Why a morning routine is important
Generally speaking people are expectation machines and with COVID-19 upending our normal way of life there’s more ambiguity creating that uneasy “wobbly” feeling in life. Having a morning routine provides clarity and a feeling of accomplishment first thing in the day, which helps increase productivity and reduce stress.
I think of productivity as a game that I need to practice so I get better and can get to the next level (like Mario Bros). For me the locus of developing increased productivity is in my morning routine — it is the single activity that brings together all the parts of my productivity practice.
So here’s my detailed morning routine in a Q&A format borrowed from My Morning Routines, which is a great place to get ideas for your routine😉.
What is your morning routine?
My morning routine is pretty simple and takes me ~30 min per day.
- 10 push ups to activate the body and mind (immediately out of bed)
- 5 minutes of morning stretches to loosen the body
- Record my weight
- 10 minutes of meditation using the Headspace app
- Read the day’s passage from The Daily Stoic to help me reflect
- Daily planning using Panda Planner Pro
- 3 things I’m grateful for
- 3 things I’m excited about
- 5 priorities for the day
- Daily affirmation (the My Affirmations app gives me a daily pop-up)
- Visualize out my schedule for the day
- Track what morning routine habits I did and didn’t do in the Habit Bull app
How long have you stuck with this routine so far?
I’ve been doing a version of this routine for about five years.
How has your morning routine changed over recent years?
It took me about a year of iteration to get to this routine. I started by just doing 10 minutes of meditation in the morning. I then started to test various tactics I found reading My Morning Routines. For example, I started adding things like morning push-ups to activate my body in the morning and tracking my weight to be more health conscious. For my morning journal activity I tried various things like gratitude, affirmations, etc and eventually found that the Panda Planner Pro captured most of what I wanted in a simple way.
What time do you go to sleep?
Do you do anything before going to bed to make your morning easier?
Relax and try to not use my phone for 15 minutes before going to sleep.
Do you use an alarm to wake you up in the morning, and if so do you ever hit the snooze button?
Yes, by nature I’m a night person so I always use an alarm and generally hit the snooze button so I have an alarm sequence. But my cat Hal will be sure to wake me up for his breakfast so I never sleep too late😸.
How soon after waking up do you have breakfast, and what do you typically have?
For most of my adult life I ate a big breakfast — eggs or an omelette. A few years ago I started intermittent fasting and only drink black coffee☕ until noon.
Do you have a morning workout routine?
Yes, a few days a week I workout around 8am, I prefer morning workouts. For many years I would boulder (a.k.a rock climb) but due to an injury I now do yoga. During the summer I’m adding a bike ride in Central Park at least once a week.
Do you have a morning meditation routine?
Yes, I do 10 minutes of mindfulness meditation using the Headspace app daily.
Do you answer email first thing in the morning or leave it until later in the day?
I don’t check email first thing in the morning. I will check my email after my morning routine, which takes about 30 minutes, to see if there’s anything urgent to address. I then batch process email once I sit down to start my work day.
How does your partner fit into your morning routine?
My wife tends to be an earlier riser than I. She does her own thing until I finish my morning routine.
Do you also follow this routine on weekends, or do you change some steps?
I do it on weekends as well though if I miss a day it’s likely to be a weekend day.
On days you’re not settled in your home, are you able to adapt your routine to fit in with a different environment?
Yes, when I travel for work I do everything in my routine. But on vacation I have trouble relaxing so I do everything except read The Daily Stoic and Panda Planner Pro; on vacation I try to release myself from my “productivity mindset”.
What do you do if you fail to follow your morning routine, and how does this influence the rest of your day?
I’m not perfect so I do miss days. If I don’t do my routine I find myself a bit more anxious and scattered throughout the day. When this happens I always take time to meditate in the day. Most importantly I track all of my morning routine activities in Habit Bull, whether I do them or not, so I know how I’m really doing. Lying to yourself doesn’t really work if you know what I mean😉.
How have you adapted your routine to COVID-19?
I’ve basically kept my entire routine intact during COVID-19. The biggest adjustment has been adding a short morning walk in Madison Square Park while listening to podcasts and reading the news.
Anything else you would like to add?
If you don’t have a morning routine you should start to incorporate one. Future you will thank present you😲.