My Morning Routine
“For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?”
And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”
Little do most people realize, what you do to start your day is highly important to have and maintain an effective, productive, and fulfilling lifestyle. I use to always hear this from people but questioned it’s validity. I was like most people who would let the day guide me instead of taking control of my day and in turn my life. Let’s be honest, many of us roll out of bed and the first thing we do is check our phones. While finding out what the world was doing while I slept is both tempting and also addicting, I no longer believe it’s a healthy way to start my day. So the first thing a person might wonder is does having some time to yourself to start the day make a difference? I strongly believe it does.
Why should one have a morning routine?
Mark Sisson writes:
“Developing a morning routine allows you to assert your own authority over the day. You take charge of your own work-life balance by, in effect, paying yourself first. Too many of us do it the other way around and are left with no time and energy to invest by the time we get to ourselves. As a result, too many people end up feeling at the mercy of their work and family demands. Responsibilities overwhelm, and they end up continually stuck. When you lead with your own peace and well-being, however, much more is possible. Something essential changes when you begin directing your day rather than responding to it.”
So about a month ago I started a 2 hour app-based routine that has been highly effective for me. And no, it doesn’t involve watching television, surfing the web, or scrolling through emails. It’s 2 hours spent in my element getting myself mentally, physically, and spiritually prepared and ready for the day ahead. In just one month I’m noticing this structured regimen has effected my life in extremely positive ways and I hope it can for anyone else who cares to try it. Please note: I am not a doctor or health & wellness expert. This is simply a routine that works for me. I encourage anyone who is looking for routine in their life to try it out and let me know how it goes. With all that being said…Let’s begin.
My morning toolbox:
Couch to 5K
I recommend downloading these apps as they’re the basic 101 course books for the routine. My 2 hour routine is designed to influence mind, body, and soul to get your day started and you off on the right foot.
“I never knew a man come to greatness or eminence who lay abed late in the morning.”
— Jonathan Swift
Step 1: Before you go to sleep (The night before)
Download the Sleep Cycle App and turn it on right before you go to sleep. It monitors your sleeping patterns through the app’s microphone. At first I was hesitant about that, but upon trying it, it really was spot-on. It also takes various notes on your sleep and puts them in a “Trends” section. Various items include time you went to bed / woke up, time in bed, and sleep quality (and how sleep quality is effected via activity during the day, per day of the week, and even by the moon). It also has an alarm clock built in with a 30 minute range. It will wake you at the moment within that 30 minute block (based on your sleep patterns) that will make you feel most rested and prepared for the day.
I usually sleep around 6 hours. This varies for people. It is generally recommended that most adults get 7–9 hours sleep. This can vary depending on the person. A night of 7 hours sleep is a long sleep for me.
Wakeup: 5:30 am
Step 2: Drink a 16 oz glass of water and brush my teeth (5:30 am-5:35 am)
Most days I’m up around 5:30am. First thing I do is drink a big glass of water and brush my teeth. It’s been proven that drinking a 16 oz. glass of water the moment you wake up has multiple health benefits. New Health Guide writes that some of these benefits include balancing the lymph system, weight loss, purifying the colon, rehydrating your body, flushing out toxins, firing up metabolism, fueings your brain, and preventing illnesses. Second thing I do is brush my teeth. It removes all the bacteria and toxins from when I was sleeping and makes me feel refreshed.
Step 3: Meditating (5:35–5:55 am)
Download the Headspace app. For those that have never meditated before they offer 10 free trial sessions to get you going. Andi Puddicombe the app’s creator and founder spent time in the Himalayas studying meditation and was ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist monk in North India. He walks you through a daily exercise making you aware of your breath, your surroundings, and most importantly your thoughts. The program is ultimately a process of becoming more aware of your thoughts. A key item is that meditation is not about trying to tune out negative thoughts. It is about realizing that your thoughts are in fact just that, thoughts. He has great metaphors such as seeing your thoughts as cars on a highway. As we meditate, over the course of time we become more present and can in turn be more present with others. After the 30 days of foundation work you can choose from various categories of Sport, Health, Relationships, and overall performance. It even breaks down into smaller categories which help with anxiety, depression, focus, and kindness among many others. It allows you to choose between 10, 15, or 20 minute sessions. I always do 20. You can currently get it for as low as $6.24/month if you sign up for 2 years.
