What is your morning routine?
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.
How long have you stuck with this routine so far?
I seem to go through short bouts of adherence to particular routines. The aforementioned period in Spain lasted around six months (coincidentally until the editor/saboteur of this very site came to visit me in Granada), just after I’d moved to Extremadura and really needed to focus on freelance stuff I’d been thrown the opportunity to do.
Now that I’ve moved on from Spain to Asia, the routine I previously set for myself has long gone. Over the past few months I’ve started my days in hotel room capsules in Singapore, Vietnamese family homes, back street Cambodian brothels and now, finally, a Bangkok condo.
How has your morning routine changed over recent years?
A few years ago I was trapped in 9-5 hell so my morning routines were fairly regimented involving the usual shower breakfast coffee combo.
The one highlight that I sincerely miss from those days was my cycle ride across London to my former offices in Covent Garden. That’s a luxury you just can’t indulge in the hot chaotic mess of Southeast Asian traffic. Not that I actually have an office to commute to any more; it’s more a shuffle from the bedroom to somewhere with quick access to WiFi. Then it’s a quick scan of the email followed by the onslaught of other unhealthy habits.
What time do you go to sleep?
Between 2-3:00am most nights. I tend to work a few solid hours in the morning when possible, reserving the afternoons for other non-work related pursuits, and then work some productivity into the late evening.
Going to sleep late and rising early seems to be the trend, normally with a half hour bout of shut eye in the middle of the day when 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 use my old iPhone alarm, which is pretty useless. I’ve tried putting it away from my bed, putting it in a bathroom, putting it in the kitchen, everything. Nearly always I find myself ambling towards it, hitting the snooze button, and then finding myself back horizontal, swearing to myself I’ll do differently the next day.
Can you guys come up with some kind of fool proof system for waking early please?
How soon after waking up do you have breakfast, and what do you typically have?
After reading Tim Ferriss’ 4 Hour Body I’ve tried eating within thirty minutes of waking up when possible. Sometimes this has been easy when there’s been good restaurants nearby (it’s been rare that I’ve stayed in places with kitchens the past few months), sometimes it’s taken a lot longer to break the fast.
I try to get plain omelettes if I can. I need to bulk up to Hulkian proportions and stop being a scrawny little bastard. Girls don’t like that.
Do you have a morning workout routine?
I’ve experimented with it sure. Back when I was in my best morning mode I did a little circuit routine that involved 4X1-minute circuits of squats, press-ups, dumbbell lifts, and planks. Definitely found that this gave me a big kick toward starting the day. Good to get a good early morning sweat on too.
How about morning meditation?
I’ve tried it in bursts but never really found it appealing enough to stick to. I started, about a month ago, just practising free writing for 25-minutes, pouring whatever is in my head out into a text file. That seems to serve as good meditation, it makes me feel like I’ve already accomplished something that day and it helps to organize thoughts and priorities.
Do you see to email first thing in the morning or leave it until later in the day?
In a perfect world I’d check it twice: once after getting some crucial writing assignments out of the way, and again at the start of my evening work sessions.
Does this happen? Nope. Tearing myself away from email is one of the biggest challenges I face. The nature of the work I’m doing currently means I have to be fairly attentive to it until I can trust it all to my assistant. She’s getting used to my insane demands. It’s a Lewinsky-Clinton type of relationship.
How soon do you check your phone in the morning, either for calls/messages or social media and news?
It’s basically the second thing I do right after opening my eyes. This has got to change.
What are your most important tasks in the morning?
I’m still very much deciding if I’m being honest. Waking up and deciding to face the day still feels pretty important. Anything that happens after that is largely a bonus.
Work-wise I’d say it’s important to figure out how best to spend my time that day. Free writing helps with this. Usually the most important tasks involve seeing to emails from paying clients, making sure their requests are taken care of, as well as answering any possible leads.
What and when is your first drink in the morning?
Some days it’s tea, others water. Very rarely coffee. The time it goes down my gullet depends very much on where I am and whether I have access to mugs, safe drinking water, and decent tea bags (I refuse to drink that Lipton shit they always have in Asian hotels).
On days you’re not settled in your home, are you able to adapt your routine to fit in with a different environment?
I haven’t been settled into a “home” for more than three months in a very long time. Because of that you can see the devastating effects that trying to conform to any routine has had on me.
I thought I’d of got used to that by now, but I’m still very much challenged by unforeseen circumstances of frequently rotating location. Settling in Bangkok should hopefully help get me a little more settled. I might just hire some ladyboys to deliver a wake up call in their own intimate ways.
What do you do if you fail to follow your routine, and how does this influence the rest of your day?
I write about it on a website all about morning routines. And look like a grand fool for being a colossal, yet undeniably handsome, failure.
Our recommended book this week is The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. We only recommend three things a week that we believe will be of interest to our readers. Please take a moment to check it out.