’m trying to sort out, I usually write about that to clarify my thinking or to separate the facts of the matter from my feelings about it. This always helps. Starting the day by doing a brain dump allows me to get the day going with a clean slate. Journaling usually takes 10-15 minutes.
After that, I read a few pages of something enriching. It might be a book on personal development, spirituality, business, or some other topic that’s relevant to my current goals. This gets my brain going and gives me a mental vitamin to digest throughout the day.
After that, I read a brief passage in an inspiring book. The book changes from year to year, but I love those books that are broken into 365 short inspiring notes that you can read in under three minutes. Melody Beattie’s The Language of Letting Go is a favorite that I revisit.
Then I pray and meditate. On days I don’t have time to do anything else, I just pray and meditate, as I find those to be the most important components of a good start to my day.
This process sounds long and involved, but it rarely takes more than 30-45 minutes. I find the rewards of this time investment well worth waking up earlier.
Once my mind is fed, I run my dog out for a quick potty break, eat breakfast, then check email. I should note that this “check” is just a scan of anything urgent or critical that may have come in. I prefer to do important or deep work in the morning, so I save non-urgent email until later in the day.
A few times a month I do fasted cardio, so on those days I do a condensed version of my routine and complete a cardio workout before I eat.
The short version is that I wake up at 6:30am, try to stay away from anything with an LCD screen, meditate, exercise, and set myself up to live my best life.
I wake up when my toddler starts singing to himself, and I get out of bed when he moves on to calling, “Moooooooommy, Daaaaaaaaaddy.” This is usually around 7:30am.
I get my son ready and feed him breakfast while I make myself a green smoothie and unload the dishwasher. I usually listen to a podcast while I do this. Then we play together until my husband takes over parenting duty at 9:00am (I don’t shower in the morning, so I can get ready in a few minutes while on mommy duty.) Once my husband takes over I bike to my office, which is about a ten-minute bike ride away.
Once I’m in the office, the first thing I usually do is process my inbox and catch up on Slack. We’re a remote team, so the East Coast has already started working by the time I get to the office. I don’t have email or social media apps on my phone, so it’s nice to go into the office and really start my day instead of trying to catch up on my phone first thing in the morning. I don’t keep my phone in the bedroom so I won’t be tempted by the horrible habit of lying in bed looking at my phone as soon as I wake up!
I try to wake up around 7:30am. That’s also when my girlfriend wakes up, so it lines us up nicely.
I’ll admit, I don’t really have that much trouble waking up, but I do know a few friends who have used the Pavlok alarm clock to great benefit.
After that my routine is pretty standard: I get out of bed, open the blinds, and then read about politics. I’m a big political junkie, and my go-to site is ElectoralVote.
After that, I take a two-minute cold shower. Yup - precisely two minutes. I’m a big believer in optimizing things instead of overthinking them. I find that two minutes allows me both to feel refreshed and to finish before the process gets tedious.
Next, I head out for a ten-minute walk. I usually get a Coke Zero and just walk in a circle, enjoying the morning sun. I find that sunlight in the morning makes a big difference in my mood.
Finally, I end up at home, fill out my Five Minute Journal (the walk is a great time to think about what I’m grateful for and what I’m looking forward to), and then get cracking.
I normally wake up between 6:15am and 6:45am, depending on how late I stayed up the night before. I’ve finally broken the habit of checking my phone while I’m still in bed. No more email, news, iMessages, Instagram, Twitter, etc., while I’m still lying there. I can’t tell you how nice it is not to start my day with that mental clutter.
I used to start working immediately because I work for myself; now, however, I work out first thing in the morning. I love starting my day already feeling so accomplished. If frustrating things happen during the day, I can always look back to my morning workout and think, “I ran ten miles this morning, so I can handle _____.”
I have a rule that I don’t have any meetings until 10:00am, but I make exceptions for calls with European clients. I have this rule because I know I’m really productive in the morning. I try to reserve that time so that I’ll always have a solid block of hours to get uninterrupted work done.
Most mornings I wake up by 5:15am with my alarm. I put on a full kettle of water, do a quick glance at email, and head back into my room to pee and scrape my tongue. While the water boils, I meditate, usually for around twelve minutes. Then I drink a big glass of warm water while I make coffee, put away dishes, and create a food plan for the day. My dog Poncho sleeps on his favorite sleeping chair during all of this.
Hopefully, by this time I have to go to the bathroom (Ayurveda says if you’re not pooping within the first thirty minutes of waking then you’re technically constipated). After I do other self-care bathroom stuff - splashing my face a few times with cold water, misting on rosewater spray, oiling my sinuses, and brushing my teeth - I make my bed and do a few simple stretches. Then I drink a little cup of coffee while freewriting for three pages (“morning pages”). Sometimes it’s profound, but usually it’s just mental chatter. I then choose a few tarot cards to help give me a focus for the day.
By this time, it’s around 6:40am and Poncho the dog is staring at me. He continues to stare at me while I roll out my yoga mat. After ten sun salutations, a little core work, a backbend, and a twist, he is whining and pawing to let me know he is serious about our walk. We walk around National Basilica by my apartment while I either talk on the phone or listen to a podcast.
It’s around 8:00am when we get home, and we’re both ready for breakfast. I eat and drink another little cup of coffee while listening to NPR. Then I feed Poncho. If I have to go somewhere, I take a shower after breakfast; otherwise, I jump right into work and shower later before leaving the house.
Morning is my most productive time of the day. Over the years, I’ve adapted my schedule accordingly so I can do my most important work in the morning.
Energy levels and our ability to concentrate fluctuate throughout the day. For most people, our ability to focus peaks earlier in the day - prior to distractions, noise, and weakened mental willpower. I dictate my morning routine before I go to bed the night before. That’s when I write down 2-3 important projects that I want to concentrate on the next day. Most of this is Farnam Street related.
In the morning, I wake up around 6-6:30am, grab a coffee, and then sit down to work on those projects. I give myself 60-90 minutes of uninterrupted time to focus on deep work and difficult problems. I then take a break, grab another coffee and breakfast, make note of ideas that came to mind that I want to revisit or research, and then work for another 60-90 minutes on difficult problems or projects. Focusing on deep work first thing in the morning won’t work for everyone, especially if they commute or have conflicting priorities; however, I’ve realized that I’m most productive and focused first thing in the morning.
I wake up at 5:00am with my phone alarm and turn it off right away so as not to wake the others (my partner and my seven-year-old daughter). I drink a glass of water or, when I am inspired, water and lemon.
I open the windows of the kitchen and living room to let the fresh air come in, and then I do the worst job of the day: I empty the dishwasher. I don’t like to do it, but I prefer to do it first thing in the morning so that I don’t have to think about it for the rest of the day. I generally empty it while listening to Radio 24 (a major news radio channel in Italy).
Then I prepare breakfast for the family with love and care. This is one of my favorite moments of the day.
When breakfast is ready and the table is set, I drink my coffee and write down my daily docket for both work and home (sometimes I check email and blog statistics). In the warm season, I take care of the plants on the terrace.
At 6:30am, it’s time to shower and get dressed. At about 7:00am, my daughter and my partner wake up. While my daughter gets ready, I take care of the bedrooms (I open the windows, make the beds, etc.). At 7:20am, we all have breakfast together - half an hour of relaxation and chatter.
At 8:00am it’s time to walk to school. This takes approximately thirty minutes, and we walk through a very nice green area (this is another of my favorite moments of the day). 8:30am: We kiss bye bye at school, and I walk back home listening to my favorite music and thinking about new blog ideas. 9:00am: My workday begins!
After being fed 2-3 times during the night, my six-month-old son is ready for the day around 6:30am. He rolls around in his crib (or in the bed next to me) and says, “Heh?” My husband changes him and they play together while I get dressed.
When the impatience in my son’s voice grows, I feed him again. After I’ve had breakfast, we watch a music video together. At the moment, this is his favorite.
Around 8:00am, my son is ready for a nap. He sleeps outside in his stroller, and I enter my studio above our apartment in Skien, Norway. I have a one-year stipend to live in the apartment that belonged to the Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen’s family. I currently work on sculptures for my September exhibition at Galleri Storck in Oslo.
The exhibition is called My Morning Routine and is a collaboration with ceramicist Ivana Králíková. I’m making muesli sculptures, and the premise for the works is that they are made during my son’s first nap of the day. It’s a gamble, because the nap can be anything from thirty minutes to two hours long!
I like to get up early. I typically wake up between 5:00 and 6:00am (closer to 5:30), and the very first thing I do when I get up is drink a pint of water, ideally with some lemon juice squeezed in it. But it all starts the night before when I set the coffee maker to turn on in the morning. I have a Technivorm Moccamaster that I love.
After I’ve gotten up and had some water, I head upstairs in my house and perform twenty minutes of yoga and some light stretching - this is the same practice I’ve been sticking to every day for over a year now. Lately I’ve added some additional exercise in the morning. This month I’ve been rowing on the ERG, trying to get in fifty meters more than I rowed the day before. It’s all about progression.
After yoga and the ERG, I head back downstairs to grab my cup of coffee and one for my wife, if she’s awake, and then I read for thirty minutes. I always like to be in the middle of a bunch of books. I’m usually reading between three and five books at a time. I don’t really read sequentially. I like to hop around books. I feel like the ideas in each book play off each other and can give me new ideas to explore (James Altucher calls this “idea sex”).
Right around then it’s time to make breakfast for my son (four) and hang out with my daughter (eleven). I try to catch up with each of them in the mornings. This is our time together; one of the reasons I hate being away is because I miss the mornings with my kids.
The last thing I do in the morning is a five-minute journal using the Five Minute Journal app. Sometimes I write what I need to get done for the day, other times I’m just scratching notes or sketching out something new that I need to be writing.
I wake up anywhere between 4:00am and 4:30am. My body does this naturally. I would definitely call myself a morning person; I absolutely love what my kids call “the dark morning.”
I am not a morning person. This is exactly why first thing in the morning is my most critical creative time. Research shows that your off-peak times are the best for insightful thinking, so my one goal in the morning is to make the most of that still-slightly-groggy time.
I wake up without an alarm, usually around 8:00am. Ideally, I’ll meditate for about ten minutes, but I’m usually too eager to start working. I set up my computer on a bookshelf that allows me to stand while working, put in some Mack’s earplugs, and spend the first hour of my day on my most important project at the time. For a couple of months, that was writing and publishing a 500-word Medium article every morning, but that exercise is over. Usually, my hour turns into about two hours of uninterrupted work.
Some days (good days!): Wake up to an alarm at 7:30am. Leave my phone in airplane mode while I have a cup of coffee and write in my notebook for half an hour or so. Then make a little breakfast, head to my desk, open my email, and start my day.
Other days (more often than I would like): Wake up to an alarm at 7:30am. Hit snooze for half an hour or more. Open and read my email on my phone, holding it inches away from my nose. Get out of bed by 9:00am. Make coffee and a little breakfast. Head to my desk and start working in earnest.
I write whatever’s on my mind. Sometimes it’s personal musings, sometimes it’s to-do lists, sometimes it’s thoughts on an article I’m about to sit down and write.
I wake up at 8:00ish (the “ish” is my hitting the snooze button for an extra fifteen minutes) and usually lay there for a moment trying to remember my dream and thinking about the day ahead. I’ll then shower and get dressed. Even though I work from home most days, I still like to get dressed for the day right away.
I have breakfast, meditate for thirty minutes, and free-write for another thirty minutes. At 10:00am, I check my email, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and my phone. I respond to anything that needs a response on these, and then I turn off my phone until evening. (I turn it back on when I need to call somebody, then I turn it off again). Phones drive me crazy - I only feel completely present if mine is turned off and put away, so I try to do that whenever possible. I know I sound like a weirdo, but it’s made me much happier to keep my phone off for most of the day.
At 11:00am, I do vocal warm-ups, practice violin, and work for a few hours. This is my favorite part of the day, when I can put everything out of my mind and focus on music. Right now I’m preparing for a tour, so I’m working on my live set. After touring ends, instead of practicing, I’ll use this time for writing new songs.
At 3:00pm I have a late lunch. I like to get out of the house, so I’ll run an errand, go for a quick walk somewhere, or call my mom. From 4:00pm until 8:00pm or so, I work on the non-music parts of being a musician, of which there are apparently a lot. When I first started out, I didn’t realize how entrepreneurial being a musician would be. I love this other type of creativity, but it does take up quite a bit of time.
Around 8:30pm, I usually go meet someone for dinner or drinks. After working at home alone all day, I try to make sure I go out and see people in the evenings. Sometimes, if I’m in a good workflow, I’ll go three or four days without seeing anyone; this feels okay, though, and is exactly what I need in the moment.
6:30am: Wake up with the sunrise.
6:45am: Review the day ahead hour by hour and briefly visualize how I can over-deliver based on the goals of each meeting and conversation.
7:00am: Respond to messages from my team and distribute tasks to focus each department on the necessary short- and long-term priorities according to our goals.
8:00am: Get ready. Have outfit ready the night before so I can be more efficient in the morning.
8:30am: Head to first meeting by Uber. Respond to messages from our users along the way. I love staying in touch and receiving their feedback.
9:00am: Offsite meeting, usually with an influencer, partner, or investor. Build ongoing, genuine relationships by spending time together in collaboration.
10:00am: Head to Mogul HQ in NYC.
I’m up between 5:30 and 6:00am. My husband and I try to go to sleep pretty early - between 9:00 and 9:30pm. I need a solid eight hours to be a functional human. We spend the first twenty minutes when we wake up talking, cuddling, and sharing what our dreams were the night before. It’s the first question we ask each other after we say good morning. “What were your dreams like?” Our morning routine is all rooted in connection - to ourselves, each other, and the day ahead.
While I’m working out with my personal trainer (see below), my husband, Felipe, begins making breakfast. Then we try to eat together briefly before the day really gets going. He’s a furniture maker, he has a shop attached to our house, so he works from home, and this allows us to spend more time together before he goes into the shop.
Ninety-five percent of the time I get eight hours of sleep a night, and as a result, ninety-five percent of the time I don’t need an alarm to wake up. And waking up naturally is, for me, a great way to start the day.
A big part of my morning ritual is about what I don’t do: when I wake up, I don’t start the day by looking at my smartphone. Instead, once I’m awake, I take a minute to breathe deeply, be grateful, and set my intention for the day.
I typically wake up at 7:00am, taking a moment to really breathe in the world and stretch. Next, I pick up my Five Minute Journal and get primed for the day, after which I’ll walk to the bathroom, freshen up, and follow this up with some basic stretches and meditate for about twenty minutes, ending with a visualization.
I proceed to take a cold shower, take my supplements (magnesium, vitamin D, vitamin K2), do some pullups, and make breakfast.
I’ll then take a walk to the office and start the day with some journaling. Typically, this is freestyle journaling in Evernote. Next, I open up my Productivity Planner (which I fill out the night before) and get started with the day!
Ideally I wake up around 7:30 to 8:00am. I usually don’t set an alarm and try to wake up naturally. I immediately drink a couple glasses of water before putting on my gym clothes and heading to the gym in our building.
I work out for about forty-five minutes, stretching, running a couple miles, and doing some light lifting. The workout gets the blood going and keeps the negative thoughts away. After the gym, I shower and get ready.
Next I’ll meditate for about twenty minutes, after which I will write down the top few items I need to get done for the day. By this time it is about 10:00am, and I make a cup of coffee and get to work. I try to spend my first two working hours on the one task that is going to require the most mental energy. That typically involves writing, content creation, or some other form of “creating.”
I use the Sleep Cycle app to wake up between 4:30-5:00am. The app determines when my sleep is the lightest, and gently wakes me up sometime in that window.
Upon rising I grab my phone and head downstairs to make Bulletproof Coffee. While the water is heating up I’ll grind the coffee and prepare the French press and blender. I’ll also open up my IHOPKC app which streams live music from the International House of Prayer in Kansas City.
When the coffee is ready I go into my office to pray. As the coffee works its magic on my body, the music helps my mind and spirit prepare for the day ahead.
During the next 45-60 minutes I’ll journal and pray about what’s most concerning on me. Depending on how long it takes for me to be settle and present, I’ll pray longer or shorter. I will also read 1-2 devotionals from the YouVersion Bible app to get some guidance and encouragement.
Eventually the coffee and prayer will have done their job. Next I’ll begin gathering my clothes and computer to head out for a morning run.
Between my home and my office lies a very nice desert trail. Since I first found it a few months ago, it’s become my go-to place for running. A full loop is about seven and a half miles, though lately I’m only doing about 4-5 miles. While I run, I will also have an audiobook or podcast playing. I often find myself stopping mid-run to write down notes or ideas from the run and whatever I’m listening to.
Finally, I head to a gym conveniently located in the same parking lot as my office. Sometimes I’ll do a little weights, but normally I just shower, dress, order a protein shake, and step across the way to work.
I usually wake up between 6:00 and 6:30am. I drink a glass of water, check my personal email, and sometimes scroll through Instagram.
I’ll then get up and go for a thirty-minute jog along San Francisco’s Embarcadero waterfront. If I need a bit of extra sleep and end up sleeping in until 6:30am, I skip the jog and do a five-minute ab workout instead.
After I exercise, I shower, have coffee, and eat breakfast. Then I get ready for work and am out the door at about 7:20am. I catch the bus or cable car and am in the lab by 8:00am.
I wake up before 7:00am. The very first thing that I do is reach for my phone and check news, social updates, etc. It’s how I ease into my day – checking up on what’s going on in the world and in my digital community. I don’t check email until I’m up and at my computer (more on this below!).
My husband is a stay-at-home dad and the primary caregiver in our household, so he’s usually up and about first, getting the kids ready for school. Most mornings I bring my laptop to the kitchen table and have it open to get through email and review my calendar while helping Kyle get the kids ready. (I should put “help” in quotes. He does pretty much all of the work. I sometimes help by looking for socks or for the hairbrush or just by providing nagging support).
I do a hard and fast scan of email before 8:00am so that I can identify anything that might affect my day and (ideally) get some responses out before I’m swamped by work. This coincides precisely with the most chaotic hour in our household, so it’s not a perfect system. On a good morning, by the time the kids leave for school, I’ll have dealt with at least half of the emails that have come in since or are outstanding from the previous day.
Kyle leaves with the kids shortly after 8:00am, and their departure is my cue to get down to serious work. I started my own company last year, and this year I am launching a pretty big project that requires a tremendous amount of time and energy (as these things do!), while still handling a number of clients; therefore, every minute of productive time counts. I try to take advantage of the time between 8:00am and 10:00am, when the flow of emails/texts/calls is lightest, for dedicated, productive work. I put my phone in another room, keep my calendar clear, and try to stay focused for at least those two hours.
I generally wake up at 6:00am and immediately drink a tall glass of water. I find this helps get my metabolism going and wakes me up.
From there I’ll check email on my phone while I make coffee to get a sense of whether or not there are any urgent things that need to be handled. I might take 10-15 minutes to respond to a few emails while I wake up.
From there I’ll spend 60-90 minutes doing something very creative. I find this is the stuff that can get pushed if I let it, so I try and get it out of the way as quickly as possible. This is almost always writing (and occasionally video editing).
The success of my business over the long term directly relates to how much content I’m able to put out. So having this sacred time to write and create has been a big reason for my success. This could be in the form of marketing emails, premium products, or blog content.
Once I notice my mind starting to wander (again, usually between 60-90 minutes) I’ll make breakfast, which is usually eggs, vegetables, and possibly bacon. If I’m in a hurry I’ll make a green smoothie.
After breakfast I get to inbox zero, so I don’t have those notes hanging over me for the rest of the day. Then I’ll usually go for a run or head to the gym late morning to early afternoon when I find myself needing to get away from my computer.
Also, once a week I’ll usually shake things up and go play a round of golf first thing in the morning. I’ll be the first one on the course (usually around 7:00am) and can play 18 holes in under 2.5 hours. This has me back at my desk by 10:00am, feeling refreshed and ready to get after it.
I wake up at 5:30am Monday through Friday and grab a piece of fruit and a glass of water. I head to my local Severna Park Community Center where I meet typically 15-25 young men and women seeking to serve their country or community in the military, police, or fire fighter professions.
This is my Heroes of Tomorrow fitness group. A free program for anyone who wants to serve. Most of my group are seeking Special Ops programs in their near future (Navy SEAL, Army Special Forces, Air Force Pararescue, Marines, SWAT) so it is rather advanced in time and intensity. They keep me young and in a never ending supply of workout partners.
We start training at 6:00am. Depending upon the time of year, we do a variety of exercises, cardio events, and skills specific to the group’s future training and testing elements. For more than fifteen years now I have been cycling different elements of fitness throughout my year in order to not solely focus too much on any one thing.
The easier running part of the workout comes in the middle of winter and the toughest part is in the summer. Winter workouts do not mean you do nothing - they are just easier in time involvement, mileage, and repetition than the summer season.
- 1st Quarter: Calisthenics and cardio workouts.
- 2nd Quarter: Calisthenics and cardio workouts (advanced).
- 3rd Quarter: Calisthenics, weights, and cardio workouts.
- 4th Quarter: Near 100% weights, less running more non-impact cardio workouts.
Our workouts take an hour in the weight room in the winter or outside running and doing calisthenics in the summer. We also swim every day after the hour resistance training, as we have many future Navy SEALs, Air Force Pararescue (PJs), and Marine Corps Force Reconnaissances who need to master swimming long distances with fins (Stew’s workouts are broken down in detail below, ed.).
So in a nutshell, I work out from 6-8:00am Monday through Friday (on Saturday mornings we meet at 8:00am and usually run or lift, depending upon the season). By 8:00am on weekdays, I start writing. As a fitness writer, I get many of my ideas from my morning workouts.
My first alarm goes off at 5:30am, and I promptly snooze it. My second one (which I have in case I accidentally turn off, instead of snooze, the first - it’s happened a few times) goes off at 5:35am. I used to alternate snoozing each one, which drove my husband nuts, but now he’s in a job where he gets much less sleep, so the guilt of waking him up keeps me awake in bed until 5:34am, when I turn off both alarms and drag myself out of bed. No snoozing anymore.
We have a motion-activated nightlight, so I use that to guide me to the bathroom, where I take my daily pills, use the toilet, and sneak out of the room as quietly as possible.
I have an eight-month-old son and am back at work, so I need to pump multiple times a day in order to continue to feed him breast milk. The first session of the day is from around 5:45-6:00am, right after I wake up. I try to set up everything the night before so that I don’t have to fumble around with tubes and bottles in the morning. I got into the habit of sitting on the ground in the living room during my morning sessions because, when we moved into our place in February, we didn’t have any furniture. Even though we do now, the habit’s stuck, so that’s where you’ll find me. Once I’m all set up, I spend the next fifteen minutes browsing my phone, which helps wake me up. My go-to reads are: The Daily Skimm, The New York Times Morning Briefing, Big Spaceship’s Internet Brunch, and Pocket’s recommended reads.
When I’m done, I clean everything up, put the milk in the fridge, get my gym clothes on, and stop by my son’s room to say goodbye (even though he’s usually sound asleep and won’t wake up for another 1-2 hours). I arrange my day so I can spend time with him after work in the evenings for about two hours before he goes to bed (around 7:30pm), when I’m best able to focus 100% on him, rather than trying to see him in the morning when I’m distracted and rushing around getting ready. I also find that I’m a calmer, more patient mom when I’ve had my morning routine.
I then grab all my stuff and head out the door. I prepare everything I need (gym clothes, work clothes, work bag, pumping gear, etc.) the night before so I don’t have to worry about it in my early morning state of delirium. While driving to work, I listen to NPR. My morning commute takes about twenty minutes, so I usually get through the day’s national news, plus Morning Edition.
