What is your morning routine?
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 a 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.
How long have you stuck with this routine so far?
I have had this same routine for fourteen years.
How has your morning routine changed over recent years?
I used to try to cram everything into my morning routine (exercise, meditation, journaling, etc.), but I found that I do much better when I simply have an hour or so of study and thought first thing. It gets my brain moving, and it helps me get perspective on my day.
Now, I have a list of “dailies” that I accomplish each day, but some of them I complete later in the morning or over lunch so that my morning doesn’t feel so rushed.
What time do you go to sleep?
I am in bed between 10:00pm and 10:30pm every weeknight.
Do you do anything before going to bed to make your morning easier?
Yes, I have a worksheet that I use to plan and execute my days. It has space to record my studying, my key tasks, and track my dailies. It also has space for the daily “high,” “low,” and “learning.” Each night I sit and plan the next day so that I know exactly what I will do when I begin my work.
Do you use an alarm to wake you up in the morning, and if so do you ever hit the snooze button?
Yes. I use my Apple Watch because it wakes me silently (by vibration) and doesn’t wake my wife. Also, I can set different recurring alarm times for the weekend without having to remember to do it every Friday.
I never, ever hit the snooze button. I think it’s the devil.
Do you have a morning meditation routine, and if so what kind of meditation do you practice?
I use the Calm app on my iPhone. I like the easy guidance and simplicity it provides.
Do you answer email first thing in the morning or leave it until later in the day?
I sometimes check notifications while I’m making breakfast, just to see if anything critical has happened overnight, but I usually don’t dive into email until later in the morning.
Do you use any apps or products to enhance your sleep or morning routine?
My Apple Watch is critical as an alarm, and I recently started using an iPhone app called Productive to track my dailies (in addition to my paper tracking on my “day sheet”). It allows you to set different recurring daily tasks for each day of the week and track how often you do them.
What are your most important tasks in the morning?
I write every morning. Every. Single. Morning. I am a firm believer in doing your most important creative work first thing, and for me that is typically writing if I’m working on a book. I try to knock out my daily word count before I do anything else. I learned this habit from Stephen King in his book On Writing.
What and when is your first drink in the morning?
I have a cup of coffee and a twenty-ounce bottle of water within thirty minutes of waking up.
Do you also follow this routine on weekends, or do you change some steps?
On Saturdays I play basketball at 7:00am, so I’m up at 6:15am. On Sundays, however, I sleep in until 7:30am to allow my body to get additional rest.
On days you’re not settled in your home, are you able to adapt your routine to fit in with a different environment?
When I travel, my morning routine varies. I’m typically speaking at an event, so I do whatever I need to do to ensure that the event is successful. That often means allowing my body some extra time to recover or taking a walk to get my blood pumping. It nearly always looks different depending on where I travel and what I’m doing there.
What do you do if you fail to follow your morning routine, and how does this influence the rest of your day?
I definitely feel a difference in my day when I’ve not spent my morning productively. It seems to set a tone for everything else I do. However, that’s been a great motivator for me to stay on track and execute my dailies. They don’t feel optional anymore - they are are as necessary as drinking water.