I’ve been working on my morning routines for decades. Sometimes I had a good streak going, other times, that streak broke down and I worked to get back on track. For over 20 years, I have been in pursuit of the perfect morning routine. Then, after some reflection, I had a couple of breakthroughs about morning routines. I discovered that most of the time, even if it didn’t look perfect, my morning routines reflected my goals and needs during a particular period in my life. (see some of my past routines at the end of the article)
My Breakthrough in Morning Routine Strategy
Right after the first lockdown in March 2020, my morning routine took a hit. I lost the gym and coffee shop. After about a month, I started to find a new morning routine for the pandemic. Then, in October, I traveled to Dublin, Ireland for 2 months and that required a new routine. In December I was back in the US for 2 months with yet another routine and now I’m back in Dublin.
In one year I’ve had as many morning routines as I’ve had in the last 10 years. Then I realized that each of those routines served me in that moment, just like my past ones served me then. That means, whatever I need in a particular moment, my morning can be designed and optimized to deliver.
My Writing-Optimized Morning Routine
Right now, I want to write regularly, publish to my blog, and create content for potential new courses. I also want to discover new ideas for content and courses that I’m not even thinking of right now. At the moment, I’m staying by the seaside south of Dublin. After an inspiring walk on my first full day in Monkstown, I decided, I’m going to tweak and optimize my morning routine to get it just right for these 5 weeks by the seaside. Here is what I came up with.
- 6:00am – Wake up and do priming exercise (mindfulness, gratitude, and vision exercise)
- 6:30am – Home workout routine while listening to audio course or podcast
- 7:30am – Read for one hour
- 8:30am – Write and fully publish one article
- 10:30am – Run to coffee shop while listening to audio course or podcast
- 10:45am – Walk to the seaside with coffee; sit by the water, think freely, and write down ideas
- 11:45am – Walk or run back home
- 12:15pm – Shower and get dressed for day
- 1:00pm – Lunch
Right now, this schedule is perfectly optimized for my life while in Monkstown, Ireland. It allows me the space to think and be creative while also incorporating an early result to my day. This is the longest morning routine I have ever engineered and it works since most of my class and meeting commitments are based in US time zones and don’t kick off until mid-late afternoons in my local time.
The Moral of the Story
This reflection taught me there is no one perfect morning routine to chase.
While there may be lots of great advice and guidance for morning routines, ultimately it has to be your own. You can design your routine in a meaningful way to help you deliver the results you need to deliver in that moment of your life. There is no one perfect morning routine for all. There is your ideal morning routine for that moment in your life, whether it’s one month, six months, or a couple of years. In a couple of weeks, I’ll start a new routine which I have already begun to engineer.
What adjustment or tweak can you make to your morning routine to begin optimizing it for what you want and need the most right now?
Here are 3 Morning Routines from Different Periods of My Life
Here are some of my morning routines of the last 15 years and why they served me during those periods of my life.
A Focus on Fitness and Strength (2005-2008)
From 2005-2008, my morning routine was based off having to be at the office by 830am. After allowing myself to get into my highest weight ever between 2004-2005, I resolved in mid 2005 when I moved to St. Louis to prioritize my health and fitness. Since I had to be in the office by 830am, I decided I wanted to go to the gym and stop by the soccer field to practice some drills every morning.
- 4:00am – Wake up and get dressed for gym
- 4:30am – Cardio at gym (24 Hour Fitness given the early start time)
- 5:00am – Lifting at gym
- 6:00am – Drills on the soccer field
- 7:00am – Shower and healthy breakfast
- 8:00am – Drive to work
This morning routine allowed me to focus on fitness in a big way, which was my goal. And the routine worked within the structure of my work schedule.
A Focus on Structure and Confidence (2010-2012)
From 2010-2012, I was living in St. Louis and had just graduated with an MBA and an MS in Psychology after two years of study. I was focused on reinventing myself and writing the next chapter of my life. I was coaching math students and doing a little speaking and consulting. Mostly, I was figuring out my next chapter. It was a scary time for me not knowing what was my next step in life and my morning routine became a place of comfort and confidence to make something happen.
- 5:30am – Wake up and get dressed for gym (Lifetime Fitness)
- 6:00am – Shooting around the basketball court for 30 minutes
- 6:30am – Cardio at the gym for 1 hour
- 7:30am – Weight lifting for about 1 hour
- 8:30am – Soccer drills in the basketball court for 30 min
- 9:00am – Steam room and shower
- 10:00am – Healthy breakfast
- 10:00am – Coffee shop with laptop to figure out my next chapter
This morning routine provided me with a lot of comfort and structure in the mornings, even though I didn’t have a full-time job (or school) for the first time in my life. This routine provided me with a lot of energy and confidence to figure out my next step in life.
A Focus on High Energy for Teaching (2012-2014)
From 2012-2014, I was back in New Jersey, and had just secured a 1 year consulting contract at school district. This was my first time consulting in education and I wasn’t sure how it would go. However, I knew I needed to bring a high level of energy and enthusiasm. The working hours were flexible, so I could design my optimal morning. Fitness and soccer continued to remain a priority.
- 5:30am – Wake up and get dressed for gym (UFC Gym in Hoboken)
- 6:00am – Early morning boxing class
- 7:00am – Lifting routine for about 45 minutes
- 8:00am – Off to the soccer field for drills (listening to motivational playlist I built)
- 9:00am – Shower and healthy breakfast
- 10:00am – Drive to the school where I consulted
This routine helped me create a lot of energy for working with students, teaching a couple of classes, and creating innovative solutions to interesting problems in the school district. I learned that it is critical to create energy when working with students because they will feed off of that energy too.