Once I arrive I work out for 45 minutes at my company’s gym, alternating days between cardio and strength training. I then shower, get ready (while listening to an audiobook; right now it’s Stephen King’s 11/22/63) and am at my desk by 8:30am with a cup of decaf coffee (I switched from regular while pregnant and realized I didn’t really need the caffeine), and a bowl of fruit with greek yogurt, and egg whites.
I’ll open up my laptop to begin work, and that’s where the routine ends.
I wake up between 8:00 and 8:30am, depending on what time I go to bed. I care less about the wake-up time than about the number of hours slept - I calculate my alarm time based on multiples of 90 minutes, which is the average length of a sleep cycle. If I have no constraints on time, I’ll set my alarm for eight hours after I go to bed, which is five sleep cycles (seven and a half hours of sleep) and thirty minutes of padding to fall asleep. If I can’t fit in eight hours, then I’ll knock it back to six and a half, then five, and so on.
I’ve found it to be much, much easier to wake up if I follow these sleep cycles, even though it seems to defy logic to get six hours of sleep instead of seven.
Once I do wake up, though, I’m usually pretty alert and I check in on my email/notifications to make sure that nothing needs my attention. After that I’ll get out of bed, tend to the plants in the house, and start some coffee. I’ve started doing stretches in the morning lately; it feels nice to wake up my body as well as my mind. Once the coffee is ready, I usually read through Twitter for a bit, and then bring the coffee back to bed. My boyfriend gets home on the later side, so waking up together and hanging out in bed for a half hour is a nice way for us to spend time together.
I wake up around 7:00am every morning, stirred not by an alarm clock but by the rustling of our dog, who is looking to go out, take a walk, and get fed. My wife either stays in bed or gets up to feed our infant son as I get up and take our dog for a run or a walk through the neighborhood or parks near our home. By 8:00am, I’ve either stopped at a coffee shop near our home or I’m making coffee at home, measuring and grinding the beans and heating up the water for our Chemex. As I make coffee and feed our dog, I listen to podcasts, usually news shows from NPR, the BBC, and Monocle.
After the coffee is done and I’ve had a quick bite, and I’ve said hello and spent some time with my son, I’m typically out the door to the gym to lift with my trainer or off to start the workday at my home office or at a local coffee shop. The key for me is that I don’t schedule things in the mornings. No breakfasts, no calls, no meetings.
In between that morning bliss, of course, comes email. I check my phone first thing when I wake up to review my email, checking in on any purchases or questions from customers for Foresight and trying to answer anything that can be immediately addressed. Many of my customers are based in Europe or Australia and I want to catch them during their workdays and respond to questions that they’ve likely asked hours ago while I was asleep. I squeeze in email as I get ready to take out my dog; I get a couple emails done while I’m making coffee; and before I leave for the gym, I work on sending emails about things I thought about during my morning dog walk.
I don’t have sharp rules about focusing on me and what I want to get done first thing in the day. Being quick to respond to questions is so ingrained in how I think about email; to me, it’s not a chore but a major form of communication.
I normally wake up around 7:00am, when my one-year-old daughter Chloe starts chatting in her crib. I then prepare breakfast for the two of us and we eat together (she has just recently been able to feed herself with a spoon).
This is one of the best moments of the day. I might play with her for a while until the nanny arrives. If I don’t work out that day, I might jump to the desktop for thirty minutes to work on my next book. After that, I have a shower and head to work.
I am gently awakened between 6:30 and 7:00am in the morning by the sweet calls of the downy-throated songbirds welcoming me into a new day. I arise and dine on a firm scramble of eggs, laid at dawn by my cluck of heirloom chickens, and sip coffee from the rarest Kopi Luwak bean, harvested deep in the Sumatran jungle.
So after that… you can imagine that I flit to my desk and dip the nib of my fountain pen in the corner inkwell, and the marketing insights spill out of me onto the page with the same intensity as the yolks of those heirloom eggs as they spread across my breakfast plate.
Or: I’m woken by a small furry dog sniffing around my head because her breakfast is late. Again.
Still groggy, I sit down at my computer and force myself awake by slugging coffee. Mornings are actually my least favorite time of day, although I feel sheepish sharing that here.
At some point during the first few morning hours, I wander to my backyard Tiny House. It’s really a tiny office. But it’s a dedicated space that helps me focus and do the work I need to get done. I do my best writing there.
I actually have zero chickens and no songbirds, in case anyone is wondering.
I get up around 3:45am so that I can start writing at 4:00am. Writing articles and books is my number one priority (after petting my dog, Bally, good morning), and on a good day I finish 1,500 words in sixty minutes.
The early morning hours are my most creative and productive, and I refer to them as my “magic time.” Everyone has a “magic time” during the day when they are 3-5 times more productive, efficient, creative, and energetic than they are at any other point in the day.
I encourage everyone to keep a time and energy journal for each day, tracking when you are most creative and productive. You’ll quickly identify your magic time, and then it’s up to you to ruthlessly protect it from others and leverage it so that you get ahead in life.
Once I’m done writing, I meditate, walk Bally the dog, exercise, and have breakfast (or have breakfast and then exercise, depending on the day). If I’m in Denver, I head to our EarlyToRise.com office for marketing meetings and employee coaching. If I’m at home (near Toronto, Canada), I get in two more hours of writing before the team gets to the office.
First things first: I’m on the go to at least twenty countries each year, in addition to traveling more than 100,000 miles domestically. At the moment, I’m kicking off a thirty-city book tour that has me waking up in a different place nearly every day for five weeks. Therefore, sometimes there’s not a routine, or at least the routine varies greatly by time zone.
I was recently in Jakarta, Indonesia, and ended up working a modified night shift for most of the week. I worked on my projects through the night, woke up for “morning coffee” at 2:00pm in the afternoon, and then everything was pushed back from there. It felt a little disorienting because I’d show up at the hotel restaurant for “lunch” around 10:00pm, right before they closed for the night. Then I’d have “dinner” during normal breakfast hours before falling asleep as the sun rose.
However, let’s talk about the normal routine when I’m home in Portland, Oregon, or at least on the road in the United States or Canada. I try to wake up early, usually around 5:30 or 6:00am. I drink two glasses of water right away. I make my first cup of coffee and spend twenty minutes catching up on the news and seeing if anything urgent came into my inbox or social feeds during the night. Then I make a shift—I shower, head to my office by Uber or Lyft while picking up breakfast along the way, and get down to more “real work.”
When I’m writing a book, I try to spend at least two hours every morning working on it. I often have interviews or calls, usually at least 1-2 a day and sometimes more, and typically 1-2 meetings as well. But, as much as possible, I try to reserve 8-11:00am for my own independent work. I drink sparkling water and listen to ambient music while I plow through my list of tasks and projects.
6:45am: I wake up without an alarm. My lady and I thankfully live in an apartment which has a lot of light so we wake up a bit after the sun does. We are both morning people so even on weekends we’re out of bed before 7:30.
6:50am: We’re recent dog-owners, so one of us takes our little pup outside to relieve himself.
7:30am: For most of my adult life I did not eat breakfast. Only in the last two years I’ve made eating breakfast a habit. On weekdays I value a breakfast that is low-effort, repeatable, and healthy. On weekends I often take the time to make a more involved breakfast.
7:45am: After we’ve had breakfast we walk to the gym. The walk takes about fifteen minutes. The positive impact of working out in the morning is incredible. Having a partner who also values going to the gym helps to make it routine.
8:45am: On mornings where I work out I get ready for the day at the gym, so post-workout I’ll walk to my office space.
For the past two years (basically since my kids started consistently sleeping through the night), I’ve set my alarm for 6 or 6:15am.
If it’s my turn to work out (my husband and I rotate) then I’ll go to the gym or run outside. If it’s his turn, I’ll usually stay in bed and go through emails and read on my phone until 7:00am. I used to think I would spend that hour writing and thinking big thoughts but my brain doesn’t function that early. Or rather, it functions just enough to delete and respond to emails efficiently.
Between 7 and 7:30am I get myself ready (shower, get dressed, use dry shampoo ‘cause I’m lazy), and then at 7:30am it’s time to rouse the kids, get them dressed/fed, and out the door by 8:10am. We have a three block walk to school which is a total luxury. Most days I’ll then jump on the subway headed for Manhattan and WNYC. On Fridays, I work from home.
I usually wake up around 6:00am but I get out of bed around 7:30. From there, I allow myself twenty minutes of silence or a light meditation using an app called Headspace. That app has been a huge help for me to prepare for the day and to assess the projects I have on my plate. In this time, I hone in on what tasks I absolutely want to complete by day’s end and how best to accomplish them.
Meditation is easily my favorite part of the morning because I’m deliberately setting the tone for what I’d like to accomplish. Following that I take a sip of Alpha Brain Instant as an alternative to coffee to kickstart my brain, read my emails, shower, get dressed, feed my two dogs Alex and Camilla (yes they have people names, I’m that type of owner) and head out the door.
On the way to work, I’m usually listening to an audiobook, one of my favorites right now is Creativity and Problem Solving by Brian Tracy. If you find me riding on Bart (Bay Area Rapid Transit, or the train as we call it), you will notice me reading articles or on Dribbble viewing other brilliant creatives.
Once I arrive in San Francisco, I stop for a light breakfast and enjoy a glass of Earl Grey tea and head into the office.
I set my alarm the night before between 6:47 and 7:11am; always some odd time depending on how late I go to sleep and how early I have to be at work or a breakfast meeting.
After waking up I immediately put on my workout gear, go to the bathroom, then grab a laptop to write in my journal. I disconnect from the internet and write for about thirty minutes. I’ve found that any hint of Wi-Fi or email and I don’t get any writing done.
The writing varies, but I’d say about four times a week I write about what’s going on in my life. Either a reflection and evaluation or making a plan and analyzing things to come. One day a week I like to have something blog-worthy, usually about creative process or job strategy or cultural trends, depending on what happened that week. Nobody really reads my blog, but getting in the habit of writing every day and blogging once a week has held me accountable to become a better writer.
From there, I do about ten minutes of email which usually includes a little bit of news checking and then I’m off to the gym by 8 or 8:15am. After about an hour of weightlifting or cardio, I shower at the gym, and eat a light breakfast I’ve packed. I’m usually in the office by 9:30am.
I usually wake up between 6 and 6:30am. I live in New York City, so I have blackout curtains to keep my room pitch black, and a sunrise alarm clock brings enough brightness into the room to slowly wake me up.
After waking up, I make a cup of coffee (Keurig), turn on an acoustic playlist that plays in all the Sonos speakers throughout the apartment, and then spend 30-60 minutes reading non-fiction on my Kindle. Usually it’s a book on management, leadership, personal development, or behavioral psychology.
I try to spend those 30-60 minutes sitting in various positions (chair, squat, split stretch) to work on my mobility. I then use the Headspace app to meditate for fifteen minutes, seated comfortably on my couch.
Next, I sit down at my computer and try to write uninterrupted for 2-3 hours: my phone is in Do Not Disturb mode, I’m signed out of my team chat program, I have activated Freedom so all time-wasting websites are blocked, and my favorite playlist on Spotify (a series of vocal trance mixes) is on.
Four days a week, between 10-11:00am, I’ll head to the gym to do a sixty-minute strength training routine, followed by lunch, and then I’ll check in with my team and start my afternoon.
My mornings are all about efficiency. My team starts practice at 6:00am. It’s my job to make sure that my body and mind are ready to go, which is not always easy to accomplish so early! I actually have two morning routines that I use to prepare: one for home and one for the boathouse.
At home, my alarm goes off at 4:35am. I hit snooze, climb out of bed to put on my heart rate monitor, then immediately climb back in. For about the next fifteen minutes (two snooze cycles) I measure my resting heart rate and heart rate variability using BioForce HRV and simultaneously try to get a few more minutes of sleep. Bioforce generates a “readiness score” based on my heart rate measurements. Assuming the score shows I’m recovered and ready to train, I get up for a second time, make the bed, take a hot shower and throw on my gear for practice.
After that I head into the kitchen, have a glass water, make coffee and mix my pre-workout drink. Starbucks VIA microground coffee is my go-to before practice. It’s super easy and I love the Columbia roast. My pre-workout drink changes but almost always includes a SuperStarch, which is a type of carbohydrate and great source of energy for practice.
There’s plenty of time to sit with my coffee and pre-workout fuel at home but I get anxious to get to the boathouse, so at this point I head out the door. Ideally, it’s about 5:25am. Once there, I’ll sit in the car for five to ten minutes, have my coffee and pre-workout, and get my head ready to train. For whatever reason, it calms me to arrive extra early and have those minutes to myself in the car.
I head inside at about 5:40am and at this point, routine number two begins! Recovery drink in the fridge. Backpack in the locker room. Gather the rest of the gear I need for morning. Then into the weight room to start my mobility and dynamic warm-up routine.
My alarm goes off at 6:00am. I tell myself that I am going to wake up and start writing before my kids wake up. But really, I never write at the same time every day. If I did, then surely I’d have more regular posts on my blog. Which I have never been able to do, despite wanting and promising myself and my editor that I will. Instead, I spend thirty minutes thinking about my to-do list and making a plan for the day.
While the kids do chores around the house I send emails. Anything that I need to get done today must get done now. In this half-hour.
Right now I have a list of emails I have to write. One to a venture capitalist looking at my next business to maybe fund it. One to my prospective business partner to tell her I don’t want to be partners. One to my friend Melissa, to tell her I think I will die trying to do a new business and maintain the life I have now.
I cook breakfast while I do emails. I burn stuff. Every time.
5:45am: I wake up and walk to Playlist Yoga, a yoga studio that’s about six minutes from my house.
It’s usually dark outside and I’m the only person on the street, except a few cars. I’m barely awake during the walk, but it’s one of my favorite parts of the day.
Going to yoga before work has changed my life. When most people are starting to wake up, I already feel like I accomplished something. It’s a pretty awesome feeling.
7:00am: After yoga, I either walk to Alfred Coffee for coffee or a place called Beaming for a smoothie. I try to avoid coffee before breakfast so I usually go for the smoothie. And that’s my breakfast.
7:30am: I walk home and read the the Financial Times for 10-15 minutes. The act of receiving a physical newspaper reminds me that there is much more happening in the world outside of tech. I feel inspired when I read a physical paper. It’s definitely my guilty pleasure.
8:00am: At 8:00am, I focus on learning new things. My New Year’s resolution this year is to become a mobile designer. I recently started doing a Daily UI Challenge every morning before work each day to improve my skills.
I try to finish each design challenge in one hour and I immediately post them on Dribbble, no matter how they look. Showing my work to the world before I “finish” is a rush and the feedback keeps me motivated.
9:00am: I wrap up my design work and drive to work. I usually listen to NBA Radio or CNBC during the drive. My office is five minutes from my home which isn’t enough time for a podcast. I wish I spent more time exploring podcasts before work. But I’ve never really had to deal with Los Angeles traffic so I’m a happy guy.
Every day is totally different. Because I travel a lot for work, and because my workdays are always different, having a routine really means fitting things in around everything else.
If I have an early call time (any time before 6:00am) I usually wake up just five minutes before, pull on clothes, and dash out. If it’s later than that I’ll wake up leaving enough time to have tea, breakfast, and read a few long form articles or part of a book. I use an app called Pocket to save articles (and as of a week ago, share my favorites).
Writing always feels like a gift, I adore being inside someone else’s thoughtfulness, and half the time it inspires me to write a little. Usually at this point I’m on my way to work, but I’ll write on my phone and email it to an account I have just for my own writing and notes.
How you wake up is how your day will start. If you always start it with a positive mindset, you will have a positive day. It’s all about attitude!
My alarm goes off at 4:00am every morning. I take about ten minutes to lay in bed and actually wake up. I drink one full bottle of water (500ml); I always keep two bottles readily available because I get extremely thirsty throughout the night and into the morning. I tell my boyfriend “Good morning, I love you,” because you should always start your day by reminding a loved one that they are loved.
I then get out of bed, head over to my yoga mat, and do some light stretching, before doing two sets of twenty push-ups. This gets my breathing in place and my mind focused. It also warms and wakes my body up. After I’ve done that, I brush my teeth.
I usually wake up around 8:30am. I am a huge believer in getting at least eight hours of sleep, ideally a little more, so if I go to bed late I’m never ashamed of sleeping in.
My routine consists of six steps: I (1) make my bed, (2) meditate, (3) make coffee, (4) perform my face ritual, (5) read, and (6) journal.
Make my bed: I start the day by making my bed, because several studies show the benefit of starting your day out with one, simple, accomplishment. The military and other groups use this psychological tool as well. It’s shocking how much better you feel when you start your day with a tidy sleeping area. I do this no matter where I am: my home, in a hotel, or sleeping on a friend’s couch.
Meditation: I meditate for fifteen minutes each day. It’s hard. I haven’t fully gotten the hang of it yet, but I am trying to be consistent as I see great results when I practice it “religiously”.
Make coffee: Simple, to the point. Making coffee for me feels like the day has begun, and I love the smell.
Face ritual: I use only Korean skin care products. I believe in their philosophy of using a seven to ten process each morning. I call it my morning ritual. Not only does it leave my skin looking dewy, but it feels very therapeutic when done consistently. There is more about Korean beauty rituals here.
Read: I set aside this time to peruse whatever I want. It could be a novel I’m halfway done with, a backlog of internet articles I want to get to, or something else that has caught my attention. I usually set aside thirty minutes for this, but let the natural flow of things dictate the amount of time I spend. Sometimes it’s shorter, sometimes it’s longer. Reading in the morning, before doing anything reactive, seems to kickstart my creativity for the next step.
Journal: I write out what I want to achieve in the day, rewrite the affirmations that are sitting in the forefront of my mind, or work on a blog post or some other creative thing, if I feel inspired. From this step, I can enter reactive mode if need be while feeling intentional.
I don’t sleep much and I have no real routine. There are months where I’ll only sleep 3-5 hours a night. Others I’ll sleep a good 5-7.
Sometimes I have trouble falling asleep. Other times I have trouble staying asleep. I travel constantly and the jet lag doesn’t really help with this. These days I’m often asleep by midnight and up again by 4:00am.
I wake up every morning at approximately 6:00am. I say “approximately” because sometimes I don’t actually fully wake up or get out of bed until 6:30 or 7:00. But my alarm goes off every day at 6:00am.
Once I’m up I make the bed if it’s my turn (my wife and I have a chore chart to make sure we get stuff done around the house, and every other week it’s my turn to make the bed). Then I get dressed (sometimes to work out if I’m headed out for a run or to the gym) and go downstairs for coffee. I am lucky because my wife made a vow to me on our wedding day that she would make me coffee every morning for the rest of my life (as long as she is able). And she’s stuck to her promise! So I come downstairs to freshly brewed coffee every day!
I also eat a small breakfast, like toast or a little cereal. While I eat, I check email to see if there is anything urgent and I make my to-do list for the day. I have breakfast clean up every other week, so sometimes I wash and dry dishes and wipe down the kitchen counters.
Then, several days a week, I head to the gym, swimming pool, or out for a run. Exercise is what really wakes me up and gets me ready for my work day. After my workout, I head back home, get myself dolled up for the day, and get to work. Part of my routine is getting dressed as if I am going to leave my house for my job. My studio is on my property at home, so I don’t really leave. But I find that getting dressed into a nice outfit like I would if I was going to an office or retail job (and out of my pajamas or workout clothes) helps me feel much better about my day, even though sometimes the only person who sees me is my wife.
I typically wake up around 8:30am. My morning routine is to exercise and answer email, then shower, get dressed, and walk to work. My home on Capitol Hill is about thirty minutes from my office in downtown Seattle. From there, I usually have meetings fill up the rest of my morning.
That said, because I travel ~100 days per year, my routine is often thrown off in different cities, time zones, and by the demands of meetings and conferences and hotel rooms. I’d say the routine above is only right for about half of my year.
My morning routine usually looks like this: I wake up at 5:30am and spend the next 2-3 hours fueling my body, brain, heart, and soul. After getting dressed and drinking a glass of water, I gather my notebook, a pen, my iPhone, and more water and head up to the gym in our apartment complex. I write a few pages of thoughts and ideas, anything on my mind really. Then I sit quietly in meditation, take a few minutes to stretch, or do a few yoga poses and then jump on the elliptical or treadmill. I keep an eye on the windows and when it starts to get light, I take a few minutes to admire our mountains, or run up to the roof for the sunrise. Afterwards, I come back to my apartment, make breakfast, and read.
It’s crazy, years ago I never would have considered putting myself first, but after a scary MS diagnosis in 2006, I finally had permission. At first I thought it would take away from giving everyone else what they needed, but I was actually able to take better care of everyone else because I was taking such good care of myself. Now when I’m tempted to skip my morning routine or another form of self-care, I remind myself that I can better serve the people I love and the projects I care about when I start with me.
My morning routine is holistic and has four essential components. The details will vary, but the components are constant and critical input to my happiness. The components (examples in parentheses) are:
- Energy: Eat something, drink something.
- Body: Workout (usually high intensity).
- Mind: Play piano, meditate.
- Soul: Connect to purpose, be grateful, feed cats, kiss wife.
Ideally, I wake up around 6:30am. Special shoutout to Rufus, my cat, who is remarkable about waking me up at the same time daily.
My routine can take anywhere from thirty minutes to two hours. My general goal is to always answer “yes” to the following question: If the day were to end after my routine, would it be a successful and fulfilling day?
The idea of waking up even earlier is exciting for me and what I think I could accomplish, but I’ve not been able to do that consistently.
These days, mornings begin with the alarm on my phone going off somewhere between 7 and 7:30am. I turn it off, pull aside the blackout curtain, and check the weather. I might also take stock of the emails and texts that came in overnight, but I won’t respond to any of them. I lie back down, close my eyes, and breathe deeply for a few minutes.
This has become more and more important to me as my days become more complex and busy here in New York City. I don’t try to think about anything, but if I end up thinking, that’s okay too. If I’m thinking, it’s usually about the crazy dreams I had, or the big day I have coming up. This time usually serves as brain cleaning - shakes off the cobwebs from the night, and prepares me mentally for what I need to get accomplished this day.
I get up and make coffee. While the water boils, I take a quick shower; I come back and grind the beans, make the coffee, and go get dressed while it steeps in the French press. I’m fairly low-maintenance - no hair or makeup, and my uniform is jeans. This is definitely different if I’ve got a big rehearsal, performance, or audition that day. I’ll add a half hour or so here to get dolled up, if that’s the case. But I find that this process stays very minimal and no-fuss if I do it like this - I’m ready in fifteen minutes.
I’ve usually made a to-do list for the day the night before, and left my materials for the day ready to be packed into my backpack. This could comprise a quantity of music scores, recording equipment, or documents for one of my admin gigs; it always includes a selection of things to read, be they for research or pleasure. While I drink my first cup of coffee, I’ll read my to-do list and think about what’s on it. I’ll double-check I’ve got everything, pack it up, and pack my lunch into my lunch bag (usually leftovers and a few pieces of fruit, some nuts, some chocolate…). These days, I’ve been taking my breakfast along too - unless I’m ravenous, I prefer to eat a little later in the day. I’ll also take my second cup of coffee in a travel mug.
I walk to the train, maybe dropping things in the mailbox on the way, and once I’m on the platform, I get out something to read, and maybe a banana. My train time is spent alternately drinking coffee, lost in thought; and reading. My train time, like so many New Yorkers, is my time. I almost never work on the train, I prefer to keep it for reading or introspection.
