My Optimized Morning Routine
My Optimized Morning Routine
Mornings are quickly becoming my favorite part of the day.
I've always been aware of the importance of having a properly defined morning routine. Unfortunately, one of the disadvantages of being constantly on the road is the lack structure and the inability to set daily routines. But as we all know, recent events have have put a stop to all forms of travel so the best I could do was to turn this obstacle into an advantage and finally create my personal morning routine.
Like most people, I used to start my days by scrolling through useless social media posts or watching Netflix. Instead of preparing my brain for peak performance and productivity, I was getting my brain used to distraction and instant gratification.
So, as a quarantine challenge, I've been creating and optimizing a morning routine that has allowed me to consistently work on my skills, stay healthy and start the day on a peak state.
Here's how it goes:
Tea, Yoga and Calisthenics
I still haven't joined the 5AM club so I wake up every day at around 6 to 6:30 AM.
The first thing I do right after waking up is make myself a cup of tea and head outside for some morning yoga.
99% of the time I drink Yerba Mate Tea. Coffee right after waking up makes me feel dehydrated and black tea makes me feel nauseous when I'm on an empty stomach. Mate tea tastes great, hydrates and gives me that little energy boost I need to start my morning routine.
On Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays I work out before the yoga session. I usually do a modified version of the /r/bodyweightfitness calisthenics recommended routine.
Yoga sessions can last from 15m to 45m depending on how I'm feeling. They're either improvised (as long as I cover the main stretches) or I follow @saturnomovement's routines, which I recommend if you're aspiring to learn yoga. Check him out.
For the past month or so, as an extra challenge, I've also added morning walks/runs to my routine. They're especially helpful on workout days, when I don't feel ready for a full workout and need something extra to wake me up.
They're also great idea generators. My best thoughts and ideas usually come when I'm doing some sort of physical activity. Workouts and yoga are either too demanding or require too much focus, so walking has been the best way to let my mind wander.
It also helps me get that much needed cardio in my daily routine.
"All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking" - Nietszche
After the most physical part of my routine, I make myself another cup of tea and sit down to write my morning pages.
Morning pages are simply a "Brain Dump" for whatever's going through my head. A place to dump all my current thoughts, ideas and worries on paper so I can start the day with a clear mind and purpose.
“Once we get those muddy, maddening, confusing thoughts [nebulous worries, jitters, and preoccupations] on the page, we face our day with clearer eyes.” - Julia Cameron
I've been journaling on an off for years now, but during this quarantine an unexpected thing happened: The journaling habit has become a necessity. It has allowed me to be aware of how disorganized my mind actually is. Of how many thoughts and ideas go through my head that get forgotten almost instantly. But also to acknowledge how futile and meaningless some of my worries are. Writing forces you to think clearly, to remove all the clutter and focus on what truly matters.
I find that having a minimum of 3 pages helps. Sometimes ideas don't want to come out so we need to kickstart the engine. Even if it means writing gibberish to reach that 3 page mark.
The worst enemy is the blank page. Just start and ideas will come.
Morning Pages along with having a proper note-taking system have been life-changing habits.
The habit that I've struggled the most to implement.
As we all know by now, meditation has many proven health and mental benefits. Benefits that I've experienced first hand but yet, I still struggle to make it a daily practice.
I don't know why the meditation habit has been so hard to implement. Maybe because of the awkwardness us westerns still feel when we sit with ours leg crossed and eyes closed. Or maybe because we're simply not used to stopping and doing nothing.
I've been trying to add a 5-10 minute meditation session every day after yoga. I'm still a beginner and have a long way to go but I've noticed improvements in my focus and awareness thanks to this habit.
You might have noticed the lack of breakfast in this morning routine. I've always been a fan of the Intermittent Fasting idea and during this quarantine I've been following it more religiously.
I can't say that it has worked miracles for me like some claim. But the truth is that I have a lot more energy during my mornings and way less brain fog. If this is due to intermittent fasting or my overall diet and routine improvements, I can't say. While the latter option is way more likely, I do love the time I save during the morning and that it helps me keep a caloric deficit.
It's definitely not for everyone but if you're up for a challenge and want to lose some extra pounds, go for it. It gets easier with time, I promise.
As I've written here before, I'm a huge fan of cold showers.
Nowadays I don't do them nearly as often as I used to, but I still do them at least 2-3 times every week.
I am a bit sceptic about the claimed health benefits (Improved physical recovery, stronger immune system, brown fat activation, etc). But you can bet that they'll make you feel incredibly energized.
Plus, they're an amazing stoic exercise of discipline and voluntary discomfort which can be amazing assets in your personal and professional life.
And there you have it, my quarantine morning routine. Hopefully I'll manage to keep up it with once life starts moving faster again and that I've inspired you in the process.