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My Morning Routine: How Successful People Start Every Day Inspired by [Benjamin Spall, Michael Xander]
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My Morning Routine: How Successful People Start Every Day Inspired Kindle Edition

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“After a productive morning where I accomplish my big things, the rest of the day can be played by ear. It’s all extra from there.”
–Ryan Holiday, author of The Obstacle Is the Way

“A big part of my morning routine is about what I don’t do: when I wake up, I don’t look at my phone.”
Arianna Huffington

“The quiet time between 6:00-7:30 AM is when some of my best work gets done. It’s my time to read, think, and prepare for the day ahead.”
–Bill McNabb, chairman of The Vanguard Group

“If I don’t get a chance to play with my son in the morning I feel like I missed something that I’ll never get back.”
–Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter

“I travel a lot for work, so my days are always different. Having a morning routine really means fitting things in around everything else.”
–Cameron Russell, fashion model and cultural activist 

“Find certain things you know you should do, don’t like to do, or make excuses to avoid, and then do them every day.”
–General Stanley McChrystal, author of Team of Teams; retired U.S. Army General

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter 1

Getting Up

How to Move from Your Bed to Your Morning

Waking up in the morning may be at the very top of your list of least favorite things to do, but it is, unfortunately, essential to starting your morning routine.

Deafening fire alarms and cumbersome roommates aside, there are few things that will wake you up as fast and fully as having a morning routine that you love and can't wait to get started on. With that said, sometimes we need a little push to get ourselves over the line (or rather, out of the bed) and to fully wake ourselves up in the morning.

In this chapter we'll speak with (among others) the president of MIT, L. Rafael Reif, about how he spends his first few hours upon waking; the executive director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement, Daisy Khan, on how the month of Ramadan brings a big change to her mornings; and economist and author Tyler Cowen on his unique take on breakfast (smoked trout and cheese, anyone?).

Caroline Paul

Author of Lost Cat, former firefighter

When you're a creature of habit, and you're in no rush to change.

What is your morning routine?

I set an alarm for anywhere between 6:00 and 6:30 a.m., depending on when I get to sleep. I need sleep, but I need to wake up early more, or my day feels shot.

Next I make coffee, feed the milling animals, grab two protein bars, and sit down to read. Not the newspaper, though I do often check the headlines, but a real, honest-to-God book. If one's not around I will settle for the New Yorker. It's a sacred time for me, because reading has always been a part of my life and it's hard to find time for it. As a writer, it's also a vital part of my work. At this time, my partner, Wendy, is still asleep, the doggie has gone back to bed, one cat has gone outside, so there are only two other animals to contend with, one a cat and she curls up on my lap, and the other my own rambling mind, and we both stay there until the house stirs and comes to life. I have to say that the transition from the world being mine to the moment it seems to splinter and everyone wakes up-phones ring, emails come in, the dog reappears-is always jarring.

How long have you stuck with this routine? What has changed?

I've started my day with the same meal and coffee (Peets French roast, one large cup, so strong you could probably eat it with a spoon) for almost thirty years. Gosh, that's sort of embarrassing, seeing that so starkly on paper. But that consistency first thing grounds me, and sets me up to be able to handle whatever is thrown my way.

When I was a firefighter I didn't read in the morning, and I was a little looser about my wake-up time because you never knew how much of the night would be spent working at a fire or on medical calls, and I'm useless without sleep.

When I became a full-time writer and had to make my own schedule I became adamant about setting the alarm and getting up. I needed the structure, and I needed to start back on whatever book I was writing before the morning slipped away. People think that when you work outside of an office you can sleep in and how glorious that must be, but to me that's the road to discombobulation and dismay.

Have you always used an alarm to wake up?

Always. I've tried to train myself to wake up without one because it seems like a cool superpower, but I spend all night thinking about whether I'll wake up, and the anxiety isn't worth it. Once the alarm goes off, I sort of doze, but I have a dog and two cats who have heard the alarm and stare at me until I get up. It's called the animal snooze button.

What time do you go to sleep?

I would love to go to bed by 9:00 p.m. every evening. I'm just not a night person. Once the sun goes down I think, huh, not much to do anymore, and I sort of begin to look forward to the next morning already.

