Each and every morning, I follow a routine that is essential to my personal and business success.
For years my day would start by getting up as early as possible, rushing to get ready for work, and heading out the door as fast as possible, all with the aim of getting busy as fast as possible. It would often be mid day before I would realize that I was not making as much progress as I wanted on my goals and priorities. On weekends, I would stay up late and sleep in. Once my wife and I had kids it got even worse, many days the kids would wake me up from a deep sleep and I would get up feeling un-rested.
A busy work life can and usually does create many conflicting demands and priorities. Add family and kids into the mix with competing agenda’s and schedules, and it gets hairy fast. When you are reacting to other people’s demands and schedule, you are not working on your own plan and schedule and you can easily feel like you are not in control of your own life. This is definitely how I felt on many days.
Then I stopped myself and said “enough, I want to be in control” and I realized there are better ways to start my day. To continue reading this post, click here >>
So about the same time as I had trained myself to get up super early (see my post How to Get Up Early), I figured out how a structured morning routine would put me in control of my time and allow me to more easily meet my goals.
Nowadays I start my day at 4:30 am seven days a week. During the week, I feel a heck of a lot better by the time the work day starts and I have virtually eliminated bad stress (my response to those who argue that stress is good for productivity: when I reduce, eliminate or manage my stress, I am far more productive and no less driven).
Over time I have fine tuned my morning routine and it follows these steps in order:
- Wake Up Early – my alarm goes off at 4:30 am and I am out of bed right away (no snooze button or internal negotiations about sleeping in – they are productivity killers). For more on sleep see How Much Sleep Do We Need.
- Hydrate and Fuel – to wake me up and give me energy, I drink 2 cups water and I eat something light, like a banana, an apple or a slice of wholewheat bread (see also Fuel Second, Hydrate First I got the water idea from Aaron Ross’s article My 10-Step Morning Personal Success Routine ).
- Meditate – I have a remote spot in the house where I can practice a breathing and chanting form of meditation in peace, without disturbing my family who are still asleep (see 150 Days of Meditation). During the week I will sit for between 25-30 minutes and longer on the weekends. Afterward, I am relaxed, thinking clearly, energized and often euphoric.
- Gratitude Exercise – I am truly blessed for having a wonderful wife and family, a secure home, an abundance of physical and spiritual riches, and for simply being alive. Virtually anything can go wrong and I am still extremely lucky. Every day when I take time to remind myself of these things and say thanks to the universe for giving me this life, I can physically feel any stresses or nagging worries drain away from my body. This also puts me in a success oriented frame of mind for achieving whatever goals I am pursuing. For more on this see Gratitude.
- Yoga - on every weekday and one weekend day, I do between 20-60 minutes of yoga which is an essential part of my fitness routine for strength and stamina, exercise recovery and injury prevention (see How to Do Yoga Every Day).
- Cardio – I have a good stationary bike and spend about 30-45 mins per day riding or running. I would rather ride outside (and I do cycle outdoors in the summer), but in the winter, I use this as work time and I while pedaling I will first review my goals, then journal, then read and respond to emails from the previous night, and lastly listen to audio books or read, catchup on twitter etc. In the summer I run a bit more than in the winter. See also my Workout Routine.
- Eat Breakfast – I usually am up to the kitchen just before 630 and have a breakfast consisting of oatmeal or muesli and a protein shake. Since becoming a vegan, I have found that protein supplementing throughout the day is really important to my energy levels. On weekends when the blender won’t wake everyone up, I will make smoothies from different berries, spinach, apples, carrots and bananas (which my wife calls “mud”). For more on good fuel for the day, see Good Carbs, Bad Carbs.
This may sound like a lot and I have heard many people say that they couldn’t have a routine like this because of kids. I say you can do a lot of this if you get up early enough, but if you want to dip your toe in take Aaron’s advice:
Take babysteps rather than jumping in too fast. You don’t need a lot of steps in the morning, or some complex routine. Start with something simple, such as a green smoothie.
I am interested in your experiences and comments. What is your Morning Success Routine?