Morning Routine

Something I’ve found myself doing lately, almost by accident, is having a much more consistent morning routine. Rather than setting out with this in mind, it’s been a side effect of two of the goals that I set at my last personal retreat.

First off, I set a goal of writing every single day. No specific target for how much, or what to write. It could be 5 minutes working on a blog post or an hour working on a novel (or vice versa). The goal is just to sit down and spend some time moving the cursor every single day (and if you look at the number of blog articles I’ve published in the past few months it’s obvious that it’s having a positive effect on my output).

The hard part was finding time to do this. I already established a habit of exercising every morning (it was pretty much the only thing in my morning routine that was consistent). I didn’t want to give that up. While I don’t have a fixed time when I’m required to be at my desk at work most days, I didn’t want to push that any later than I was already doing. I did have a bunch of time that I was spending messing around on the internet (including reading through the overnight posts on the MPU forum). I found that this aimless messing around online was often the monster that ate the rest of my morning routine. Imposing a bit of order on that could help me find some time to write, but not as much as I wanted.

I decided to bite the bullet and move my alarm back from 6am to 5:30. The extra half hour, combined with imposing some discipline on my morning internet usage, would give me some time to write.

One of the ways I’ve imposed that discipline is my goal to time block each day. In fact, the morning has become by far the most consistent part of my schedule (particularly on weekdays). On weekdays I could basically copy and paste everything before 9am and only have to deviate from it a couple of days per month.

With the help of multiple alarms on my phone and a clock radio across the room, so I physically have to get out of bed to shut it off, I get up at 5:30 every morning. The “every morning” bit is important. I am not naturally a morning person. If I sleep late one morning, it throws off my sleep schedule for days afterward.

From 5:30 to 6 I drink a glass of water and read the MPU forum and the news on my iPad. At 6 I pry myself away from the internet and do my morning exercise routine. This generally takes a little over an hour. Throw in a shower and some breakfast and about 7:45 I’m ready to start writing. I’ve got 45 minutes to write before I have to head out the door to work.

As morning routines go, this is certainly nothing earth-shattering. Exercise, shower, and breakfast are about as typical as you can get. What I thought was interesting is how consistent it’s become without explicitly making consistency a goal. It’s really been a side effect of the writing and time blocking goals.