Almost every productivity or self-improvement expert out there will tell you a productive day starts with your morning. A good morning helps you define the day ahead and get some early wins. To really get the best out of your morning, you need a morning routine. This varies for everyone, and you should do what works best for you. Below is my morning routine. I have found this really helps me get the most out of my day.
The Night Before
- Next Day Prep – Work
My morning routine really starts the previous evening. Before leaving work I make sure to have a “to do” list ready to go for the next day. I used to make detailed, way-too-packed lists that were tough to get through. Then if something came up during the day that needed my immediate attention, the list was left mostly undone, and I had to add it to the next day’s list making it even bigger. After I read David Allen’s Getting Things Done I moved to a project list. I divide that list into the three main areas of my job, and I have a section under each area for “Current Projects” “Waiting on a Response” and “Future Projects.” But I do find it helpful to have a list of the two or three projects I want to accomplish that day or week. This helps me get right to work when I enter my office instead of hemming and hawing about what I want to do that day. When I have finished those tasks I can look at the list and figure out where I want to go next. If I have done a lot of writing that day, then I may want to continue with another writing project or feel so drained I move to a project that does not require writing.
- The Gym
Working out after work is a great way to get rid of the stress of the day. It is another kind of meditation, one that releases all kinds of endorphins and makes you feel sooooo good and strong!
- Next Day Prep – Home
At home, I make sure I get my nightly projects done before starting on nightly routine. This is negotiable. If after cooking I feel tired and ready to start reading, then I will put off cleaning dishes until the next night. I used to never do this, but I have learned to focus on that stuff that matters. Ain’t no one care if I got dirty dishes in my sink! Some things I do need to get done like packing my gym bag for the next day’s workout. The real goal here should be to not put off anything until the morning. This will disturb my morning routine.
Finally, I need to get to bed early, well-fed and well-hydrated. I wake up early, so I go to bed early. I need lots of sleep.
The Morning Routine
- Early Wake Up
I wake up early. When it is colder, I wake up a little later at 5:00 am. I do not like the cold, and I rarely do any cardio or prolonged physical activities on a cold morning. When it is warmer, I wake up at 4:00 am. I like the dark and the quiet. This is one of the few times of the day you can really make your own and do and think what you want.
- Cat Feeding
First thing after waking up, I feed my cat. In the morning she is raring to go and needs the proper fuel to spend the day sleeping.
- Water Bonsai Trees
After I feed the cat, I water my outdoor plants and bonsai trees. It gets me outdoors, and I make sure to get that important task done. Bonsai trees need daily watering.
- Reading and Coffee
Next comes coffee. While I am drinking my first cup, I read that day’s philosophy from The Daily Stoic. This gets my brain going and puts me in the right mindset for the day.
- Journaling and More Coffee
During my second cup of coffee I journal. I write about what I learned from my Stoic reading and how I can apply it to my life, thoughts on life or the morning, and any big things I need to do or think about. I also journal briefly at night about the day I had and record my meditation and if I worked out.
- Physical Activity
During warmer months I will do cardio in the morning. The type of cardio, length, and pace changes as I my needs and wants change. I like doing cardio first thing in the morning because research shows fasted cardio (no food before the workout) helps you burn fat better.
After I finishing cardio in warm weather or my second cup of coffee in cold weather, I meditate for 20 minutes. This helps me to focus my mind and thoughts, and it comes in handy when something goes awry during the day. Meditation and mindfulness activities have so many benefits. I am working on writing a short article and blog post about it.
- Shower and Dress
After I meditate I shower, dress, and head out to work feeling great and ready to take on the world.