This is my morning routine as a freelancer, including the use of nootropics, image-streaming, and soundwave meditation.
Reading time: 9 minutes
I hate mornings, but I love morning routines.
I’m a firm believer in the idea that the first 1-2 hours of one’s day should be completely scripted to avoid decision fatigue, simply by saving your energy for more important decisions that might come up during the day.
So I make sure to follow a pretty strict morning routine. Some days I fail to follow each step, especially when I’m traveling, but when I get everything right, then I feel great for the rest of the day!
But when my son Jack came along a little less than a year ago, I had to drastically change my morning routine. As a parent (and a freelancer!), discipline is of the utmost importance. Therefore, I thought that it would be useful to check out my personal morning routine. And please make sure to add your best tips and tricks in the comments.
Phase I: Waking Up
I get up around 5:30 am. I have a sensor mat underneath my mattress which determines my sleep rhythm, pulse and movements, information that are then used by the connected alarm clock1 which then wakes me up with a subtle light when my sleep is at its lightest. Our bedroom can be made pitch black even in the middle of the day, by using heavy-duty blinders for all windows, so the wake-up light helps keep my circadian rhythm2 in check.
- A pinch of Himalayan salt.
- Separate vitamins (B6/B12, C, D3 and E).
- CILTEP5 by Natural Stacks (for better mental functions).
- 5-HTP capsules (for increased levels of serotonin).
- PQQ + CoQ106 (to increase mitochondrial energy levels).
- Krill oil (Omega 3 oils).
- Minerals (Zink, Chrome and Magnesium).
I also make Bulletproof Coffee by using a French press and blending7 the coffee with unsalted high-quality butter and taste-free coconut oil. It’s not exactly optimal to make blender noise so early in the morning, but I always try to be quick about it, hoping no-one will wake up.
I make one thermos with regular coffee for my wife and one thermos with Bulletproof Coffee for myself.
Phase II: Getting Ready
Before I “get to work” (I work from home on most days), I give myself three options:
Option 1: Meditate For 20 Minutes
- Relaxing all parts of the body in sequence.
- Doing repetitions of controlled breathing.
- A cycle of a technique called Image Streaming9.
Option 2: Gym Routine For 20 Minutes
I go to the neighbourhood gym (literally 50 metres from our building) where I hit the gym mat for 20 minutes. I guess my routine resembles some sort of hybrid between stretching and qigong10. The idea is not to do any type of strength training, but rather to move the body to get the blood flowing throughout and get rid of any stiffness in the joints.
Option 3: Podcast Walk For 20 Minutes
Some days are just tough to begin with and it’s difficult to motivate yourself to do anything that’s just a little bit strenuous. But taking an early walk in the crisp air outside while listening to your favourite podcast isn’t something that I need to push myself to do!
Phase III: Getting Started
My son Jack haven’t started kindergarten yet, so for now both my wife Lisah and I runs his morning routine when he wakes up around 7 am. But on days when Lisah runs the show herself, I’ll be at my desk at 6.30 am with a thermos of Bulletproof coffee and ready to go.
On my computer lies a piece of linen paper from the night before. On it, I’ve written down 1-3 key to-do items that, if I do them, they will advance my work and my results the most. These tend to be the toughest items from my to-do list, but if I do one or two of these items first thing in the morning, before I allow myself to do anything else (like, checking my Facebook notifications), then the rest of the day will feel like rolling downhill.
When I’ve completed these 1-3 tasks, then I’m allowed to literally crumple the piece of paper and throw it away (yes, I have a small basketball hoop for this purpose). And now I’m allowed to check my social networks! I’ll take a break around 7:45 and join Lisah and Jack for some breakfast banter.
“Why Get Up So Early?”
I’m the first to admit that I’m not a morning person. However, I’m not a “work-person” either. Translation: I don’t want to spend all my days executing on someone else’s business plan. By getting up at 5:30 and doing lunch at 1 pm, I manage to get a solid 6 hours of productive work in. Since I’m easily twice as productive as a freelancer compared to when I was working in an open floor-plan office, so in essence, 6 hours equals 12 hours.
So, at 1 pm, with the equivalent of 12 hours of work already done, I can hit the gym (again!) for some strength training, grab some lunch and then spend the rest of the day with my son, playing around and preparing the dinner. In short — being a freelancer has its perks.
Update: Inspirations (by popular request):
- Tim Ferriss — Yes, I’m a fanboy. I digest his podcasts, his books and his blog posts. Lately also his tv show, The Tim Ferriss Experiment. It’s not just about “lifehacking”, it’s also about finding a stoic outlook on life, tackling the world’s challenges like Jason Bourne and doing content marketing like a bonafide genius.
- Dave Asprey — This guy (who created Bulletproof Coffee) is someone who’s teachings I literally take with a “grain of salt”. He also has a podcast and a blog, but also a range of enhancing supplements. He does seem to have a crush on himself and his ‘science’ often tend to be too anecdotal for my taste — and he seems to buy into all that homeopathic nonsense, which is a big alarm clock in my book. Still, he’s an interesting guy.
- Ludvig Sunström — Swedish guy with an incredibly interesting blog, StartGainingMomentum (in English, of course), focusing not just only at physical improvements, but at cognitive enhancements as well. What makes Sunström so interesting is that he presents concepts that are his own. Looking forward to meeting this guy and hopefully, he can teach me where I go wrong in an area where I’m constantly failing — weight loss.
- My Morning Routine — Nicely laid out blog, with a growing number of posts about interesting people and their morning routines.
- Daily Rituals: How Artists Work — Audiobook with a great many example of morning routines of famous and historic people. It reads a bit like a “staccato” with super-short chapters, but well worth the listen anyway.
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- I use the Withings Aura wake-up lamp.
- “A circadian rhythm /sɜrˈkeɪdiən/ is any biological process that displays an endogenous, entrainable oscillation of about 24 hours. These 24-hour rhythms are driven by a circadian clock, and they have been widely observed in plants, animals, fungi, and cyanobacteria.” Source: Wikipedia.
- I use a Brita to filter my tap water. The Stockholm tap water is okay, but having grown up in the north of Sweden I’m sensitive to even the smallest hint of chlorine in my water. If I can get rid of some antibiotics residue this way, then that’s a plus.
- I’m not a physician (despite this blog’s name) and you should always consult your doctor before following any recommendations yourself. Please also note that I take these supplements on a cyclical schedule and therefore not every day.
- If you’re in Sweden looking for this supplement, I can recommend Succeeder, an import company run by Swedish Memory Champion Mattias Ribbing.
- Check out Unfair Advantage by Bulletproof, a company founded by Dave Asprey, the inventor of Bulletproof Coffee.
- For blending, I use my beloved Vitamix. It’s an expensive piece of kitchen equipment, but at 2 horsepowers, it’s a beast!
- I use Bose QuietComfort 25, over-ear headphones which I also use when listening to music in my home office and when traveling.
- Image Streaming is a technique developed by Win Wenger during Project Renaissance. The idea is to activate our brain by allowing ourselves to “see” visual streams of images while recording them into a recorder or onto a piece of paper.
- “Qigong is a holistic system of coordinated body posture and movement, breathing, and meditation used for health, spirituality, and martial arts training.” Source: Wikipedia.
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