Several of the other participants in 30DWC have shared their morning routines so I thought it would be good to document mine too.
Your routine doesn’t need to be set in stone. I’ve been experimenting with different routines for the last year or so. It will continue to evolve as I learn what works well for me and what doesn’t. As my current focus changes, my routine will no doubt be adjusted to fit.
A good morning starts the night before
The key to a good morning routine is preparation so my morning routine starts the night before. It starts at the end of the work day with a shutdown procedure, to tie up loose ends and plan out the tasks I’m going to do tomorrow. It allows me to mentally close off work for the day. Before I introduced this practice I would still be thinking about work problems into the evening and inevitably it would keep me awake much longer.
In order to wake early, I need to get to bed at a reasonable time. I’ve always been a bit of a night owl so training myself to become an early bird has taken some time and is still an ongoing effort. I aim to be in bed for around 10:30pm, to be asleep by 11pm so that I can wake and get up at 5:30am.
I aim to finish the evenings activities around 10pm when I get my daily reminder from Way of Life. I fill in my entries and that gives me a moment of reflection on the day and I use that to give me a little push to choose how tomorrow should look.
I will then grind some coffee beans and set out a mug, my cafetieré and fill the kettle ready for the morning. Upstairs I lay my clothes out ready by my bed so I can get dressed immediately on waking with no decisions to make.
I try to avoid using my phone or other electronic devices after around 9pm (with the exception of adding my Way of Life entries). Generally, unless I am really tired, I will read a magazine or some kind of fiction to relax and help my brain to turn off. Non-fiction gets me thinking too much so I read those earlier in the day instead.
Finally, I will lay my clothes out ready for the next day so I can get out of bed and immediately get dressed without needing to make any decisions or open wardrobes or drawers and risk waking the family.
The morning after the night before
I aim to wake between 5am and 5:30am including on the weekends. I don’t usually set an alarm, preferring to wake naturally so that I get as much sleep as possible. I’ve been using sleepyti.me to try and match my sleep time to circadian rhythms with mixed success. I get about 6 hours of sleep, on average, which I generally cope ok with but I do worry whether I’m really getting enough. However, I can’t seem to increase the duration with any reliability.
On waking, I get up and dressed immediately. On days when I’m writing, I’ll go downstairs and make coffee first. It’s just a simple ritual that helps me to wake more fully before meditating. I make sure not to start looking at my phone or otherwise get distracted.
When the coffee is brewed I return to my desk and begin my meditation session.
After, my routine changes depending on the day. I exercise on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays and write on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. If we don’t have specific plans then I’ll try and write a little over the weekend too. I aim for 3 days of exercise a week so if I need to make other commitments, then I will change the days to ensure I meet my exercise target. Routines need to be flexible.
My current exercise routine is simple but effective. It’s a kettlebell workout following Pavel Tsatsouline’s Simple and Sinister book which consists of just two exercises, the “hardstyle” kettlebell swing and the Turkish Get-Up. It only takes around 30 minutes, provides a good workout but doesn’t take too much out of me for the day. I finish with a post-workout protein shake.
I’m using 30DWC as my push to kickstart a writing habit. To achieve this I’ve modified my morning routine to allow me to write for around an hour on the days I allocated to writing. Only after I’ve meditated do I wake my computer and start writing. Unless I’m doing research I open iaWriter in full screen mode to avoid distractions.
Shepherding the flock
The rest of house will start to wake between 6:30 and 7am most days so 7am - 8:30am is spent getting myself ready and then making breakfast for us all whilst my wife gets herself and the kids ready. Weekdays my wife and I will have scrambled egg (Gordon Ramsay style) or a home-made “quiche”1 as part of our slow-carb diet. I’ll prepare my lunch for work - either soup or salad - and herd the kids out the door before heading to the office.
It’s not your typical quiche, but I don’t know how else to describe it. It’s egg, mushrooms, garlic, onions, broccoli, sometimes chicken, and cottage cheese cooked in a low oven for about an hour. ↩