Refining the Morning Routine

Sunday was a failure. My alarm was set for 4:45. I rolled out of bed at 6:30 (this lack of discipline alone is cause for much grievance). I went downstairs and began a later-than-planned morning routine. I meditated for 10 minutes. Then I did some reading. My plan was to read one chapter. Instead I read about 4-5 to finish the book I was reading. My wife, Bethany, woke up at 7:30 followed soon by my son, Alec. Once they were up, I put a stop to my morning routine. No workout. No writing. No creating a plan for the week to come. I could have kept going and finished up. But when they are up on my day off, my concentration goes to them.

Why was this morning a failure? Because the quiet time when the house is asleep is my time to really work on my own personal development. And once I dropped the ball on this morning, I never made the time to pick it back up. The busy-ness of the day took over, and there was no working out, no planning, and certainly no writing. By the time Monday morning came around, I was still trying to create a plan for the week.

Some would think: It is a Sunday morning, why be so hard on yourself? The truth is that I look at a Sunday morning as one of the most important days of the week. It is a day off from my normal work shift. It is a morning for planning and catching up from the previous week. And why am I so hard on myself? Because nobody else is going to accomplish my goals for me.

As Monday progressed, I had an opportunity to speak with my work partner Kia about my viewpoint on Sunday. I probably should start paying Kia as she has become to some degree my personal advisor. Our conversation turned to my morning routine in general and what specifically I am trying to accomplish. I laid out my normal Monday morning for her:

  • Wake up at 3:45
  • Meditate from 4-4:10
  • Read to 4:30
  • Quick workout to 4:50
  • Write until I run out of time before getting ready for work.

She asked me what was the most important thing I wanted to accomplish? I told her to write. Her response: Why are you not writing more? And it wasn’t just writing she was asking about. Am I writing toward a specific goal or am I just writing whatever comes to mind?

You’re better off not giving the small things more time than they deserve. –Marcus Aurelius

I looked back on my routine and had to have second thoughts. Do I need to get up earlier? Do I really need to read in the morning? I read throughout the day. How is an additional 20 minutes (sometimes longer) really helping me to get the writing done? When it comes down to it, am I spreading myself out on so many small things that I am not spending enough time on the really big thing that matters the most?

Only having a short amount of time in the morning, there is no room for wasted time. Every activity has to be qualified. If the activity is not getting me closer to my goals, then it has to be dropped from the morning routine. This refining process makes me stronger and more productive. It turns me from a sad wishy-washy dreamer into a disciplined producer inching ever closer to the destination I seek. The more I produce in those quiet morning times, the happier I become. Happy knowing that I got it done and happy knowing the rest of my time can be spent on other pursuits.

What does your daily routine look like? Are you spending it on the small insignificant things or on the big things that matter? If you are looking to up your current level of productivity, refining your routine is a must. This simple act leads to a more disciplined life, one that is truly happier.

A disciplined mind leads to happiness and an undisciplined mind leads to suffering. –Dalai Lama

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