I find that I need a bit of loose structure in my day to most efficiently budget my time as well as getting my body to feel best. There are some key things that help me get energized and focused for the day. I find the first 1-2 hours set up the entire rest of the day. After listening to the Tim Ferriss Podcast (routines and tips compiled in Tools of Titans) and reading Daily Routines, I decided to construct my own daily regiment that has now become a habit. Daily habits eventually become automatic at which point it requires little to no effort to follow through on them.
Wake Up, Drink a Glass of Water (7:30-8:30 am)
I feel more rested when waking up naturally without an alarm clock. When you first wake in the morning, stay up. If I go back to bed, I will sleep for another 1-2 hours and feel more tired. Everyone is different, some people are early risers, some are late morning. This is my sweet spot. Find yours through experimentation. Drinking a glass of water helps immediately re-hydrate and energize. Tip: add a slice of lemon or lime and/or pinch of salt to further increase hydration and flavor.
Meditation (10-20 mins)
This is best done first thing, otherwise it’s easy to skip. It’s amazing the impact meditation has if done regularly for at least a couple months. I’ve found it to help reduce stress through breathing more fully, better posture, increased awareness (senses, body and world around me), increased focus, and resistance to external distractions. An easy and effective way to get going is with a guided mediation app like popular Calm or Headspace which are free to start, or my favorite Oak. Try meditating for 30 days and I trust you’ll see noticeable and lasting improvements. In my experimentation, a 10-minute session will help you build the habit, 15-minute session will help get you to the point where chatter will be reduced and 20-minute session gets you to calming the mind.
Breakfast & Tea
I eat within 30 minutes of waking because a) I get hungry and b) I like to have 1-2 hours to digest before exercising. I basically eat the same couple things (rotated) everyday which includes protein, vegetables, and yogurt (probiotics). Sometimes I do a protein shake. It’s healthy and light so I don’t have to wait 2+ hours to digest and won’t feel terrible during weight training or heavy exercise. I love tea and drink mostly green tea, but also mix in oolong, and black tea. There are many benefits to drinking tea, in particular green tea, and I find it very soothing and love the ritual. I add a spoonful of coconut oil and ginseng which significantly boost my energy levels. Also supposedly good for kickstarting your metabolism. Tip: coconut oil is also a great snack and alleviates hunger, so perfect to give you energy and avoid unhealthy snacking if you’re feeling sluggish mid-afternoon.
Exercise (30-90 mins)
I feel best when I exercise regularly and need about 1-2 hours to digest before doing so, depending on what I ate for breakfast and what type of exercise. Even just 10 minutes of exercise has an incredibly powerful impact on energy levels and metabolism. Many people like to exercise in the evening, but the problem is a) you’re likely too tired after work and b) you may have trouble falling asleep.
Exercise for me includes one of the following each day:
- Strength Training (30-90 mins). Start with lymphatic exercise (10-20 mins) (see note below) then stretching (10-30 mins). I do only core and leg workouts (15-45 minutes) to focus on mobility and core strength. End with stretching (30 mins). Tip: stretching is key to increase flexibility/mobility, improve training performance, and avoid injury. Took me a long time to fully understand the benefit.
- Yoga (30-60 mins). Not just for women and hipsters, I find yoga to be the ultimate combinatory form of exercise that hits your mind, body and soul in one shot. Improve flexibility, mobility, core strength, balance, breathing, mindfulness. Most gyms have classes included, join a yoga studio, or browse YouTube. Tip: 30 mins is better than nothing, but 45-60 mins is really needed to get the full benefit.
- Cardio (10 mins – couple hours). Just getting your blood pumping helps your body process and improves your energy and mood. I like to go hiking or play basketball. Hiking in particular has amazing effects on your mobility, posture, and feet/ankle strength since the terrain is varied. Plus it’s fun to explore!
- Lymphatic Exercise. Tony Robbins includes this in his 10-day pure energy regiment, which is basically some vertical movement like jumping jacks, jogging/running, etc. It is meant to get your lymphatic system moving to help release toxins.
I’m lucky enough at the moment to work from home, so unless I have meetings, I can work when I choose. Although it can vary, I am sure to do creative work at my peak creative times which for me are late morning (between breakfast and gym), late afternoon and evening. If I feel sluggish or am stuck on a problem I’ll go walk around, do something in nature, or run a couple errands which usually gets my brain going.
Read, Sleep (10:30-11:00 pm)
Bedtime routines are just as important as morning routines. I used to have trouble falling asleep until I began my nightly ritual and now I fall asleep within 10 minutes. I function best on 9 hours of sleep, so I wind down around 10:30, which means turning the lights down and reading. I turn off the computer/TV and if I’m reading on my tablet, I use f.lux to dim the screen and have a bit of light in the background. This helps me wind down and fall asleep easily. Tip: computer screens are bright and fool your eyes/brain into thinking it’s still daylight, so use warmer colors and dimming. If you’re reading on a tablet or must use your computer, dim the screen and have lights on in the background just slightly brighter than the screen. I’m not sure exactly why, but this prevents my pupils from dilating too much and staying more awake.
With these rituals I have a few things I do daily that help maintain an efficient schedule, don’t take up too much of the day, and are flexible to schedule around work, appointments, and periods of lethargy. I’ve noticed that when I am on a regular schedule I generally feel better, am more energetic, and generally in a more positive mood.