The Morning Routine of a Renaissance Surgeon
How do you have a great day? You can’t control much of what goes on in a day, but one way to increase your chances of having a great day is to have a great morning. The morning is a great target for routine and the installation of positive habits in the morning can set up an awesome day.
What is your morning routine? It’s worth thinking about it and designing it to your liking (within the confines of your reality). Darren Hardy notes that we have more control over the start and ends of our days (the ‘bookends’) than the middle. It’s worth trying to optimize these bookends and then watch their effects spill over into the rest of your day.
When considering a morning routine, it’s important to remember that a great morning starts the night before, with a proper wind down, an on-time bedtime and a great night of sleep. It’s hard to have a great morning if you wake up feeling in shambles.
The next thing to consider is getting in some key wins or priority activities before the start of the day’s responsibilities. What’s the most important habit that you engage in? Charles Duhigg would call this a ‘keystone habit,’ one that can positively influence all other aspects of your life and habits. For me, this is exercise. Exercise works well with morning scheduling because it gives you a boost of energy and should be avoided close to bedtime anyway.
Are there creative tasks that you want to tackle while your mind is fresh? Is the morning a time when you can make time for family? Or make time for solitude? Whatever your priorities are, you’ll have a leg up on the day if you can engage with them, at least a little bit, before the onslaught of the day’s externally imposed responsibilities.
My current routine is as follows:
Make breakfast (overnight oats)
Set out workout clothes/equipment
Check Oura ring score: I use this to reflect on anything from the day before that could have positively or negatively affected my sleep and my overall energy
Drink 12 oz water: Most of us go without water all night, so this is to jump start the day’s hydration.
Exercise: this is usually my main workout for the day
Meditate: I find that activating the body before activating the mind works well as a sequence
Make coffee: I do this for me and my wife. This also gives me a chance to express love for my wife in a small but daily way.
Practice a foreign language: currently I am tuning up my Spanish.
I think of this morning script as a verse: ‘urinate, calibrate (Oura), move, meditate, caffeinate, conjugate (foreign language verbs).’
At that point it’s usually time to hit the showers, but if I have extra time I will read or write. The amount of time spent on a particular activity can be adjusted depending on how much time is available. It’s important to note the absence of checking text messages or email during this time. That will usually divert your attention to the priorities of others. There will be plenty of opportunity for that later in the day!