‘Routine in an intelligent man is a sign of ambition.’
Over the last month a LOT of people have asked about my morning routine. How did you write and publish a book in 7 weeks? How do you have the energy and focus to lead two bands, write a book, market your own coffee, play gigs, feed at-risk kids, and have a LIFE?!?
Well. Here’s the deal.
I hate mornings.
I’m not a morning person. At. All. In fact, I’ve turned down more than a few invitations to do something fun and exciting because it required me to get up at 4am or something ridiculous like that. I don’t care if you’re inviting me to a one-one-one recording session with Justin Timberlake. I’ll take a rain check. Hit me after lunch, JT. Imma be in my bed, bringing cozy back.
But I’m also discovering my chances of creative growth and success rise exponentially when I begin my day intentionally. I try to begin each morning with a set of very specific routines. I’ll be completely honest here. There are some days that life gets in the way– kids activities, work obligations, travel, or even fatigue– and I blow them off. But those days are the exception, not the rule. I’d encourage you to do the same thing. As creative beings, a clear mind and a healthy body are our vehicles we use to connect with our Muse/Source. Whether it’s hitting the gym, changing my eating habits, having a consistent prayer time or morning meditation time, beginning my day in a healthy state of being/awareness/whatever is of utmost importance to me. I’ve found that nurturing my mind, body, and spirit is the only way I can stay on the creative path in a healthy way.
I’ll share with you my morning routines with one disclaimer:
You are a uniquely created person. You have unique gifts and talents given to you by the Creator. Therefore, creating a ‘healthy state of being’ for you may likely look a little bit different for you than it does for me. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to starting strong. So find what works for you. The list below is what currently works for me. I’m not a doctor and I don’t play one on the internet. Your mileage may vary.
Also, I’ve tried to develop the habit of feeding my mind, body and spirit before starting my day. I call it my Morning Primetime. You know, gas up the tank, per se. I’d never head out on a road trip without first filling up the tank of my car with gas. Would you? Of course not. That’s a terrible idea! Why then would you want to start your day without filling up your physical, emotional and spiritual tank?
1. Get enough sleep. I know, I know. I sound like your mother. And by ‘enough sleep’, I mean enough sleep that your body functions at it’s peak. For me, that means between 6.5 and 7 hours. When I deviate outside those parameters for too long, my body and brain become sluggish and foggy. For me, this typically means that when I’m home I’ll unplug from electronics and social media by 10pm and begin winding down my brain. I’ll read a book (not electronically) or watch some senseless Netflix for the next hour or so until I fall asleep, usually by 11:00 or 11:30. Then I’m up around 5:30 am. Again, this is what seems to be a great rhythm for me these days. But find what works for you, and keep it as consistent as possible.
2. Upon waking, I drink 16oz of cold water to hydrate my brain and body. A hydrated brain is up to 14% faster than a less-than-hydrated one. So bottoms up!
3. I make my own version of ‘DeathProof’ coffee. While the internet is full of recipes for the popular Bulletproof coffee (google it), I stumbled onto the DeathWish coffee company a few years ago and have been a huge fan. and started using their coffee to create my own version. (*Note: since writing this, I have begun my own brand of coffee, but still refer to my morning jolt as ‘deathproof’. The coffee itself has changed, but the name ROCKS.) My recipe is simple: blend 1-2 cups of hot coffee, 1 tablespoon grass-fed unsalted butter, and one heaping tablespoon of coconut oil together for 10-15 seconds. The result is a smooth, creamy morning latte loaded with healthy fat and MCT’s to help fuel my brain and start my day. This element to my routine is non-negotiable.
4. I spend a minimum of 15 minutes in prayer and/or meditation on God. You may not believe in God or any specific religious dogma. I personally believe the whole “in the beginning, God created…” thing. So I spend a few minutes each morning praying and meditating on Scripture, on gratitude, on things I’m thankful for or wisdom I’m seeking in a certain part of my life. That may not be you, and that’s fine. For now, at least be open to the possibility that by beginning your day in searching or asking for help in your creative life (as well as other areas of life), it might actually lead to help. Ask and you might really receive. Seek and you might actually find. Knock and the door may actually open. What have you got to lose?
5. I spend three minutes in gratitude. For one minute, I choose one thing I’m grateful for, no matter how big or small, and intensely focus on that one thing. Not thinking about it. Feeling it. I want to feel gratitude in my heart and my spirit. After 60 seconds, I move on to something else. Then another. I intentionally want to begin my day with an attitude of gratitude. It’s a reminder that contentment doesn’t come from having what you want, but from wanting what you have. And I have an abundance to be thankful for.
6. I spend three minutes in prayer for 3 people around me. For one minute each, I’ll spend time praying for someone near to me to be blessed and encouraged. For their needs to be met. For their family. For their job. For their career. Whatever. Again, I know not everyone prays, but I will tell you that those three minutes do wonders for getting my focus off of myself and helping me see the world around me. Besides, I’m a big believer in the whole ‘ask and you will receive’ idea…
7. Morning Pages. A tool many of us learned from Julia Cameron, I write three pages of stream-of-consciousness writing. It cages my Monkey Mind and helps serve as a kind of spiritual windshield wipers to focus my day. (More on the Monkey Mind on pages 103-105 in my newest book “Unleashing Your Creativity” Get a FREE sample here. ).
*I also try to work in some kind of physical exercise into my day. Morning is ideal, but let’s be real here. If you’re single with no kids, knock yourself out. You’ve got more room in your morning routine to exercise. But with family life, jobs, kids, lunches to make, and school drop-off lines to wade through, life before 8 a.m. is crazy busy. It is what it is. Sometimes I get out and walk during my prayer/meditation time. Sometimes I don’t. I don’t stress about it. But that’s me. Some of you are hardcore about your workouts and fitness regimens. That’s awesome! I’m proud for you. Geez, I’m even a little bit jealous. But I’m rooting for you! Get out there and crush it! I’d love to hear about your routines and how you fit it all in. Shoot me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or hit me up on social media. Seriously. I’ll be looking for it!
In a nutshell, this is me:
5:30 a.m.: Get up. Drink water. Drink DeathProof coffee. Do morning pages.
6:15 a.m.: wake up kids for breakfast.
6:30 a.m.: Hit the physical/spiritual gym. (exercise, prayer, meditation)
7:00 a.m.: Shuttle kids to schools.
8:00 a.m.: Creative studio time (writing, recording, production time, etc.)
8:50 a.m.: hot shower, loud music.
9:20 a.m.: Ready for the day!
That’s me. What do YOU do?