I walk to work - usually the office, but sometimes to a church service (where I serve as a chorister), or to a rehearsal for a gig. Once I’m there, I’m plugged into my day - so by then, I want to have a firm handle on how the day will pan out and what I need to get accomplished for my jobs and for myself, personally and creatively. My morning routine is all about taking stock, affirmation, and physical/mental preparation.
My morning usually starts around 7:45-8:00am. I sit in bed for a minute, check my text messages and Instagram feed, then I stumble out of bed towards my hot water kettle, flip it on, and head to the bathroom.
After that I head back to the kitchen to finish making coffee: French press, four minutes, with unsweetened almond milk. While still in my pajamas, I spend about five or ten minutes setting up my planner for the day. I write down three quick goals for the day (or life, or whatever), glance at the previous day’s to-dos, my monthly schedule, and jot down everything I have to do or think about for the day. I use a bullet journal system in a Midori, so I have to create the day’s page every morning.
I give myself an hour in the morning for reading and coffee in my pajamas. I realized a while ago that I would spend a lot of time throughout the day going off on internet scavenger hunts, so I decided to save all the interesting articles I saw throughout the day in Evernote and just read them the next morning over coffee during a designated block of time. This has helped me be really productive and more focused during my work throughout the day. Also, because of Evernote I don’t feel like something on the internet might get lost again, so I don’t have to take the time to know right that second and I can just wait until tomorrow to read it. I guess it’s a practice in delayed gratification that pays off in greater productivity.
Most mornings as I read I compile a reading list that I post on my Facebook and my Tumblr. I started doing that pretty recently. I figured I may as well try to curate the best things I read for everyone out there since the people who I’m linked to on social media might have the same interests. I also keep a commonplace book in my Midori so I write down things that I want to remember, or bits of wisdom I want to incorporate into my life. I think those are two ways of processing information for me and they help me sort out what’s important and worth remembering, and what’s not.
That ends promptly at 9:00am regardless of whether or not I’ve finished everything I’ve saved to read. I’ll then change into clothes to work out.
After I work out I shower, get dressed, and then I make a quick breakfast around 10:00am. It’s usually fried eggs or an omelette and an apple, and I sit down for a devotional while I eat. I read my Bible and pray (I actually type my prayers because I’m so unfocused). It’s something I have to do to keep from wandering away from my devotional and breakfast. I’m pretty unfocused in general so I’ve put a lot of things into place in my life to make it easier for me to focus on things for longer stretches.
After that my working day starts, at around 10:30am.
The very first thing I do in the morning is jump out of bed, turn on all of the lights, and throw open the curtains letting in a flood of sunlight. I stand with an open window, on the porch or balcony, letting the sunlight wake me up and charge me up for the day ahead.
If I’m somewhere private, I’ll stand there completely naked with my arms in the air like a Roman gladiator after he conquered the world. It’s a strange sight to see and I feel bad for my neighbors, but when you wake up ready to take over the world you create the momentum to get it started.
After a few solid minutes, I drink a glass of water with a spoon full of pink himalayan sea salt, and I take a few drops of liquid vitamin D. Even though I get more sun than 99% of people I know (since I live in Thailand and spend half of my time on beaches), I was still low in vitamin D, so get tested if you’re unsure. I also take a mega dose of vitamin D if I’m feeling a cold coming as it helps boost your immune system.
I’ll then leave my house as quickly as possible, plug in my headphones, and listen to Grant Cardone’s audiobook, The 10X Rule, while walking to the coworking space as it pumps me up for the day.
I’ve realized that the more time I spend in my house in the morning, the less productive I am for the rest of the day, so I try to prepare as many things as possible before bed like packing my laptop in my backpack, making sure all of my dishes are washed, and anything else that would normally take even a few minutes in the morning. The only thing left to do in the morning is quickly making my bed as it’s become a positive habit for me. Even though we can’t control what happens the rest of the day, at least the first thing we do and the first thing we see when we get home isn’t a mess.
I have multiple online businesses, two dropshipping based e-commerce stores, a few books, two blogs, an online course, and a podcast, so I segment my mornings to do the most important tasks that make me the most money first. Here’s a daily work routine and success habits if you’re interested. Someone commented asking me how they could start as my routine seems so intense, but honestly, it’s more about taking away things that are a waste of time rather than adding them, and once I started getting positive results from having a kick ass morning routine, it just became easier and easier.
I try to wake up between 5-5:30am every morning, with this time fluctuating a little bit depending on what time I went to bed the night before (I aim to get at least seven hours of sleep each night).
Upon waking, I usually go to the kitchen, make coffee, and light a candle. I take 15-30 minutes to feel my soul with Bible reading, praying, and writing in my gratitude journal. Next, I tackle a few of the most important blogging and business tasks for the day so that I have them out of the way first. I then get my energy up with a quick 10-20 minute jog, followed by a refreshing shower. I get dressed and ready for the day, start a load of laundry, unload the dishwasher, and then head to my office to do my live Morning Motivation Show on Periscope (usually around 7:30am).
I’m going to tell you about my ideal morning and let you know right away that I fall into short spurts where it falls apart, for various reasons, mostly to do with work or social things in the evening. But I always return back to this.
Step 1 - Wake up with the light, somewhere between 6-6:30am (in the winter I set the alarm for 6:30).
Step 2 - Drink water, meditate for fifteen minutes, and write down three things I am grateful for.
Step 3 - Prep breakfast (usually baked eggs, slide them into the oven).
Step 4 - Do my exercises (think, an adjusted 7-Minute Workout, for about twenty minutes).
Step 5 - Eat breakfast while looking through my calendar for the day.
Step 6 - Go to my office, a meeting, or a shoot, depending on the day.
My husband Alex and I wake up at 7:00am. Sometimes we snooze and cuddle for the next ten minutes. While we’re still in bed, we fill out our Five Minute Journals. They’re like a positive toothbrush for the mind and they always sets our day off to a great start.
Next, we spend 10-15 minutes meditating, followed by either yoga or a 7-Minute Workout, which gets us jumping and our hearts pumping.
I spend the next fifteen minutes doing my makeup and listening to an audiobook (right now I’m listening to The Mastery of Love by Don Miguel Ruiz, which is one of my all time favourite books), or one of my favourite podcasts (Tara Brach’s and Tim Ferriss’ are some of my favourites). In the meantime my husband Alex usually makes breakfast (yes, he is amazing!) Then, we have breakfast together and chat about our plans for the day. Once we’ve finished with breakfast, I wash the dishes and we head out to the office.
You can watch my weekday morning routine below:
My morning routine varies depending on where I am.
Barry, my beloved of 37 years, and I rent an apartment a block from the bay in Eureka, on California’s North Coast, and we also own an old adobe home in Guanajuato, a city at 7,000 feet in Mexico’s Central Highlands. In addition, we travel a lot, both in our Eurovan and internationally.
Wherever I am, I reach for the gin bottle, and enjoy a couple of tokes… oh wait, that was my dream. Sorry! Let’s try again…
I get up around 4:00am. In Eureka, I slide into our portable hot tub. I enjoy the silky, amniotic journey I take between sleep and wakefulness that eases any creakiness in my back.
Then it’s time to get serious: coffee, going online, reading my favorite blogs, writing or pitching article ideas to editors, and preparing material for any upcoming seminars I’m leading. Right now I’m developing materials for four very different programs, and I flip back and forth between them. A couple of times a week, around 5:00am my time, I call my 94-year-old dad on the East Coast. He’s one of my favorite people, a cheerful, spirited soul, and often gets me laughing.
At 5:30am I have an appointment to wake Barry. Per our agreement, I whisper, “Dreams,” to help him remember. I frankly resist waking him, because I feel an exuberant freedom being awake while he’s still asleep, so occasionally I cheat and wake him at 5:45, but usually I play fair. He starts his day walking to one of several nearby early-morning cafes, to give me space and because he does his best writing at that hour. Just before 6:00 I head over to the local co-op, two blocks from our apartment, where I can sometimes pick up a copy of yesterday’s unsold New York Times, for free.
In Mexico, my routine is similar, minus the hot tub, the co-op, and the newspaper. I often write morning pages (three pages of brain dump, inspired by Julia Cameron’s classic The Artist’s Way). When I’m at our Mexican home by myself, which happens a couple of times a year, on some mornings Barry and I will do a structured write together. He’ll be at a cafe, I’ll be at the table in our cocina (kitchen), and we’ll agree by email on a prompt. We each write for about fifteen minutes, then email the results to the other. A recent example: “If I were braver, I would…”
After years of trial and error, I’ve found that the first thirty minutes of my day have the biggest impact on how I feel for the rest of my waking hours. My morning routine gives me such a sense of gratitude and groundedness, that I actually start looking forward to it the night before!
Immediately upon waking up I say thank you. I open my eyes and take a moment to thank The Universe for another opportunity to live and breathe.
This doesn’t mean that every day I pretend life is perfect, or that there aren’t challenges, but I believe that no matter what is going on in life — be it a busy day ahead, or an unexpected life stressor — starting my day with gratitude immediately puts me in a frame of mind to embrace anything that lies ahead!
Next, I head to the kitchen, fill up a glass with warm water, and squeeze in half a lemon and a dash of cayenne pepper. This helps rev up my digestive system, detoxify my liver, and offers a boost of vitamin C first thing in the morning!
Afterwards, I caffeinate. Beyond a little “pick me up,” I simply love the taste of fresh brewed coffee. I drink 1-2 cups with unsweetened vanilla almond milk every morning. This is followed by a no-distraction dose of endorphins! Since my mid-twenties I’ve always enjoyed morning workouts, but they were often with a phone in my hand, answering email or texting. Removing distractions from your workout really helps us practice being present, and gives us a much deserved break from our sometimes seemingly endless connection to technology.
When I Rooster (meaning when I teach classes first thing in the morning), I eat after class, but I never skip breakfast! It’s an act of self-care to fuel your body with delicious and healthy nutrients! Green smoothies with rice protein and overnight oats are my favorite go-tos.
When I’m not teaching Roosters, I’ll journal first thing or meditate. When I Rooster, I still meditate, but it might be a moving meditation or a quick five minutes to clear my head and prepare for the day. When I journal, it’s a stream-of-consciousness mind dump that usually leads me to an intention for the day, rids my mind of any funk I need to process, or ends up being a spree in creativity.
Ritual is very important to me, but so is adventure. I’ve come to this realization over the last year, and it’s tough to balance the two. How do I inject a good amount of fear and creativity into my morning without losing all focus and structure? To deal with that, I try to keep my routine loose but with the same grounding elements: tea, learning something or expressing myself creatively, and walking my dog Bruce Wayne.
I always start my day by checking the time. I don’t usually use an alarm, and sometimes I’m surprised what time I wake up. It’s usually anywhere between 7:00 and 9:00am. I’ll get up and start the day, but my dog usually goes right back to bed.
I make chai tea that I buy from a local Seattle shop, Remedy Teas. I’ll heat up some baked oatmeal and then I sit at my kitchen window to drink my tea and listen to a podcast. This is a practice I picked up while living on farms in New Zealand for a year. I used to work beside the farm owners with the local radio playing over us all day. I moved from farm to farm in that year, but everyone seemed to do this. It kept people connected to the news, to music, and to the rest of the world from their tiny island.
After that, I will read a book or journal a bit until around 9:45-10:00am. That’s when my dog usually wakes up, shakes the sleep off, and stares at me with doe eyes until I take him for a walk. I leave my cell phone behind for these walks. I just try to get a handle emotionally on the day. If I bring my phone, my day no longer feels like mine. This keeps me present for all the demands that are to come as soon as I open my email and check my communities.
When I do finally start to work, I move to my office and begin deliberately. It’s like a switching on, and once I feel like I had that time to create for myself, I can give myself fully to my client work or community building.
In me you may have found the person who takes the longest in the morning. It usually takes me over two hours from the time I wake up until I leave my apartment for my studio.
My morning routine changes daily depending on whether I go out running or not, whether I have a lot of lunch preparation or not, etc. However, there are a few things I always follow: I have a real breakfast to start the day, or to break-fast, and I make this special vitamin C booster drink, though the recipe changes depending on the season.
The vitamin C booster drink is pretty good. Lots of fresh ginger grated, raw honey, propolis, and half a lemon or lime. In the summer, I add seltzer water in it, which makes it taste like homemade ginger ale. In the colder season, I add lukewarm water (so the good enzymes of the raw honey won’t be killed by heat), and it taste like ginger tea.
I started taking raw honey because my good friend and fellow illustrator Gary Taxali was on a raw diet about 6-7 years ago. When I told him how much I love honey, he told me to try raw honey, because it tastes even better. Which was very true. But the best part of taking raw honey almost every day for years was that it totally fixed my pollen allergies. From having to take medicine for one whole month to now, I may have a day or two in spring I may sneeze a lot, but that’s it. It’s nature’s miracles.
I have a weak throat, and in the winter I easily lose my voice from a sore throat. Because I teach (at the School of Visual Arts) I cannot afford to lose my voice. When I was in Italy for a business trip in the winter, I started losing my voice. A local took me to a pharmacy and introduced me to this magic thing called propolis. I have never not had a bottle of propolis in my medicine cabinet since then, and when I travel I take a small spray with me.
My studio is in midtown Manhattan where there aren’t many choices for a good lunch. On top of that, most of the places are overpriced. So, for the past five years or so, I’ve been bringing lunch from home almost every day. I usually cook a lot on the weekend that can be frozen, and take them to work to reheat throughout the week. I even steam tons of rice at once and saran-wrap them in one meal portions and keep them in the freezer. It’s an Asian rice hack that works great. I do prepare salads and vegetable dishes in the morning.
To keep myself healthy, I have slowly changed my habit to make lunch the biggest meal of the day. I eat very small dinners nowadays. But my lunch bag is packed with food: sometimes a few days of lunch at a time, so my morning commute looks like I just went on a big grocery shopping trip.
I wake up at 6:00am every day. I’ll very briefly check my email and Instagram newsfeed before taking a shower and brushing my teeth so that I can be out the door by 7:00am.
I put on my glasses and write in my Five Minute Journal (something new; I’m trying to start off the day with a little gratitude).
Next I put on my eyes (contacts) and face (makeup) and get dressed. Only then will I check Twitter and email for a couple of minutes. I keep my phone outside of the bedroom. Then it’s off for a walk with my dog Nuri.
When we get back, I feed Nuri and then I’ll usually make myself a green smoothie and a pot of tea. I’ll check on my plants (I’m trying to get better at taking care of them), then I figure out what work I have to do for the day. If I’m feeling particularly anxious, I might journal a bit or do a tarot reading to see what’s lurking in my subconscious.
I usually wake up around 6:00am. I’ll have some silent time to myself, I also keep a journal so some days I’ll write. I generally answer some emails and then I may cook breakfast or just eat fruit.
When I’m not photographing for hire I’m usually out the door by 7-7:30am with my camera in hand, ready to enjoy the day.
I get up between 4-6:00am in the morning, usually around 5:00am.
I use an alarm clock as an aid and a backup but I usually get up just before the alarm rings and spend 10-15 minutes resting and preparing to get up until the alarm goes off. The moments before fully getting up and jumping out of bed are really important to me. I say to myself ‘I am awake’ - and that goes to all levels of my being, not just the physical, but mental, emotional, and spiritual as well. I become aware of myself, stretch my body from head to toes, massage myself, take a deep breath, and then get out of bed.
In the bathroom I use cold water to make sure that all my senses are fully awake and in-tune. I wash my face, eyes, nose, mouth, ears, hands, and make sure some cold water gets to the feet as well to stimulate my nervous system.
Then I start my exercise routine with something called Mayan yoga, an ancient style of native South American exercises designed to consciously stretch, move, and stimulate the heart and mind, to make sure that the energy moves harmoniously. It is a combination of gentle stretches and some vigorous movement followed by a relaxation. After Mayan yoga, which takes about forty minutes, I do a series of sun salutations finishing with a meditation and prayer.
If I am not in a rush to leave and go somewhere that day, I will use the time ‘til 8 or 9:00 in the morning for studying business-unrelated things. Subjects that really interest me, but I would otherwise never find the time to learn. I use that time to learn to play instruments, read non-fiction books, study astrology, or go for a walk in nature.
If I’m in a rush to leave somewhere, yoga and my personal studies move to a later part of the day.
I’m usually up by around 7:00am on weekdays which gives me enough time to have breakfast, coffee, and to get ready for the day ahead.
If I’ve got to go into the office, there isn’t much time for me to dawdle, so I make sure to prepare everything I can the night before. I lay out what I’m wearing, which is usually interchanging the same shirts and trousers in different colours to save time, and I set up breakfast and my coffee machine so it’s ready to go at the push of a button.
I don’t put the TV on, although I might listen to some podcasts as I’m getting ready (Tim Ferriss’ is my favourite at the moment). Having a set routine where I do the same things at the same time every day is crucial to saving time and mental energy. I don’t want to use any of it up before I get to work!
My morning routine is pretty simple: wake up (usually by an alarm), prepare self for outside world by brushing/cleaning various things, and get my coffee. My first drink is almost always an espresso, shortly followed by lots of water. Then I get ready for the world, and work.
My current morning routine is determined by the cute but dictatorial whims of my six-month-old baby.
When I first started writing down my routine for this series, he had a bad habit of waking up around 3:30am to eat. I would get up and feed him, and then get back down by 4:15am. I would wake up for good around 6 or 6:30, shower, get dressed, and make my coffee. If the baby was back awake, we would go sit on the back porch for a bit enjoying the summer morning until other people, including my three other children under age nine, started stirring.
But the thing about babies is that the routine can change quickly. For about a week or so after that, he woke up every morning at 4:45am. This was better than 3:30, and I’d usually manage to get him back down, and sometimes we’d sleep until 7:00 or so. I liked the sleep, but that meant no time out on the porch with the coffee. The morning I wrote this he woke up at 6:00am, which is infinitely better than 3:30, but that also meant I never went back to sleep.
Perhaps the one constant is that I start my workday at 8:00am when our nanny shows up. Or at least I try. Sometimes there’s a lot of transitioning, especially if a kid wakes up late.
In 2012, my morning routine fell apart. My dad became ill, and for the next five months I split my time between my parents’ home in Northern California and Portland, Oregon. After my dad died, I felt paralyzed by sadness and started to sleep in late. Plus, we moved back to Northern California in 2012. I don’t regret the move, but I wonder if it was the right thing to do. During this time, I felt uprooted, unsettled, and I had trouble getting back into my morning routine.
To counteract these feelings, I decided to create a different morning routine. I began a daily photography project that inspired me to get out of bed and begin the day in a positive way. Over two years later, I’m still taking my daily photo and sharing it on Instagram. I’ve also added new activities to my morning routine. I’m journaling, planning my day, and making additional time for photography. I feel better, more grounded, and inspired to do good work.
On weekdays, I get up between 5:15 and 6:00am. After I get out of bed, I do the following (and not necessarily in this order):
- Splash cold water on my face, brush my teeth, and drink one glass of water.
- Make coffee. While the coffee is brewing, I feed both cats and sing to them (yes, they are that spoiled).
- Find a comfortable place to sit, and then get out multiple journals to free write and plan my day.
- Take a photo of my morning view and talk with Logan, my husband, about our respective days. Besides drinking my first cup of coffee, this is my favorite part of the day.
My morning routine is a simple way to start my day; that’s why I love it so much.
I’m a huge believer in routine. Ivanka beat me to it when she talked about avoiding decision fatigue in her morning routine. Michael Lewis did a great profile of President Obama and shares Obama’s desire to avoid the little decisions because he has too many important decisions to make. For example, the president only wears grey or blue suits.
I don’t have President Obama’s level of decision making, but running a business, Highrise, and helping raise a daughter is replete with decisions. So, I’m a creature of habit. I constantly do the same things, go to the same places, eat the same food.
My morning routine is radically different today than it was a year ago when this little one came into my life :)
Addison. My routine is optimized around spending time with her. I wake up at about the time she wakes up: 6:15am. After she gets dressed with mom, Addison and I have breakfast together. And I read to her something as she lets me. We’ll pick from a stack of magazines: Inc, Wired, Esquire, or we’ll read something like The New Yorker or a book on my Kindle. She’s a huge Malcolm Gladwell fan.
When she declares breakfast is over, we play a little, and then I get her ready to go to day care. We have a relaxing walk together and I ask her about the stuff she sees, trying to teach her new words and colors. After drop-off I go back home, and I’ll often try and get a workout in. Then, most of the time I’ll work from home.
I immediately check for any problems my team might be having at work by glancing at our communication hangouts: especially Slack, where we’re chatting throughout the day, and Highrise, the product we make, for any trouble or issues customers are sending to us. I don’t spend time trying to compose email in the morning, but reviewing it, to get a pulse of what’s going on.
And that’s about where the routine has to stop. Depending on that pulse, I might find myself with a bunch of time to write, or create software, or I might find myself fighting some fire - it all depends, and changes constantly.
I have a fairly erratic routine that’s entirely dependent on whether I’m waking up at home, on vacation, or on location for a photo shoot. I’ll share my home routine since it’s my favorite and often the most reliable.
I negotiated taking our dog out first thing in the morning in lieu of the late night shift years ago, but Dagger and I always laze around half awake — him in his dog bed and me in the human bed — while I take a quick scroll on my phone through Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and email. I have a personal rule to not post any comments or respond to any emails before I’m out of bed and I’ve had coffee (no one should have to read my cranky morning thoughts), so this usually only accounts for 15-30 minutes of my morning time.
Once I’m out of bed I head outside with Dagger so he can ‘do his business.’ We often return to the house smelling of freshly ground coffee as my husband begins to prepare us breakfast. We’ll eat together on the couch, scrolling through our phones and stopping to show each other funny videos or posts from friends, then we ‘clear our dishes’ (aka throw them in the sink for rinsing at some point during the day. I never said we were good at being adults!) and start our respective days.
I wake up by about 8:00am, make a cup of Bulletproof Coffee, and spend about twenty minutes adjusting my spiritual frequency to the world.
For me, this means recalibrating amidst the chaos in as graceful a way possible with the aid of literary gurus. I choose to read positive affirmations and meditations to begin my day, a mélange of authors/whoever I happen to be into at the time. Right now I’m working through Iyanla Vanzant’s Until Today!: Daily Devotions for Spiritual Growth and Peace, and Gabrielle Bernstein’s Miracles Now: 108 Life-Changing Tools for Less Stress, More Flow, and Finding Your True Purpose (long title, but a very straightforward book).
I also think of poetry as meditative literature; what better literature than poetry to help you slow down (while refreshing your mind) and truly see things, and savor what life has to offer? I was a long-time reader of poetry before I ever started writing it. As such, I usually read a poem or two (Kahlil Gibran and Langston Hughes are dear to me) to get my creative gears flowing for the day.
I recently moved back to the U.S. from London, so I’m transitioning back to a more normalized schedule. While over there, I would often be doing late-night calls with the U.S., so I typically woke up at either 8:00am or 9:00am. At that point, I would quickly check for urgent messages on things that may have happened while I was asleep (again, during the day/evening back in the U.S.).
If nothing is too pressing, I typically read some combination of The New York Times or the articles I had saved the previous day to Pocket. I drink a bottled Starbucks Frappuccino while I do this, which abhors some people, including my fiancée. But it’s my one vice, something I’ve done since I was a kid.
Around 10:00am, I would dive into email. I liked doing it at this time in the UK because most of the U.S. is still asleep - and not able to immediately respond. I have a deep hatred of email, so I try to do it once a day and ideally not turn it into a back-and-forth volley. This takes me to lunch time, which is typically when I would start my meetings for the day.
