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This is my morning routine as a freelancer, including the use of nootropics, image-streaming, and soundwave meditation.

by JERRY SILVER // Twitter, Facebook, Instagram
Digital PR specialist and CEO at Spin Factory

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.

Here goes:

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.

In the kitchen, I drink a big glass of filtered tap water3 with the following supplements4:

  • 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

I use noise-cancelling headphones8 while listening to Holosync brainwave soundscapes which helps me to get into the “zone” much faster. My style of meditation includes 3 consecutive parts:

  • 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.

paper

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.

Notes:

  1. I use the Withings Aura wake-up lamp.
  2. “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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. If you’re in Sweden looking for this supplement, I can recommend Succeeder, an import company run by Swedish Memory Champion Mattias Ribbing.
  6. Check out Unfair Advantage by Bulletproof, a company founded by Dave Asprey, the inventor of Bulletproof Coffee.
  7. For blending, I use my beloved Vitamix. It’s an expensive piece of kitchen equipment, but at 2 horsepowers, it’s a beast!
  8. I use Bose QuietComfort 25, over-ear headphones which I also use when listening to music in my home office and when traveling.
  9. 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.
  10. “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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Behind the keyboard:

Jerry Silver is the author of Doctor Spin, a PR blog that's been around for 15+ years. His fascination for corporate communication and human psychology runs deep. Via his own agency Spin Factory, every day's spent on coaching people and organizations on how to adapt to a 'digital first' world. In 2016, Cision Scandinavia named him "PR Influencer of the Year". Jerry lives in Stockholm, Sweden with his wife Lisah, journalist and television host, and their two-year-old son, Jack.

Interested in Jerry’s services or speaking engagements? Learn more.

Add your comment:

Deeped Strandh

Interesting. My morning routine is, just as yours different depending on if out of office-work, work in Uppsala or at the office. This autumn I have started to try to be more planned with the things to be done and trying out a mix of Trello and Wunderlist-routine. But I always start with checking the feeds before start working :)

Reply
Doctor Spin

I’ve really gone through some to-do-systems myself over the years, but I’m back using two separate Moleskines. But don’t tell anyone I’ve gone analogue! ;)

Thanks for sharing and commenting, man.

Jakob Rydberg

Impressive! I live by one morning routine: eat that frog (for those who haven’t heard about it –> it’s about handling the most important task, one you are most likely to procrastinate). I’ve found that my head is clearest in the morning, well after that not-so-healthy-breakfast, when it comes to mental power and concentration. Bulletproof coffee? Maybe that will do the trick for me to stay super focused the entire day. Sounds almost dangerous, Doc! Need to check it out.

Reply
Doctor Spin

I love my Bulletproof Coffee, partly because I’ve always found it difficult to eat breakfast (I’m just not hungry in the morning). It doesn’t taste butter at all, more like a creamy latte. It will taste of coconut though if you don’t use the unflavoured kind! :)

Doctor Spin

You don’t have to use the branded stuff if you try it, but the label can be found here in Stockholm these days: http://succeeder.se/bulletproof/

Jakob Rydberg

Awesome! Thx!

Joakim Nyström

Great setup. My morning routine is more of an evening routine.
Plan next day (your 3 items) and write down 3 things that made this day great.
When my daughter came into my life most of my routines got messed up, but she’s starting kindergarten this semester so I hope I’ll set up some new ones.

Reply
Doctor Spin

Cool — we probably became dads around the same time. Lots of changes for sure!

I love the idea of focusing on gratitude. I’ve used the app “5 Minute Journal” (inspired by Tim Ferriss) in the past for that. I should really try to pick that habit up again, it’s so easy to forget to count one’s blessings in life. Great tip, thanks!

Ludvig Sunström

Hey Jerry,

Interesting tips. I do many of these things too (meditation, bulletproof coffee).

And thanks for the mention.

Reply
Doctor Spin

Love your blog. And looking forward to grab a coffee (with or without added fats) this fall.

Fredrik Larsson

It is truly inspiring to learn how to practically handle your day and work (like in this post: http://doctorspinpr.wpengine.com/2013/11/19/how-i-optimise-my-mac/ ) .

I use the Philips Wake -up lamp. I really appreciate waking up to the light. Just like with your Aurora. Same breakfust every morning : porridge, two sandwiches and a glass of milk.

I travel by bus about 30 minutes each morning ( have chosen to settle me far out in the country outside Linköping) . There I check the feeds and listen to podcast. When I arrive at the office I run the same tricks that you : a to do list with the most important things to do tody, that I feel is one of the things that definitely increased my productivity the most.

Reply
Doctor Spin

Thanks for sharing your routine, Fredrik! Very inspiring.