How does your partner fit into your morning?

Wendy's best work (she's an illustrator) is done at night, so she doesn't value her mornings like I do. This works because I get my quiet morning and she gets to sleep without me tossing and turning.

Do you also follow this routine on weekends?

I like to get up early no matter what, but I may not set the alarm, in deference to Wendy. If I'm writing on a Saturday or Sunday, though, then I set the alarm like it's a weekday.

What happens if you're traveling?

When we travel my bag is always overweight because it's got maybe two pants and two shirts and then thirty protein bars, five books, and a bag of coffee. Wendy will say, "Caroline, it's NEW YORK CITY, they have everything!" But, nope, I'm not going to leave my morning routine to chance. Wendy is much more loosey-goosey with her days. She used to pester me to lighten the load, but it's been nine years and she doesn't bother anymore.

James Freeman

Founder of Blue Bottle Coffee

When your old espresso machine gets you up in the morning and helps you make your most important decisions.

What is your morning routine?

I get up at 6:00 a.m. most days, unless the babies get me up before. I have an alarm clock with no snooze bar, so I can't be tempted to hit it. I have an old espresso machine (a late 1970s La San Marco Leva) that is set on a timer, so when I wake up the machine has been warming up and is at optimal temperature for making coffee.

After I get up, I make a cappuccino for me and a cafŽ au lait for my wife. I'm less optimistic before I have coffee, so my general rule is not to make any important decisions before I have it.

If I'm lucky, I have ten to twenty minutes to chat with my wife and read the New York Times in bed as we drink our coffee. Sometimes the dog needs to go out during this time and I have to be okay with it.

I leave for my workout at around 6:45. Post-workout, I shower, eat breakfast, feed and dress the babies, dress myself, and hop in the car. I usually have a playlist in mind for the drive to Oakland. I used to listen to NPR but it just got too depressing.

How long have you stuck with this routine? What has changed?

Several years. As we add babies, my mornings get more hectic, but so far everyone is getting what they need.

Do you do anything before bed to make your morning easier?

The kitchen is always cleaned and the house tidied before we go to bed. It's hard to fit it in but it's gratifying to wake up to a peaceful environment.

How soon after waking up do you have breakfast?

I eat breakfast when I get back from my workout. Usually a yogurt and fruit smoothie, or just yogurt, jam, and chopped raw almonds. My favorite yogurt is an organically certified, full fat, Jersey milk yogurt from Saint Beno”t.

Do you have a morning workout routine?

Four days a week I do a boot camp in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. It's exhausting and arduous and clears my mind like nothing else I've ever done. The teacher gives the impression of never wanting to be anywhere else doing anything else, which is quite rare, in my experience.

Do you use any apps or products to enhance your morning routine?

Is a coffee maker a product? Pajamas? A nice robe? Maybe I'm just too old but I don't believe that one's life can be hacked; it can only be lived.

What are your most important tasks in the morning?

Once I get to work, I try to concentrate most deeply on the people or problems that are in front of me, so, in that sense, my most important task prior to arriving at work is to arrive with a clear head and a pleasant attitude.

What happens if you're traveling?

I travel with a coffee kit so I can have control over making coffee. I have an app on my phone that I use to do an interval workout if I am away from San Francisco. Running in the parks and neighborhoods of great cities when I travel is a pleasure. I try not to schedule myself too early when I'm traveling so I can fit in a coffee and a run each morning.

Andre D. Wagner

Artist, New York City street photographer

When your creative job requires you to be "on" all day long.

What is your morning routine?

I usually wake up around 6:00 a.m. to have some silent time to myself. I also keep a journal, so some days I'll write.

When I'm not photographing for hire, I'm usually out the door by 7:00 or 7:30 with my camera in hand, ready to enjoy the day. My routine changes from time to time, but I always wake up early. The morning is by far my favorite time of day. As a street photographer, I'm always engaging with people, watching people, walking all day, and being fully stimulated all at the same time. Days become full and draining. It's important that I get some quiet time to myself; it helps me stay balanced in such an emotional city.

When I'm working on photo projects I will adapt my routine to it. Two years ago when I was working in a photo studio, I would leave my house at 7:00 because I wanted to photograph in the subway for an hour or two before I had to be at work. Now that it's summertime and the light is so beautiful when the sun is rising I like to get out and take advantage of it.

