What is your morning routine?
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.
How long have you stuck with this routine so far?
This has been my basic routine for the last few years. I’ve become more diligent about the creative time in the mornings. I used to start with email, and I found once I got too deep into it, the writing or editing got pushed to the afternoon when my creativity and willpower is often zapped.
How has your morning routine changed over recent years?
Recently I did a 31-day daily vlog experiment. So my creative time in the morning switched from writing to video editing. It was a good experiment, but I missed the consistent writing - I found it tougher to do later in the day.
I’ve also experimented with working out earlier (which I don’t like), and with meditation (which is great, but sporadic).
It really comes down to putting the important things ahead of the “urgent” things for me. If I can drink a few glasses of water, get an hour of writing done, and make breakfast all before 8:00am - then I know everything else will fall into place for the rest of the day.
What time do you go to sleep?
It varies, but I’ll usually be in bed reading by 10:30pm and asleep by 11-11:15pm.
Do you do anything before going to bed to make your morning easier?
Even if I’m not going first thing, I always try to have my gym clothes and headphones in a very easy to access spot. I need as few barriers as possible, so that when I decide to go, I’m able to just go.
Do you use an alarm to wake you up in the morning, and if so do you ever hit the snooze button?
Nope, never. Okay, I take that back. I’ll set an alarm if I have a flight early the next morning or some other kind of early appointment. But even during those times, I’m nearly always awake before it goes off.
How soon after waking up do you have breakfast, and what do you typically have?
I usually make it about an hour and a half after getting up. It serves as a good first break after I get some writing done.
I’ll usually either make an omelette/scramble, or a green smoothie if I’m in a hurry.
Do you have a morning workout routine?
Not first thing in the morning. I found doing it really early just made me more tired, and I tended to not work out as hard as I should.
Working out in the late morning or early afternoon is the best time of day for me.
Do you have a morning meditation routine, and if so what kind of meditation do you practice?
Not a regular one. I occasionally use the Headspace app if I’m particularly stressed or need the escape.
Do you answer email first thing in the morning or leave it until later in the day?
I always try and do email early-ish. I don’t like it hanging over my head all day, so I’d rather get to inbox zero immediately after my writing time, and be able to free up that mental space for other things.
Do you use any apps or products to enhance your sleep or morning routine?
I love Focus at Will for getting in the writing zone and blocking out any distractions around me.
How soon do you check your phone in the morning?
Just about first thing. Even if I don’t act on emails or other messages right away, I like knowing about them.
What are your most important tasks in the morning?
Water and writing. If I nail those first two things early in the day, then everything just falls into place.
What and when is your first drink in the morning?
Water first at 6:00am(ish), immediately followed by a cup of coffee.
The latter of which isn’t a caffeine thing either. It could just as easily be decaf, it’s about the routine and the ritual which gets me ready to work.
Do you also follow this routine on weekends, or do you change some steps?
For the most part I follow the same steps. The rest of my day on the weekends tend to be different, but the mornings are pretty similar.
On days you’re not settled in your home, are you able to adapt your routine to fit in with a different environment?
Generally yes. The difference is when I’m on the road, there’s usually a reason for it - which can often include earlier morning meetings. When this is the case I tend to forgo the writing and go to the gym instead, because in those circumstances I know I won’t go if I wait until later.
What do you do if you fail to follow your morning routine, and how does this influence the rest of your day?
Each little win in the morning makes me want to achieve another.
Water? Check. Writing? Check. Breakfast? Check. Gym? Check.
It’s only natural to want to keep checking off boxes. If I don’t have an early win, I tend to just float throughout the day - not getting much done and not feeling very productive.
Anything else you would like to add?
The golf at least once a week is really important. It takes me out of the daily routine, and the mental clarity and relaxation it gives me carries over into everything else I do.
This video sums up why that is.