My weekday morning routine has been evolving for decades, and right now it’s the best it’s ever been. It centers me and prepares me for the day. It’s satisfying and relatively quick. And I’m pleased to report that I’ve been sticking with it (with minor adjustments here and there) for more than six months now.
My life is so full these days with family responsibilities and work responsibilities. It’s so easy to get sucked in or to feel overwhelmed by what’s expected of me. So my goal is to start each day with intention. To prepare my mind and my body. And to give myself some time, however brief, to live in the present moment (and to not go online) before the chaos of the day takes over.
I wake at 6:30. I brush my teeth and shave. Then I head downstairs to make coffee. I recently switched from drip coffee to espresso, so my first cup is a double shot americano, which takes me about sixty seconds to make with my espresso machine. Americanos are absolutely delicious and each sip brings me pleasure.
When I’m about halfway through the cup, I get down on my elbows and toes and do a plank in the middle of the room. I use my phone to time it and go for two and a half minutes. It’s taken me a year to work up to this length of time, and I aspire to get up to three minutes at some point. If my body feels exhausted, the plank will be difficult to do and the last minute will be painful. If I’m feeling rested and strong, it will be easier. But either way, the plank really gets my blood pumping. Along with the caffeine from the espresso, I’m wide awake now even though I just got out of bed twenty minutes ago.
I rest for a minute and then head to the living room. I sit in a chair and do a guided mediation for ten minutes. For the past few months I’ve been using Sam Harris’s meditation app called Waking Up, and before that I was using the Headspace app. For those ten minutes, I do my best to let go of everything else and just concentrate on the present moment. Some days I’m really able to focus and to calmly observe my mind and the sensations in my body. On other days my mind and body are restless and agitated and I’m overcome by a torrent of thoughts and feelings. I’ve been doing guided meditations for about two years now and I never skip a day. I’ve become more patient with myself and accepting of however I’m feeling, and this has been helpful in all areas of my life.
Then I eat a blueberry yogurt at the dining room table while a read a few pages of a book. I usually read three to five pages, but on some days I’ll read just a page or two. For the past couple of years I’ve been reading a lot about creativity, organizational behavior, management, personal effectiveness, psychology and spirituality. It’s amazing how the pages add up over time. I also typically read a few pages before bed and this allows me to get through one or two books every month. Reading books brings new ideas and perspectives into my life, which I find myself referencing at work and at home all the time.
When I’m done eating, I get dressed and head to the office. I’m usually in the car by 7:40 and I listen to podcasts on the fifteen to twenty minute drive. They are so engaging and I feel like I’m always learning something. I bounce around a lot between podcasts, but my current favorites are The Tim Ferriss Show, Making Sense (Sam Harris), Work Life with Adam Grant, Akimbo (Seth Godin), The Daily, 10% Happier and Song Exploder.
I park my car and walk in to work. This is when my morning routine ends and my work day begins. No days are alike at work. They’re generally chaotic and intense and exhausting. This is another reason why I love my weekday morning routine: it’s stable and uncomplicated and invigorating.
My weekday morning routine continues to evolve.
Last week my son’s school year ended as summer vacation began. For the few months prior I’d been driving him to school everyday. We would listen to music and talk. I look forward to making that part of my routine again come fall.
My daughter was born almost four months ago. When that happened I started showering in the evenings instead of the mornings so that I wouldn’t wake anybody up as I got ready for work. And that’s when I started driving my son to school, too.
Going forward, I’d like to meditate longer every morning. I’d also love to write a little bit.
For me it’s all about finding the right balance with the weekday morning routine. It needs to be right-sized for me to stick with it consistently. And right now what I’m doing is really working for me.