Do you do anything before bed to make your morning easier?

I'm a neat freak and I like everything to be clean. Waking up to a clean apartment is the absolute best. It keeps my mind clear.

Do you have a morning workout routine?

Two or three times a week I'll ride my bike to Prospect Park and do a lap or two. It's great because there aren't many people out yet, and the park is pretty quiet. My favorite is in the fall, when we start to get that brisk morning air.

How about morning meditation?

Waking up in a clean apartment, beautiful light shining through my windows, and Miles Davis playing is my meditation.

When do you first check your phone?

I'll check my phone before I leave the house, but I try not to check it while I'm in bed. When I'm waking up I like to keep a space for my own thoughts and ideas. Sometimes there's nothing, and that's totally fine. On occasion, I'll think of something that will add to a project I'm working on, or just reflect on something that impacted me, whether an interaction from photography or just a personal exchange. When I wake up, checking my phone is not a priority of mine.

L. Rafael Reif

President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

When staying on top of the news feels like a full-time job.

What is your morning routine?

I set my alarm for 6:00 a.m. but I rarely get to hear it-I almost always wake up around 5:00 or 5:30 on my own.

The moment I wake up I drink a glass of water, then I check my email. As MIT is global on so many levels, I try to stay current on what's going on around the world, and I want to know what happened overseas during the night. I'll try to respond to any urgent messages right away, then I take my phone or tablet to breakfast and read the news while I eat.

After breakfast I shower, get dressed, and then I'm off to my first meeting of the day.

What time do you go to sleep?

I try to go to bed around 11:00 p.m. I always read something, a magazine or a book, before lights out. I start reading that week's edition of the Economist on Saturdays, and that lasts me for a few days. Then I'll move on to a book for the rest of the week. I love reading history books and biographies; it's fascinating to look back at what happened, why it happened, and who made it happen.

Do you do anything before bed to make your morning easier?

Before I wrap up for the night, I look at the next day's schedule to see what my staff has gotten me into over the next twenty-four hours!

I use a fitness/sleep tracker. It tells me how many hours I slept and the quality of my sleep. It's a curiosity more than anything else. I love data, and I love comparing what the data says about my rest to how I think I slept.

How soon after waking up do you have breakfast?

Once I've responded to any urgent emails from overnight, I go downstairs for breakfast. My wife usually wakes up around the same time and joins me. We both read the news while having breakfast and comment to each other on the issues of the day.

What happens if you fail?

If I don't have a chance to check my email, I worry about what I'm missing. (Even when I do check my email, I still worry!) And it happens rarely, but if I miss breakfast for some reason, it throws me off for the whole day. The word "grumpy" comes to mind.

Daisy Khan

Executive director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement

When Ramadan wakes you up for dawn prayers, and you go back to sleep on a full stomach.

What is your morning routine?

My wake-up time depends on the fluctuating prayer time (I adjust my wake-up time accordingly). Ramadan is a month when the body, soul, and mind not only get challenged but transformed as well. This Ramadan is really tough; I sleep at midnight, wake up from my deep sleep at 3:15 a.m. to eat a meal (suhur), then I finish my dawn prayer and go back to sleep on a full stomach at 4:30, only to wake up again at 8:30 to go to work.

How soon after waking up do you have breakfast?

I have to maintain an alkaline diet, so I drink lemon water right after getting up. I'll then eat a very healthy breakfast about two hours later, because I skip lunch. I start with black tea with milk (an English-breakfast variety), cooked fava beans (protein), cucumbers, arugula, or eggs, with gluten-free bread and homemade jams (made by me). --This text refers to the hardcover edition.

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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but not much use.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book, inspired me to create a new routine that's stuck
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5.0 out of 5 stars mornings have just got better..
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4.0 out of 5 stars Mornings are truly the best quality time to do the must do list
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good morning
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5.0 out of 5 stars Buy It And Change For The Better
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great for shaping your own morning routine
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5.0 out of 5 stars Die perfekte Morgenroutine finden
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5.0 out of 5 stars Learning Learning Learning
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5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to understand and surprisingly effective
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