“We think, mistakenly, that success is the result of the amount of time we put in at work, instead of the quality of time we put in.”
— Arianna Huffington
Step 4: Pre-Stretch + workout (5:55–6:30 am)
I use the Sworkit and Couch to 5K apps for my stretching and workouts. These apps are recent discoveries of mine and frankly they are the best workout apps I’ve come across. I work out 6 days a week and take Sundays off.
Monday, Wednesday, Friday: Sworkit
The Sworkit app lets you choose from a variety of workouts including Strength, Cardio, Yoga, Pilates, and Stretching. You can choose your workout length anywhere from 5 minutes to 1 hour in 5 minute increments. Within each category there are sub categories such as what type of cardio or where in the body you want to focus the strength workout. There’s also a 5 minute “Fit-In-5” workout option if time is limited. I like this app because it allows me to workout at home (no equipment needed though I have some free weights and mats I use), it syncs with Health, GoogleFit, and MyFitnessPal, has video demonstrations by real trainers, allows you to personalize your own custom workouts, and there are verbal cues to keep you on task. There’s also a premium option which charges $4.99/month for more workout options. I choose the 5 minute stretch to get me warmed up then a 30 minute workout in which I choose between strength or yoga. I vary the sub workouts daily.
Tuesday, Thursday Saturday: Couch to 5 K
I also love the Couch to 5 K app. What is particularly special about this app is how it inspires people to run a 5 K. It slowly alternates running and walking at the beginning and then slowly building up as it moves towards all running with the goal of making you fit enough to run a 5 K or for 30 minutes nonstop in just 9 weeks. We all see these marathons happening everywhere. Many people would love to participate but they can’t build up the motivation or self-drive to get themselves there. Couch to 5 K solves that. There’s nothing that brings cardio slowly but steadily into your life better than this app.
On the Couch to 5 K website one customer says:
“With the help of the Couch to 5k program, In less than seven months, I went from a 47 year old, 104kg, 30 cigarettes a day sort of guy to an 82kg, 0 cigarettes, running 45 to 50 kilometers a week sort of guy. Ten months after finishing C25K I completed my first marathon. Since then I have run another 5 marathons, as well as 9 ultra marathons including three over 100km.”
For me the app is a great way to mix in my cardio with the Sworkit workouts and it allows me to run anywhere I want. It starts by alternating walking and running then eventually moves you towards all running. I love the apps inner message too. It strives to get people up and moving who don’t necessarily have the motivation or know how. My Couch to 5 K workout is 30 minutes to get my cardio. Just like with Sworkit I stretch for 5 minutes prior then do the 30 minute workout. Try it!
“I wake up every morning at nine and grab for the morning paper. Then I look at the obituary page. If my name is not on it, I get up.”
— Benjamin Franklin
Step 5: Stretch + Recover (6:30 am — 6:40 am)
I put in a 10 minute stretch from the Sworkit app after whatever workout I do to help my mind and body recover from the workouts.
Step 6: Blinkist (6:40am-6:55am)
Probably my favorite app of all is Blinkist. Ever find all this information from these gurus in technology, health, wellness, computers, engineering, education, politics, and everything else in the world fascinating but you just don’t have the time or patience to sit down and read the entire book? Do you ever see a book and think gosh I’d like to read that or buy it but then it sits on the shelf and you never do anything? Blinkist solves that. It lets you pick from a huge library of thousands of books and breaks them down into “Blinks”. They provide you all the stuff you need to know from the book of your choice. The big hitting points or golden nuggets. That way each day you are acquiring a bit of knowledge, wisdom, or inspiration you didn’t previously have and don’t have to sit down and spend hours reading a book. Please note, I’m not discouraging anyone from reading books. I love reading books (I wrote a recent blog post on it) and often will read a book in it’s entirety that I found via Blinkist. But at the end of the day (or the beginning of the day for our purposes) I’m a very busy person and I like to get the big hitting points from a book because I can download them and use them towards my own longterm goals. It’s especially invigorating getting these nuggets of knowledge on a daily basis to kickstart my day.
