I love having a routine. While I truly admire people who seem to thrive in the midst of chaos, I am just not one of them. Without taking the time to create a sense of order for myself, I become forgetful, I lose things, and I stumble over my thoughts. Yet it’s a struggle for me to maintain a sense of routine. Because of travel, I often find myself needing to be more flexible with my daily schedule than I’d like. With timezone changes, meetings are shifted, gym hours are adjusted, and errands are moved to earlier or later in the day. As an early riser, no matter where I am, I still find those first few hours of the day to be the most critical for my productivity and focus.
These days, my routine is less a routine and more three main rituals: stretching, writing, meditating. I don’t always do them in the same order or for the same amount of time, but I do make sure to do some variation of all three.
Normally, when I wake up, I try to stay off my phone for as along as possible. I get the dog’s food ready and then pop on that day’s ROMWOD to start moving. Even though I technically have the time, I tend to opt for the short version of each yoga/stretching routine because I find it hard to focus for that long in the morning. While stretching first thing in the morning is difficult because that’s when I’m most stiff, I also find this to be the one time that I can be very consistent about. I’d rather be consistent than get a few extra centimeters when trying to touch my toes.
After, I meditate. I try to gradually increase the amount of time for which I meditate everyday, but usually I just stick to three to four minutes. There’s often this perception that you need to meditate for hours at a time – or even ten minutes at a time – for it to be beneficial, but I find just spending a few minutes focusing on my breath helps me feel centered for the day. Without it, I sincerely notice a difference in my ability to focus on my work and my general sense of motivation.
Finally, I grab a pen and paper to write, analog-style. More often than not, I write down the dreams I had from the night before. Ever since I was a kid, I always enjoyed trying to remember what images floated through my subconscious while I was sleeping and try to understand what information I may be processing. I also try to use this time to talk through any anxieties I may have. I stopped writing for a while because I felt like I was putting too much pressure on myself to make it this long practice in self-examination. A few notes, incomplete sentences, scribbled memories are just as helpful and a lot more friendly to my computer-focused hands that get annoyed by holding a pen for too long these days.
After all this is finished, I put the coffee on to start my day. It’s a short, simple series of rituals that only take about fifteen to twenty minutes but it makes all the difference for me. Since the vast majority of my day is spent online, having a dedicated moment after I wake up to focus only on myself, my mind, and my body helps me to feel more balanced. It combats my wandering attention and it makes me feel more mindful about what comes next.
Just a little bit of intention goes a long way.