My morning routine starts with my evening routine. I try and settle into bed at around 10:30pm so I’m asleep by 11. This makes it easy to wake up around 7:00am fresh.
I usually pull my phone off my night stand and start triaging emails from the night before so that when I actually go to work I can jump right in.
After getting out of bed I’ll grab a bite to eat and then shower and settle into the day’s activities. I usually have 2-3 things I definitely want to get done that day so I try and start with those.
I wake up at 6:30am each weekday morning. I once read that most CEOs and world leaders get up early; there is something peaceful and refreshing about waking up before other people and getting an early start to the day.
Upon waking up, I immediately drink warm water with lemon. I usually meditate for ten minutes and stretch with a foam roller. I then eat breakfast and read The Wall Street Journal, theSkimm, and Fast Company. I believe in being on top of the news in order to be on top of my game.
I usually wake up around 8:30am, without an alarm, and the first thing I do is open the curtains.
We live in a cool home my talented architect husband built on a little lake outside Buenos Aires, Argentina, and it has a wall of windows in our bedroom. The first thing I do upon waking is take the little remote controller on my side table to open them and look out. Before I had one of these remotes I didn’t realize they existed, so I get an endless kick out of it. I could open and close that thing all day.
After opening the curtains, I then open my bedroom door, in hopes that my one-year-old daughter is somewhere nearby and that my husband will bring her in if she isn’t out at the park with the nanny, or generally busy throwing rocks (yes, there are rocks in our living room, don’t ask) at the glass house or harassing the ducks. She and my husband get up about at least an hour or more before I do.
Next I drink a 16 oz. glass of water with lemon on my nightstand as I look out the windows. If my daughter has arrived, I fight with her to not steal the cup and throw the water everywhere, fling her squirming body off the bed, or eat my hand cream.
I do all my major iPhone scans for about ten minutes: my sleep stats, weather, email, WhatsApp, Twitter, Instagram, and stocks.
I then put on my running clothes, walk downstairs, and pour myself a cup of something hot (decaf coffee, decaf tea, bulletproof coffee, etc).
I then go to my blue Twitter-bird-ceilinged office and do my morning quiet time. I call this The Present Principle, and most of the seven steps in it take place within the first hour of my morning. Exercise, however, usually happens at noon. It depends on if my daughter’s naps are “on schedule” - I go out for about 75 minutes with her on a run, then a walk, then a stop at the swings, each day.
My morning quiet time is essential to the way I live and work, which is all about this thing I call The Do Less Method.
My kids wake up at 7:00am on the dime. Occasionally, Arabella will wake up earlier (singing!) but she knows she has to stay in bed until 7:00. The time before my children get up is my time to get ready for the day. The earlier I wake up, the more I can do.
I get up at 5:30am and meditate or work out — or both. Then I shower and listen to a TED Talk while I moisturize and do my makeup (eight minutes!). Afterwards, I dress and read the paper — always the New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, and the front section of the Times. I like getting my news in the morning and I prefer the paper to online, with the exception of Observer.com, which I read when I get into my office each day. I like how the papers pace the stories. Visually, it’s easier for me to see what’s most important, as opposed to scrolling through the headlines online.
At 7:00, I get the kids out of bed. While Arabella does her “three things” — brush her teeth, wash her hands, and make her bed — I change Joseph and get him dressed. Then, we eat breakfast together as a family. I walk Arabella to school a few mornings each week, but if I’m going directly to the office, I usually head in between 7:45 and 8:00am.
I don’t really have a routine, I basically just try to get out of bed.
There are times when I like to wake up quite early and relax for a while, have breakfast, and read a book. Other times though, I just brush my teeth and run to the studio or to an appointment wearing the same t-shirt I slept in the night before.
My mornings are all about creating positive momentum that will propel me through the rest of the day. That starts with moving my body. Through personal experimentation I’ve found that when I wake up my body, my brain follows.
Before heading to the gym or out for a run, I mix up a protein shake and sit down at my computer to filter my inbox. Taming my messages gives me a sense of command and a productivity boost. It’s a quick win that allows me to then immerse myself in my workout and enjoy it fully.
When I get back home, I shower while oil pulling and have a quick slow-carb breakfast while watching a lecture or taking in something inspiring like a TED, 99U, or CreativeMornings talk. Learning something and exposing myself to knowledge right before diving into work gives me jolt of motivation and gets me revved up to tackle big projects.
I do my best work in the morning when I’m the freshest (though more and more I surprise myself with afternoon productivity bursts!). Over the next 2-3 hours I work on projects that require the greatest mental energy and focused attention; usually those that are heavy on writing or thinking strategically. I define my to-do list the evening before and schedule high-priority projects in my calendar as part of ending my workday. What gets scheduled gets done, so putting projects on the calendar ensures I stick to what’s important and avoid distractions or getting sidetracked.
I’ve always been a morning person, having grown up in a family of early risers. These days, I wake naturally at around 6:00am.
We have big trees outside our bedroom window which are home to dozens of birds. The cacophony of chirping and the quack from a neighboring duck are usually the first things I am aware of as I wake. Although awake, I take time to lie still and meditate before my mind kicks into gear. This addition to my morning has made mindfulness during the day’s crazier moments come much easier.
After meditating, my husband wakes and pulls open the curtains. Our bedroom is perched up, overlooking hills, trees, and mountains in the distance. The view is beautiful. I usually do a bit of writing, check my phone, and talk about schedules before the girls come bounding in. Shortly after that, it’s out of bed to start the day.
Last year I bought a stack of index cards, which I keep by my bed. Each morning and night I write my thoughts, ideas, intentions, memories, and fragments of life on a card and file it in the box. This is my shorthand journal. I reference it when I write longer pieces on my blog or need inspiration. Although painting is my primary medium, I write daily and a string of words often inspires my art.
One of my most important practices is building in moments of mindfulness throughout my day. For me, this routine is rooted in mornings. While still in bed, I think about three things: what I need to accomplish that day, what my intention is for the day, and what moments I can create that will let me appreciate and enjoy my life. I began this practice years ago while living in India, and it is one of the best things I do each day. It is so easy to feel as if our days pass in a blur of similarity. It is up to us to create small moments of different experiences to help us feel alive. Some of my early morning favorites are eating breakfast outside in the rising sun, taking a different route on my morning walk, or lighting a candle while I paint. I try to do something small every day that lifts me outside my routine, outside my schedule, and makes life slow, just for a moment.
After getting the girls dressed, fed, and off to school, I usually start my day with a quiet house and a light breakfast. This is the time I usually jump on my computer, clear out my inbox, browse Instagram, return texts, and go over my to-do list. This organizes me for the day ahead. After that, I am out the door for a walk, run or yoga. This year I bought a Fitbit and have been consistently logging at least 10,000 steps. Now I have an Apple Watch, which gives me even more metrics for tracking my activity. These tools have inspired me and totally changed my routine and attitude towards exercise. While walking, I listen to audiobooks or podcasts. Some of my favorite podcasts are OnBeing, TED Radio Hour, The Accidental Creative, Invisibilia, and Design Matters.
The final, and best, part of my morning is back at the house in my art studio. This is where I spend the bulk of my day. Right now I am in the middle of a public art project where I’m posting a painting a day on Instagram. This has been a great tool in helping me build a new body of work and connect with the incredible, creative community online.
I’m very fortunate to have a home office, so I don’t have a commute.
I wake up without an alarm on most days, usually with the sunrise. I usually have coffee and hot muesli with cinnamon and unsweetened hemp milk. If possible I like to meditate for thirty minutes after breakfast, before checking email. I never check email before breakfast.
Email is one of those things that can easily seep into your life and add stress to everything. The key realization for me was that there’s no point in opening email unless I can actually do something about it in the moment (i.e. it is hard to send important docs from my phone, so I should wait until I’m at my computer). When I see emails that I can’t take care of my mind starts thinking about them, but can’t let go of them until I take action. I knew this intuitively, but it became incredibly obvious to me when I started meditating.
When you meditate you try to focus on one simple thing, like your breath. When other thoughts come in you just acknowledge them and let them go. I noticed that if I had checked email before meditating it is far harder to focus on the breath, and most of the intruding thoughts come from obligations I need to take care of that I saw in my inbox. It’s much better to get focused and centered first, then tackle email later.
Right now my morning routine looks something like this:
I prepare a cup of tea (coffee too early in the morning gets me a little too wired, whereas tea lets me ease into the day), after which I’ll spend fifteen minutes or so doing nine stretches as part of the Starting Stretching program – this warms up my body while my brain doesn’t want to function.
Next I’ll meditate for twenty minutes using the Headspace app – I used to meditate at night but now I find that I’m more likely to actually do it in the morning; and I have to do it before I consume any media.
After my meditation session I’ll prepare breakfast. Right now I’m on a Soylent kick so that’s my breakfast, and sometimes I’ll have a second breakfast after working out.
After breakfast I’ll write 750 words using 750words.com – I mostly write my thoughts, it’s pretty incoherent but sometimes this turns into a blog post later. After writing I’ll shower, brush my teeth, and get dressed before starting my workout. I do starting strength on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I swim on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Next I’ll walk to work with my headphones and listen to an audiobook as I walk. Right now I’m listening to Atlas Shrugged narrated by Scott Brick at 1.5x speed as it’s over sixty hours long.
I get up around 8:00am every day unless I have an early morning coaching call, in which case I’ll be up at around 7:00am. I head to the bathroom and splash water on my face to wake me up further before throwing on some clothes (nice ones if I’m doing a video coaching call) and heading to the kitchen to make an AeroPress coffee and a smoothie for breakfast with the NutriBullet.
Once all of that is done I’ll head downstairs and begin my reading workflow, which I do while sitting in my office with the door open, sitting in my “reading zone” chair.
After I’ve completed all the steps of my reading workflow (Reeder, Zite, Clipboard, and Velocity for my Instapaper queue), I’ll check the calendar for any appointments for the day. If nothing is happening right away, I’ll head upstairs and either say goodbye to my wife and kids for the day or if it’s a Wednesday or Saturday, I’ll begin to hang out with the family.
On the other days (my work days) I’ll look at My 3 Absolutes for the day (three tasks that must get done) which are written down on a sheet of paper that has been placed face down on top of my MacBook Pro the night before. I’ll dive into those absolutes, which basically ends my morning routine and gets my day off and running.
I have two alarms, the first is quite organic at 5:45am when I hear my husband getting up. He’s a banker and has to be in the office by 6-6:30am every morning. Even when he tries his best to be quiet, I usually get woken up and stay in bed until my second alarm, which is my older daughter Louise (9) at 6:15am. She’s also an early bird.
Then it’s time to plug back in. I use my iPhone to check my email and Instagram feed. Then (and only then) I’m ready to get out of bed and have breakfast with both of my girls, Louise and Jeanne (8), and Salud their au pair.
Since the beginning of January Salud has been walking the girls to school so I can do my one consistent daily exercise routine; walking for half an hour to get to my office in Farringdon, London. I love walking to work. Every day I discover something new; from charming little houses to other English treasures.
Ideally, if I have gotten at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep, I get up before the sun rises (4:45, 5:00, or 6:00am is a dream), but sometimes I get up closer to 7 or 8:00am.
I love reading non-fiction books, with a candle lit, for one or two hours until the sun rises. Afterwards I meditate for 30-45 minutes before starting the day.
Every now and then I will go for a twenty minute run to get some fresh air and endorphins, but usually I save my workouts (yoga, pilates, and walking) for later in the day.
My morning routine is pretty basic: I get up at 7:30am, put the kettle on, do a vocal warm-up, make a Milo, and take it back to bed with my laptop, where I’ll write for around thirty minutes. Once all that’s done, I shower and start my work day.
My vocal warm-up comes from an acting course I’m doing this year. Actors need to work on their bodies and voices every day, so I do this every morning. We do a longer version including a full body warm-up at the start of class every Saturday. The warm up includes some tongue twisters, articulation of consonants, and exercises to improve our breathing capacity. After doing this every day for a couple of weeks I noticed my lung capacity was increasing noticeably.
You probably haven’t heard of Milo, but it’s what I drink all day, every day, when I work from home. It’s a powder (kind of like hot chocolate) made from chocolate and malt. Most people drink Milo with milk—either stirred into a tall glass of cold milk, or in a mug dissolved in boiling water and topped up with milk. I’m not a milk fan, so I just dissolve a big teaspoon in boiling water and drink it ‘black’ in a mug. I drink around 4-6 mugs of Milo a day. No doubt way too much!
Writing in the morning serves two purposes: it helps me get up early, since I have a reason to get out of bed, and it helps me make progress on projects I normally can’t find time for. Right now I’m working on a course for content writers, so I’ve been dedicating time to that every morning. Seeing the progress I can achieve from just thirty minutes every day is really empowering and helps me build momentum to get new projects shipped.
Right now, the first thing I do when I wake up is try to remember my dreams! Do you remember your dreams? 60% of people say they don’t dream at all, which isn’t actually true, and of the people who admit that they dream they forget 95-99% of those dreams within the first ten minutes of being awake.
Remembering my dreams is so important to me, that I’ve just started a 100 day public art project where I’m painting my dreams every morning and posting a photo on Instagram. I actually just posted my first dream this morning!
I have this strange sense that remembering our dreams is really, really important. Dreams seem to hold all these clues and insights about what’s really going on. And there have been all of these people throughout time who have learned from their dreams. Did you know Mary Shelly wrote Frankenstein because she dreamed it? And the tune for the song “Yesterday” by Paul McCartney was something he heard in a dream? The psychologist Carl Jung studied and shared his dreams with Sigmund Freud and now you can even buy this incredible book called The Book of Symbols based on the work of mythologist Joseph Campbell that chronicles dreams and symbols.
One of the most effective way I’ve found to capture my dreams is to use the voice recorder on my iPhone.
While still somewhere between awake and asleep, I recount my dreams out loud, recording them. One of the things I try to do in addition to actually describing the dream is to give commentary on how the dream is making me feel. For example, I once had a dream where this massive cobra snake appeared in front of me. Now, typically, I’d think that a snake might be a scary symbol to see in a dream, but as I was recounting this, I took careful attention to note that this snake was majestic, that it was powerful and beautiful and that I was not afraid. I think it was Carl Jung who said that the most important aspect of our dreams is what the dreams mean to us, how we interpret them. It’s not about what a dream dictionary says a symbol means or what a friend thinks, it’s how we interpret them in that moment. I like that.
After I capture (and now paint) my dreams, Tilly, my cocker spaniel pup, and I go for a leisurely morning walk. We dilly dally together, stopping a lot and looking at things.
Next up is coffee. I used to drink a couple cups of coffee a day, but one day my neighbor made me a cup of coffee so delicious — I’m talking so totally experientially awesome — that one cup was all I needed. Just like that, I went from being a multi-cupper to a single-cupper.
I remember that morning watching my friend Michael smell the beans in the bag with his eyes closed. He then walked over to me, held the bag up to my nose, and asked me, “What do you smell?” Cherries and roses! I had never taken the time to smell my coffee like that. He showed me to how be present to the entire experience—from boiling the water to enjoying the first sip. I learned a lot from watching him that day, and since then, making a warm cup of coffee in the morning has taken on a very special place in my day.
After coffee, I usually tend to the altar in my studio. This altar is the spiritual heartbeat of the space. When I tend to it, I feel like I am being reconnected to Bali, where I found it, and the women who, daily, create ceremonies around the altars. If you’ve ever been to Bali, you know first-hand that the country is riddled with altars. They’re everywhere! And they’re colorful and covered in fresh flowers and incense. The entire island smells of jasmine and sandalwood and fresh delicate flowers. What an experience!
I spend a good amount of time in Bali working with women batik artists for a textile project I run called The Bulan Project. When I’m there, mornings are a magical time of the day — you can hear the roosters singing and the ducks searching for breakfast in the rice patties. Wearing their ceremonial sarongs, the women are these gorgeous slices of color moving amidst palm trees and rice patties. They carry towering trays of hand-made offerings made from meticulously braided palm leaves, fresh flowers, and packages of fresh mints and cookies. They must spend hours making these offerings daily — they’re incredible.
And as these women tend to the altars, they look like they’re floating. They radiate. And in the morning, if you’re not awake yet (perhaps you’re still laying in bed remembering your dreams), you’ll wake up to the smell of their trays passing outside of your window. It is so magical, that smell and their dedication to ceremony.
One day, I found an altar and brought it back to San Francisco. I hung it right in my kitchen and tend to it in the morning. When I light the incense, the smell transports me through time and space. Has that ever happened to you? Smell is powerful, and tending to this altar is a very sacred part of my morning routine.
After the altar, I sit down and do morning pages. This is an exercise I learned about from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. Basically, it’s three pages of long-hand writing. I think she once called it “brain drain,” and that’s a really wonderful description of how it feels. It only takes about fifteen minutes, and through the daily ritual of writing, you move mental clutter out of your mind and onto the page. Anything and everything can go onto the page because it’s just for you, and even then, Cameron advises waiting six weeks to read what you write. The practice of morning pages is like sweeping the floors — you just feel better afterwards.
The final part of my morning routine is reading and writing. Beginning this year, I committed to reading every day for forty-five minutes and responding to that reading for fifteen minutes. I document my writing on notecards (everything is on notecards), and I hang the cards up in my bathroom and around the studio so I see them all the time. Sometimes I talk to them or imagine they’re at a dinner party and seat some cards next to others, and then new ideas come up. It’s very fun. By the end of the year, I’ll have 365 notecards.
My morning starts whenever our pets decide to wake me up. My wife Julia and I recently moved to Upstate New York from Brooklyn and for some reason both our dog and cat seem to think 5:00am is the new wakeup time.
I walk downstairs, let Hope (our dog) outside and feed Turk (our cat). I turn on the lights downstairs, water my plants, and start coffee for Julia. Hope comes back inside, I feed her breakfast, and then I shuffle to the couch or the kitchen table to start my morning computer routine.
From 6:45-ish until around 9:00am I answer personal emails, (attempt to) answer all the Design*Sponge submission emails from the day before, and double check that the day’s posts are loaded, edited and ready to go. Then I load any social media touts for the day’s site posts. The rest will be spontaneous throughout the day, usually done on my phone.
Around 9:00am, Julia usually wakes up and we make breakfast. I typically take a breakfast break to watch a TV show we taped the night before and, if it’s warm enough, step outside and get some fresh air.
By 10:00am I’m back on the computer checking in with our team writers and team manager to make sure everyone’s posts are on time and there are no fires I need to put out. I love our team and they are such hard workers, so usually there aren’t too many problems that need fixing.
From 11:00am on I’m pretty much alternating between writing and researching posts for the site, planning content for the next few weeks, taking Hope on a walk, and working on small renovation projects around the old home we recently bought.
On most days, I wake up without an alarm clock, put on my workout gear, and head to the pilates gym down the street for a session with my trainer. He has a background in P90x, CrossFit, and pilates, and I love how he weaves high-intensity training with core work. It kicks my ass and leaves me buzzing with energy.
I then pop by the local grocer for a green juice with lemon, ginger, and cayenne pepper. I grab a stool at their window and dive into morning pages; a stream-of-consciousness writing tool I use for self-connection and accessing inner whispers.
Thirty or so minutes later, I have a writing concept or two in the works, and I’m feeling jazzed. I head home for a green smoothie and dance in the living room. The rest of my day is typically open for writing and making art.
On weekdays, I get up at 5:30am, make a large pot of French press coffee, and divide the coffee between two thermoses. I carry one thermos into my home office and leave the other one on the kitchen counter for my wife, who gets up about an hour after me.
I work in my office until 11:00am. On an ideal morning, I spend the first couple hours writing and reading offline. Right now I’m putting together a proposal for a new book, so I try to do that work first thing, and not look at e-mail or even turn on the computer until later. (I write early drafts with pen and paper.) But I also work as an editor for a New York–based website, and while I try to save that work for later in the day, a lot of times it’s not possible. Living on the West Coast, the time difference really works against me.
In any case, I’m strict about not letting myself leave the office until 11:00am, except to use the bathroom. Otherwise, it’s too easy to get distracted puttering around the house or hanging out with my wife, who also works from home.
At 11:00 I take a shower and get dressed, and then my wife and I take a walk around the neighborhood, usually for 45 minutes or an hour. We moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles a year and a half ago, and one of the things we like most about LA is its terrific walkability. Where we live, there are quiet residential streets for miles in every direction, with lots of interesting architecture and gardens to take in. And, of course, the weather is almost always pleasant.
Every morning I wake up at 6:00am and shower and get dressed. My kids wake up any time between 6:30am and 7:30am, so this is my chance to get myself ready before I have to get them ready. From there I watch my kids until 8:15am when I either leave for an office, or head to my home office to work for the day.
Typically I check in on email, Twitter, and Slack before the kids get up.
Once I start work in the morning it is usually off to the races for me. Keeping up with calls and Slack takes most of the first couple hours of my day. I don’t even bother planning this time out, everyday is a little different.
My morning routine varies so wildly that it seems inaccurate to call it a routine. Instead, I have a series of rituals which I undertake every day.
I suffer from IBD, which means I have extremely limited resources of energy, and I never know from day to day how much I’m going to be able to accomplish. Some days my morning rituals are the only things that I get done, and they take me all day. Other days I’m able to complete my rituals early and crack on with other stuff during the day.
My morning rituals are sacred and, for me, they are the difference between a peaceful, creative life and absolute chaos!
Every morning, on waking, I make myself coffee in my beautiful old Emma Bridgewater cup and saucer - it makes me happy every time I lay my eyes on it. I generally have two or three cups of coffee over the course of the morning.
Whilst the first cup is brewing I light my candles. I usually have a handful of tea lights burning throughout the day (I’m half-Danish and we Danes are obsessed with candles!), but in the morning I light a special scented candle as well. This helps me to get into a peaceful and relaxed frame of mind and reminds me that this is my sacred time. My favourite candle for this purpose is a rose and geranium one by Diptyque – the scent of it is so linked with the ritual that as soon as I smell it I’m instantly more relaxed.
Coffee in hand and candles burning, I take a few deep calming breaths and open my journal. I free-write for around half an hour, just letting the words pour out onto the page. More often than not I’ll find the seed of an article or part of a book when I look over the pages later on, but sometimes it’s just a stream of consciousness to help process what’s going on in my life.
After my writing, I gather my art supplies and draw for another half hour or so. This is my time for experimenting with new techniques and materials, rather than working on commissions or book illustrations. I quite often copy the work of other artists I admire to understand more about the craft, or I’ll do a few exercises from a drawing instruction book. It’s a great warm up and keeps me in the curious, exploratory mindset of a beginner.
Those are my staples – coffee, candles, writing and drawing. Occasionally I’ll add meditation into the mix, but I find the rituals themselves so meditative that I don’t always feel it’s necessary.
I rise with the sun, before going downstairs into the kitchen to consume a slow-carb protein shake and some Bulletproof Coffee using fresh beans from a local small batch roaster.
Leaving for the gym by 7:00am, I perform a short, high interval training session, before returning home and completing an hour of writing, after which I begin the tasks I set for myself the night before.
I believe routines give you the best possible chance for success. When you carry out a refined routine, you enter a peak state of high performance. Having played collegiate golf in the states for three years, routines were what made the difference for the athletes that would perform week in, week out; separating them from the rest of the field.
There is nothing more beautiful than being in this zone. It is the feeling that nothing else really matters; when you enter this state of high performance, you just execute what you want to happen. The process is rewarded and your desired results are met with what seems like effortless input. You become incredibly present with the way you think. Routines allow you to enter this state of mind, which enables you to progress and feel alive.
I am a strong believer that happiness is a direct cause of progress. But you first have to find your own routine; what works best for you.
