The Evolving Morning Routine

various fitness machines in modern spacious gym
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About a year ago I wrote about my morning routine. Routines evolve and change, even as the habits form, which I find both comforting and ironic. I thought it would be useful, therefore, to describe how my morning routine has changed over the last year.

In July 2021, my morning routine looked like this:

  • Walk (45 minutes)
  • Meditate, guided (10 minutes)
  • Shower (10 minutes)
  • Write (1 hour)
  • Journal, email, blog comments, etc. (30 minutes)

Back then I had my morning routine listed out in my Field Notes notebook; I had it taped above my desk so that I could see it from where I sat. How have things changed?

My current morning routine is not written down anywhere. It is a set of activities that have evolved from that July list in a kind of natural way. Now, the routine feels comfortable and natural. I don’t need to have it written down, it just works for me.

Of course, I am going to write it down now (from memory) to illustrate how it has changed:

  • Walk (45 minutes)
  • Write fiction (30 miunutes – 1 hour)
  • Read with older daughter (20 minutes)
  • Cardio on elliptical (20 minutes)
  • Light strength workout (10 minutes)
  • Shower (10 minutes)
  • Breakfast (10 minutes)
  • Journal?

This routine feels much more natural to me, with each activity sliding into the next. Along the way, I’ve tried to optimize my tasks to make things more efficient. Let me walk you through a typical morning, like this one.

  • I wake up around 5:15 without an alarm; the brightening sky wakes me, which is always better than an alarm; indeed, I can’t recall the last time I used an alarm to wake up.
  • I read the papers on my phone for 20 minutes or so, then I dress (having laid my clothes out the night before) and head out for my morning walk at about 5:45am.
  • I listen to my current audiobook (this morning, it was The Age of Voltaire by Will and Ariel Durant) while I walk. My walk is about 2-1/2 miles round trip. I’m back at the house at around 6:25am.
  • I head into my office, pull out my current composition book, and began to write–longhand–on the story I’m working on. I try for a minimum of 2 handwritten pages. Sometimes I write more, rarely less. Sometimes I’ll scribble notes on previous pages in red ink, noting changes I want to make.
  • When I finish writing, I’ll turn to the blog and do some writing there, or maybe I’ll reply to comments.
  • At 7:45am, I sit down with my older daughter to read with her. This morning, she read on her own because I was dealing with a work issue.
  • After the girls head off to school, I head downstairs. I put a fresh set of clothes in the bathroom down there, and then hop on the elliptical for a 20 minute cardio workout. I listen to more of my audiobook. I’ve found that covering the timer on the elliptical screen makes for a much more pleasant workout. This morning, I happened to finish my book just as I finished my workout.
  • Since this was a Monday morning, I then went into the family room some light strength workout. 3 sets of crunches and 3 sets of pushups. I’m taking it easy. (I do these on Mondays, Wednesdays and Friday; on Tuesdays and Thursdays I do light arms and legs.)
  • I shower, dress, and then head upstairs and make breakfast.
  • At this point, I may write in my journal or I may just get started with work. Either way, finishing breakfast usually marks the end of my morning routine.

Because I am up so early, I’m usually finished around 8:30am or so. What will I do when it is dark early in the morning? I’ve given this some thought, and I think the only real change is that I’ll swap the writing time and the walking time, writing as soon as I get up and walking a littler later, when the sun is coming up.

Incidentally, I follow this routine on weekends and holidays, as well, except that I don’t do the elliptical or light workouts on the weekend. No matter what, I can’t seem to sleep in later than 5:30am or so, nor do I really have a desire to do so. Maybe it’s my age.

Written on May 23, 2022.

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  1. Another morning person! I wake up automatically at 6am most days, though on days when I watch too much TV at night, the next day I end up waking up at 7am. I’ve tried sticking to a routine, but my brain just seem to rebel at that. While I try to make 7000 steps on a working day, I don’t rigidly follow a workout routine. I just do whatever I want on that day. Some days it can be a 40 min walk around the neighbourhood, other days a quick body workout. About the writing – I admire your discipline. I’m trying to get back into fiction writing and I actually met someone who gets on FocusMate an hour before work to work on her novel. I admire that dedication and I hope one day that I can get do this.

    1. Elizabeth, when the going is good, sitting down to write each morning isn’t discipline, it’s just something fun to do. When the going is not good, sitting down to write is discipline. For now, it is going good.

    1. Keegan, my evening routine fell apart this spring, with so many kids’ activities taking place. Just about every evening is different because of different activities: soccer practices, gymnastics practices, scouts, etc. There is no anchor for consistency at the moment, so I am mostly relying on my mornings to get things done; evenings are for watching kids play soccer, or tumble around in gymnastics, or go for after-dinner walks, and then, for me at least, off to bed early, because I am up so early.


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