Revisiting The Morning Routine: 5 Rituals That Help Me Win the Day

I have written extensively about my morning routine and the importance of setting a schedule to free yourself from decision fatigue. If you check out my article from over four years ago, you can see it hasn’t changed much. That’s because I’m obsessive about starting the day right. This isn’t to say you need to be too, however, I’m a firm believer that starting the day right is a key ingredient to winning the day. You don’t have to follow my crazy minute-by-minute steps, but here are at least a few key components you should try to implement in some respect into your morning routine:

Key Steps:

  1. Make your bed
  2. Meditate
  3. Journal
  4. Read something inspiring
  5. Move your body

Now, I am aware of the obvious societal favoritism of so-called ‘early birds’ versus ‘night owls.’ The structure of our everyday lives is skewed to benefit morning people at the behest of those who enjoy being active past midnight.

That said, I will continue to stand on the early morning pedestal like a dad on vacation. I value my mornings more than any other time of the day. It’s the fresh start and getting ahead of the rest of the crowd that sets it apart as a time of solitary peace. It’s bizarre to me when someones says they can just roll out of bed and start working. I couldn’t imagine a world in which there wasn’t a detailed morning routine.

While my wife and family tease me about my strict morning routine, it doesn’t feel strict to me. At this point, it feels completely normal. It’s like washing my face or brushing my teeth, just another automatic habit. If I fail to go through my proper series of activities in the morning, I feel disoriented. Of course, there are times where I don’t get to do the majority of my routine, whether I’m hungover, on vacation, or staying with friends. Still, the simple act of arising before anyone else provides serious advantages that pay dividends throughout the rest of the day, like your dad on vacation who’s already read three newspapers and had two cups of coffee.

Without further adieu, here is my detailed morning routine:

Key Steps:

  1. Make my bed
  2. Meditate
  3. Journal
  4. Read
  5. Move my body

5:28 am – My alarm is set daily for 5:28 am. Something about those extra two minutes doesn’t seem as threatening as a strict 5:30 am. If it takes me a couple of minutes to get out of the covers I don’t feel like I’m behind. Once I’m up, I  down a glass of water. After I wash my face and brush my teeth, I immediately change into workout clothes so I don’t get too comfortable and give myself an excuse not to exercise.

5:35 am – I then sit down on a cushion and quietly meditate for a few minutes. I always make sure to do a few rounds of  4-7-8 breathing to get into a state of deep relaxation. Four seconds inhale, hold for seven seconds, and then exhale for eight seconds. I then end my meditation practice with gratitude and positive affirmations, such as repeating “Wealth… Success… Wealth… Success” to myself multiple times while smiling. Super corny, but it works.

5:40ish – If I’m feeling particularly stiff – which, as I get older, is quite common –  I’ll go through a quick series of yoga poses to stretch out my body and get it moving. Downward dog, cobra, cat/cow, pigeon, child’s pose, maybe end it with a set up ten push-ups. If I’m hungover or just fill a bit stuffed, I’ll add in Wim Hof Breathing (10 minutes) but that’s pretty intense so I don’t do it too often.

5:45 am – Pour another glass of water – this time adding a pinch of Apple Cider Vinegar, Himalayan sea salt and a squeeze of lemon. This helps aid digestion to rev your metabolism, gets rid of bloating and gives your mouth a fresh taste. I always make sure to have at least two glasses of water before my first coffee. I’ll then journal for a minute or two. This isn’t something I do daily, but I’ve been trying to force myself to write at least a few sentences each day. Most of the time, I have more on my mind than I think and end up writing a full notebook page of random thoughts. I’ll then read a one-page daily excerpt from Ryan Holiday’s The Daily Stoic to get myself into a Stoic mindset of controlling my choices and emotions throughout the day.

5:50 am – After that, most of my “routine” is pretty much on autopilot. I’ll sit down on the couch and read a book for at least twenty minutes before heading out for the gym or starting a Peloton ride.

6:15 am – If it’s a lift day for me (Mon – Weds – Fri), I’ll take a pre-workout drink with C4 and creatine and leave for the gym. Since I’m lifting on an empty stomach, I like to have the pre-workout to give myself a much-needed boost that early in the morning. The walk to my gym is only about 8 minutes.

6:30 am – I’ll work out for about an hour. This includes 15-20 minutes of warm-up exercises (calisthenics, mobility, and stretching) followed by 35-40 minutes of either heavy lifts (squats, deadlifts, shoulder press, pull-ups) or more HIIT-based workouts like box jumps, jump rope, row machine, and sprints.

7:30 am – After I cool down on my walk home, I’ll down a glass of Athletic Greens mixed into water – it’s a great convenient nutritional mix that gets all the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients you need. While I get ready for a cold shower, I’ll start prepping breakfast – usually a two-egg omelet with spinach and cheddar cheese, a couple of slices of bacon, and a bowl of yogurt with peanut butter and blueberries. And of course, a cup of hot black coffee.

7:45 am – I’ll eat my breakfast with my laptop open so I can catch up on my emails, read daily newsletters like The Morning Brew, Axios Sports, Robinhood Snacks, and Coinbase Bytes.

8:00 am – Start work.

And that’s it! Of course, this is highly regimented and makes me sound like a dictator squeezing the most out of every single minute of my morning. Like I said though, it’s become so routine to me that I don’t even think about it. As soon as my alarm goes off, I go through it automatically. There’s no thought involved. And sure, there are days I don’t work out or I skip breakfast, there are days I don’t feel like reading too, but 100% of the time, I always make my bed, meditate, and do something to get my body moving – whether that’s a long walk or some pushups, squats, and pullups.

The point of the practice is not to be militant – it’s to establish healthy habits that can ultimately enrich your life in every way. I don’t journal every day, but I want to become a person who does journal every day. I can only do that by practicing and ensuring I incorporate it into my morning routine diligently, like brushing my teeth, so that I can’t surmise an excuse to skip it.

I’ll see you at 5:30 am sharp 😉

-KB

 

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