Those of you who know me know that I am obsessed with morning routines.
Not just my own, mind you; I have this weird fascination with other people’s morning routines–famous people, successful people, writers, entrepreneurs, my physics professor, the next door neighbor, . . . yeah, pretty much anyone’s.
So why? What is it about morning routines that has captured my imagination?
I guess it’s this idea that if you “win” the morning, you “win” the day. I know this is true for me. On the days when I wake up on time and get through my morning in a relaxed and purposeful manner, I feel less stressed and out of sorts for the rest of the day. It’s as if I have “set the tone,” and in so doing, have set the expectation that the day will also be relaxed and purposeful.
Now there is great wisdom out there about the best morning routine and what one ought to do in order to start the day, and I read it all, but I do not necessarily follow every piece of advice. In fact, there are three classic pieces of advice that I summarily reject–some for practical reasons, others because they simply do not fit my style.
The most sexy one these days is “Make your bed as soon as you wake up in the morning.” I think mums have been telling us this for centuries, but it has become more legitimate in recent years after Navy Seal and U.S. Admiral William McCraven (Commander of the forces responsible for the raid on Osama Bin Ladin) gave his famous commencement speech at the University of Texas, Austin, in which he urged, “If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.”
Hunh? This is a unique perspective. How does making your bed change the world?
McCraven went on to say that making our beds first thing in the morning means that we have accomplished our first task of the day, and this small win gives us the pride and motivation to continue to do another task and another and another, until before we know it, we have accomplished a whole heck of a lot by the end of the day.
I like this idea!
But I don’t make my bed in the morning.
Why not? Well, because I’m usually out of bed by 5:00 a.m., and my husband rarely surfaces before 7:00. Making the bed has, thus, been outsourced to sleeping beauty, and I happily carry on with my morning, untasked, unprideful, and unmotivated.
Another pearl of morning routine wisdom is to eat breakfast shortly after waking each morning, unfailingly. Okay, this doesn’t happen either. For one, I am simply not hungry until around 11:00 a.m. And on the occasions when I have disciplined (forced) myself to eat breakfast, I am almost always ravenous for the rest of the day–to the point of distraction. I clock-watch until the next mealtime, graze on finger foods (carrots, pretzels, grapes), get cranky when four ‘o clock hits, and on and on until dinner time. In other words, I’m pretty much useless as a human being.
Also, it means I have to prepare something in the morning–pour, fry, chop–and that just seems waay too burdensome for someone who just recently retired from a lifetime of cooking and food preparation. So no. Steeping a cup of tea is about as much investment as I want to make in the food department, and as long as it’s hot and strong, I’m happy.
Then there’s the age-old, “Lay out your clothes for the next day on your bed before you go to sleep. This advice I have found confusing. So if you lay out your clothes on the bed, then where do you sleep . . . ? I must be missing something. They say the reason for doing this is to save you some time in the morning. But how much time could it possibly save to reach into the closet and yank out a pair of pants and a top? 8 seconds? This is time worth saving? It takes me longer than that to put my contact lenses in! So no, I’m not a big fan of the put your clothes out plan. I guess I don’t get it.
So what is my morning routine?
Glad you asked. I like to think of it as the 3Ws: Wake, Write, and Walk
My alarm goes off at 4:45 a.m. each morning, and most days I’m up and out of bed by 5:00. The first thing I do is put the kettle on to make a cup of tea. As it gets to boiling, I call my mother (yup, all this early rising is in the genes). I don’t know when and how this routine began since neither of us is a fan of chatting on the phone, but now it’s ingrained into my routine, so I hit the speed dial. Our conversation takes precisely, 3 minutes and 33 seconds–the exact (and perfect) time it takes to steep a nice, strong cup of black tea.
Hi Baby! How are you?
I’m fine. How are you?
Slept okay. You?
Yeah, fine. I always sleep well, you know that.
The garbage man didn’t come yesterday.
That’s a problem.
