My new morning routine (mindset, devices, and apps I use to start the day)

I used to feel like I needed to get up and hit the day hard, immediately getting in front of the computer to knock out emails that came through over the night and crank away at my tasks. I’m not sure if it’s because of the insanity of 2020, or because I’m getting wiser older, but I’ve changed my morning routine up quite a bit over the last few months.

My New Morning Routine

Here is what a typical morning looks like for me:

6:15 AM
For the most part, I haven’t been using an alarm during COVID. I never have a meeting earlier than 8:00 AM, and most don’t start until at least 9:00 AM. And since I don’t have to do all the things I used to do before my first meeting (like, you know, make myself presentable and actually drive somewhere), it’s not that critical that I get up at a specific time. This only works because as a father of five I’m incapable of sleeping past 6:30 AM…

The first thing I do is drink a big glass of water. I read somewhere that’s the best thing to do when you wake up, and maybe you should have some lemon in it but I’m typically too lazy to do that part. Who has time to cut lemons 24/7?

6:30 AM
iPad time. I love my iPad (I have the smaller Pro version, 2018) for many reasons, but especially in the mornings. With the Smart Keyboard it’s very easy to grab the iPad and use it as a tablet. I’ll sit down on the couch in our living room, in the quiet while everyone else in my house is still asleep, and use the iPad to do the following:

  • Read through Apple News. We have a subscription to Apple News+ for a few reasons, but mainly because it gives us a subscription to several publications we read (The Atlantic, WIRED, Time, etc.) I also read The Washington Post through Apple News+, but it’s a separate subscription. 
  • Read the daily NY Times and Morning Brew emails.
  • Do the NY Times free short crossword puzzle. I don’t subscribe to the actual NY Times puzzle, but I like the short free version as a quick way to wake my brain up.
  • Play a few games of Clash Royale, a mobile game I play with some friends and my kids. It’s my guilty pleasure :)

6:45 AM
I’ve held out long enough, time for the first cup of coffee (I get coffee from Mistobox and use the Kalita Wave pour-over). Then back to the iPad…

7:15 AM
This is usually when I make my way to my actual desk. The goal for the next 45 minutes is to get to Inbox Zero (meaning, clean out my entire inbox), review my schedule for the day, and go over my tasks and dashboard in a tool I use called Notion. Notion is essentially the “Operating System” for my life. I use it to manage my to-do’s, my podcast schedule and process, and generally organize my life around my three core focus areas: FamilyDragon Army, and Doing Good.

8:00 AM 
I normally have breakfast around this time, which almost every day is eggs and some fruit. I like making my eggs with this technique, and I usually don’t put anything in them. After breakfast is usually the first time I do the dishes…I would say I average an hour a day doing dishes, especially with the entire family home all day, every day. Imagine seven people, three meals a day, and my wife is an amazing cook so there are usually three or four pots and pans to clean each night. I use that dish-washing time to watch some TV shows (recently loving Ted Lasso on Apple TV+). It’s kind of my “me” time :)

8:30 AM 
Most mornings, before I have my first meeting or commitment, I try to take our little dog on a walk. (We have two dogs, the big one often goes on a run with my wife, so I try to take the little guy out on my walks.) Going on frequent walks is something that I’ve started doing more since COVID and my bout with dizziness, and I really think it’s helped. I’ll often listen to either a book on tape or a podcast during these walks (listening with Google Pixel Buds, the only “buds” that will stay in my ears).

(Once I’m healthier – I’m slowly recovering from the dizziness I’ve been experiencing – this will become my time to run again. Also, when healthy I’ve loved doing yoga in the mornings, so that will re-enter my process when I’m feeling better. But for now, I’m enjoying walks with the little guy.)

9:00 AM
The work-day really begins around 9 AM, and when the second (and final) cup of coffee is consumed. I will say that I now ensure I have several “screen breaks” throughout the day. These can take the form of walks, sitting and reading a book for 15 minutes, playing with the kids, or basically anything that removes me from a digital screen.

And then the day begins. I’d love for you to share what your morning looks like, and/or things you do to start the morning off on the right foot.

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