I used to travel every week for two to three days. Sometimes four. For nearly a decade. Then 2020 came around, with two job changes and coronavirus. They downside is, I am losing my elite airline status. The upside is, I have gained a new morning routine for WFH and weekend mornings. They are many, and so sticking to a routine which works best for me now is easier than ever.
Why is a custom-built morning routine so important? Because it sets the foundation for a productive and energy-balanced day. What works, then? Well, I can only share what works for me, and it is not the 6 am wakeup with bullet-proof coffee followed by meditation and a workout that is favored by many.
The key to my own morning is the understanding of how my energy qualities shift during the day: I am mentally most productive before 2 pm, prefer a physically energetic workout in the late afternoon to relax, and a meditation at night to wind down for the day. This means that I pile up all writing, powerpoint slide creation, and planning before lunch and, if possible, push meetings and video conference calls into the afternoons. In the weekends, I begin my mornings with a concentration-requiring book followed by blogging, journaling, and other writing tasks until lunch.
I support my morning productivity with a protein-heavy breakfast to establish a stable energy level throughout the day. I used to do intermittent fasting for my entire adult life (and I had no idea it was a “thing”, it just felt better to skip breakfast) until just a couple of years ago. But when lunch became my main meal and I moved my dinner earlier, striving to be done by 7 pm, I realized I needed sustenance in the mornings. The overnightly fast is now a moderate 13-14 hours.
Here is my morning routine for most of 2020, version WFH:
- Wake-up 7.00-7.30 am (also weekend mornings. Consistency is key.)
- I open a window and burn incense, the fresh Japanese little sticks, to freshen up the air. A lovely Marie Kondo habit I adopted.
- I make a hot tonic and leave it to cool. A big glass of hot water with the juice of a quarter organic lemon, or fresh ginger or turmeric, with a quarter teaspoon honey. During more stressful times I used to go for lemon juice with salt (calms down cortisol levels) and cayenne pepper (wakes up a lazy stomach).
- Office worker’s stretch: Fold forward, arms hanging, to stretch legs. Grab ankle with both arms, legs straight, and pull back, stretching the hip of the other leg. Repeat on the other side. Sit down into a deep squat and extend arms forward to maximize the lower back stretch. Go down on knees and do 12-15 slow, careful scapular push-ups to prevent mouse-arm strain. Finally, stretch shoulders by standing up, interlacing fingers, folding forward, and bringing arms over head to hang.
- Tonic + supplements. I take a baseline of supplements supporting a woman on a meat-free and nearly dairy-free diet, along with a few performance-optimizing supplements.
- Reading. Could be as short as 15 minutes, also during work mornings. I usually reserve mornings for concentration-requiring or spiritual books. Right now I am reading A path with heart by Jack Kornfield.
- Breakfast. Plant-protein powered smoothie, or protein-powered oatmeal. Or gluten-free protein pancakes with berries if I have the time.
- Start the day. By now the time is around 8.30 am, leaving me enough time to get into shape for work and video conference calls before 9 am.
(Copenhagen, Denmark; November 2020)