Rand Fishkin is founder and former CEO of Moz, co-author of a pair of books on SEO, and co-founder of Inbound.org. He currently lives in Seattle, WA, with his wife, Geraldine.
What is your morning routine?
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.
How long have you stuck with this routine so far?
I’ve had a broadly similar routine for almost all of Moz’s eleven years, though I haven’t always been as diligent with exercising in the morning as I should be.
How has your morning routine changed over recent years?
I’ve incorporated more exercise that helps my back get strong and stay healthy. Unfortunately, I’ve got degenerative disc disease, so my spine is not in good shape and will continue to get worse as I age. To compensate, I need to do a lot of back strengthening work.
What time do you go to sleep?
Usually around 1-1:30am, but this can vary wildly as I travel to other time zones. European and Australian travel in particular can put me off schedule for days in a row.
Do you do anything before going to bed to make your morning easier?
I try to get as close to inbox zero as possible before going to sleep at night so I wake up to as little work as I can.
Do you use an alarm to wake you up in the morning, and if so do you ever hit the snooze button?
I almost never use the snooze button, but I do use an alarm most days.
How soon after waking up do you have breakfast?
I’m often skipping breakfast, but when I do have it, it’s 1-2 hours after I wake up because I like to exercise and shower first.
Do you have a morning workout routine?
Yes. I’m mostly doing physical therapy types of exercise for my back: leg lifts, planks, etc. I also try to run stairs at home to get a head start on my Fitbit step count.
I try to do pushups and pullups as well (alternating days), but on the road, pullup options are very hard to find.
How about morning meditation?
I don’t, though I’d love to try. I think answering email is my meditation. If I can get through it before I leave for the office, I feel much more at peace.
Do you answer email first thing in the morning or leave it until later in the day?
I try to get as close to inbox zero as I can at all times, which means answering in the morning, between meeting breaks during the day, when I get home, and before I go to sleep. I get a lot of email and I do my best to keep up with all of it.
Do you use any apps or products to enhance your sleep or morning routine?
Thanks to Brad Feld, who bought me the Fitbit, I’ve been wearing it to sleep and am really liking the tracking of sleep quality/quantity. I also use it to track my exercise, heart rate, steps, etc.
How soon do you check your phone in the morning?
I like answering email on my giant 30” desktop monitor, so I often don’t look at my phone until I leave for work.
What are your most important tasks in the morning?
Email, back exercises, hygiene.
What is your first drink in the morning?
I love coffee, but almost never get it first thing unless we’re staying at a fancy hotel that offers breakfast. It’s probably the milk in the cereal bowl most days :)
Do you also follow this routine on weekends, or do you change some steps?
I don’t have to walk to work, but otherwise it’s similar. Today, for example, is Sunday, and I’m catching up on a load of email that I couldn’t tackle while on the road this past week.
On days you’re not settled in your home, are you able to adapt your routine to fit in with a different environment?
Mostly, though it can be challenging with time changes, meetings, demands of conferences (for example, I recently keynoted an event in Dallas at 8:00am Central Time, 6:00am Seattle (Pacific) Time: waking up for that wasn’t fun), etc.
What do you do if you fail to follow your morning routine, and how does this influence the rest of your day?
I’m pretty flexible actually. I can go days with lots of interruptions and inconsistency and be okay.
My biggest requirement is my back exercises, and I can do those anywhere with floor space (I have been in a few Manhattan hotels where it was impossible, though).
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