If you ask me, there’s nothing more ridiculous than getting up before sunrise. I also hate it when my alarm clock goes off, no matter what time it is. I hate getting out of bed because some annoying sound dictates me to do that. And I hate doing stuff in the morning. I guess you can say I am not a morning person. Never was, probably never will be.
Even though it sounds magical, the almost sacred morning routine. Getting up early, going out for a run, reading the newspaper, taking a cold shower. Journaling, meditating, chanting your mantra for the day. And ending the routine with a super healthy vegetable smoothie. If I have to believe the guru’s of our time, it’s the secret to a happy and productive life. What do I say, it does sound magical, right?
Well, I’ve tried. No, that’s a lie: I’ve wanted to try. But the truth is, I don’t have a morning routine and I will never have one. I try to journal once a week (and I often fail), I don’t like meditating, working out is something I rather do after my workday. My breakfast is usually a slice of bread with cheese — I am Dutch after all. And don’t get me started on that cold shower, why the hell would I do that?
I felt a little guilty about not having a morning routine because I am an entrepreneur. I’m writing about how you can do your job better, or at least I try to help you with that. I should set the example. But I can’t. I’m more of a George Orwell than a Bill Gates when it comes to the lifestyle. (Not particularly when it comes to the work I deliver.)
No routine doesn’t mean no productivity
But you know what? I’m actually happy with not having a morning routine. Yes, I would like to be able to get up before 8:30 in the morning. But I gave up feeling guilty about the fact that I don’t do all that cool stuff every productive writer or entrepreneur seems to do. I like to be the boss of my own time, that’s why I started working for myself in the first place. That means that if I want to get up around nine in the morning, I should be able to. And if I want to work evenings, I can. I am everything but that picture perfect writer. Simply because I’m not wired that way.
Could I be more productive and more disciplined? Absolutely. Do I want that? Not right now. I am very happy with the way my life is and the content I put out there — here as well as for the people I work with. It took me about ten years to find out what works for me and I guess right now, not having a morning routine is what works for me. I like to start my day empty. Yes, I do have deadlines and things to do, but I like to plan them on the fly. That doesn’t mean I don’t do them if I don’t feel like it, I push myself sometimes to finish things. But it’s not because I drag my grumpy self out of bed at five AM.
A pinch of salt
And in the end, I also have sort of a morning routine. I live next door to a great coffee house and I like getting a flat white with oat milk there every morning. Having a little chat with the neighbors, start my day on a happy note. Of course I also get dressed every morning. I sometimes make that healthy smoothie, other days it’s just that cheese sandwich. Or one with hummus and avocado if I feel adventurous. And a pinch of salt. These are my habits, my routine if you want to call it that way. And when I’m dressed, had my coffee and my cheese sandwich, I open my laptop and go to work. Write.
The morning routine might sound like the perfect fix for a productive life, there are so many other ways to improve your work. Like the famous pomodoro technique, I love working for 25 minutes and then taking a break. Shutting down social media (yes, I also mean Medium) and turning off your notifications is another productivity hack. Planning your day in a proper way is one. Making a to do list you can actually finish. These are all small habits you can use to be more productive. To make the most out of your day.
Productivity hacks are personal
For me the most important productivity hack is balance and taking care of myself. Taking a break every once in a while without never going back to work (it’s tempting to slack, I know). Making time for you instead of the person you want to be because that morning routine sounds so magical. And by making time for you, I mean reading a book, working out and taking time to cook a proper meal.
Writing this down, I realize there’s actually just one productivity hack that helps everyone. And that’s taking care of you. If you feel good, if your body feels good, you’ll be able to achieve more. It doesn’t really matter how you do that. Whether it’s by getting up before sunrise, meditation and journaling, going on a run or taking care of yourself another way. As long as it suits you. And as long as you accept there are good days and some less good days. Some days just aren’t yours and you only do the necessary. That is also okay. More than okay.
So, I would like to know from you, what’s your secret to make your (work) life a little better?
Hi! I’m Ingelise de Vries, a journalist and (copy)writer from The Netherlands. That means I’m Dutch, so there could be a mistake in this piece. Spotted one? Don’t hesitate to let me know through email@example.com. Want to know more about me? I’m telling you all about it right here.