Why you need a mindless morning routine—basically, going through your morning like a mindful zombie

Checking your phone first thing in the morning is ruining your life.

Your email is filled with requests for your time, your most valuable resource. Do you first.

Social media is full of other people's news. Make the intention to focus on yourself before anyone else. 

Focusing on yourself first will help you show up for the important people in your life. 

Why you need a mindless morning routine:
You want to save your precious brain energy for the work you care about most. For the things that matter. This means you shouldn’t be inventing creative breakfasts every day or trying to shake up your lunch routine. This also means you’re not standing in line at Starbucks trying to decide what flavor your latte should be today. Automate that shit, so you never need to think about it again.

Last year, when the kids were on summer break, I realized the kids had turned into screentime-craving sloths. 

This is when I created the "do-before list." The do-before list is a bunch of things to get done before you turn on a screen. 

For the kids, it had simple items:

  • Feed the animals
  • Make your bed
  • Eat breakfast
  • Read for an hour
  • Play for an hour

When the kids finished the items on their do-before lists, they could stare at a screen for as long as they wanted. 

Something magical happened--I call it momentum. 

An object in motion tends to stay in motion, so as the kids were feeding the animals, they ended up playing with the animals, and as they started playing, they continued playing. 

I wanted some of this magic too, so I created my own do-before list. You can read more about the do-before list here. 

The benefits of having a do-before list:

  • Feeling good about yourself

  • Being productive is good for your brain

  • You're constantly growing your body of work, and we’re designed to do work

  • Increases the time spent in front of real human beings

  • Reduce the chances of becoming a smartphone-loving and instant gratification-craving adults that many of us are (ahem)

  • Never wondering, "Where'd the day/week/year/my life go”?


What's on my do-before list:

  1. Wake up with alarm (from my phone that’s in airplane mode)

  2. 5 big conscious breaths (the parenting and impatient person’s version of meditation)

  3. Pee

  4. 10 squats (or 10 of anything, it will fire up your day)

  5. Make bed (did you know it sets the tone for the whole day?)

  6. Make coffee for me, and breakfast for the kids

  7. Morning pages while I sip coffee (created by Julia Cameron - it’s 3 full 8x10 pages of free writing or stream of consciousness writing. No editing or grammar allowed, just write. If you’re afraid someone is going to read it—you’re doing it right).

  8. Look at the people you live with. Sit with them. Look at their faces. Say words to each other.

  9. Write for me for 30 minutes. This is a blog post, book project, or some other personal project.

  10. Shower, brush teeth, put face on (a little makeup makes me feel less like a sloth)

  11. Check email

  12. Do my top 3 work tasks that I wrote out the night before (this is key!)

The do-before list isn't just another to-do list. It's doing the stuff that will make you feel like an accomplished human at the end of the day. If nothing else get's done besides this, you're winning. 

It's also not a fancy Pinterest-worthy checklist. It should be so simple that you mindlessly run through your routine. Save that brain power for the tough stuff.


Jacqueline Fisch