The Morning Routine

sunrise

Photo Credit: khalid almasoud via Compfight cc

I set out in the last year to develop a morning routine. I’m not sure exactly when I did this. I think I first heard about it from Leo Babauta. Since then I’ve seen it several places. Many people, especially writers have developed a morning routine to get in a certain frame of mind to produce or create.

When you go through a routine it prepares your mind to know it is supposed to begin creating. I have been working on this for several months now and I am getting to the point where I am seeing the benefits. I have been writing more in the last two months than most of my life. I have also seen other areas of my life become much more productive.

I started this whole process by waking up earlier and earlier. I set my alarm one minute earlier each day. Not enough to notice on a daily basis, but after several months I’m getting up two hours earlier than I used to.

Depending on your system, this can be the most productive hours of your day. Hours that would have been used just for sleeping.

I like to get my seven hours of sleep per night. So for me to wake up at 5am, I need to be asleep by 10pm. To do that I hit the hay around 9pm and then do a lot of reading. For me nothing makes me zonk out better than reading books. So really my morning routine begins the night before.

Here is my current morning routine.

MORNING ROUTINE

5am Wake Up
5:00am – 5:10am Get water/tea
5:10am – 5:15am Feed max
5:15am – 5:25am Meditate
5:25am – 5:40am Ear Training
5:40am – 5:50am Spanish
5:50am – 5:55am Bible Verses
5:55am – 6:00am Google Analytics
6:00am – 6:05am Maverick and Kekich
6:05am – 6:15am Grammar Lesson
6:15am – 6:20am Finance
6:20am – 6:30am Write in Journal
6:30am – 7:30am Blog

After arising, I head downstairs and get my water and tea. Since I fast in the morning I don’t need to fix breakfast. This doesn’t prevent Max (our cat) from wanting his breakfast.

I then head upstairs to my office. I spend ten minutes meditating. This is new for me and I’m still terrible at it. I try to focus on my breathing and say a quick hello to any thoughts that pop up and let them disappear. However I tend to focus on these thoughts. It is very difficult for me, but fortunately it is getting easier.

Next up is spending fifteen minutes on ear training. This is music-related. I listen to music intervals and guess what they are.

One of my lifetime goals is to speak Spanish. I spend ten minutes a day on new material. I also have cd’s in my car that I listen to. This is a great example of doing something just a small amount each day and over time you get pretty good at it.

I decided this year to memorize scripture. My goal was twelve verses for the year. I’ve already memorized fifteen verses. I purchased a book from Amazon called “How to Memorize Bible Verses” by Kyle Buchanan and Dean Roller that helps by associating the verse with a mental image. It makes it very easy. I’m guessing I should memorize thirty this year.

I spend five minutes looking at Google analytics. This blog has seen slow and steady growth since April, 2013. It is very illuminating to see which posts generate traffic and which generate dust.

The next five minutes are spent reviewing some quick business/life sayings that I received in a free ebook from “Early to Rise”. Some good sage advise in these.

I just added reviewing grammar lessons in the last few weeks. I purchased a copy of “Warriner’s English Grammar”. I think this was the same book I used in high school. It was recommended by Stephen King. Hopefully it will help.

Sometimes I think only spending five minutes on my finances is cutting it too short. However when I spend a lot of time on it, I over-think it and it usually ends in disaster. I use the time to see how my 401K, IRA, gold/silver and the market in general did the previous day. I expand this on Saturday to reconcile my bank account, review my budget, charitable giving and make sure I’ve moved money into my savings buckets for the month. The balances keep going up so I’m not going to change it.

I write a daily journal. I only spend a few minutes on this in the morning, but I keep it with me all day and jot down anything interesting that comes my way. This warms me up for my last routine.

My last step is to work on my blog. I started the blog in October, 2012 and did nothing with it until April, 2013. Once I got a routine going I’ve been able to post eight blogs in two months. Hopefully this trend will continue.

SUMMARY

If you don’t have a morning routine I’d invite you to set one up. Setting yourself up on auto-pilot in the morning is a great way to start the day and make sure you’re focusing on the things that are important to you. Start very small and gradually build it up.

The Importance of Goals

Photo by Leonardo Pallotta

Today marks the beginning of my blog. I decided to do this as a way to practice writing on a regular basis. I want to have one of my books published, hopefully while I’m still alive.

I’ve floundered with some of my life goals. I come across a book called “Pick Four” by Seth Godin and Zig Ziglar on Amazon.com. This book is a 12 week guide to helping you achieve four of your goals. It received many good reviews. It was only available in a pack of four copies. Seeing that I only wanted one copy, I emailed Seth Godin and he actually responded and said it was designed to be in a pack of four so that you give away the other three copies. I was sold.

I picked four goals to work on that I thought would get me started in the areas I wanted to change the most; career, music, and fitness (two under career). If I could get these four going, the other goals would be much easier to accomplish. Specifically I chose to start a blog, read 12 books, join a rock band as a bass player, and reduce my waist to 30 inches. None of these was easy and you’re only supposed to take on one difficult, but hey what did I know.

Well the 12 weeks ended last week and I can say with satisfaction that all four goals are completed. It is pretty cool to review the journal over the last 12 weeks to see my struggles and successes.

There’s a lot of satisfaction in accomplishing the goals but it was even cooler to learn all the things I had to research.

The easiest one was reading 12 books (I want to average one per week or 52 per year).
The most difficult one was joining a rock band. This one didn’t come about until week ten. It is not easy at 51 years to find a band that has guys that are about the same age, like the same music and are close geographically.

The blog was the most involved. There must have been two hundred steps to get this was one done. This is definately one goal where if I didn’t break it down step by step I would have given up. By breaking it down, it was pretty easy to do one thing every day.

My fitness goal required a lot of research. I’ve tried to stay fit my whole life. Over the years my waist had grown to 35 inches and I couldn’t get rid of it. I will detail this one in a future post. The first three inches were a breeze. Then it got progressively more difficult. The last inch was a pain. It took two weeks to reduce three inches and eight weeks to reduce one inch.

If you had told me 12 weeks ago that I would achieve just one of these goals, I would have been thrilled. Accomplishing all four is a scream. I can check off all four. I’ve learned a lot. I am motivated to do more.

I would encourage everyone to buy “Pick Four”. Thank you Seth Godin for getting me going!