One reader writes:
“As with many young millennium babies, reading books has often been a chore, something our parents tell us to do. It took me some time before I realized human wisdom was hidden between the lines of some best sellers. But how do you manage that when you live in 2016 and we produce more information in 1 year than during our entire human history? Since the first day, your resources and values have enlightened me. You’ve taught me to go directly to the point and focus on what really matters. During those 180 days of my premium version with you, I read more than 165 book summaries. From historical facts, psychology, time management, personal growth and mindset, small business and leadership, I had a taste for the latest discoveries from the last few years.”
Step 6: New York Times Morning Briefings (6:55 am — 7:10 am)
This piggy backs off Blinkist. Once I’ve got my knowledge and inspiration for the day it’s time to check what’s going on in the world. We all know the web can be very distracting. We peruse various websites trying to find good news and stimuli. Most of this stuff honestly is nonsense. Pop-culture, what celeb was on what red-carpet, pointless tweets, etc. All it does is distract us all from our goals. The world wide web is actually a massive time drain and colossal distraction. I like the important information of the day broken down neatly and succinctly and the New York Times Morning Briefing email does this for me. This is simple to get. Sign up and they’ll email it to you every weekday around 3:30am pst. Usually this takes me about 15 minutes to read. The email even provides links to articles you’d like to expand on and read more about.
Here is the beginning of today’s morning briefing to give you a visual:
Step 7: Shower + Get dressed (7:10 am-7:30 am)
The length of time this step takes varies person to person. For some people it would take more than 20 minutes. If so, just extending it a bit beyond 2 hours is fine. It’s now time to get ready for work. If you work from home definitely still go through the process of showering and getting dressed. It’s been proven you will be more aware and ready for the day if you are dressed for work not rolled out of bed and still in pajamas. Also health experts do heavily recommend a cold shower. There’s a wide range of large health benefits to a cold shower including increased alertness, refined hair and skin, improved immunity and circulation, weight loss, muscle recovery, eased stress, and depression relief. Oh, and Katharine Hepburn use to swear by them. While showering and getting ready I would also recommend getting the Ted Talks app and playing it on your phone or loudspeaker. Most of them are 10–20 minutes in length and its a quick way to learn something about a specific topic of choice. I always put a Ted Talk on while I’m getting ready for work.
So there you have it. My 2 hour morning routine. 5:30 am-7:30am. You are welcome to try this routine at any time of the day. But as far as mornings go, once through the 2 hours there are other things that I would recommend. The first of which is a cup of black coffee (cream is ok), a protein shake, and definitely eat breakfast. The second would be writing down 3 smaller goals that you’d like to accomplish TODAY. They can be as simple as going to the grocery store or writing a blog post you’d been needing to write. ;) Thirdly acknowledge your 3 long-term goals. These should be 3 goals you slowly are working towards day by day. Make sure they are written down and in your workspace be it at home or the office so that you can see them. Try to make it so that one of your daily goals each day contributes in some way towards a long-term goal.
I hope this encourages and inspires anyone to try my 2 hour morning routine. Once complete I promise you you’ll feel refreshed and ready to take on whatever the day might bring!
“I wake up some mornings and sit and have my coffee and look out at my beautiful garden, and I go, ‘Remember how good this is. Because you can lose it.’”
— Jim Carrey
A recent podcast I was on discussing my theories on ADHD:http://www.seeinadhd.com/adhd-mind/