The Morning Routine

I’ve written about Discovering Work Life Balance in the past, but when I came across Jim Citrin’s article titled Tapping the Power of Your Morning Routine I realized that I left out an important part of the dynamics of work life balance for me.

Some people are early birds; some people are night owls.  I’ve always been an early bird.  In Citrin’s article, he talks some of the common characterists of key CEOs that he admires.  As a morning person, it was fascinating to see what people do when they get up.

I wake up, get out of bed, drag a comb across my head.  Skip that last part about the comb.  I try to get up at 5am on Monday to Thursday, regardless of where I am (every now and them I get hosed on travel and sleep in – if I get less than six hours of sleep I have a rough day.)  The next sequence is very predictable.

  • Brush teeth
  • Make coffee
  • Feed dog (if home)
  • Do email
  • Read “News” folder in Firefox (all the daily news I read)
  • Read all RSS feeds
  • Write blog post(s)

I give myself until 7am for this.  I then run from 7am until “whenever my run is over” (I’m in maintenance mode right now so my workouts last an hour – in the summer when I gear up for my next marathon it will be longer.)  Shower.  Eat breakfast.  “Start the rest of the day” (usually before 9am.)

Occasionally I have to do a phone call before 9am – I optimize around this.  I’ve stopped doing breakfast meetings – I want the first four hours of my day to myself. 

It has taken me a while to figure out this rhythm. While my morning routine might not work for you, I’ve found the notion of a morning routine to be a critical part of my work life balance.  Think about your morning – tomorrow.

  • Hmm .. I think I want your life.

    Brad, I can tell you don’t have kids and aren’t currently an entrepreneur.
    Bedtime is highly variable (if existent) and routine is well, nothing.

    Bedtime varies from 10PM to 3AM.
    Alarm rings at 5:45 unless there’s a possibility of snow which means anywhere between 3:30 and 4:30 AM depending upon weather predictions. The morning regime includes breakfast, lunches, kitchen cleanup, email, running or biking, driving, homework, hair combing, laundry, shoveling, plant watering, fish feeding, hot tub chemical-ing, personal hygiene (sometimes limited), makeup (or not), as well as, extraneous activities such as crazy hair day, science fair, bake sales, and speech practice. Shuffling cars is non-trivial, because it’s a given that someone may not make it home (given this year’s weather).

    Agility, prioritization, teamwork, and a serious sense of humor are key.

    Net/net, it’s still a routine – just highly variable and, well, functioning – most of the time. And, heck, I concluded that normality is over-rated a long time ago. Now “normality” is synonymous with “chaos”. Wouldn’t change a thing. Just wanted to provide an alternate (and perhaps female) perspective.


  • This has been a long fascination of mine. At dinner tonight with Stan James I mentioned to him that it’d be a cool book to collect the “routines” of busy execs.

  • While not as busy as Sue, I’d have to agree; kids throw a huge curve into the word “routine”. We are a budding entrepreneurial family with two kids under the age of 5. Bedtime for them stays pretty consistent but for us parents it’s anywhere from 10:00 on a good day to you-name-it when we’re on a roll accomplishing something (and “accomplish” is relative, too!). The one thing I’m most thankful for is that, being an at-home entrepreneur, I actually have a little time to myself in the mornings after getting the boys off to preschool before starting to work. I feel bad for people who are slaves to the “regular world” and must be somewhere at a strict time every day.

    Oh yes, and Sue is also right about sense of humour being key; without it all parents would go insane!

  • Dave

    No one who has customers can stick to a routine like this. When customers want a breakfast meeting, you take it, you can’t say “I want my morning to myself.” Note that on the road fundraising is a main interaction with the real customers of a VC, and indeed you take the meetings when you can get them.

  • Too all the people with kids out there – there is no doubt that being child free allows this particularly type of routine. I don’t suggest this is the right routine for everyone (or – anyone) for that matter – it’s just an example of what works for me.

    And yes – Dave – you are right. I should have said “occasionally I have to a phone call or a meeting before 9.” I “try” not to do breakfast meetings, but when a customer or partner of mine wants one, I do it. But – I don’t do any optional ones.

  • If you want a taste of your future in about 15 years, try my routine! With many customers in India and China, your routine will be like mine soon!

    Given California time is 12 hours from Indian time roughly, we have many of our web conferences and phone calls starting around 8 p.m here goes on till midnight or later and sometimes starts as early as 4.30 a.m CA time. This will translate to mornings and late evenings for customers in India.

    So what Morning routine? 🙂