It’s Saturday and we’re in Ojai celebrating our first wedding anniversary. And it just so happens that I am starting today’s letter.
I certainly don’t consider myself a strong writer, but I also feel more secure about writing because it’s a skill in which I don’t compare myself to others at, yet. I’ve read plenty of books about being better at this craft, like Bird by Bird, Writing Down the Bones, Several Short Sentences About Writing, and On Writing Well. But I haven’t written enough to have any type of ego about it.
Being a designer is a completely different story. I’m always comparing, or holding myself to a much higher bar, because I’ve spent most of my life learning and getting better at that craft. There are new tools and recipes for improving my workflow on a daily basis. It’s almost maddening (in a good way). The latest being, Framer X.
And so I’m sitting here thinking about habits and routines. While I’m new at this and I haven’t fully nailed my routine for writing—especially since I’m starting this on a Saturday and totally fucking nervous about getting it done on time—I still feel confident that I can fall back on my routines.
I used to be a late night rat. A rat, because I honestly think that might be one of the only ways to describe my tendencies.
At night, I felt that I could go rogue and let the creativity blend with snacking, watching movies, or drinking, and generally lying to myself into thinking that I was making good use of my time.
My nights were completely unstructured that I would get distracted with any small unprovoked piece of cheese.
Sleeping in and working late became my routine of choice, more out of convenience than anything. It felt good to be “working” late at night.
I once had a personal trainer who suggested that I try and eat breakfast at 8am every morning, but what he couldn’t understand is that I barely made it to our 10am sessions because of oversleeping!
What I didn’t admit to myself at the time is that I was never built to be productive late at night. Sure, I have nights where things need to get done and are the exception to the rule now. But if I’m being honest, I should have looked at my life more objectively. A rat only sees a rat though, I suppose. Things had to change for me.
While I think that we have the power to make change, it sometimes helps when we have a reason forced upon us and gives us a new perspective to look at what we’re doing.
It makes us ask that question, “Are we really using this time in the best way possible, or has this particular habit formed a routine that we’re unable to see the benefits of?”
“Rather, to change a habit, you must keep the old cue, and deliver the old reward, but insert a new routine.” — Charles Duhigg
For me, the fact that I was staying up late until 1-2am in the morning was ruining my quality of sleep, and getting up late had no rewarding cues to make me change my habit.
Now, my morning routine is made up of small habits that have rewarding cues:
Getting up around 5:30-6am. The reward is that it makes me feel like I have a head start on the day.
Having 16-32 oz of cold water. The reward is that it makes me feel refreshed pretty instantly.
First cup of coffee is blended with MCT Oil. The reward is that I still get my coffee and it slows down the absorption of caffeine, so it’s acting much slower to wake me up.
1 whole egg + 2 egg whites with GG fiber crackers. The reward is that I can easily make breakfast in under 5 minutes.
Chill for 20-30 min before working. Usually I’m reading a book, the news, or meditating if I think of it. I’m still working on that one.
My mornings are pretty damn boring, but I kind of love it. And, all started with going to bed earlier.
It feels like a much less exciting type of life, but I also feel like it’s a routine that I can depend on, and use to my advantage. But I realize it’s probably because I’m older now. Because, I am. Ugh.
Deep Work - My favorite book on productivity
Own Your Day, Own your life - Great look at how to improve you life, daily.
The Power of Habit - Incredible breakdown and analysis of habits and routines.
The Focus Course - an online course designed to help you be more productive.
Question for you
What is your morning routine?
This is Plan Your Next. It’s a conversation about being ready for what’s next. Well, because there is always a next. I’m Nate, designer, and conductor of this group.
If you have something to share or add, please hit reply and expect a response!