I wake up, check for urgent emails on my smartphone, or do an early morning conference call with New York from my bed or walking around while preparing for the day. These are usually sync calls internally, with journalists, or with our partners in Europe.
Next I’ll hop in the outdoor apartment pool for 10-15 laps (weather permitting), before jumping in the shower and driving to work. I live in the Mission District of San Francisco; it’s about a 10-15 minute drive to work. It’s a stressful drive as driving in San Francisco is not a fun activity. It’s like a Donkey Kong game.
I will preface this by saying: I am not a morning person. My pursuit of a morning routine started in 2010, and it was only until last year that I really figured out what works for me. I lived the double life of entrepreneur-by-day and bartender-by-night for about five years, so it was an uphill battle.
Nowadays, my alarm goes off at 7:30am. The night before, I set up a podcast on my phone so all I have to do is turn my alarm off and press play.
A 20-50 minute episode gives me enough time to ease myself awake (and it’s a bonus that by the time I roll out of bed I’ve already learned something). I go to the bathroom, splash ice cold water on my face, and put on the kettle.
I start off the morning with a mug of hot water with lemon juice, cayenne pepper, and apple cider vinegar (I know, gross - it’s an acquired taste). I drink it while I read on my couch; usually fiction on my Kindle. After about half an hour I’ll make a green smoothie for breakfast, change into workout clothes, brush my teeth, make my bed (all eight pillows), and head upstairs to my home office between 9:30 and 10:00am.
I’ll work until 11:45am and then head to yoga or the gym.
My morning routine is to get up at 5:30am, meditate with my boyfriend for fifteen minutes, and then, just as the sun begins to rise, we take the dogs for a walk along the beach.
When we get back to the house I do a short 10-15 minute yoga class while my boyfriend makes breakfast. After breakfast, and before diving into anything else, I sit and free write 1,000 words; literally a stream of consciousness without editing for style.
I usually get up around 7:30am; sometimes it’s a bit earlier, sometimes a bit later.
The first thing I do when I get out of bed is a few stabilisation exercises, together with a few suppleness exercises for my back and neck. This usually takes about 5-10 minutes.
Then I have a shower, get dressed, and have breakfast. I’m the kind of person who wakes up slowly in the morning, so I always need a cup of coffee by my side.
If I’m going for a bicycle ride in the morning (depending on the weather and the season), I’ll skip the shower. During the autumn and winter I tend to ride in the afternoon due to the better weather conditions. This is especially true during winter when it freezes, as the temperatures are slightly better, and the roads are safer. Plus it’s still dark in the early hours.
If I don’t go out for a ride, after breakfast I’ll head for my office. The first thing I do is check my email. I’ll answer the most urgent and important ones, before hiding the Mail app and starting working on my projects. I’ll get back to my email later in the morning to answer the messages that remain.
My morning routine varies depending on what country I’m in and what I have planned that day. But there are a few things I manage to do consistently every morning.
I try to wake up before anyone else so I can have some quiet time to myself. I wholeheartedly embrace being a morning person, and cherish the peaceful early hours before the rest of the world wakes up. It’s when I do my best work and I’m able to think most clearly.
Once I’m awake, I’m immediately up and out of bed. My first mission is almost always breakfast; it’s my favorite meal of the day! If I’m staying somewhere with a kitchen, I really enjoy being able to make my own breakfast - usually eggs scrambled into whatever other ingredients I can find, with fruit and coffee or a green juice. If I don’t have a kitchen available, I’ll pack up my laptop and head to a nearby cafe. Either way, I prefer to have foods that are made with fresh, local ingredients, and that are packed with protein to keep me full.
After I finish eating, I’ll usually put a few songs on repeat (right now I’m loving Odessa’s Hummed Low and Josef Salvat’s Open Season) to zone out and write for a while. I’ll hit a block eventually, and that’s my signal to figure out what I want the rest of my day to look like - maybe deciding on a neighborhood or subject to photograph, or pick a new destination to explore. If I’m not feeling inspired, sometimes I’ll just grab my camera and head out the door. Every day is an adventure, and that’s especially true when traveling!
I’ve been in Bali for the past few weeks, and mornings are so wonderfully relaxed here. One of my favorite days started with an early surf session, which might be the best addition to my morning routine ever. It’s slightly embarrassing to admit this as a multiyear California resident, but I finally caught my first wave in Canggu and it felt amazing! There’s something so powerful about being out on the ocean first thing in the morning: paddling through the clear water, feeling the morning sun rising on your skin, taking a deep salty-aired breath after coming up from a crashed wave. Surfing also works up a massive appetite, which makes breakfast even more enjoyable.
If I were to TL;DR my morning, it would probably read: Wake early. Seek a healthy breakfast. Enjoy the quiet. Be present and productive. Drink coffee.
My morning routine varies from season to season, from year to year, but the routine I’m trying to keep to now is the one I’m planning to stick with for a long time.
When it’s a summer weekend I often get up at 7:00am and head for the Dnipro River banks (Kyiv area, Ukraine) to do some windsurfing, wakeboarding, or jetskiing.
Winter weekends are a bit lazier, but I’m often awakened by our office pet, Fixel, whom I typically take home from the MacPaw office for the weekend. His tone of voice is unbelievably demanding when he’s hungry at six in the morning, so it’s better that I obey and give him some food. After he’s been fed, I can get some rest.
When the weather gets frosty I like to go kitesurfing on the frozen Kyiv Reservoir (Kyiv Sea). The three elements that I love are water, wind, and snow. All the sports activities that I do are somehow connected with those three. It gives me an unspeakable sense of conquest over the unconquerable and the pleasant feeling of muscle soreness. I really love it.
I try to avoid setting an alarm, preferring to wake up naturally. After all, why should waking up be an alarming experience?
“Naturally” may mean by the sunlight streaming in my window on Powder Mountain, or a noisy siren on St. Marks in Manhattan. But usually it’s around 7:30 or 8:00am when my body has had its 7-8 hours of shuteye.
If I have time, I open buddhify on my iPhone and choose a “Waking up” meditation, which is best listened to while still lying in bed. I’m very cautious not to fall into the trap of checking Instagram, Messenger, Inbox, Telegram, etc.
After 6-10 minutes of waking meditation, I go to the bathroom and splash cold water on my eyes and face, then dry off with a towel. I brush my teeth and tongue, then drink a full glass of room temperature water.
I like to hit the yoga mat before showering, even if just for five minutes, to stretch out from a night’s sleep and check in with my body. Then it’s shower, smoothie-making, and I’m out the door with my camo print backpack on, ready to conquer the day.
This whole beautiful morning routine is completely thrown to the wind if I’m lucky to have a lover in my bed, but that brings a completely different kind of morning ritual that’s definitely not safe for work.
I set my alarm for 6:30am and, depending on the morning, get up right away or sleep for another fifteen minutes (no later).
I only look at my phone to turn my alarm off, it doesn’t get any more attention until I’m finished with what I need to do; the first thing of which is heading to the bathroom to brush my teeth. I don’t feel right if it’s not the first thing on my list and, in some ways, it makes me feel even more awake.
I then head out into the living room for some meditation. I only do five minutes a day, but it makes me feel wide awake.
Afterwards I’ll drink a glass of water, sometimes with lemon, before heading out to the gym. Luckily the gym I go to is in our apartment building, so it’s only a short walk downstairs. I need to work out before I do anything else; being an athlete my whole life, it’s the only way I can function fully during the day. I always have a plan when I go to the gym, I’m not one to just wing it. I like a nice, structured workout to begin my day.
When I’m done I’ll head back up, by which point my wife is usually up and working. Before breakfast I’ll take our miniature poodle, CJ, on a walk. My wife and I will then eat breakfast together; always Stumptown Coffee in a french press or pour over with oatmeal or homemade granola with almond milk.
Next it’s time to hop in the shower and head to the office to plan practice for the day, and do what is needed to improve our team. For me, the morning is the most precious time of day. I never rush things and always take my time.
I’m not a morning person. At. All. If I could stay up until 2:00am and sleep until 11:00am every day, I would. That said, I do find the quiet of the morning special in its own way, and I enjoy New York in those sleepy hours before everyone is hustling to work.
I’m up pretty early most days because I have a three-month old Shiba Inu puppy, Fievel, and he consistently has to pee around 7:00 or 7:30am.
After we walk around the neighborhood, I bring him home and give him breakfast and a chew toy while I get ready for work. I’m an evening shower-er, but if I need a pick-me-up, I’ll take a quickie. Then it’s thirty minutes for make-up, throwing my hair into a bun of some kind, and getting dressed.
Next, Fievel goes back in his kennel (usually with a ‘chewie’ full of peanut butter), I kiss my darling boyfriend good-bye, and I hop on the train by 9 or 9:15am (I live Prospect Heights and work in Chelsea).
On the train, I organize my edit plan for the day - what copy is in, what stories I want to assign - and catch up on the news. I get to the office around 9:45 or 9:50am, then go straight to our morning edit meeting at 10:00. We go over all the day’s assignments and breaking news - that takes about an hour. By 11:00am, I’m ready for coffee and a tiny bite of breakfast (I’m not much of a breakfast eater, but our office has an entire floor for snacks and drinks!), then I hunker down for a day of work. Voila!
I’m the kind of person who likes to ease into my day.
I naturally wake up at 7:12am every morning. My husband brings me tea in bed (two black tea bags, milk, and maple syrup in a pint glass) while I write down my night’s dreams, sketch, and check my emails — all before ever leaving the bed.
Next I play the piano for 30-60 minutes (I joke that the book of Chopin Nocturnes is my bible) before heading out for a morning run, a roller skate, or a bikram yoga class. Now I’m ready to start my workday.
I’ve never really been a morning person. I’m usually much more active at night, so waking up is hard for me. Because of this I have to have a good morning routine to get my day started.
Usually, on days off or when I have to be at school at say, 1:00pm, I wake up at 9:00am as I don’t like spending ages in bed as every time I do, my day is not as productive as I want it to be.
To get a good night’s sleep I think it’s important that your body is used to a consistent waking up time.
I always keep a bottle of water next to my bed. The reason why you sometimes feel dizzy and weird when waking up if because it’s been eight hours without hydration, therefore you’ll still feel sleepy when waking up. Drinking this bottle of water is the first thing I do in the morning.
Next I’ll open my window to get some fresh air. It helps me wake up and it makes me hungry.
After I’m fully awake I’ll take a shower. I don’t want to spend too long in the warm water, because if I do I can get quite lazy during the rest of the day. When I’m almost done, I turn off the hot water and let the cold water pour all over me. It’s a great way to wake up and to not get too comfortable with the warm water.
When I’ve finished my shower I dry off, get clothed, and meditate for seven minutes. Now you are all thinking, “Why do you meditate for exactly seven minutes?” Well, there is no significant reason why I meditate seven minutes. When I started meditating, I started with five minutes, and I wanted to gradually improve the period in which I meditate.
Meditating is hard, and it requires a certain focus; a focus I don’t naturally have. So I want to increase my endurance in this, so that’s why I increase the time I meditate gradually.
I usually get woken up by the kids at around 7:00am, after which I head straight into the shower while my wife starts getting breakfast for them. I head down shortly after to join them. Most weekdays I’ll try to have a smoothie for breakfast (the greener the better; it usually consists of whatever veg and fruit we have in at the time). While not the most nutritious, my favourite by far is frozen banana, dates, and almond milk.
At the office we have a decent coffee machine. Like a lot of people that are into coffee I love the routine and process of making it. I’ll usually have an espresso while I make sure the machine is all set up, followed by a soy flat white which I’ll drink at my desk as I start to dig into work for the day.
I’ll deviate from this routine once or twice a week to go swimming or running before heading to the office. These are always the best days as I feel positively super-charged.
Most mornings I wake at 8:00am. While I’d love to say I wake up without an alarm, I do need a bit of motivation to get going in the morning. Though tea is my first love (and being in the tea business, I have easy access to it), I generally prefer a piping hot cup of coffee first thing in the morning.
I resist the temptation to look at my emails on my phone in the morning (I may remove email from my phone soon), but my phone has my carefully curated list of news and blog feeds which I like to look through while waking up.
I don’t watch TV news or any other news source that’s sensationalist or overly negative – which rules out most of them! I like the Zite app, which I’ve trained carefully to scan for interesting stories or news over a variety of topic areas.
Once my cup of coffee is finished, I head into my morning meditation – one of my most crucial morning practices. I actually lay down on a yoga mat for my meditation, as I find it’s the easiest way for me to relax and get clarity and inspiration for my day ahead. (No, there is no temptation to go back to sleep – meditation is a very active and engaging practice for me).
After meditation, I jot down in my journal any insights or inspirations that I might want to remember from my meditation, then I grab breakfast, a cup of tea or another coffee, and dive right into my workday. I work at home so my commute is short.
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve gotten comes from Shane Parrish at Farnam Street. It’s simple: If you want to be more productive, get up early.
So I get up around 8:00am and I have one other simple rule: Do one thing in the morning before checking email. It could be showering, it could be going for a long run, it could be jotting some thoughts down in my journal, it’s usually writing. Most mornings I try to write for one to two hours before I start the rest of the day (and the to do list I made the day before).
I shower, get ready and head downstairs to my office/library and sit and write. I recently got a Philips Hue light that helps with my vitamin D and regulates my rhythms. Then I eat and get on with everything else. The way I see it, after a productive morning where I accomplish my big things, the rest of the day can be played by ear. It’s all extra from there.
I wake up around 7:00am with the help of my Jawbone UP24’s smart alarm and Philips Hue (which fades to 100% brightness from 6:55-7:05am). The first thing I usually do is grab my iPhone to check any notifications, read through headlines on SmartNews, and flick through my social media feeds for about ten minutes before getting out of bed.
Once I’m up I head to the kitchen and prepare a light cappuccino with toast or a bowl of fruit to enjoy over some magazines (Rolling Stone, Nylon Guys, San Francisco Magazine) or one to two chapters of a book if I’m reading one at the time. After I finish breakfast I’ll hop in the shower, brush my teeth, shave (if I feel like it), get dressed, and tame my hair with grooming clay before it poofs into baby chick hair.
If I’m working the first part of the day from home, I’ll dive into work a little before 9:00am from my desk before heading to the office around 11:00am. Otherwise, I’ll head straight to my office (usually I’ll walk the mile and a half to the nearest underground Muni Station, but depending on what needs to be done and how lazy I’m feeling, I’ll drive) and hope to be there by 9:45am.
My first stop is the coffee pot even though I don’t drink coffee. I might be the only writer in the world who doesn’t, and that might explain why I am such a painfully slow writer, but I can’t stand the stuff. I’m apparently really great at making it for my girlfriend though.
If I’ve been a good boy and woken up with my first alarm, I’ll eat some cereal (Sweetened Wheatfuls from Mom’s Best) and spend time with whatever YA novel I’m currently reading before I wake up Alex for her coffee.
But if I’ve been bad and hit snooze a couple of times, I skip breakfast and go straight to walking the anxious dogs. We have three so this can take a while. We also have a cat who weighs about fifteen pounds so scooping his box can also take a while.
Once everyone’s poop has been managed and Alex is enjoying her coffee, I take my shower. My shower is my coffee. My shower is my meditation. I’m not really a person until I’ve had my shower. I am embarrassed to admit how long my shower is because it is not environmentally friendly. I lie down for my shower. This is where I do most of the daydreaming it takes to write fiction. I think it goes back to being a kid and playing elaborate games with my bath toys. I just find that relaxing under hot rain lights up the areas of my brain dedicated to make-believe.
I have a different routine depending on whether I’m in Bath or Los Angeles.
However, when I’m in the UK my routine is basically doubled, performing my UK routine and then the latter half of my LA routine, due to the time difference between the two locations and the teams involved.
When I’m in Bath
I usually wake up around 10:00am and go through the emails and tweets on my phone before putting the kettle on. I then take a shower, do my teeth, and pick my outfit of the day; usually some jeans, a shirt and jumper, and a nice comfy pair of trainers.
I then make a cup of tea and have some cereal or a couple pieces of toast.
Soon afterwards I leave the house and make my way into the city either by bus (15 minutes), cycling (15 minutes), or walking (45 minutes), depending on the weather and/or my mood.
Once I’m in the city it’s a short five minute walk to the office in the beautiful Guildhall. I’ll usually pop to Society Cafe across the road from my office to grab myself a large mocha before getting in.
Once at the office I tend to get set up before going back through the emails I flagged earlier to get them replied to. Then I’ll check Skype to make sure all the team that are currently online are okay, and to answer any questions they may have. I’ll then crack on with whatever the plan for the day is.
At around 4:00pm I proceed with step two of my day when I’m in LA (the part at Jinky’s — see below) and my ‘morning’ routine starts for a second time.
When I’m in Los Angeles
I wake up around 7:00am and get straight into the shower, do my teeth, and proceed to get a message from Mark (CEO of Xfire) to see if I want to grab breakfast (I’ve no idea why he asks as we do it most days).
Sometimes I go for a quick run on the beach, but only if I have the time. I then pick out my outfit for the day; usually a pair of jeans, a t-shirt, and some comfy trainers.
I leave the apartment around 8:00am to walk to 4th and Wilshire to meet up with Mark and walk over to Jinky’s for breakfast, which is only a couple blocks away.
Over breakfast we discuss the plan for the day, any meetings we might have, and priorities for development. After eating a hearty meal and drinking lots of coffee we make our way back to the office. Sometimes I’ll pick up a cup of (English) tea from a place on the promenade so I can enjoy a little slice of home when I get back to the office.
Once there we catch up with the rest of the team, who are usually in by then. We’ll normally have a quick game of Mortal Kombat 2 on the arcade machine before cracking on with the day.
My weekend routine is pretty much the same in both locations, but not consistent. Sometimes I’ll spend the entire weekend at home gaming and doing a few bits of work, other times I’ll go out with the lads during the day to watch a few games on television (English Premier League).
If I’m lucky enough to have my fiancée at home on either day (she runs a restaurant) we’ll usually visit family or generally try and get out for the day.
Before I’m even completely awake I’ll take the dogs for a walk.
We recently adopted an old arthritic dog who is hard of hearing and missing an eyeball. With him bumping and stumbling into every obstacle and me without coffee, we make for a sad team.
Eventually we make it back home and my sweetheart always has coffee and fresh green juice waiting for me.
I usually get out of the bed between 9:00 and 9:30am, but I start waking up around 8:30 using Jawbone UP’s smart alarm — it detects when I’m in light sleep and vibrates. I stay in bed for a bit longer before getting out of it. No snooze button.
Afterwards I drink a glass of water, put on my exercise clothes, and then it’s off to the gym for one hour of brisk walking. While I’m there, I listen to podcasts or some crazily epic music to get motivated.
Back from the gym, I drink another glass of water, take my vitamins (A, C and D) and some Omeprazole, before hitting the shower.
With the workout done, I sit at my desk to get ready for the work day ahead. I do this by writing down the most important tasks for the day ahead in my Hobonichi Planner, using a Lamy Safari fountain pen. As a journaling exercise I jot down a list of things that will make my day remarkable.
Next task is brewing some coffee. This is one of my favorite activities, but unfortunately it’s something I haven’t been doing a lot — stomachache is moving me to the tea route. When I do make coffee, I use fresh roasted beans and the Aeropress or a Hario One Cup Cafeor. Otherwise, It’s green tea time for me.
While my beverage of choice brews, I do my first round on Lift, making sure I checked all the habits I made progress in the previous day. After that, I check email and RSS feeds. Around 10:30am it’s time to wake up my wife. I’ll spend some time with her and get started on real work right after. Morning completed.
I wake up and do exercises for 30-45 minutes before taking a cold shower. As I don’t drink coffee, this is the only thing that wakes me up ;)
My morning routine goes like this: I wake up precisely at 6:00am, do twenty minutes of meditation until 6:20, and then I’ll usually have a call with my virtual assistant at 6:30am to talk about the day ahead.
Then, I’ll write or do other creative, important, and difficult work for 1-2 hours, before having breakfast and getting ready for the day. I usually leave my house around 9:00am to go to the office space I’m working from.
I usually wake up between 10 and 11:00am and fiddle in the bed for another hour.
Eventually I’ll get up, shower, and get on the computer for at least a minute to see if I have any interesting emails lined up for me. I don’t actually answer any right away, but the curiosity kills me. Same with Twitter, I scroll through the feed to see if anyone posted a useful link that I can read later.
I wake up between 07:00 and 09:00am (after 7-9 hours of sleep) and I don’t put my feet on the floor until I’ve thought about one action I’m really excited about taking that day.
I then shower, stretch, eat a high protein breakfast, meditate, and write down three things I’m grateful for in my notebook before reading 10% of a Kindle book. I do all this before I turn on my laptop.
Once I’ve done that, I turn on my laptop, check my emails (but don’t immediately return them), and write my five most important tasks (MITs) for the day. I’ll then write in my journal until I feel happy with what I’ve done, and begin my MITs.
5:30-6:00am: My alarm wakes me up somewhere in this time frame. I quickly shut it off so it doesn’t wake my fiancé. I get up, stretch a bit, and walk to the bathroom. I splash my face with cold water, put in my contacts, and throw on my gym clothes (which I prepped the night before). I look over my e-mail and make sure there’s nothing pressing I need to attend to. I also check Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
6:00-6:45am: Next I walk into the kitchen and make myself a glass or two of fresh lemon water. I plug in my kettle to make some coffee using a French Press – it tastes best that way! While the water’s heating up, I prep my house for the day. If there’s laundry and/or dishes to be put away, I do that first. I walk the dog. I’ll do whatever cleaning wasn’t done the night before. By then, the water is hot and the coffee is ready (thank goodness). I take my coffee into the office and look at my to-do list (which I prepped the night before). I mark off my top three tasks of the day. I know that if I do these three tasks, I’ll feel accomplished at the end of the day. If there’s some more time and I feel inclined, I read the news.
6:45-7:00am: I use these fifteen minutes to do some morning yoga/meditation. This helps me get into the proper mindset to accomplish those top three tasks I outlined earlier. This also helps me stay grounded, positive, and productive throughout the day.
7:00-8:00am: The next hour is dedicated to working on my body – I’ll either go for a five or six-mile run, do some strength training, or go to the gym and work on the elliptical, stationary bike, or treadmill. I like to rotate my workouts every day. If I’m in the gym, I’ll watch either Morning Joe or The Today Show on the cardio machines. I prefer working out on an empty stomach – if I work out after eating, I feel sick and sluggish.
8:00-8:30am: After my workout I make sure I drink a liter of water. I’ll then take some coconut oil for oil pulling while I’m taking a shower. Then I’ll brush my teeth, dry my hair, and get dressed. I’ll then enjoy my breakfast smoothie (which I prepped the night before). At 8:30am, I’m ready to head over with more water to my office to start working! Having this schedule helps keep me in check as I work from home daily.
My morning routine begins at 5:00am, a time suggested in a random Elmore Leonard video, rather than invented by me. Once I’m awake I brush my teeth and walk downstairs to begin my fiction writing.
Those days, the tired days, having ten minutes to myself is a treat before I confront the blank page. I never prepare for the morning, there’s no pre-write; just spontaneous words on the page. Amazingly, a short while later, it’s done. During the 30-60 minutes it takes to write, edit, and publish that day’s continuation of the current story, I’ll make coffee and drink it.
Most days I don’t go back to bed because I cherish that time to myself, about an hour before the wife and kiddos wake up. I’ll sip on the coffee, work on my novel, browse the internet, check email and my phone, research stocks, or just read.
My alarm goes off at 6:00am, I then make a decision regarding whether or not I want to wash my hair that day. If I decide to go for a wash, I head to the shower – if not, I press snooze until 6:30, when my manfriend’s alarm goes off.
