My Daily Routine

My Morning Routine

I get up around 8:00am every day unless I have an early morning coaching call, in which case I’ll be up at around 7:00am. I head to the bathroom and splash water on my face to wake me up further before throwing on some clothes (nice ones if I’m doing a video coaching call) and heading to the kitchen to make an AeroPress coffee and a smoothie for breakfast with the NutriBullet.

Once all of that is done I’ll head downstairs and begin my reading workflow, which I do while sitting in my office with the door open, sitting in my “reading zone” chair.

After I’ve completed all the steps of my reading workflow (Reeder, Zite, Clipboard, and Velocity for my Instapaper queue), I’ll check the calendar for any appointments for the day. If nothing is happening right away, I’ll head upstairs and either say goodbye to my wife and kids for the day or if it’s a Wednesday or Saturday, I’ll begin to hang out with the family.

On the other days (my work days) I’ll look at My 3 Absolutes for the day (three tasks that must get done) which are written down on a sheet of paper that has been placed face down on top of my MacBook Pro the night before. I’ll dive into those absolutes, which basically ends my morning routine and gets my day off and running.

How long has this been my morning routine?

I’ve been working with this morning routine for about two years now, with some minor tweaks along the way to optimize it a bit further. For example, I’ve made it so that Launch Center Pro prompts me to start my reading in the morning and outlines all the steps to my reading workflow within the app. Beyond that, it’s been pretty consistent.

How has my morning routine has changed?

I’ve added things like “Take Vitamin D pill” during the grey months here in Victoria (which isn’t unlike Seattle when it comes to grey skies from November until April or May).

When we bought the NutriBullet that became a more integral part of it as well. But it’s remained fairly simple and easily adjustable when new elements in our home or environment arrive on the scene. The key for me is to avoid complicating the routines I’ve put in place so I can stick to them.

When do I go to sleep?

I am a night owl (or a wolf), so my bedtime is usually around 1:00am these days.

I have a specific evening routine I carry out as well so to help me wind down my day and start the next one with a sense of direction; part of my evening routine is writing down My 3 Absolutes for the next day.

Do I use an alarm clock?

I don’t really use an alarm unless I have a 7:00am call, and I’ll use Sleep Cycle for that so I don’t wake up feeling too groggy. I also have a waking light alarm clock from Phillips that I use in tandem with Sleep Cycle so I wake up more naturally.

What do I eat for breakfast?

The smoothie is my usual breakfast, and it happens almost right away since I have it while going through my morning reading workflow.

Do I have a workout routine in the morning?

When I work out, I tend to do it at around midday so that I have enough energy to make it through the rest of the afternoon and evening, when I’m inclined to be most creative.

What about meditation?

I’m trying meditation more these days, but not in the morning. (I think I’d probably fall back asleep if I did it then!) I’m using the Muse headband for my meditation practice.

I actually think the reading in the morning acts as a mild form of reflection and preparation, so it may do for me at that time of day what meditation does for others.

What about email? When do I take care of that?

I never answer email first thing in the morning. If I go into email early on it’s because I’m going in with a mission from My 3 Absolutes, not because I want to know who has reached out since I was last in email.

I will often check email after I get at least one of my absolutes done, though.

What apps or products I use with my morning routine?

Momentum is the app I use to help me keep my morning routine active. It pushes me a reminder when it is time to start my evening routine so I can get a more restful sleep.

Sleep Cycle is my alarm clock of choice when needed, and Day One is where I journal as part of my evening routine.

How soon do I check my phone in the morning?

It depends, but definitely not first thing. I usually look at my phone about an hour after waking, unless I need it earlier.

What are my most important tasks to tackle in the morning?

I will often do administrative tasks early in the day because I’m not all that creative in the morning in terms of writing. I will do some outlining or planning in the late morning, though, because I find that does get the creative juices flowing.

Email is another thing I’ll tackle in the later part of the morning so I can get through it and create whatever actions need to come from messages so I can get out of email and into the work I need to focus on.

What do I drink in the morning?

My first drink is a decaffeinated coffee that I make with the AeroPress. The brand varies, depending on what my wife buys. But it’s always a decent enough brand – something like Kicking Horse or Salt Spring Coffee.

I save my caffeine intake for later on, when I make myself a pot of CogniTea, normally around 1:00pm or so.

How about weekends? Anything different?

I keep this routine static for weekends, unless I’m on vacation. Then I’ll skip the checking of the absolutes and calendar. But the waking up process and reading remains.

Same goes for my evening routine… especially the journaling aspect.

How do I follow this routine when I’m not at home?

I’m still able to adapt my routine to fit in with a different environment. I’ve kept things simple enough that I can use this routine wherever I am – and I do travel quite a bit.

What I do if I fail to follow my morning routine? How does that influence the rest of my day?

I feel ‘off’ if I miss any aspect of my morning routine. A few days ago I didn’t splash water on my face and I went through the morning feeling out of sync. It usually happens when I’m sick, and so I’ll notice a slowdown in progress anyway. So I guess if I miss it when I’m not sick the same results would occur, only probably not as drastic.

Routines are the ideal way to bookend your day. I think they are the building blocks of effectiveness, efficiency, and efficacy. Without my morning and evening routine, I’d be far less productive than I am, and I’d achieve less in the process.

My Evening Routine

I actually consider my evening routine to be more important than my morning routine. Before I go to bed I review my task management application and select my three absolutes for the next day. Then I complete a daily log in my journal. Then I close my office door as I can leave it behind so that way I can make sure that I don’t go back to work before I go to bed. I often will write down my three absolutes on a whiteboard before leaving my office as well so that way I can tackle them before opening my task management app the next morning. I’m a night owl and I do my best work at night so clearing my head at the end of the day is incredibly important.

How long has this been my morning routine?

This routine has been a staple in my day for the past three years.

What does my last meal of the day look like?

My last meal of the day is normally dinner. So that would usually be a plant-based main dish with perhaps some rice or noodles to go with it. I’m trying to steer clear from wheat so that plays a role in the side dishes well. I occasionally eat meat but not as much as I used to.

What time do I go to sleep?

As mentioned earlier, I usually go to sleep at 1AM.

What temperature do I keep the bedroom at for sleep? 

We keep our bedroom fairly cool. I would say we let the temperature drop to about 15°C.

What time do I wake up?

I usually wake up at 8 AM.

What I do to make mornings easier?

The evening routine always makes my morning easier. I also make sure that I have a glass of water set up in the bathroom – a bottle of water actually – so that way the first thing I drink when I get up in the morning is that bottle of water. But that’s about as easy as I make it considering that the evening routine clears the decks for the next day anyway.