Yes. Now I’ll have to walk down to the dumpster.
I hate when that happens.
Okay, not much else going on.
Okay Ma, love you!
And, Ding! The timer on the microwave goes off, and, gratefully, I take my first sip of life-giving tea–aahhh!
As I sip my tea, I pull out my various journals (currently I have 4) and get to work writing. This takes me about 30 minutes (or until I get to the bottom of my tea cup–whichever comes first). I write about my dreams, I write about my day and what I have going on, I plan and reflect and vent and kvetch, and pretty soon, I have emptied myself onto the page. Now I am ready to take on the day.
But first, a walk. Now you might be thinking “workout” when I say walk, but you would be wrong. This is more meditation, than exercise. Think Tai Chi. At half speed. (And without all the weird hand movements). Never before have I been so committed to physical movement as I am with my morning walk. This body was made for couches not crunches, so any attempt at speed, exertion, anaerobia (is there such a word?) and sweat is met with vigorous opposition from my body. And I mean vigorous!
But not walking. I will always say yes to a walk. Always. Okay, almost always. Maybe not after girls night out in Vegas, but most any other time. Walking gets me outdoors (and I’m not an outdoors person per se), it gets me moving bilateraly, which helps me to think and solve problems(oh, how I love to solve problems! Other people’s problems, especially), it gets me to fill my lungs and my head . . . with podcasts! Yes, my secret, guilty pleasure–podcasts! I love to listen endlessly to how people are 10x-ing their lives, traveling to the ends of the earth, writing books (books that actually make money), working a mere four hours a week, . . . pure gold! Podcasts are the new opium of the masses! And without all that inconvenient genuflecting and wafers and what not. Pure bliss. I listen to podcasts and believe (for 22 minutes) that I, too, can be rich and free and fabulous!
Then I go home and pull out the stack of papers I have to grade.
So this is my morning routine.
Why did I think it was a worthy subject for a blog post? I have no idea. It clearly is not.
Maybe that’s what all those other folks are thinking when famous people come to interview them about their morning routines.
Categories: On Writing
Love your take on the “classic morning routine” advice we get, Tina! 🙂
Thank you, Caitlin. I have the best intentions to take advice, but mostly I fail. 😉
Love this, Tina! You are definitely my morning routine hero!
Sweet and simple routine, who wouldn’t remember the 3w’s 🙂
Who makes the bed after they wake up?! I wait a couple of hours, after my coffee and peanut butter toast and my first spurt of writing. By 10:30 a.m I’m too pooped to write but I make myself go to the gym.
PS> I feel guilty now for not talking to my mom everyday. It wouldn’t be a 3:33 min. talk and all her responses would be really off the wall (She’s hard of hearing) 🙂
Ha ha ha! That should make for an interesting conversation. No guilt, roomie! We’re too old for those shackles.
Lovely. Love the 3Ws! God bless
I really loved this post. It just goes to show that everyone is making it up as we go along–in terms of finding a routine that works. I know that Whoopi Goldberg swears by the ‘make up your bed’ routine. I couldn’t do that nor the other ones you mentioned that are popular. The best morning routine for me is tea with my partner, meditate and then write. Most days, I am able to stick to this. Like you, I also like to exercise early in the day. I love your three W’s. I’m traveling now but will try to tweet this or post on my Author FB page. Keep up the good writing!
Thanks, Michele! Appreciate the retweet/repost. BTW I heard your name mentioned on the Creative Penn Podcast–waah?
‘m a bit biased perhaps, but imo morning routines are always worth the subject of blog posts! Thanks for sharing yours – love that you talk to your mom for 3 min and 33 sec as part of it:) Question for you – what podcasts do you listen to?
Thank you. 😊 I listen to The Tim Ferriss Show, The Creative Penn, Problogger, The Unmistakeable Creative, Dear Sugar, The Art of Charm, Productivityist, and Happier with Gretchen Rubin . . . Bet you’re wishing you’d never asked 😋