I do my hair and makeup and dress myself, which usually takes about 20-30 minutes, depending on my level of comatose for that given morning. I always pick out my outfits and hang them on display before I go to bed; otherwise I will spend an additional fifteen minutes throwing clothing about the room before (always) eventually deciding to wear whatever my first choice was. Then, I turn on the Keurig.
I take Sherman (our dog) outside for his morning routine and feed him. At this point it’s probably around 7 or 7:15am and the manfriend is usually done showering.
While I make tea and coffee in the Keurig, he makes breakfast – usually bacon and eggs. Sherman belligerently lies in the middle of the kitchen, hoping we’ll drop something. Then, we eat together with no technology or TV, just chatting about our upcoming days. At 8:00am, he leaves for work and I watch one episode of The Office (US version) while I finish my tea. Finally, I walk the two blocks to work at 8:30.
I typically wake up between 9-10:00am and will grab a quick glass of water and a small snack before heading to the gym for a short thirty-minute circuit workout.
After that I will come home, shower, and head to the computer for work.
Every morning I wake up to my alarm clock at around 6:00am. This isn’t my ‘get out of bed’ alarm, it’s a ‘take a stomach acid pill’ alarm. You have to take these things an hour before you eat anything and I like to have breakfast as soon as the coffee’s ready around seven.
So I swallow a tiny yellow pill and go back to sleep for an hour. Then I get up around seven-ish, usually after hitting the snooze button four or five times. My dog Tank sleeps out in the living room and so the first thing every morning is to get him his breakfast. While he’s eating I get the coffee going and let him out in the yard for a pee.
My boyfriend works the graveyard shift so it’s important for me to get all my clothes and toiletries out of the bedroom before he gets home at eight, so I usually boot up my laptop, and while it’s doing its thing I go choose my outfit of the day and make sure I have everything I’ll need for the day.
By the time that’s all done the coffee’s ready and I’ll fix myself whatever it is I feel like eating. I don’t believe in breakfast food. You can eat whatever you want for whatever meal. I’m more interested in listening to my body than forcing myself to eat cereal because it’s normal. This morning, for example, cheese and crackers. Yesterday; leftover sausages.
Next I’ll take an antidepressant pill that helps with my panic disorder, sit down, sometimes on the “dog couch” beside Tank (which he loves) and sometimes on the human couch if I don’t want to get dog hair all over me, and I go online. The morning is when I feel the most creative and productive, so I will sometimes work on my blog, write, edit photos, or get back to people’s emails.
My boyfriend gets home around 8:00am, so I chat with him a bit while he eats, and then I tuck him into bed and start getting ready for work. I am a very low maintenance kind of lady. I have two jobs, one in a tattoo shop and one in a college, so depending on where I’m going I might take a bit more time to brush my hair or whatever, but I can usually go from pajamas to ready in fifteen or twenty minutes. I shower at night, in case you were wondering.
And around 8:30 I put on my shoes, walk to the bus stop, and take the bus to work.
I wake up sometime between 6-7:00am, depending on when my children wake up or whether my wife’s going for a run. I have a Lumie Sunrise alarm clock which sometimes wakes us up, sometimes doesn’t. Our kids, however, can always be relied upon! My wife and I used to take it in turns to go running on alternate days, but I found (bizarrely) that it seems to be a trigger for my migraines. It’s a real shame, as I used to really enjoy it.
It’s usually me who goes downstairs with my two kids (ages 3 and 7) to get us breakfast while my wife goes for a run or gets ready. I have a combination of fresh fruit, a special nut/seed mixture my wife puts together, and Greek yogurt. I also have a cup of tea (I’m down to one cup of coffee with my lunch, these days).
When we’re finished I get our youngest dressed and then tag-team with my wife. I have a quick wash and do my exercises (including press-ups / sit-ups / stretching) and then head downstairs to help our eldest with either Khan Academy or Duolingo.
After that, I put together the things I need for the rest of the morning and we all walk our eldest child to school. I then head to the library to do some work and then either go to the gym or swimming before lunch, after which I have a nice, peaceful shower.
I wake up, take a shower, get dressed, drink a glass of water, write down three things I’m grateful for, read twenty pages of a book, then get into whatever my work is for the day.
The success of my morning routine lies in the ordinary, not the extraordinary. While I admire people who start the day with running and meditation, I am not one of them.
I’m a big believer in the power of quotes and I always have one pined to my bedside locker. My current quote is “Ships are safe in the harbour, but that is not what ships are built for”. I love that the first thing I see everyday is something positive.
I follow the same steps every morning when I get out of bed: stretch briefly, open the curtains and a window, and make my bed. There’s a teddy bear I’ve had since I was three days old so he gets pride of place on the bed.
I always choose my clothes for the day the night before as I find that this eliminates a lot of potential stress. I try to play an upbeat song while I’m getting ready. Today my song of choice was Keep Your Head Up by Ben Howard.
I get out of bed at 7:15am and wash up in the bathroom before heading downstairs to spend some time with my very elderly dog and make and eat breakfast while I catch up on Instagram, Twitter, etc.
While downstairs I put together a packed lunch if I’m taking one – which I really try to do. I head upstairs, brush my teeth, and blast some upbeat music while I get dressed and do my makeup and hair. By this time I’ve realized I have extra time before I have to leave for work, so I pack my bag and sit down with a book or catch up on reading blogs.
Around 8:15am, I head out the door to catch the bus and ferry!
My day begins at 6:30am with a song from my iPhone. As a classical singer in my spare time, I simply can’t wake up without music; an alarm buzzer would send me straight to the snooze button.
After turning off my alarm, I hop out of bed and wake up my boxer, Scarlett. She’s a sound sleeper and not a morning “person.” Once she’s up, I grab her leash and we scoot outside for a brisk morning walk. If it’s a nice day, we’ll take a leisurely stroll around our grassy neighborhood, but on rainy mornings it’s more of a mad dash until she does her “business.” Then it’s back inside for her breakfast.
While Scarlett’s chowing down, I start my Keurig (it’s quick and beyond effortless). I stir cream in my French Roast and then head to the shower.
After bathing I dress while listening to more music – typically Broadway show tunes or a choral piece. Singing paired with coffee is the perfect morning cocktail.
Once dressed, I get Scarlett settled into her bed for the day. She hangs out while listening to my music (it stays on to keep her “company” during the day). I try and leave the house by 7:45am, since traffic in my city of Austin, Texas, can be heavy and unpredictable. I like to tune to the local NPR station to catch the day’s news and then connect my iPhone to my car stereo to play my commuting playlist through Spotify. My playlist includes a mix of Broadway, eighties hits, and a few dance tracks to keep me energized.
By 8:30am I’m pulling into my company’s downtown parking garage and I’m ready to start my workday! I slip into my office, prep a new cup of coffee and hop on email and social media sites to get a feel for the day ahead.
I get up between 6:45-7:15am via the Sleep Cycle iPhone app then get dressed to work from home. (If I have to be out that day I shower at this point.)
I feed the cat (the most consistent part of the routine because she won’t let me forget!), grab a big glass of water, and settle onto the couch with my phone nearby to do my morning pages. The official morning pages concept as put together by Julia Cameron requires three pages of free-form writing, but I set my phone timer for fifteen minutes so I know how long the writing will take. I usually get out any worries I have about the day then either think through what I plan to do or just write about whatever comes up.
After writing, I do a meditation session. I read and loved the book Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Prof Mark Williams and Dr Danny Penman, and I use one or two of the authors’ recorded meditations each morning.
Once I’ve written out anything that’s worrying me and done meditation to make sure I start my day calm and peaceful, I go to the computer and do my daily planning. I check my calendar to see if there’s anything I need to do at a particular time, and then slot in my tasks. My writing or editing, depending on what phase I’m in with my current novel, always gets first priority, and the 10-12 and 3-5 time slots, and I fit in whatever else I have to do around that.
Then I fill in my 5 Minute Journal on my iPhone, listing three things for which I’m grateful and three which would make my day great. It’s a bit of a duplication of my planning, but I have always wanted to journal and this app makes it easy to do. (I also fill it in at night, listing three great things that happened that day and anything I could have done to make the day better.)
When this is done I glance at an online news site to make sure I have a clue of what’s going on in the world, and then it’s breakfast time. After my husband leaves for work I spend a few minutes tidying up so my work environment is nice and then get down to writing!
The curtains are drawn tight but I wake with the first light of day. I’ve got a travel alarm clock with bright green numbers that makes a nasty noise. I must replace it.
I don’t jump out of bed immediately. Instead, I think about the absurdity of the human condition and how fast technology is moving and how we just happen to be alive at the time that our species begins to leave Earth. I can’t help it. I just need to get it out of the way so it doesn’t blindside me later in the day.
So my first thought is always… WOAH.
I get out of bed, make it, then open the curtains and fully open the window. I put on running gear. Next, I walk across the hall and boil some water. I cut a slice of lemon and put it in a mug, then I go and clean my teeth.
I drink half a cup of hot lemon stood at the window. Next, I’m out the door for a sunrise jog. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world; the colours in the early morning need appreciating. I don’t run far. Just to get the blood pumping. About fifteen minutes.
I’m recovering from shoulder surgery so the tedious but important rehab exercises come next. When they’re done, I’ll meditate for five minutes. Sometimes longer.
Next I go back into the kitchen and throw whatever smoothie ingredients I have into a blender. No set recipe. I like to experiment. I set the blender to the smoothie option and have a quick shower while it does its thing. I start hot but end with ice cold lunacy because that’s what James Bond did. This is the only part of my day that’s like James Bond’s. An easy win.
I dress, sink the smoothie and hand grind eight grams of coffee. Then I go to my desk.
As of last weekend my morning routine changed a ton! My significant other and I got a puppy, Dexter, and our mornings have definitely changed as a result. With that said, this is my brand new morning routine:
6:00am: The first time I wake up is to take Dex outside to use the bathroom, after which I go back to bed for about an hour while he does the same.
7:00am: I wake up a second time because Dex is officially up and chewing on his toy bear or kong (grateful we bought the both of them). While he occupies himself, I’m watching him play and going through email and notifications to see what I’m working with for the day.
I’ll then put my phone down so I can actually boot my brain up before I’m out of bed and working. I’m trying to get into the habit of not checking much on my phone until I’m fully awake and ready for the day to start.
7:30am: I’m out of bed (again) to feed Dex breakfast and walk aimlessly around the house before I pick out my clothes for the day.
8:00am: Breakfast time! I love eating, so this is one of my most favorite parts of the morning.
9:00am: Time to shower, brush my teeth, get dressed, etc.
10:00am: Dex goes for a quick walk, post-breakfast.
10:15am: My work day begins and I organize my to-do list for the day, prioritizing, adding, and checking off items as I go.
10:30am: I’m checking, responding to, and sending out emails that were on my list.
11:00am: I get to work on Liberio, whether it’s answering support tickets, designing, marketing, or business related stuff.
My morning routine is currently eighteen tasks. It didn’t start this way.
As I mention in my article on habit forming it started with flossing my teeth after showering and marking on the wall calendar that I did. One thing. If I forgot, I’d run up to the bathroom and floss as soon as I remembered.
Once the flossing habit was established I added an additional task: clean my glasses. Same process; cross it off on the calendar once completed, do it immediately if I realized I hadn’t yet.
Over the course of two years I’ve reached eighteen items:
- Wake between 5:00-5:30am.
- Say “It’s going to be a great day” aloud in front of the mirror after brushing teeth.
- 25 situps.
- 25 pushups.
- 25 squats.
- 25 lunges each leg.
- Who and what am I grateful for?
- Daily affirmations.
- Review daily goals, 90-day goals, 5-year goals and vision.
- 20 minute mindful meditation.
- Review daily goals, 90-day goals, 5-year goals and vision.
- Weight self.
- Clean glasses.
- Get dressed.
- Eat a high protein breakfast, usually two eggs fried or an omelet.
- Post three things on social media.
I usually wake up (not get up) and either lay there for second, or get straight up to use the bathroom. While I am in there I’ll usually wash my face with water, before laying back down for a few minutes to let my mind boot up. I’ll then do a little stretch, sit up, take a breathe, and actually get up.
One of the first things I do after getting up is stretch and brush my hair. I don’t feel clean in the morning unless I wash my face and brush my hair. Then, I’m ready to continue on.
I may or may not eat breakfast. Sometimes, I wake up not hungry at all, but more often than not I know that in an hour I’ll be famished so sometimes I’ll force myself to eat something so I won’t be stuck in a situation where I’ll need to wait longer to get some food.
I like to sleep with the curtains and window open to wake up as naturally as possible.
At 5:20am I wake up and make myself a hot water with the juice of one fresh lemon. Afterwards I come back to my room and meditate for twenty minutes before embarking on my morning pages whilst drinking my hot water and lemon. Inspired by an amazing book called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, I have been doing my morning pages for over five years now. Every day I write questions and answers of gratitude and what I would like to achieve that day in relation to my new business.
Afterwards I’ll do 100 squats (I have recently committed to do a 100 a day, for 100 days). When I’m done, I get myself ready and either go to yoga or walk down to Bondi Beach for a morning walk and dip in the ocean, depending on the time of year.
I guess my morning routine depends entirely on whether or not I oversleep, which happens quite often as I’m not a morning person, per se.
During the week I usually wake up at 6:00am. I sneak out of the bed in the dark, not to wake my boyfriend, and head to the bathroom to take a shower and get ready for work.
Next I’ll quickly bike to the train station (I have to commute since I work in Amsterdam and live in Leiden). The train takes about 40 minutes, followed by me taking a tram and walking to my office that’s actually located in the church! So I can technically say I go to church every day ;)
I love mornings. They’re my favorite time of day. Each night’s sleep serves to ‘press the reset button on life’. I love that.
I could pretend that I have a precise routine that I follow every morning. I don’t. My routine is aspirational; I shoot for it, and feel much better when I achieve it. But somedays, I wake up cranky or tired. That’s just life.
This is usually how it goes:
5:45am: My iPhone alarm goes off and I rustle around the covers to find it. I rouse myself. Resist the temptation to check Instagram. Hold onto my dream for as long as possible. Try to drink some water, but find it too cold.
I settle myself amongst the pillows to write my morning pages. Morning pages are magic. Taking twenty minutes to download my brain clears space for a new day by allowing me to unravel the things that are irking or upsetting me. I’m a happier, more productive person if I do my morning pages.
6:15am: Some mornings, I’ll do ten minutes of meditation usually plopped on the floor beside my bed. I say meditate, but really I just close my eyes, enjoy the quiet and think about things. I think about winning an Emmy, or meeting an idol or saving the world. I dream about the day that a life-changing email lands in my inbox, or I meet someone who blows my mind. I think about my friends and all the crazy shit we do, or wanna do. I’m a bit sad when the alarm goes after ten minutes and it’s time to return to the real world. Also, I feel like I did the meditation wrong, but it was fun so I don’t care.
6:30am: Jump in the shower. Ask myself to be quick, and then quickly get distracted by the lemony bubbles and whatever weird thought process is going on in my brain. Today: How come onions can have one rotten layer, but the rest is fine? Dry off. Look at myself in the mirror and try to think nice things about my body. Look up at the skylight and hope there’s no-one prying a look in. I’ve been in this apartment for months, and I still expect to see an intruder at least three times a day.
Get dressed. If I’m working from home, I sometimes wear sweats. If I feel like a shlep, I wear heels though they usually get discarded for my moccasins by noon.
7:00am: Sit down at my writing desk, which is really just a regular desk from Target that I imbued with the title ‘writing desk’ to help me feel like a ‘real’ writer. Check email and then decide not to answer anything, unless it makes me laugh or think. Check Feedly, and click on anything that grabs my eye. Check the headlines on The Irish Times. Start mulling on what needs to be done. Make a list/mind-map. Start working.
8:30am: Once I get hungry, my brain slows down. I have the same breakfast pretty much every day: two scrambled eggs (which usually end up vaguely omlette-like since I can’t multi-task), half an avocado, some cheese, and warm wholewheat bread. I try not to drink too much coffee since it makes me paranoid. But I love it too much to cut it out completely.
9:00am: I work again. I keep my mornings for thinking work; the afternoons for minutiae. As I write, I keep a running list of things that occur to me. As my focus wavers, I wander onto twitter or back to Feedly. I aim to get the bulk of my writing done by noon.
My iPhone alarm goes off really loud, across the other side of the apartment, at 5:30am.
Before that, my dawn simulator begins to light up my bedroom so that I am starting to wake subtly. If everything goes to plan, my first movement is that of a light stretch, before I get a cold glass of water, turn on the lights, and put on warm clothes (my apartment gets really cold in the winter).
If I don’t make it through this first movement, I’m back in bed snoozing for probably an hour or more, which then becomes a source of defeat for me throughout the day.
After I’ve made it through this part of the routine, I start to boil my eggs and water for my green tea. If everything has gone to plan, I have carved out an hour to work on music or other personal projects.
Finally after getting cleaned up, I’m out the door for my long commute to work.
My day usually starts by waking up between 7:00-7:15 am. I’m by no means a morning person, so it usually takes me a few minutes to get out of bed. Then, I make myself my morning smoothie and afterwards I’ll enjoy a cup of either Mr. Espresso or Starbucks coffee (black).
During this time I’ll spend at least ten minutes in prayer, and a few more minutes reading.
I work a variety of specialized jobs (classical trumpet teacher at a university, recording engineer, coffee roaster), so my routine has to be flexible. I find it easiest to follow an ordered routine instead of a time-of-day one, so after long nighttime concerts I can sleep in and still maintain some normalcy.
I wake up approximately two hours before my first engagement of the day by the Sleep Cycle alarm which I snooze infinitely (entirely defeating the purpose). I immediately go downstairs and make a pour-over of coffee, a process which takes a total of fifteen minutes (the pour-over itself takes only four minutes, but I digress).
If I’m in a hurry, a quick bowl of cereal and some light reading at the kitchen table (currently Mason Currey’s Daily Rituals, appropriately!) are all I can afford. If I have the morning, though, I take my coffee into the living room and sit on the couch with my computer. There I do a Lumosity brain workout followed by thirty-some minutes on Kahn Academy, just to keep myself at a basic level of intelligence (I may have a master’s degree, but advanced high school math can still be tricky for me if I don’t practice).
Afterward I’ll have a big breakfast or brunch: thinking hard and drinking coffee really works up an appetite! Finally, a shower before I leave the house, so my teeth are brushed and the rest of me is clean going forward with the day.
Typically I go to work at one job, then have to shift to a second job in the afternoon. But no matter what work I do I must warm-up and practice trumpet every day for at least an hour (not unlike an athlete, musicians must stay in shape!). I have to do this first-thing when I return home, or it won’t really get done properly. If I wake up early enough and have enough time I try to do this before work, but this remains a difficult change to make. When practicing, I enlist the help of a highly-structured timer (an app called Seconds Pro) that I’ve designed to tell me what to play and for how long. Completion of this timed routine is all that is requisite, though it is often followed by a long session of unstructured practice.
As a coffee roaster (for Recess Coffee), the focus is on production efficiency. Quality comes first, but hourly employment of this kind demands a great deal of high-quality output for a minimum of hours paid. Between roasts (which themselves are carefully timed), I use a timer to make sure I have cooled the previous roast sufficiently but not let the roaster cool too much, a precise 5 minutes and 20 seconds. With the timing passively controlled for me, I can focus on quality without distraction!
At night, if I have been home for long enough to get a few things done, I try to keep the artificial light to a minimum and go to sleep with the sun (it’s very hard to brush your teeth in the dark!). Of course, most nights are either playing or recording concerts, so I’m home long after the sun has gone down! On these nights I relax with a heavy philosophical text that is difficult and tiring, and promptly have no difficulty falling asleep.
I usually try to wake at 7:00am, quickly stumbling into the kitchen to pour a glass of water. Next I do my best to get some natural light in the room, a task that’s not always so easy in the dead of Wisconsin winter, but I’m just looking for as much vitamin D as I can manage.
I unroll a yoga mat and blearily run through a routine I learned from Tara Stiles’ YouTube channel – I think it’s the “superhero” routine, but it’s not anything too intense. It does include some twists and balance poses (Warrior 3 and Tree), which are challenging enough to wake me up mentally as well as get the blood pumping.
Then I turn on my coffee maker (which my lovely partner has been kind enough to prep for me before heading off to work a few hours before) and sit, soto-zen style, for fifteen minutes. If I’m feeling rushed for time, I sit for twenty minutes instead (yeah, I know, but it’s part of the “trying to be unhurried” discipline).
After the fifteen minutes, I sit with my journal (a leather-bound lined acid free book) and write with a nice heavy fountain pen while I have my coffee. It’s two pages a day, usually, just a stream-of-consciousness. Part of it is for my own brain, part of it is my awareness that I have kids and grandkids who might enjoy reading my thoughts as much as I enjoy reading my ancestors. It’s also a pleasurable experience to have the ink flowing over the paper, to have that quiet in the morning (occasionally broken by music, but not usually).
Finally I’ll fix myself a light breakfast – usually some fresh fruit and toast – and either read my newsfeed or watch a TED talk while I eat. Once breakfast is done, I’ll get dressed (or not, since I work at home) and begin focusing on the actual tasks of the day.
My alarm goes off at 6:30am, playing music from my iPod which is usually on shuffle, so it’s always a surprise to see what I wake up to. Last week I decided not to use the snooze button anymore, and it’s been pretty easy to get used to. After waking up and listening to the music I have to get up pretty quickly so to beat my roommates to the shower.
Once I’ve taken a shower I get dressed and fix my hair before it dries. I then move downstairs into the kitchen for breakfast before brushing my teeth, doing my makeup, cleaning my room for a little bit, all so I’m ready to leave the house around 8:00am.
I live across from my campus, so I’m at the office and school (same building, I work as a project manager at a student company located at my university) about ten minutes later. That short walk is just enough to wake my body up. Classes and most of my colleagues start at 9:00am, so I have the office to myself for a full hour. That one hour makes me feel great, I am very productive in the morning, so I’ll feel like I have already accomplished something before I even get started on my appointments or classes.
I recently discovered the beauty of listening to audiobooks for mundane tasks like cooking and, yes, my morning routine. I usually listen to educational books; fictional books I save for when I actually take some time to read and lay down on the couch and relax. With audiobooks I get the privilege of not being so bored all the time while having all the freedom to move around. On top of that it also seems to wake up my mind quite well.
My morning routine usually starts with an alarm on my iPhone at 6:51am (used to be 7:00am but now I’m trying to cut down some sleeping time; my body adapts quickly so small changes won’t be that miserable).
After that I quickly skim through email, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram on my iPhone. If there are any problems or actions needed I take them with me and go for a run to the gym. I intentionally signed up for a gym 2.5 km away so I’m forced to run every morning.
Once at the gym I do some stretching, choosing to work out different muscle groups on different days. After a quick 30-40 minute workout I run back home and take a shower before preparing lunch for the day.
After the shower I usually feel quite rested and ready for breakfast; I love eating breakfast. Some days it consists of oatmeal with Greek yogurt and some berries or fruits, other days I have six eggs with vegetables and toasted bread.
After breakfast I head to the office where I grab a cup of coffee and quickly start making a prioritized list of tasks for the day. If there were any problems during my very early email check there’s a good chance that now it doesn’t seem so complicated as my brain has probably been processing something while I was busy in the gym. Unfortunately I am still failing to get straight into work, usually opting to spend 5-10 minutes scrolling Twitter, Dribble, or Facebook, only then get started on the things that have to be done.
