“Routine in an intelligent man is a sign of ambition” – W.H. Auden
If you’re like most others, you don’t wake up sharp and ready to concur the day. I certainly was not one of those people – I’m still not – but once I got ahold of a solid morning routinem my productivity and happiness increased dramatically. It wouldn’t matter what time I had to be at work – 7a.m. or 10a.m, I still managed to show up to work just at the nick of time. My childhood is partially to blame for this – I didn’t care for discpline and I enthusiatically ignored responcibility. Other factors such as poor diet, lack of sleep, and depression occasionally play a part in staying under the covers, and the longer I thought as I layed in bed the harder it was to get out.
So over the years I comtemplated and ignored these thoughts – until I couldn’t run away from the problem any longer. I disliked being the guy who showed lack of enthusiasm and work-ethic. So I went into a self-help frenzy. I picked up books by Dale Carnegie, listened to podcasts for self-improvement, and continued to exercise as much as posible. I needed an overhaul – in which this journey eventually lead me to Tim Ferriss.
I’ll save the introduction of Ferriss; if you stumbled upon my blog, the majority chance is you are familiar with his work.
In an early episode of the Tim Ferriss podcast, Tim details the five things in his morning routine that helps him “win the day.” Starting from making the bed to hanging up-side down from the ceiling for 60 seconds to decopress the spine (I know, I love the man). What he does best in his podcast is make lifestyle design seem sexy, as much as neccesary for professional achievement and self-improvement. Tim has a passion for digging into the details of high achivers that are often overlooked, and he does a fantastic job bringing it to his audience.
Not every morning is easy. Somedays I half-ass the entire routine. But once I complete it, my day will go a whole lot better, and that’s something to work for. Also, it will take time to make your routine a habit. I learned if you aim too big at first, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Introduce one thing at a time. What’s the rush anyway? You have the rest of your life to make all the adjustments you want. Here’s what is looks like:
Foam roll and mobility stretches: 5-10 minutes
The moment I get out of bed, I grab the foam roller I keep beside the bed and roll out my body starting from my back and work my way to my hips and legs. Foam rollers are a great way to warmup the body and help with streching. Rolling breaks up knotted muscles, increases range of motion and improves blood circulation. Next, I lay on my yoga mat and perform some simple but effective movements and stretches for mobility.
I target three parts of my body: spine, hips, shoulders.
- First, I like to open up my hips by doing the pigeon stretch because it’s so effective, but also because I can transition into other stretches easily in that position.
- Next, I work on shoulder mobility using exercises I found at Awaken Gymnastics website. They also have awesome videos on their Instagram page that I highly recommend you check out.
- Lastly, I finish my mat routine alternating between the wheel pose to the cat/cow pose. Putting the spine to use makes a significant impact on your posture, so it only feels right to finish with these stretches.
I hold each stretch for 10-15 breaths (inhale/exhale) or until the targeted muscle has loosened up. I prefer to count my breaths because it forces me to slow down and breathe deeply rather than rushing to the end of “thirty seconds.” Forget the stop watch and breathe.
Another key here is to let it sequence flow easily. You shouldn’t have to think about what movements to do next. Find your favorite stretches and posses then have fun with it.
Mindful Meditation (Vipassana): 10-20 minutes
I prefer using a guided mindful meditation (correct term used is Vipassana) over other forms of meditation because it doesn’t require you to do any chanting. Don’t get me wrong I’m into that shit too, but my friends will start judging me if I begin to skip showers and levitate around the house.
I’ll write about Vipassana in the near future, but you can visit Sam Harris’s website and listen to his conversation with Joseph Goldstein (fucking excellent). Three sources I use for guided meditations are:
- I first started using the app Headspace. Headspace is awesome for beginners because it offers a ten day challenge that keeps you accountable through each day. The app also features fun animations that demonstrate the framework of meditation and the purpose of it’s practice.
- Sam Harris’s nine and twenty-two minute sessions can be found on his podcast Waking Up. Sam is a neuroscientist, philosopher, and author of Waking Up. In this book he discusses his use of pyschedelics and his extensive time spend on silent mediation retreats in his adolescence. I enjoy these meditations because Sam has a calming voice and his instructions are nicely balanced between scanning the body, noticing thoughts that arise, and returning to the breath.
- And my goto for guided meditation and buddhist teachings is found at Tara Brach‘s website. She uploads a variety of new sessions weekly that can last up to 30 minutes. Tara also wrote a book called Radical Acceptance that is a true pleasure to read, and it’s the book to pick up when you’ve been especially critical of yourself.
Morning journal entry with coffee 10 -20 minutes
This might be the highlight of my entire day. I like to spend as much time as possible at my kitchen table drinking bulletproof coffee, logging a morning entry. I seperate my writing into two parts on the front and back of one page.
Front of the page is an introduction to my morning: “I woke up at 6:00 a.m. this morning and…,” I describe how I’m feeling, any reoccuring thoughts or ideas, what I did the night before, or my plan of attack for work. No rules, I don’t make any judgements about what comes out no matter how bizarre. Check out morning pages to go more in depth on the philosophy.
On the back I write three things that I’m grateful for, and make a to do list that would if completed would make my day more enjoyable.
Here’s a taste:
- First, I am grateful for (someone important in my life). Every entry I think of someone different – brother, friend, or a person I just met.
- Second, I am grateful for (my priveldges) my job, my apartment, or maybe the beautiful region of California I live in.
- Third, I’ll write down something that is easily taken for granted – such as having good eye sight, or having both of my legs so I’m able to run.
- The tasks completed that could make the day much better: today would be better if I beat my 2 mile run time, finish a house project, take care of a past due bill etc.
The coffee I drink is known as Bulletproof coffee. I steep the grounds I pick up from a local coffee shop in a french press for 4-5 minutes, then pour it into a blender and add one tablespoon of MCT oil, and one tablespoon of Kerrygold’s unsalted grassfed butter. This style of coffee has gained a lot of popular among those who are on the Ketogenic diet and “biohackers.”
Ideally, I want to spend as much time possible stretching on my floor, closing my eyes for a peaceful meditation, and hold a cup of coffee while writing ideas long hand – but that’s not my reality usually. I’m naturally a night person and I need a full eight hours of sleep. Plus I need to eat breakfast, and I have to walk the dog, then shit-shower-shave before clocking in at work by 7a.m. But if I can make it work, god knows you fucks can to.
If you have input on the morning routine, please comment on this blog and let me know what I should add, take away, or even how my writing looks. Im new to blogging so any words are encouraged.