I’m a nerd about my morning routine. I shared a blog post a while ago when I was getting in the groove. I’ve still managed to keep up with the 5:30am (well, its almost always 5:40am) and I thought it would be cool to share some of the tweaks and enhancements I’ve made.
Its All About Tweaking & Honing
A lot of friends ask me how to get motivated to do this morning routine. As I learned from Hal Elrod, you just need to start! Don’t try to do a million of these things that I’ll share today, but instead just do one or two.
That is how I got into it. Waking up a little earlier every few weeks, and then finding the ideal time. Then add on more and more routines you do.
It is so empowering, I keep on making small adjustments and it gets better and better.
Starts With The Night Before
So, I know, I’m talking about a morning routine and I start with the nights! Doh! But really, I didn’t prepare much the night before when I started this. As it developed, now I have all kinds of things to do before I go to sleep to make sure I get going.
First, I do have a smart band (Xiaomi MiBand) that has an alarm. It is good because it doesn’t wake up my wife, but I need the sounds to get up. So I have an alarm on my phone going off at 5:40am. I put that on the floor next to my bed so I can spring up and grab it.
I also place all the morning “gear” in a “women’s bag” or picnic bag. Friends joke about the style being for women, but I don’t mind. Its dark out when I leave the place and no one except a few Tai Chi older Chinese people ever see me using it.
In the bag I have everything I need. A change of clothes on top, all the gadgets and the laptop packed. Also now I put my keys in the bag, so that I don’t lock myself out of the house when I come back from the morning session. This has happened a couple times and I din’t want to wake up the family. Thus I’d sit out on in the hallway and wait till my father in law came out for his morning smoke.
This is all helpful because before I used to fumble around in the dark each morning making sure I didn’t forget anything.
To take it one step further, I have smaller bags to compartmentalize things. That when, when I travel to Hong Kong or I’m on the road, I take the smaller bags which has the core essentials.
I try to stop looking at screens an hour before bed and read a fiction book until I get drowsy.
Wake Up And Rock It!
Sure, there are times at 5:40am when I try to convince myself I can just get 10 more minutes. But it hasn’t gone past 5:40am except during the hyperactive DCBKK conference.
So that 10 second initial thought to sleep more – I fight through it – and once I’m out of bed I am not going back! I have been trying to nap more after lunch, so I tell myself during that snooze temptation that I can get a nap later if I need it.
Hopefully I remember my dream(s) and I grab the notebook ASAP to document it. A portable nightlight (thanks Katie) that clips onto the notebook and I brain dump all the weird sporadic dreams I had. Try to analyze why I dreamt those things, and see if I can make any connections. Trying to do lucid dreaming, and got some tips from Tim Ferriss.
Because I have everything packed and ready to go – I grab the bag and take it to the bathroom. I brush my teeth and other prep-work, then to the kitchen.
In the kitchen I boil up water for the tea, and chug a big jug of water. I now have all my breakfast stuff ready to take downstairs, and make instant oatmeal in a tupperware case. A small re-usable back for my hardboiled egg, and then a cloth bag for all the food items.
Then I walk outside, taking my morning “gear” bag, and the “breakfast” bag. Also I use a yoga mat as I’m meditating on a concrete floor downstairs.
* Roll out the yoga mat.
* Get the bluetooth speaker setup for the meditation music,
* Set a timer (I use “Gymboss”) with presets for 11 minutes meditation, 5 minutes affirmation, and 4 minutes of visualization.
That is a 20 minute session.
After meditation, I have the exercise. What I do is use a TRX – which is a cable workout system, and hang it up on a tree limb. Do a 3 sets of 50 seconds each, and then a 40 second break. Do that 3 times so it comes in at a bit over 10 minutes.
After the fast workout, take down the TRX from the tree and go back to the concrete area to eat. I have my oatmeal and egg and drink my tea. I have a laminated card of motivational quotes and affirmations I use as a place mat. It is great to read it and think about what they mean as I’m eating and chilling out for about 5 minutes.
Next is the journaling and spreadsheets. I do the 5 minute journal where I write what I am appreciative for, my affirmations, and 3 things I want to get done that day. I also document my sleep (from my smart band) and even write notes why my sleep was good or bad quality. Also I write down how many pomodoros I had the day before, and why I may have not been as productive.
All this charting and journaling, I love it! It makes life and work more like a game. I’m trying to improve my sleep, trying to get more work sets down, trying to think more positive each day.
Wife calls it being a robot, but I think it is amazing way to live life!
Once I finish writing my journals (I have about 5 different spreadsheets now, depends on the day!) I do the 10 minutes of reading. Time it! And its something I am trying to learn about or improve on a skill I’m focusing on.
By this time it is about 7am. Once I finish reading, I pack up the yoga mat and the gear and walk back up to my apartment.
Refilling my tea, putting back the gear. I change from the “meditation clothes” into my “normal day clothes” which has been the same 5 sets of clothing. I love having a uniform, takes the thinking out of what to wear each day.
When I get back upstairs the family is still asleep, and by 7:15am I am studying Chinese. I’ve discussed my routine, and it is learning a few new characters, and writing a ton until my hand is sore. This gets to be about 8am. By then the family is awake and my son is pulling at my leg.
I’ll read a book to him and my father in law is making breakfast. We all eat together and it is good family time.
By 8:30am I am in the home office writing. Articles just like today’s (well technically I’m writing this in Hong Kong, but its still in this morning session).
As for writing, I have upped my game! Now I target 2,000 words/day and that is about 1 hour of work. I do it in 2 thirty minute pomodoro sessions. I’m loving brain.fm as a focused music session. No words to distract me, and my brain is in the zone!
Finished my writing session by about 9:30am and time to get to “work”.
I take a few minutes to break, and also prepare what I’ll be doing for my projects.
The morning is my work time. I’ll do pomodoro sets until lunch time, 4 sets (2 hours). I chart it in Google docs, and note when I break my pomodoro sessions and why.
By lunch I have done a ton of work!
Afternoon I will try to nap, and then catch up with emails. Phone calls, management stuff.
Schedule Family Time
It sounds crazy and robotic, but I try my best to put dedicated time to spend with my family. That is in the afternoons and evenings. I know from all my friend’s recommendations that my kids will be adults before I blink an eye so I need to get the most. Being a parent lets me relive my childhood a bit as well.
But by having this morning discipline has allowed me to get more work done, and at the same time have more time for my family and personal life.
Starting a Grind Report
My friend Chris Moore sent me a ViperChill blog post about how he manages his productivity. I am so happy to see how similar his style is to mine, guess I’m on the right track!
A lot of internet marketers do a monthly income report – but he suggests to do a monthly Grind Report. This is outlining your monthly pomodoros, how many you got done, and why you were above or below your targets.
I’m loving that, and although we’re already almost in the middle of January, I’ll do it anyway. I’m going to write up a December 2015 Grind report, will be one of the next blog posts after this one.
How About You?
Any of these strategies work for you? Doing them? Thinking about it, I’d love to hear it in the comments below!