Let’s just get this out there: I’m not a huge morning person, so when I talk about my “morning” I’m being a bit liberal with the term. That said, I typically wake up, check my phone for important messages, and then fix a glass of ice water. I’m not sure whether or not to believe that this jump starts your metabolism, but I do know that my body is always dehydrated when I wake up so this helps get me on track.
Immediately afterwards I grab myself a cup of coffee (Starbucks Pike Place, with cream and sugar). This process has become much easier since we got a Keurig a couple of years ago.
Once I’ve been caffeinated a little, I sidle up to my computer to check and respond to email. I’ve discovered that I’m at my most creative during the first two hours after I wake up, so I try to do tasks like illustration, web design, or reading articles that I queued up the night before. This also helps me get to sleep if I’m stuck on a problem, because I know the solution usually comes to me in the morning. I don’t stress about it, I just tuck it into a room in the back of my mind and sleep on it.
At around 8-8:30am my iPhone starts talking to my brain, and after a grumpy sigh, I give in, grabbing it to check social media, emails, or news for about five minutes or so.
After getting up and refreshing myself I religiously brew a cup of coffee before getting ready to head out. I live in central London, and there’s nothing I enjoy more than grabbing my bicycle and sprinting to my office in Soho as my commute. The fresh air on my face really wakes me up, and by the time I arrive at my desk I am ready to kick off another great day.
My day begins like a large percentage of other peoples; cursing my alarm clock and abusing the snooze button. Damn that snooze button. It’s got the face of James Franco and the voice of Gilbert Gottfried. I give in to its noise and roll over to wake up my main squeeze (it’s important that no one in the house enjoy sleep if I’m awake).
I walk my dog, Lisa, then feed her and my three-legged cat, Sean. That’s when my morning begins to improve. Half-ass showering happens next, then I head to my office, where breakfast and coffee await me. The key to my morning happiness is waiting until I get to work to have breakfast and coffee.
I keep a consistent routine going as much as possible. I’m a creature of habit, and it sets the tone of my day for control and consistency.
My first alarm goes off at 4:30am, when I check my phone for email or anything interesting on Facebook. It’s the snooze from there until the second alarm at 5:30am, unless I have something urgent to handle. At this point I wake up, start the coffee, greet the pets (I have seven guinea pigs, two birds, and a cat), give the guinea pigs their fresh food, and hop in the shower.
Once I’m out I brush my teeth and comb out my hair, before proceeding to make the bed and get dressed. If anything is going to go awry, this is where it happens! On occasion, I find myself with ‘nothing to wear’ and a closet full of clothes.
After getting dressed I pour a cup of coffee and do my makeup and hair. Somewhere in the routine is another one or two cups of coffee, and one to go. After that, I make a breakfast that I take to work, and pack a lunch. My final steps before going out the door are to feed and water all of the animals and give them all some attention, set the thermostat, pack my laptop, and open the blinds; then I’m out, watering the garden on the way out the door.
I work a typical 8:00-5:00 job, but luckily my schedule allows me some freedom.
I prefer to begin my workday around 6:00am. That being said, I wake up at 5:00am each workday, heading straight to the bathroom to splash my face with cool water. After splashing, I’m on to a short 5-10 minute session of morning yoga compromising of a few sun salutation sequences to stretch me out and get my blood flowing.
After stretching, it’s contacts in, teeth brushed, face moisturized, and vitamins taken. After this, I’ll head into the closet to get dressed before kissing the wife goodbye and heading out to the kitchen.
In the kitchen I fire up the Keurig for my morning coffee. This goes into a travel mug for my drive to work. While that’s brewing, I’ll pack my cold foods into my lunchbox, which I will have already prepared the previous night. I grab my coffee and keys, and I’m out the door.
I’ll spend my ~20 minute drive to work listening to the morning talk radio show and getting my mind ready for the day ahead. I go over my mental checklist of daily tasks and make sure I’m mentally prepared for the day; usually eating my breakfast on the drive over.
I arrive at work about 6:00am. Once in my office, powering up the computer is first on my list. While it boots up, I flip my desk calendar to the new date, an important part of my routine to get me into the present day. I’ll login and check my emails for anything that is immediately actionable that morning.
After a quick email check, it’s day planning time. I look at my overall to-do list on desk and prioritize what needs to be done that day. Then I’ll go through my notebook to ensure that anything I noted the previous day is captured on my list. After checking the previous day, I begin a new page for that day in my notebook.
The top of the page lists my meetings for that day, next is the to-do list with the specific tasks I am to focus on that day. The rest of the page will be filled with notes from meetings or working throughout the day.
After twenty minutes or so of day planning, my structured routine ends and the craziness of the day begins.
I usually wake up between 6:30 and 8:30am each morning, before instantly making my bed and putting water on to boil in preparation for my morning coffee.
While I’m making coffee I like to write a magnetic poem on the refrigerator. When my coffee’s ready I take it to my desk where I’ll write absolutely anything, very quickly, in a certain notebook. I try to write three pages, but sometimes (actually, most of the time) I write less.
Afterwards I’ll check my email and calendar, and write down what I want to do during the day. At 9:00am I’ll either go to yoga or head on over to the gym.
Normally I get up around 6:30am to shower and get organised for the day. I always prefer ‘real’ coffee made in an (Italian) stove top coffee-pot, whilst making my son’s lunch for school.
I usually drive to work at around 7:45am to hopefully arrive at my desk 45 minutes later. Within the hour, I will purchase a triple-shot latte from the espresso bar to satisfy my caffeine requirements. To be honest, breakfast doesn’t really factor high on my priority list, probably time to change that! Sometimes I will have a cinnamon brioche, blueberry muffin, or cereal, just for the record.
My alarm goes off at 7:35am on weekdays – one hour before I leave the house to walk to college. I’m a morning person, however I do allow myself five minutes before showering. In these five minutes I don’t rest, instead opting to lay in bed and gather my thoughts on what my ambitions for the day ahead are. This usually takes a few moments before I put on my glasses, and make my bed.
Next I’ll shower quickly, never spending longer than ten minutes in the bathroom. I enjoy a relatively cold shower, finding the lower temperatures help me wake up. From there I get dressed, spray on some cologne, and put on my shoes.
I eat breakfast every day, even when I’m not hungry. This usually consists of a bowl of cereal and a glass of apple juice – nothing fancy. I brush my teeth immediately after eating, before grabbing my bag and a bottle of water and heading out the door. My college opens at 8:40am, and though I only have lessons this early two days a week I usually like to go in at this time to crack through any work I have assigned; finding myself more productive away from the distractions of home.
I usually work one day each weekend, but my start time changes. I have exactly the same routine for getting up before work, just allowing myself an extra five minutes for the slightly longer walk. On the one day a week I don’t work I turn off my alarm, and have a very chilled out morning; doing everything in the same order, just taking considerably longer.
My alarm goes off at 4:00am, and I usually get up within five minutes. My coffeepot is set the night before, so it starts making coffee in time with my alarm, and by 4:05am I can enjoy my first cup.
Afterwards I make my way into the living room to allow my husband to continue sleeping. I check my email, read a bit of my current book, check my WordPress, and write a short blog entry or leave comments.
Next I’ll make a post-it note with things to do. On that post-it, I not only write “do the laundry” but also things that I tremendously enjoy, such as “read for an hour”, or “call Joanna”. At about 4:45am, my husband awakes and we head off to the gym for about half an hour.
After the gym I shower and get ready for work. My outfits were pre-made on Sunday so I just go ahead and pick one for that day. After showering I make a small breakfast – a concoction consisting of oatmeal, honey, wheat germ, and an apple.
By now, it’s about 5:50am, so I have about ten minutes to spare. If I’m dressed and my work bag is ready to go, I’ll usually putter around the condo and straighten up a bit – who wants to come home to a messy house?
At 6:00am, both my husband and I are out the door.
When I wake up, I spend the first 30 minutes meditating.
The way I do it is all about visualization. I focus on one of my passions at a time for about thirty days each. During each session I start by feeling genuinely grateful about all the ways I currently have the passion I’m focusing on in my life. Then I imagine my life as if I was living that particular passion at a ten… I try to make sure my visualizations are as detailed as possible; I visualize how I’m feeling, what I’m smelling, what I’m seeing, how people are reacting to me, and anything else that I can think of.
It’s amazing what can happen after doing this for thirty days. Strange and wonderful things occur. I consider this meditation to be practical training for feeling comfortable as a new and growing version of yourself.
After I meditate, I shower. As I am showering (I just adopted this practice last week) I focus on the Ultimate Success Mantra (USM) from Gay Hendricks’ The Big Leap. I say it out loud, let my thoughts wander, and then keep saying it again as many times as I can come back to it.
When I’m finished showering, I eat and get ready for my work day. While I’m eating, getting dressed, brushing my teeth, etc, I listen to a personal development podcast.
I wake up at 7:00am every morning; get out of bed, put on pyjamas, and put my hair in a bun. I live on a second story apartment on a busy street on New York’s Upper East Side, so I’m always surprised I managed to sleep through all the honking, footsteps, and shouting going on outside my window.
I turn on my laptop, pour coffee (which I’ve scheduled to brew at 6:45am), and touch my toes for about a minute. I listen to one guilty pleasure song before I get started, but then no more music. By 7:15am I’m working and I basically don’t look up from my computer until midday.
I live with my boyfriend, who wakes up around 9:00am and immediately takes a shower (part of my morning involves wondering how someone could take such a long shower). I also frequently contemplate going over to my standing desk to work, but always find excuses for why I should stay in the comfy chair.
I wake up at 4:00am Monday through Friday, trying to get up as quickly as possible to use the facilities, get my workout clothes on, and head to the gym where I’ll work out for an hour, and (schedule dependent) coach a CrossFit class.
Once I get home I’m responsible for breakfast. The kids wake up and immediately want to make coffee with me, so depending on the day we’ll make espressos or a pot of coffee. Once we’re all fed and dressed, the kids will pack their backpacks, I’ll pack mine, and we’ll walk to my daughter’s school before I drop her off at her classroom and head on over to my office.
My usual day starts at 7-8:00am with a gratitude prayer to the universe while lying on bed. I then hit my yoga mat to practice sun salutes and a few rhythmical asanas.
Next I’ll drink a full glass of water with lemon to detoxify my system and get myself on schedule, ahead of doing my morning meditations in the shower to energises me with blissfulness. I then get ready for my day in yoga pants while grabbing some breakfast along the way; I like to keep breakfast small and healthy, but I make sure I never miss out on it.
Our morning routine differs a little depending on where we are.
When we’re travelling, what we want to do or see that day has a big impact on things; but no matter where we are breakfast is normally our number one concern when we wake! We’ve just started jobs teaching English in South Korea, so our morning routines are becoming a lot more consistent, so let’s go with that one for now.
First of all, I am not a typical morning person, but I do my best to fake it. If it were up to me, I would be up until the wee hours every night instead of having to be in bed before (snooze) midnight.
Regardless if it’s a weekday or weekend, my routine is pretty, well, routine.
On weekdays it starts around 7:00am with a sweet-sounding alarm that sort of nudges me out of bed rather than the usual kick-in-the-teeth beeping. Once I’m up, I stretch a bit and flip on NPR on my phone so I can carry it around the house with me while moving through a few activities pretty robotically; popping in my contacts, brushing my teeth, washing my face, and applying lotion, sunscreen, and a bit of makeup.
While I’m waiting for the tea kettle to squeal, my husband and I sit together in the living room to read the news, share Facebook feed discoveries, and just wake up a bit together. About four days a week we will hit the gym before heading to work.
The first thing I do after turning off my alarm (at around 7:30am) is put my phone down.
Eyes still closed, I sit up on the edge of my bed with my hands on my knees, palms up. At this point I listen, but do not respond, to my thoughts until they slowly subside like grains of sand running out of an hourglass. I focus on my breathing while letting the tension out of my back, shoulders, and hips.
During this time my mind constantly tries to rip me away from the moment, but I do my best not to get mad at it, not to fight it. It’s kind of funny that my mind thinks that things are so urgent and I am so busy that I can’t take a minute to just be. Someone in a rush would never notice others rushing. This realization always makes me smile as I sink deeper into the bliss of being one with the sounds of my girlfriend packing her lunch in the kitchen, the cars driving up the street, and the commuters walking briskly to work, coffee in hand.
Opening my eyes, I quickly make my bed and appreciate the way the light from the window over my bed falls across the folds and ridges of my comforter. Once the room is tidy-ish, I throw on some sweats, grab a banana, and head out the door to the gym.
I always naturally wake up five minutes before my alarm, around 6:00am.
I try and give myself ten to fifteen minutes of private reflection before I get out of bed and the whirlwind of my day starts. I am normally in and out of the shower by 6:30am, and then depending on how lazy I was the night before; turn on the laptop to send documents to my school email and check what needs to be printed once I get into school.
Food for the day ahead is sorted the evening before, and an ironed shirt should be waiting for me. So at this point it’s just a case of getting dressed, doing a desperate search for the keys, wallet, phone, school lanyard, and my Oyster, and getting myself out the door.
Once at school, it’s time to get my laptop open, turn on Radio 4 for the Today programme, get to the photocopier/printer before any other staff members, and settle in my classroom for some quiet planning before briefing and tutor times at 8:45am.
I normally wake around 5:00am, six at the latest. Moving straight to the living room I feed the cat, pour a coffee, and settle on the lounging sofa next to the balcony. This is my morning office, and for the next few hours I will complete my work for the day.
I live in central Bangkok in a high rise condo, so the views below are of trees and the morning bustle. Early hours in Bangkok are surprisingly relaxed as song birds bounce between branches on trees below; Orioles, Bulbuls and exotic birds you don’t really expect to see among the surrounding concrete.
Buddhist monks are also more active at this time of day, walking the streets for morning ‘Bintabat’ and collecting offerings in their alms bowls. Locals wake and appear, offering donations while being blessed by the monks.
I’ll typically waking up at around 5:30am and listen to the early sounds of the morning before going back to sleep until 7:00am.
The kitchen will always be my first destination. Getting a cup of coffee is my morning priority. I’ll then sit cross-legged at the dining table, sipping my coffee, thinking about nothing at all while petting my dog.
At around 8:00am, I go for a swim with my Dad until around 10:00am before hitting the shower and getting ready for work. Next I’ll head to the bus terminal on an ojek (motorcycle taxi) before a forty-minute bus ride to the neighboring town. I use the first twenty minutes on the bus to do my morning meditation, choosing to read a book for the rest of the journey.
I normally wake up at around 7:30am and start getting ready for the day ahead straight away. I have coffee at 8:15am and drive to the train station for the 8:35am train.
Depending on where I’m going (work or university), on the train I’ll either read over projects for the day ahead, or read lecture notes. Except on Sundays. Sundays are for lie-ins.
I wake up around 7:00am most weekdays, sometimes earlier if I hear my two year old daughter screaming “papa, papa!” to get her out of the crib.
If the kids are asleep (I have one brand new five month old in the mix too), I head straight to the bathroom for a quick pee and then to the water filter for a big glass of water (I’ve been waking up kind of dehydrated lately).
Now that I’m in the kitchen, I start my coffee brewing process, which lately has been traditional drip using Mexican organic coffee, bought locally. The joe takes about five minutes to be ready, so I walk to a big window in my third floor apartment, and just stare outside and do a quick meditation. After the beep of the machine, I walk back into the kitchen and, being recently stung by the fatty coffee craze, cut a big chunk of grass fed butter and blend two cups of it in the Vitamix (tried other blenders before, this is the best by far).
I’ll then start sipping slowly while opening my laptop. I don’t read email until 9:00am, strict rule, but I do read my Feedly blogs, starting with Zen Habits if they have something new (I always try to start my day with something inspirational).
By 8:00am my wife, kids, and the maid are all up and running…
My alarm goes off at 7:00am. The first thing I do is check in with my body and recognize any areas that are off. Next, I drink a large glass of cold, cucumber infused water, put on some sneakers and am out the door within ten minutes for a quick jog as I watch the sunrise.
Back at home, I go into basic cardio, sun salutations, yoga poses and stretches. I finish the movement off with a five minute meditation.
Next I make myself something warm and light to eat. I’ll usually make myself some dandelion tea to go along with breakfast. I like to eat outside and savor the cool morning air, sounds of birds arising and beautiful colors painted across the sky. When I’m finished, I do some tidying up. I’ll clean the dishes, do laundry, water the plants and tidy up every room. Once everything is in it’s place, I’ll light some yummy smelling candles.
The next chunk of my morning is dedicated to making myself feel beautiful. I take a cool shower, wash my face, moisturize with sesame oil, get dressed, apply some makeup, style my hair, brush my teeth, and roll a bit of coconut perfume on my wrists and neck.
When I’m finished, I’ll put on some light acoustic music and start my studies.
During the week I get up around 7-8:00am, except for Sunday when I always awake at 6:00am for church. Afterwards, I take a shower and begin my morning activities.
I usually write at night, but I sometimes like to write in my journal before I do any morning housework as sometimes a nice dream the night before can give you some good ideas.
I run a business with my mom, both of us working together from home. After eating breakfast and cleaning the house, I sit in front of my laptop and begin my work, with a nice cup of hot coffee by my side.
I don’t have a strict morning routine. I usually like to go with the flow and tend to work when I am most motivated, so right now there are often times when I am up late into the night getting stuff done for Synage’s new product, Brightpod.
That said, I prefer to get a workout first thing in the morning – I consider it an investment in myself. On the days I practice Krav Maga I am up by 6:30am. After my class I spend a few minutes checking two of my three mailboxes (feel compelled to since I am in the web business) and help my wife get my daughter ready for school. Once they have left, I sit for some Indian chai, breakfast and scan the news real quick.
If I am in the mood to write I jot down a few things, otherwise I sit and plan my day in Teux Deux. This helps my flow of thoughts throughout the day.
There are sometimes days when I head up to my terrace and just stare at the Arabian Sea and let thoughts flow into my mind – sort of like meditation but with my eyes open.
By 10:00am I’m mostly ready to head to the office.
As a traveller and general nomad, I have two different morning routines; my morning routine when I’m staying in the same place working, and my morning routine when I’m travelling. I think I’ll share my travelling routine with you today.
I try to get up early, around 7:00am, to get washed and changed in the hostel ready for the day ahead. I normally have breakfast in the hostel as it’s usually included in my accommodation costs (I tend to look for hostels that have free breakfast).
During breakfast I plan what I’ll do that day: sights to see, transport I’ll use, and a rough budget. For this I use a travel guidebook and a notebook. If I’m with my girlfriend we plan together. If not, I either travel alone or with a few others from the hostel.
Next I’ll have a quick check online at my e-mails, Facebook, Twitter, and take care of any business associated with my blog. I won’t spend more than thirty minutes on that in the morning.
I’ll just put it out there: I am not a morning person.
On a typical morning I wake up five minutes before my alarm goes off, reset it to go off ten minutes later, then lay in bed dreading its inevitable sound before I finally drag myself up to shut it off.
I usually shower at night, so I’ll head to the bathroom to wash my face immediately after getting up. I then have my daily internal struggle: eat breakfast, or get dressed first? Though I always wake up famished, getting dressed almost always wins out. Sometimes I even lay out clothes the night before, to save my morning brainpower.
Next, I’ll make breakfast and apply makeup. These things usually happen simultaneously, as I tend to run late.
I’ve gotten migraines since I was ten years old, often triggered by lack of sleep and/or food. Making sure I feel rested is very important to my overall mental health, as I won’t worry about a headache as much when I know I’ve gotten a good eight hours.
If I don’t need to be out the door, I’ll spend the remainder of my morning emailing, practising instruments, and scheduling various tasks/gigs.
I have learned not to have a strict routine because as my interests and energy constantly change, following a rigid schedule will make me easily bored and stagnant.
Instead, I choose from activities that I feel will raise my energy levels and give me inspiration on that given day. Those usually include some kind of creative activity; from playing the piano, to knitting, writing, some kind of movement (even for just ten minutes), and either reading, or listening to guided meditations or audiobooks.
It changes depending where I am in the world, but right now I’m in a pretty good flow in Hong Kong.
I wake up at 5:00am and am out running steps within fifteen minutes. I also do a core and pull-up workout and a little meditation, before returning home at about 6:30am. Then I eat breakfast while reading, write a thousand words, and try to knock off a key task for the day.
My morning routine starts off at my workplace with 108 simple prostrations. You may have seen Tibetans prostrating from their hometown to the city of Lhasa in full prostrations on pilgrimage; it’s quite similar to that.
You can treat it as a kind of physical exercise, but done with mindfulness and focus; and on a spiritual level, prostrations benefit my mind, bringing about a kind of powerful cleansing and purification effect.
After these, I proceed to the temple where I work. I also do VA (virtual assistant) work for another temple, with all work being done digitally, regardless of location.
When all is quiet at the temple, I tend to start to doodle and sketch on my iPad. I usually sketch at random, without following any rules.
First I brush my teeth and wash my face. I take a shower and wash my hair every other day like clockwork. If I’m on a shoot, I’m usually the first one up because I’m excited and anxious and want to review the plan. After I’m finished with the washroom I wake my colleagues, like their own personal alarm clock.
When I have time, my morning routine is breakfast, quick wash, meditation, drawing an oracle card for the day, writing morning pages, deciding on my three priorities for the day, social media and email, yoga practice, and a shower.
And by the time I do all this, it’s time for lunch :)
When I’m teaching a class in the morning, I do an abridged version: breakfast (okay this one is NEVER abridged), shower, grounding exercise, oracle cards, priorities, and then either I have some time left to check my emails or I just dash out of the house in a frenzy!
I find my morning routine to be an ever-evolving process. I am not always able to do everything I’d like, but I am slowly trying to incorporate more in to my mornings. I feel the morning needs to be a slow process of awakening the mind as well as the body, and it’s really not something I would like to rush (or pack too much in to).
One key factor my mornings tend to revolve around is the creative process of preparing a healthful breakfast as well as allowing myself to take it slow and enjoy each moment as they pass.
I wake up between 6-6:30am. The very first thing I do is drink a full glass (or two) of water, followed by some form of exercise. Depending on the day it might be as simple as a five minute jog up the street, or it might be a 4,000 meter swim set.
Breakfast immediately follows. If I don’t have lunch plans, I’ll throw a meal together in the kitchen (leftovers or something easy). If there’s time before work, I’ll read any new blog posts in my inbox, or do a little writing.
I’m normally up by 6:30am, sometimes earlier, at which point I’ll go downstairs and have breakfast almost immediately (via a quick trip to the loo of course!). I flick through the BBC or Sky apps or Twitter to consume my news and sometimes I have been known to play the occasional game on my phone. I always listen to the radio in the mornings, something funny that gets me going (normally Chris Evans on BBC Radio 2).
My housemate is an early riser too so we’ll exchange grunts in passing but as soon as some form of coffee or food is imbibed, our communication improves. He’s an incredibly positive person which is fantastic to be around… I’m not sure I have ever seen him in a bad mood. We discuss our days and then go about it. He sometimes reads quietly in the front room but more often than not, he’s out the door early; he’s a builder.
I don’t have one. The fact that I am often traveling makes it pretty difficult, if not impossible, to achieve. However, I still have a “kind of” routine.
I’m not a morning person. Visualise a slug? That’s pretty much me in the mornings (the slowness, not in the sliminess)…
It takes me a long while and large amounts of coffee to emerge into the world of the living. Having said that, I also dislike deeply to waste my mornings. As I want to make the most of my days, sleeping, although a very pleasurable and healthy habit and necessity, is considered by me as not living… a bit extreme? Maybe, but I try to stay in the healthy side by sleeping no less than five or six hours.
