When I’m knee deep in a project (almost always), I usually wake up around 4am and get to work. But there’s a few steps that I take first to make sure I’m ready to get after the work at such an early hour. This is what I do, and it’s based off of Tim Ferriss’s morning routine.
I informally call this the (Haruki) Murakami Morning Routine because he too is an early riser.
- Tidy up: I usually like to make my bed, or clean up the living room from the night before by cleaning up the blankets on couches, or the stray toy or clean up the area near the coffee-maker.
- Exercise: I do three sets of 30 second planks and three sets of 10 push-ups along with some stretching to, as Ferriss says, “set prime.” Just to wake myself up. Then I’ll start making my coffee.
- Write: I sit down to do either 10 minutes or 3 morning pages. Whichever comes first. Generally, I write about whatever is on my mind that morning and it’s usually something that is producing a level of anxiety. This morning, I wrote about Russian Doll and Anthony Doerr’s essay in When I First Held You. Most importantly, I’ll ask three questions during this phase: what’s good? What’s bad? And most importantly I’ll do a premedito malorum, which I got from my winter long reading of stoicism. I read Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations, and How to Be A Stoic, by Massimo Pigliucci. This is where I’ll imagine the worst case scenario for the thing that is generating anxiety and turn the problem from a victim-thought-process to a creator-thought-process and that will usually generate a psychic response of, “Oh, that’s not so bad. You have this.”
- If there’s time, I’ll do the 5-minute-journal that I got directly from Ferriss, because it’s a good way to change from the often-anxiety solving focus of morning pages to something positive. I’ll list three things I’m grateful for, and 3 things that would be amazing if it happened today. I’ll do an evening reflection of this too. Where I ask: What are the three Amazing Things that Happened Today? And What are the Three Things I Could Have Done to Make Today Better?
- Then I’ll meditate with the Headspace app for 10 minutes to get me focused on the deep work I’m doing on whatever writing project.
This usually takes about a half hour but I’m hoping to make it down to 20 minutes by season’s end.
Most importantly, it’s not always possible to do all five of these steps. There’s a lot, and the most important takeaway from this experience in reading Ferriss’s process is that it’s okay if I only do 2 or 3 out of the 5 things, because on the weekends it’s not always possible to do all five. That’s fine. You know, life happens.
Hope this helps.