Back in my corporate job days, my time was pretty structured. Between the hours and 8 and 5 or so, I’d mostly be a slave to my calendar. Colleagues and clients would schedule meetings with me, and I’d attend.
I constructed the rest of my life around the 9 or so hours I'd spend in the office. Add an hour and a half both before and after to account for commenting.
By day 3 of becoming a freelance copywriter full time, I realized I needed to set up some serious structure to my day. Otherwise, I’d find myself feeling frantic and entirely out of control.
Happiness = feeling like we have control over our lives.
You might be hearing a lot about morning routines lately. These past few years, I’ve become curious about how successful people use their mornings.
Here’s a peek into my morning routine. I hope it gives you some ideas of things to try out as you figure your routine out.
I'm a pop out of bed like a pop-tart kind of morning person
Wake up with the alarm on my phone in airplane mode and WiFI off. I never ever ever ever hit snooze. Waking up with my phone in airplane mode makes it easy to avoid checking email and social media first thing in the morning. I want to start MY day, not someone else's.
Make coffee. Most of it is set up from the night before. I grind coffee beans fresh in the morning and use a Chemex pour over method (try it, it'll rock your world). It takes approximately 6 minutes longer than pressing a button like a zombie on a drip coffee machine. It’s slow and purposeful. Also, it makes a damn good cup of coffee, and coffee is essential. You don’t know you’re drinking crappy coffee until you have the good stuff.
What goes in my coffee—I’ve been enjoying a rocket fuel latte every morning. This coffee that tastes like dessert is part of a high-fat, low-carb way I eat that keeps my brain firing on all cylinders. It sounds involved, but most days, this replaces breakfast.
Getting up around 5 am is important to me so I can make time for myself before the kids get up and I start looking after everyone else. You can’t pour from an empty cup, and mama can’t do shit if I haven’t looked after myself first.
Morning Pages. You can read more about morning pages and why they’re awesome in this post. It’s three unedited, unfiltered, brain dump kind of writing to get the gunk out of my brain so I can move onto my day. I write while I’m drinking my coffee and it only takes 10-15 minutes.
Flip open my paper day planner. I live and die by my Google Calendar and calendly for scheduling client meetings, but pen and paper force me to slow down and see what’s ahead of me. I’ve become a huge fan of Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map day planner.
Before the coming week, I write down all my appointments and map out the week's tasks. My tasks change throughout the week, but having a basis for how I spend my time is essential.
The planner also includes writing down how I want to feel. This is the woo-est I’ll ever get on you. Knowing how I want to feel drives all my work. If how I’m spending my doesn’t make me feel this way, something needs to change. For the past year or more, here’s what I want to feel every day: freedom, creativity, curiosity, and abundance. Next, I jot down three quick things I’m grateful for (cause I want to feel abundant, remember).
6:05 - 7 am
The above took some explaining, but it only takes a few minutes. I spend the next 45 minutes or so on a personal writing project. On Monday’s I spend it writing a blog post for the week, on Tuesday I spend some time sharing it with an email to my favorite people, then, I work on other writing projects, which varies depending on my goals and my mood. These days, it’s 1 of 2 books I’m working on, writing free guides to share with you, or updating website pages.
I write for myself before I dive into writing for anyone else. I do my best work in the morning, and why shouldn’t I give that to myself? At the end of my life, if I’m not contributing to my growing body of work, I can start to feel grumpy and like I’m totally out of control.
Mom time! This is the time for getting the kids up, making breakfasts (fresh eggs thanks to our backyard chickens!) lunches, gathering homework, feeding the chickens, ducks, dog, cats, and everything with a mouth. I lay everything out the night before. I don’t ask what the kids want for breakfast or lunch in the morning. Do that ahead of time, so there’s no whining. Often, there is whining, but I can say, “This is what you said you wanted yesterday, so tough.”
I either go to the gym or walk the dog and listen to podcasts or audiobooks. Currently listening to this audiobook on repeat - Braving the Wilderness. And listening to these podcasts: Marketing in Yoga Pants, The Accidental Creative, The Keto Diet Podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show, and Success on Your Terms with Jenny Shih.
I work out for no more than 30 minutes 2-3x a week. Hardcore, I know. I’m ridiculously focused because who likes spending that much time in the gym? I only lift weights, and I move quickly to get out of there. If I’m walking the dog, it’s much slower.
Shower. If I don’t have to be anywhere later, it’s a no mascara day. No mascara days are super productive days.
Client work. This involves making progress on ghostwriting projects, blogging, planning, or editing website copy.
Tuesdays - Thursdays between 9-1 are for client conversations, new client research, proposals, and any interviews I’m doing. I reserve Mondays and Fridays to get ahead on all my projects and ignore everyone else.
I split my time between working from my home office or heading to a coffee shop. At coffee shops, I’m more focused—there are no dog or cats asking to come in or out every 10 minutes.
I eat lunch, splitting time with getting a load of laundry done or starting dinner in the crockpot. I work for a few hours in the afternoon before getting the kids and then taking them to their sport of the day. Sometimes I do a little client work or writing for myself while at the hockey rink or gymnastics building— the buzz of the energy in there helps me focus.
Often after dinner, I might finish up some client work, finish a blog post I drafted in the morning, or work on some more personal writing projects like books, ebooks, or free downloads. I check out my schedule for the next day and add any tasks I need to complete.
Reading, jotting down a few notes of gratitude from the day, and in bed between 10-10:30.
Having a fairly consistent routine takes the guesswork out of my day. I can wake up, and know exactly what I need to do, without thinking too much.
Save the thinking for the bigger projects.
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