I don’t normally use alarms, instead I leave my body to decide when it’s time for him to start the day. Under normal circumstances I wake up around 8:30 or 9:00am naturally. And I highlight the “under normal circumstances” because at the moment I’m living Down Under, thus my morning routine is completely upside down too!
My morning routine has varied very little over the years, taking me through my single years, to being married, to having an eighteen-month old son.
During the week, my alarm goes off at 6:10am. As my son is an early riser, there are days when I need the alarm, but mostly it’s not necessary. My wife and I are often woken up with our son going through his words like “doggie” and “basketball” closely followed by “uppie” (aka get me out of this crib!).
While my wife gets our little man ready for the day, I shower, shave, and iron a shirt. Many find it weird, but I love ironing my shirts. Sure, I could get my shirts dry-cleaned, but there is something meditative about ironing a shirt to me. It’s one of those mundane tasks that is just part of my morning routine.
While my wife gets ready for work, I hang out with our son and we typically make a green smoothie together. That’s my morning fuel.
Once the smoothie has been downed, kisses to the family and I’m off to grab my jet fuel: a cappuccino from my favorite local coffee bar.
I love sipping on a cappuccino and listening to a good podcast on the subway to work.
I am an early riser – normally around 5:00am. And this isn’t limited to Monday to Friday, but every day of the week. I don’t do the proverbial lie in. I know in the past, particularly when I have stayed over at a friend’s, it’s driven them crazy. There am I crashing about when they are still in the land of zogg.
As I say, once I’m up, I’m up. I like to spend as much of the first few hours (before my children wake up) writing, reading, and planning. More often than not, I spend the first 30 minutes editing a blog post that I have written the previous evening; and then posting it to WordPress. I read my RSS feeds (now Feedly); and, certainly, for the last 18 months have been assiduously writing a morning diary.
I take my lead from The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron where she talks about allowing the usual ‘I’m not worthy’ stream of consciousness to flow on to no less than three pages. It makes me think carefully about what I want to say (to myself); and I found with the extended version that all I was doing was writing a very long diary to fill the pages.
Once my children get up (assuming I’m home), I’m either getting them ready for school – at least the youngest, Floz, who’s nine years old – or organising myself and them to do something; or at weekends being told what I’m doing (I’m such an awesome dad)!
During the week, I awake at 5:45am always to an alarm, always feeling groggy. I like to think of myself as a morning person because I tire so easily in the evenings, but rising is never easy; it is something I only accomplish with hard work.
To me, mornings are about getting the things done that are most important to me: writing and movement. Each morning, I alternate between writing stories, running, or yoga. On the days that I write, I sit on the porch of my 100-year-old house in New Orleans or, now that it’s hot, in my kitchen. I aim to write for two hours; then at around 8:00am I rush through my house and throw on clothes, grab a granola bar, kiss my Merman goodbye, and make my way to work.
I find that writing in the morning puts me in a more pensive mood all day; it is good for the work I do as a digital strategist. I’m already awake and thinking by the time I arrive to work. I usually then take my lunch break to refine and shape any of the writing I did in the morning.
On other days, I go to Ashtanga yoga taught in the Mysore style of self-practice. I arrive to the studio between 6-6:30am and begin my practice. Rather than instructing the yoga class, the teacher works her way around the room adjusting students and giving them new poses as they advance. This style of yoga is perfect for me; I can stay longer if I have more time, and cut it short if I need to head to work early.
It is essential that I accomplish something meaningful to me before going to work, and that I keep the most important things in my life at the forefront of my days.
It varies, but I usually wake up around two and a half hours before I need to be at work (at about 5:30am or so).
After getting ready and taking my dog for a walk, most of that time is spent writing. I write about 3,000 words each day, which takes about an hour to an hour and a half.
I may do the writing at home, in my hotel room, on a flight, or on a train. My mornings vary drastically from one day to the next depending on where I need to be, when I need to be there, whether or not I am travelling and, if I am home, whether or not my partner is. Each morning can be different, but I always work to fit the writing in.
Before I take my first step out of bed, I smile. Once I’m out of bed, I make my way downstairs to the kitchen and peek through the window facing the city to see the twinkle and sparkle of the Freedom Tower from miles and miles away. There’s a hope in that shimmer, and a calm in my morning with no music, television, blogs, tweets, or digital awareness.
During that calm I brew a pot of coffee, eat something, then head out to Guerrilla Fitness (crossfit, strength training, and endurance gym – ed.) before the sun comes up and anyone else in the house is awake. That calm in my day is perfectly countered for me into the storm my body, heart and soul face within the gym. Every day brings on a new challenge with every new morning, my routine faces constantly varied functional movements. Rinse, lather, repeat five days a week.
I wake up with the crow of my cockerel Mr. Big. I’m not kidding. He is a big warren cockerel and can be annoyingly loud.
I hardly ever use an alarm, instead I just get up when I wake up which is normally between 5:30am during the summer and up to 8:00am in the winter. Unfortunately I have a habit of checking my iPhone before I even get out of bed (together with a glass of water and lemon).
I work out in the mornings, so depending on the day of the week I’ll get into my running clothes, onto the yoga mat, or into gym gear for resistance training in my workout room. Then I shower, have breakfast, and start my working day by clearing down my inbox back to zero after the night’s emails have come in. Only THEN I am ready to focus on my coaching clients, my writing work, or anything else I want to do that day.
My morning routine isn’t always routine as my schedule varies, which I’m kind of glad about.
Doing the same thing too often quickly becomes boring for me. Before my business model changed to video production it was based around online education which meant hours and hours in front of a computer screen. Though my job now still involves significant screen time, it was even more brutal back then.
Now, my mornings (and my most important tasks) change based on whether it’s an editing day, a shooting day, a meeting day, or just a random day. You’re not going to find any hard and fast rules here.
I normally wake up around 6:35am and mentally get a grasp on my day.
I see my husband out the door and head to the gym any time between 7:15 and 7:30am a few days a week, normally three, as I like to run some afternoons. I will also work out at home once a week and do chores on Friday mornings.
You know, I have a couple of different morning routines, each depending on the day of the week and how the day is structured.
Two or three times a week—usually Tuesdays and Thursdays, I’m up and at the pool or off on a run. On those days, I wake up around 6:00am and head to the pool, outdoors for a run, or more recently; to a dance class in San Francisco.
The pattern is pretty similar: I try my hardest to get to bed 6-8 hours before I’m going to wake up, and then my alarm rings, sometime between 5:50am and 6:50am. (Mentally, I never say the word “five” about the time I’m waking up—it’s always “ten to six, or quarter of six.”) I’ll keep as many minutes as possible in bed before waking up; I only need about 10-15 minutes to get out the door.
When the alarm goes off—this week, at 6:18am, I wake up, roll sideways and check my phone for a minute, then sit up and look out the window. I brush my teeth, go to the bathroom, grab a bit of avocado or a half of a banana (or nothing), and fill up my water bottle. I try to drink a lot of water before I get to the pool. My ride arrives at 6:30. We get to the pool around 6:50. Practice starts at 7:00. We swim a 3,000-3,500 yard set, and it’s over by 8:15. Shower and change and leave around 8:45. Get to work around 9:15-9:30, with the requisite coffee shop (and giant breakfast scarfing) in between.
At least twice a week, however—usually Wednesdays and Saturdays—I let myself sleep in. Especially during the winter months, I can hibernate like a champ. Sometimes I’ll go to bed around 11:00pm or so and stay in bed until 8:20am, jump out of bed when the alarm hits, throw some clothes on and head to work.
Sundays are my “delicious” days. I stay in bed as long as I want, whenever I’m not traveling or doing some big event or race. When I have those Sundays off, I like to stay in bed, watch the sun come up, listen to the traffic outside, and pad to the kitchen in my slippers to get a cup of coffee. Often it will be a decaf coffee, and I’ll sit in my bed and read whatever strikes my fancy. Sometimes it’s an Economist issue cover-to-cover, other times it’s catching up on all the urban patterns and prints I like to study, and sometimes it’s just grazing across all my friend’s tweets and postings and reading some of my favorite blogs.
I wake up stupid early, usually between 4-5:00am. Most people think I’m crazy. My wife thinks I’m crazy. I probably am. But as I’ve learned through the years, it’s best not to fight what works – and early AM works for me. It’s when I’m most productive and most relaxed.
I typically wake up and do everything I can to get my inbox down to a manageable level while no emails are coming in (I’m regularly at/near inbox zero at the end of each day). Once I’m caught up, I often go for a run early in the AM. I’m the kind of person that has to get his workout in early in the day, or it just doesn’t happen. And as a marathon runner, it’s tough to block out the time in the middle/at the end of the day to get runs in.
At around 7:00am my wife wakes up, we make breakfast together, sip coffee, and by around 8:00am I feel like I’ve accomplished a hell of a lot. It’s a great way to start each day.
From Monday to Friday I wake up at 4:35am and get to the gym for 5:00am. My workouts alternate depending on the day. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday I run with the same group I’ve run with for almost fifteen years. We run about 4-6 miles and solve all of the worlds problems along the way.
On Tuesday and Thursday I usually swim or do weight training. On weekends I’m normally up between 5-5:30am.
The morning to me is a very sacred part of the day. I love new beginnings; my mother always told me not to worry, because tomorrow is a new day. I remember being little and going to sleep so excited to begin again.
I usually wake up in my room and look out the window to check on what nature has in store. I get dressed and head outdoors. I like to get acclimated with the day through being outdoors first and foremost, it aligns me. I go for a run and then do a moving qigong outside in a certain place in my yard, usually facing toward the sun. When finished, I open my eyes and everything feels like the first time I’ve seen it, like a gift.
I’ve not used or had an alarm clock for fifteen years (with the exception of days when I need to catch a flight). I wake up when my body wakes up.
First thing is brushing my teeth, followed promptly by coffee. I vary my bean usage between three local roasters in Victoria, BC and brew them through a stainless steel Bialetti. I then add a dash of homemade almond milk and get to drinking.
From there I cuddle with my pet rats, Ohna’ and Awe:ri, while I check my email and twitter, replying to anything that needs immediate attention. Past that, I have no further routine. If it’s nice out, I may go for a walk or do some yoga. If I’m busy, I’ll get down to work. If the mood strikes, I’ll write for a few hours. Or start food prep for the day. I never really know what my day will entail until it’s happening.
My mornings start between 6 and 6:30am like clockwork. That’s when our son Owen wakes up, ready to go! He’s a toddler, so as soon as his internal clock goes off he wants to play trucks and eat breakfast and play more trucks!
During the week, he and I play for 30 minutes or so while my husband gets ready. Then the two of them head off together – Zach drops Owen off at daycare and then continues on to work.
Once the men have left the building, I move into hyper-drive until it’s time to catch the bus. I do a load of laundry every day (it’s the only way to keep on top of it!), work out what’s going to be for dinner and if I need to prep any of it, take a shower, and get the dishwasher loaded.
I then grab the bus at 9:30am and head to work.
As a big believer in the idea that how you start your day determines the rest of it, I’ve become fiercely protective of my morning routine.
The cornerstone of my morning routine isn’t actually what I do, it’s what I don’t do – and that’s check email in bed. This was a really tough habit for me to break, but by buying an alarm clock to use instead of my phone, and by keeping my phone in another room at night, I’ve been able to create a routine that lets me get my most important things accomplished before getting sucked into the world of email and Twitter.
Typically, my routine involves getting up around 6:00am, making peppermint tea, and doing an hour of writing/work for Life Less Bullshit. Then, I’ll make a green smoothie (my morning staple!), answer important emails, and head out for a run.
Getting my writing and running finished before moving into other things helps me feel my best, because it ensures that I’m carving out time for the two things that are most important to me, regardless of what else is going on.
I try to wake up between 6 and 6:30am every day. Three days a week I go to the gym and lift weights at 8:00am, so that time period between when I wake up and when I go to the gym I try to use as productively as possible.
If I’m on top of all my school and work assignments (I’m a graduate student) then I try to use this first block of being awake for personal writing or some kind of side project. If I’m behind on reading or need to finish an assignment I’ll try to get into the work as soon as I’m feeling conscious.
The process of feeling conscious usually consists of browsing Twitter, Facebook, and maybe my email on my phone while I lay in bed. I used to feel bad about this but I think it actually helps ease me into my day. Sometimes I’ll read an article or two on Instapaper as well. Once I’ve done this (about 5-10 minutes) I usually feel awake enough to get vertical. After a quick bio-stop I’ll put some water on the stove to prep for coffee. I make a big French press of freshly roasted coffee every morning and I usually share it with my girlfriend. Once the coffee is brewed and I’ve got a couple sips in me, that’s when I try to get into my first work block of the day.
On days I don’t go to the gym that just means working all morning before heading to class. Occasionally I’ll have early morning coaching calls (some of my clients are on the east coast and I’m in California) and once a week I have a group call with a couple friends/business colleagues at 6:00am.
I don’t really have one. I used to, when I was living in LA four years ago, and it involved checking email, working out, eating breakfast, and then settling in for work.
These days, though, if I set up a habit, it generally needs to be changed within months, if not days, so it’s generally not worth getting too dogmatic over it (lest I frustrate myself at my inability to consistently do something, regardless of where I wake up).
Today, I stick with personal suggestions. I tell myself, “Colin, it would be great if you’d fit in some kind of stretching and body weight resistance exercise today,” to which I reply, “Yeah, I think I’ll hop out of bed and do that,” or “It’s really cold today, I think I’ll do that later.”
Generally I can trust myself to hit the items on my list, but the time of day has ceased to be predictable for me.
A sense of routine is really important to me. If I stay out late and party (and I’m not talking wild all-nighters) it takes me two days to recover. Even sleeping late at the weekends makes me feel like I’m not functioning optimally the next day.
Most days I’m asleep by 10:30pm, and up at 7:30am. Every one of those nine hours is precious to me, and I cannot really understand how anyone survives (or even thrives) with five hours sleep or less.
Come the morning, I head straight to the living room and put the kettle on. I love every kind of tea, especially oolong, and find it the perfect start to every day.
Breakfast is muesli with natural yoghurt, fresh fruit that I buy from a street vendor the day before, and perhaps some home-made bread. At 8:30am I go for a cold shower and then head off on my scooter to the university in central Bangkok where I work.
I didn’t set any of this up consciously as a routine; it’s developed naturally as what I most like to do. Sometimes I throw in some yoga, often I read through my RSS feeds or Twitter, and sometimes it’s just me, my breakfast, and the view out from my inner-city balcony.
This is very much a work in progress as I’m still working on creating more of a routine in general.
Since I don’t have a typical day job and because I’m often working in collaboration with others (often in difference time zones), it’s often difficult to completely determine my own schedule. But I’m grateful for the days I’m able to write 750-1,000 words, check off a to-do that’s been nagging at me (usually this is an email of some sort—Guilty, ed.), make a small breakfast, clean up, and brush my teeth.
And if I actually make the bed, I know it’s going to be a good day.
First of all, I’m so not a morning person. Most of my mornings would start at 1:00pm if that didn’t follow with a feeling of guilt and shame that I didn’t follow the social norm and apparently just wasted half a day, never mind that I might have worked until 4:00am the night before.
My morning routine consists of social media, breakfast, social media, hygiene, social media and last but not least, my Kindle.
My son, Zac, and I are nomads, which means the routine varies according to where we are and what we are doing. We recently trekked to Everest Base Camp, and I’m trying to keep my flat stomach and tight buns, so the routine currently includes situps and pushups, when I remember.
I also get very bad tempered if I can’t have a coffee or three, and I’ve recently slipped back into smoking, so cigarettes are sadly vital.
In my natural, unaltered state, I am not a morning person. Not at all. Mornings have always been a time of stubborn resistance for me, while the evenings have always brought energy and creative flow. That being said, I’m somewhat obsessive in my quest for the perfect morning routine. The once-and-for-all cure that will get me out of bed and producing brilliant work in those quiet, peaceful moments of early light. I have yet to find that cure, but in the process I’ve stumbled across some rituals that help me to face my stubborn resistance and at the very least coexist peacefully with it.
So the rituals look like this: I keep a journal and pen next to my bed, and the first thing I do every morning is write three pages before I get up. The idea is to write whatever comes to mind – a stream of consciousness, to get something flowing out before I start taking new information in. This was a pretty gruesome process when I started. It forces you to really acknowledge and be accountable for all of the crap in your head. In the beginning I found a lot of self-doubt and uncertainty. But I’ve been amazed to discover that getting all the bullshit down on paper is like bleeding it out. Once it is out of your head, you can move on with your day.
Once I am out of bed with the dreaded three pages behind me, I meditate for thirty minutes, followed by breakfast. Before I turn on my computer, I take a moment to write down my target feeling(s) for the day (i.e. grounded, open, playful, etc.) and three things I absolutely must accomplish. The list can be less than three things, but never more.
My morning routine changes frequently but there are only a few different versions. Most days it begins with me waking up, drinking coffee, reading and writing, and a light workout (if any at all).
Weekends are usually slightly different where the reading/writing is replaced by a walk to the local farmer’s market to buy food for the rest of the week. Also, since moving to Chile, some mornings are spent on buses/flights on the way to discover new places – not all the time, but it does happen.
The only thing I can safely say I consistently do in the morning is hit the snooze button on my iPhone to prevent the fucker waking me up.
This wasn’t always the case. Earlier last year I managed to get into the super productive habit of rising before the Spanish sun came up, sitting my plump little bottom at my desk and typing away until I’d blasted out a few articles for clients and upset more people on the internet.
Since that golden age of morning productivity, I’ve fallen off the wagon more times than a bedraggled Steinbeck drunk in dust-bowl America. Travelling does that to you. It makes you a hot mess of a human being and gets your priorities all wrong; like putting sleep over the opportunity to get up, work, and carry on the day a little more sexier than the previous.
I roll out of bed and make a bleary eyed b-line to the kettle. Meanwhile, I’m checking Twitter and email on my phone with one eye.
At some point, I do a lot of stretching and joint cracking.
During the week I get up between five and six, and whenever possible I try to write and exercise before I head out on my commute to London. The first thing I do when I wake up is crack my back and try to work out how long I have before I have to start getting ready for work. Then I check my phone for emails, texts, WhatsApp messages, Facebook notifications, Twitter mentions and comments and statistics on my blog.
If I manage to get up without pressing snooze I’ll write. At the moment I’m redrafting my second novel which involves looking at what I’ve written, concluding it is genius and then moving along. If I do press snooze then I’ll skip this completely and just exercise.
I’ve recently decided that my body is a temple. The exercise I do is a combination of running, basic weight exercises, and yoga. A year ago I managed to completely kick smoking and have been running since. Then, I couldn’t run a mile. Now I do between three and five. I run three times a week. The yoga is part of a warm down on these days.
After that, I make myself a cup of black coffee, shower, dress and if I have time eat breakfast. I’m not a massive believer in breakfast, against the advice of everyone else in the freethinking world. When I do it’ll either be cereal or fruit. I leave the house at seven, walk a mile to the station and then get the train.
My time on the train is very important to me. When I first started working in London two and a half years ago I couldn’t understand how people do it but its just part of the package. On the train I write my blogpost for the day. I started my blog in February and have written every day since. Sometimes they’re poignant, sometimes they’re flash fiction, most of the time it’s me complaining about something. I’ll then read for the rest of the journey (I read a book a week minimum this way. I’m currently reading Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures Of Kavalier & Clay).
When I get to Liverpool Street I have another mile walk ahead of me. I love this walk. I feel very fortunate to work in London. A lot of people don’t seem to appreciate it at all. My walk takes me over the river, from St Paul’s Cathedral to the Globe and the Tate Modern. I dig it every day.
I try not to have rigid routines in my life, but there is a pattern to my mornings. I wake up at 4:15am and sit out under the stars for an hour or two. A glass of water, or a cup of tea comes next. Sometimes both.
I put on my samue, the Japanese monk’s clothing, a simple black cotton outfit. Then I sit. Zazen. I meditate for an hour, sometimes in complete darkness, sometimes in light. Most days, I practice yoga for 15-30 minutes, to warm up my body, especially to open the hips, and warm the knees and back, before sitting Zazen.
Then I might read a Dharma book, usually something Zen, from Hakuin, Bankei, Dogen, Loori or Hanh. Sometimes, I might read that before I sit Zazen, contemplating the text. Sometimes I might chant the Heart Sutra before I begin.
Each day, until 11:00am, my partner and I keep silence. This is a powerful aspect of my morning routine, it helps all my practices to take root in fertile ground.
My morning routine is changeable depending on the season. Autumn and winter tend to mean a later start to the day. Once I am awake I cannot stay in bed for long and need to get up almost immediately.
My routine evolves over time and adapts to my lifestyle. Since re-locating to Asturias, Spain my routine has changed considerably. Six years in and I’m pretty happy with my mornings.
I moved to Asturias from a city-based lifestyle of regular work and less flexibility. Living here, in a very rural area, working from home and located in a very beautiful part of the world means that there is less pressure to start the day.
The seasons mostly steer my world and set my agenda. The luxury of living without a timepiece dictating your every move is one to be truly cherished.
I wake up every day sometime between 5 and 7:00am. I almost immediately reach for my phone (a habit I’ve been trying to kick for some time) and start checking Twitter to see what I might have missed (the late-night Twitter crowd is often incredibly lively and entertaining—here’s looking at you @BretEastonEllis) before reminding myself that I can check social media later, and that I need to get out of bed.
I make coffee right away, but because I usually make pour-over style coffee, I invariably end up back on Twitter (and other social networking sites) while the water for the coffee boils.
When the water is finished boiling and I’ve made my first cup of coffee, I head to my desk and open Scrivener and start writing from where I left off the morning before. I write for an hour or 1,000 words, whichever comes first (usually the hour is over first and I’ve only ended up writing something like 500 words), but often I’ll write for several hours longer, especially if I’m deep into a project.
After writing, I make a second cup of coffee and, while drinking it, read, usually fiction.
After that, I workout, shower, shave—my shaving routine could be a topic in itself: I use one of those old classic double edged safety razors and a brush and everything; I even boil water for shaving most days, etc., and then I continue with the rest of my day.
My morning routine for the past few months has been to wake-up at 5:20am, have a big glass of water, and head out the door for a walk down to the river.
There’s a park bench there that I fit on if I sit on it diagonally, so I can take some time for some stretches and a bit of breathing while the sun is coming up from across the way. A couple of sun salutes and thirty push-ups on a park bench, then the walk home.
Breakfast is just as big a part of the routine (see below). The routine is a result of a bit of travel earlier this year, where I tried out a bit of yoga and found that the stretching and concentrated breathing really set me up for the day. The breakfast is from reading a few nutrition books, adopting a vegetarian diet this year, and finding out what foods packed the most punch (with avocados leading the way).
I wake up every morning from Monday to Friday at 5:00am. I usually start my mornings by making tea and preparing a breakfast. While the water is boiling, I sit and meditate for ten minutes, then I eat my breakfast while playing a little on social media and reading. Afterwards, I start working or I organize what I have to do for the day. If I have a major project to work on I will skip the reading part and start straight with work, but that’s really rare.
I also exercise and stretch, take a shower, and get dressed. Basically it’s a time I keep to myself in the morning. Even if I never really work on anything specific, I like to take my time to get my mind and body awake and ready for the day. I usually start working around 6:00am. So that means at least one hour for me.
My wife wakes up around 7:30am. I usually spend some time with her, drink another cup of tea and I’m back to work around 8:30am.
During weekends I don’t have a schedule. I try to be a little more social so it usually means that I go to sleep later. My family doctor always told me that we must at least once a week have a long night of sleep. It’s like going to see a good movie to change your mind and relax (but it’s free).