the elegance of a morning routine

I’m quite convinced that having some sort of structure to the start of your day is key to living a life that counts.


It gets you out of bed with a purpose. Delays, wonderings, phaffings…they get us down at early hours.

It gives you, possibly,  the only space for yourself all day (got kids? staff? partner? an agent?  true?)

And it ensures you tick off things that are important to you…before the day grabs you by your britches and runs away with you.

And this is the salient bit: the best kind of morning routine is one that’s a fiesta of stuff that gets you grounded, that nurtures your “inside people”, that brings you home to you. You tick off these things and then you can get on with serving the world. And all the rest.

Leo from Zen Habits outlined his routine the other day:

1. Sit. I wake up and start the coffeemaker, drink a glass of water, then sit on a small pillow. I just sit, and focus on my breathing. You don’t have to meditate — sitting still, contemplating, taking in the world, is a beautiful thing.
2. Read. I read a book. The paper kind, that doesn’t require electricity. I like reading with no distractions. I’ll read for about half an hour to an hour.
3. Write. Before I check email or Twitter or read my feeds, I sit down and write. It doesn’t matter what — a chapter for my new book, a blog post, answers to an interview someone emailed me, anything. I just write, without distractions.

I have friends who do the below:

1. Write. Creatively, for fun (as per The Artist’s Way)

2. Cook. They enjoy making dinner for that night in a slow cooker, before the kids get up

3. Drink coffee. In bed and reading fiction before heading off to the office.

Me, I do this:

1. Drench. I drink two litres or so of hot water with a hunk of lemon squeezed in. I potter while I drink. Tidy a little…and, let’s be frank, hang about until nature calls.

2 .Exercise. I leave the house and get outside to job, walk, do yoga at the beach. I don’t think about it too much. I just slide into my green running shorts and grey singlet and… move. I try to go with what my body needs…often a 20 minute walk or stretch in my lounge is enough. But the deal is, I move every day. No deliberation. I just do it. It’s my routine.

3. Meditate. I always meditate for 20 minutes, often down at the beach after exercise. After exercise is best – my body is open.

4. Feel. After meditation, I sit for two minutes and feel for a bit. I try to access the tone of the day that I’d like to lead. It’s just a faint feeling and then I try to hold it for as long as I can, as I have a shower and get out of the house…the longer I hold it, the more grace I carry.

Then my ratbaggy, chaotic, anxiety-laden day starts. But, thing is, I carry with me a satisfied, expansive sense that I have owned a piece of the day for myself. If I don’t do this, I feel resentful, like everyone else owns a part of me. I spend alot of the day wishing the world would get out of my face!

It’s tempting to skip the routine when I have an early start. But mostly I don’t. Mostly because it’s become a routine. Creating a simple structure around the things that matter to us is the ONLY way to ensure we lead a meaningful life. Otherwise distractions take over. I’ve come to learn that we humans do not like having to draw on discipline to make things happen. It’s too much for us. Too punishing. Too backward in essence. No, we are creatures of habit and we need patterns and routines and rituals in place that we can slide into. Straight from our pyjamas.

What’s in your morning routine that works?

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