The Morning Routine I Just Discovered I Have
Tim Ferriss and Pat Flynn (two of my favorite podcasters) agree of the importance of the morning routine. Productivity begins in the morning and your routine sets the tone for your day in many ways: nutrition, exercise, planning and overall attitude.
At the end of each interview podcast, Ferriss always asks his high-powered mover/shaker guests to describe their morning routines. Most include some form of exercise and some form of meditation. Flynn, in one of his podcasts contrasted his recording of his account of his morning routine from 5 years earlier with how he does it today, stressing that he has improved his morning routine as his life has improved around him. I found it interesting that it seemed that his improved life (becoming more established in business and personal life) seemed to afford him a better morning routine rather than the other way around.
So, I’m thinking this morning as I’m doing the stuff I do every morning: Yeah, I have a morning routine. It might not be the optimized power morning routine of a Tim Ferriss. For instance it does not involve lemon grass but then again it doesn’t involve a bowl of dirt weed either – at least not since college. So, here it is.
My Dog, My Life Coach – Productivity vs. Frisbee
6:20ish – Having gone to bed around 10:30 the previous night I usually wake up naturally a little before my first of three iPhone alarms goes off at 6:30. Rocky, the hound from hell, immediately senses my stirring and begins barking like the little prick he is to get me to begin my day of service to him.
I let him out in the back yard wash my face, iPhone in hand, I usually peruse emails that came in over night – usually just alerts from my hosting accounts letting me know that a website backup was created etc. Or else there’ll be a couple random late-night texts from my programmer friend, Erick who thinks of things while he is up all night “programming.”
Start the coffee, clean up the beautiful mess of dropped bath towels and girls underwear that living in a house with three women produces, switch out a load of laundry to keep things moving, make some noise to get the girls moving, make a couple lunches for my daughters.
7:00ish – Once people are milling around like grumpy zombies, grumbling about not being able to find the perfect outfit for work or school, I like sit down at my desk that looks out onto the backyard and make a list of what I need to accomplish that day. I say I “like” to because on the days when I actually do this I can look back at my day and easily gauge my productivity. And, being self-employed, I like to feel productive. It reassures me that I am actually earning a living.
If you can’t tell yet, for better or worse I embrace an unfocused and undiagnosed AD/HD lifestyle, so for the rest of the day I will become distracted by emails, texts, phone calls, a whimpering dog and much more. Then, for unpredictable several hour stretches I will, turn off the music, focus on one task and knock some items off my list.
7:30 my second alarm rings. My youngest girl is ready for me to take her to school. It’s only a few minutes away but we take the car and the dog and his frisbee. She eats something in the car usually in a coffee mug. I am the creator of “Waffles in a Cup” which are exactly what the name says and which I have yet to patent. It’s waffles with a convenient handle for eating while seat belted into a moving vehicle. And it’s one of the many million-dollar ideas I will half-formulate in my head throughout the day but forget five minutes later. This particular idea, however, has been pushed into production but has not yet been sent to the marketing department.
I drop Eva off and circle around the block to the big field where a beautiful, architecturally-relevant building once stood until the city and business leaders in my city decided a smooth, grassy field was better. Beneath the Belleville St Peter’s Cathedral and across the street from the soon-to-be-vacated St Elizabeth’s Hospital my dog and I play frisbee and smile at the same pedestrians and honking cars who pass us every morning on their ways to work and school.
The Best Part of this Morning Routine – Never Having to Have A Routine Morning
And this is a big payoff of my work. I love being able to step out of line and hustle-bustle of the average person succumbing to the rush to get here and there before the bell rings. I love to be able to enjoy the same pace as a weekend morning every morning. I sometimes wonder if I’m going to regret my lack of hustle later like the creature in that story who just fucks off while everyone else is working and then starves.
If I may for a moment, our American “work-ethic” shames us for not being exhausted for not reveling in having reached “hump day,” for not reciting the mantra “Come on, Friday!” But to me every day is the same – the same offering of opportunity and the same opportunity for enjoyment. This is not to say that I don’t feel rushed or even sometimes chained to my desk. Not literally chained to my desk, but that would make for an interesting blog post.
I used to envision working for myself as a web developer as a daily tour of various coffee-shops and other relatively exotic locales because, after all, I would be unfettered by a boss demanding my daily appearance in a cubicle with office-issue desk phone and paperclips. But the truth is, I do find myself rushing back to my home desk to make a client call, or to push a project out at the last minute. The difference, I suppose is that any rush or immediacy that I feel is imposed from within not from outside. To me this makes all the difference in the world. Back to reality…
8:00 – These days, now that my oldest, Emily is driving, I’ve been letting her take my car to school in the mornings. It means that I will be car-less throughout the day, but not only do I not mind this – I actually like it. I like it because it means that we are not a 3-car family. When she was getting ready to get her license I considered purchasing another car but then Mr. Money Moustache set me straight on the insanity of this notion. I like being carless because it confirms to me that my chosen profession and lifestyle allow me to not need to commute. I like it because it is one less distraction (read: escape route) from my desk and my work and since I have very little self-control I need a lack of options to keep me focused. And I like it because it confirms that living in our little downtown where everything I do need is within walking distance. And walking is good.
The goal at this point in my morning is to be back at my desk before 8:45. Leash in hand, iPhone in pocket, earbuds in… ears, it’s time to walk and listen to the morning podcast. 45 minutes or so of isolation and learning about something new from one of my favorite podcasters. Walking at a nice fast pace on the Belleville bike trail or through downtown, stopping occasionally to sniff or pee, I listen to Tim Ferriss interview some heavy-hitter on business, lifestyle and achieving excellence. Or, maybe this morning Pat Flynn will share with me some new take on creating passive online. Perhaps those guys on the Product People will share stories of people who program and sell SaaS (Software as a Service) – a niche at the time of this writing a little bit above my understanding and experience, but why not stretch a little! Or, maybe I’ll just listen to some inspiring story about how someone found and now lives work they love on the How Did You Get Into That podcast with Grant Baldwin.
A nice morning workout for brain and body and we’re heading down the final stretch toward that desk, that view and that list. And that’s my morning routine.