In Praise of the Morning Routine [en]

[fr] Avoir une routine matinale à laquelle on se tient, ça aide (même quand on a eu une panne d'oreiller, comme moi ce matin!)

I have a morning routine. From wake-up to office, it takes roughly 90 minutes. I don’t hurry. I don’t look at the time. I just go through it.

It’s a way to start the day, a way to wake up before staring at my inbox or getting started with work. It also means that for 90 minutes at the start of the day, I don’t have to make any choices or take any decisions.

There are times when I’m not good at sticking to it. But in general, I’ve noticed that the days, weeks or months when I do tend to go better. Not confusing correlation with causation, here: I’m very well aware that if I have the leisure to not be in a rush in the morning and take those 90 minutes, it means I’m not running around putting out fires all the time. True too, though, that if I am putting out fires but do manage to preserve this morning time of mine, I am managing to firewall some downtime from the madness of the rest of the day. In this way, my morning routine is not just a health indicator of my life, but also a took I can use to influence it.

This morning, I overslept. I had blocked a full day of work in the office, and I woke up three hours later than I had planned. Normally, when that happens, I rush downstairs to the office as fast as I can and get on with my day. This morning, I had second thoughts:

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Well, I listend to Nicole’s (and others’) advice and followed my gut: stick with the morning routine. Waking up late is annoying enough without throwing “my time” out of the window on top of it. And if I needed to sleep 10 hours straight, well so be it.

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I now have a new “rule”: stick with the morning routine. If I needed extra sleep, well, let that eat into work or evening time, not morning and “get going” time.

Consequences for today: I worked later than I’d initially planned, and decided to give up going to a barbecue in the evening. But I went through my day without feeling crap.

So, you’re wondering, what do I do during those 90 minutes? No big mystery. My morning routine intially crept up on me (result of too much unstructured life) and was fertilized by my discovery of FlyLady (who, amongst other things, insists on the importance of routines). My morning routine is pretty much what it was 2 years ago:

  • get up, straighten bed
  • neti pot if necessary, wash any leftover dishes (ideally)
  • hop into exercise clothes, do sit-ups, 30 minutes on the bike, stretch a bit
  • shower, get dressed, have breakfast
  • prepare my stuff and head out/downstairs

Not much to do for 90 minutes, see. I often also take a few minutes to check Twitter, or play a level of Plants vs. Zombies on my iPhone (warning: crack-addictive).

Do you have a morning routine? (Coffee drinkers, you do — even if you don’t think you do.)