If you spend enough time in blog/self help book/podcast-osphere, you’ll learn two things.
1. You’ve been doing everything wrong until now.
2. A solid morning routine is the key to everything.
I already knew the first point inside and out, so I figured I’d focus on the second.
I’ve never had anything close to a 9 to 5 job in my life. I've rarely even had a consistent schedule for more than a month or two. Sounds pretty great, right? Little structure, lots of freedom, plenty of room for creativity and fostering a sense of childlike wonder?
These things are always better in theory than in practice. We yearn for vacations and dream of being self-employed, then feel like shit when we sit around and do nothing. This doesn't have to be the case, but it takes some serious self-awareness and discipline to avoid it.
The grass is always greener, right? I haven't had a 9-to-5 and am often in charge of planning my own schedule, which might sound like a dream. However, I think the value of a 9-to-5 (or a structured workweek/workyear/worklife) is HIGHLY underrated. Knowing exactly where you'll be at 3:45 PM on Thursday can be extremely helpful when you would like to plan other things. Having a job that begins at the same time every day means you always know when you have to hit the sack the night before for a good night's sleep. (It should, anyway.) 40-hour workweeks are probably not the most theoretically efficient use of one's time, but they ain't bad, and it takes a pretty motivated person to beat it.
So I guess that means I gotta get motivated!
So here's January's challenge:
Create and stick to a morning routine. This will include five things:
- A consistent wakeup time
- A couple minutes spent on physical mobility
- A mindfulness practice
- A nutrition practice
- A journaling practice
Of course, my instinct is to have twice as many items and do each of them twice as intensely, but we're going for longevity, right?
Here's what I picked:
- Wakeup time: 8 AM
- Mobility: active hip flexor stretch, 1 minute/side
- Mindfulness: 10 min of Headspace
- Nutrition: a mug full of water before I drink any coffee in the morning
- Journal: Five-minute journal
In total, this takes me about 20 minutes to accomplish.
Wakeup time: I chose 8 AM because among other things, I'm an actor, and shows usually let out between 10 and 11 PM. If I factor in a commute time, I'll be lucky to get to bed by midnight to get my 8 hours. And getting a full night's sleep is far more important than impressing anyone with an early start time. I'm not impressed by anyone consistently waking up at 4:30 AM unless they also consistently go to bed at 8:30 AM.
Mobility: Even though I have a standing desk, my hip flexors are pretty tight, and they like to let me know. I have a host of muscles I'd like to make more mobile, but loose hip flexors = happy back, and I think that takes precedence over other parts of my body.
Mindfulness: There's overwhelming research to support the benefits of meditation. Honestly, I don't really like meditating right after I wake up, because I'm usually still groggy and my mind isn't ready to focus up. But I'd rather do it half-focused and consistently than gamble on another part of the day. I use the Headspace app. I've heard people enjoy Calm as well.
Nutrition: I drink too much coffee and not enough water. It's easier to add something in than it is to take something away, so that's why I started with that. Later this year I may do a separate month challenge entirely dedicated no coffee!(!!!!) I'm still waiting to hear back from my sponsors if that's feasible, though.
Journal: The brand name Five-Minute Journal is actually pretty superfluous; you can just as easily write these things on a piece of paper. But it's nice to have everything in one place, with the prompts all written out. Check it out here if you're interested. (Don't worry, no affiliate links here. But it's not that I'm against them; I just don't know how to do them yet. I'm no hero.)
Fill in the five items of your own personalized morning routine and comment below. I will mail $3 to the first person who does this.