I’m not going to lie by saying that I do the same things every day. But, on most days, what I do 80% of the time is what I do every day. I really believe in the power of having structure, habits, go-to activities, and meals in your life. Having some sort of outlined day takes away decision fatigue which sometimes paralyzes us from doing things we want to do. Therefore, I looked at what successful people do, what people who I consider as mentors do, read and listened to a lot of articles and podcasts. Then, I sat down one day with a blank sheet of paper and wrote what I want my day to look like. To be completely honest, I have only done this practice for my work days, so my weekends are a little different. Given that I am a Ph.D. student, I really do not need to be on-campus at a certain time in the morning. So, if you have a strict time to start work, you should consider that and build your day around that. In this article (part of a 3-article set), I will try to explain why I do certain things in my “perfect” morning and what they add to my life and well-being. Feel free to copy or change anything. Let’s get it going…
6-7 am, Wake-up time: I do not wake up to an alarm, but I like to wake up early in the morning. The reason I do not use alarms is because I do not want my day to start with a buzzing loud fight-or-flight sound. I am able to wake up with the day’s rhythm because I do two things. These are going to bed rather early (usually 10 – 11 pm) and eating my last meal the previous night at least 3-hours prior to bed time. These two things establish a few things that you will learn in a future article that explains my evening habits. But, just trust me on this for now.
Gratitude Journaling: At this point, I’m still in my bed. I reach to my bedside table and grab my journal. Gratitude journaling has been on my to-do list for a long time, but it’s a habit I picked up in the last few months. It’s something I learned from Tim Ferriss and his podcast guests. Starting your day with feeling grateful is a powerful technique to start your day in a good mood. There are tons of stuff in our lives we take for granted. Examples can be (with no intention of offending anyone) having food in the fridge, being safe under a roof, not being injured and being able to walk around, having friends and family in our lives that give us unconditional love, etc. Taking a moment to realize these things really helped me be in a good mood to start my day. I write down 3 things I am grateful for, 3 things that will make today better and one daily affirmation. This practice only takes 2-3 minutes and then I get up, make my bed and place my Oura ring into its charger. Then, I head to the kitchen.
Supplements and Coffee/Tea time: I put water in the kettle and turn it on. I like drinking coffee or tea in the morning, simply because I love the taste and I feel like it gives me a cognitive boost. While the water is heating up, I drink 16 ounces (500 ml) of room-temperature water. Considering that the last time I drank water was the previous day and my body was using its own stores through the night, it’s crucial to consume water in the morning. This helps the body (liver especially) get rid of waste and toxins that it was processing and packaging the whole night. While drinking water, I also take some supplements. These are 500 mg of L-Carnitine L-Tartrate, 500 mg of Ashwagandha (Indian Ginseng) and medicinal mushrooms which are 1 serving of Cordyceps (helps with adrenal function), 1 serving of Lion’s mane (helps with cognition) and 1 teaspoon of Winning X (blend of 10 medicinal mushrooms by Four Sigmatic). To get 15% off from all Four Sigmatic products, please visit http://www.us.foursigmatic.com/#_a_balabanmb and use the promo code: balabanmb at checkout. Then, I head out to my patio and expose my eyes to natural light. This really helps with proper circadian rhythm. While I’m on the patio, I do light stretches for about 2-3 minutes. By this time, the water is boiled, so I head back inside and make myself coffee (using French press) or some tea such as Pu-ehr tea or Yerba mate tea. If I’m out of coffee beans (I am subscribed to Angels Cup. They deliver tasty high-quality coffee beans every month), and if I want coffee, I use mushroom coffee (These are amazing for traveling, and you can find them in the link above). This process usually takes about 5-10 minutes.
E-mail and social media: While sipping on my morning beverage, I go through e-mails that are not work related, read some articles, check social media or watch a 20-minute comedy TV show. During this time, I try not to get involved with any work because I do not want to start that process. I still want to have some time to myself and get ready for the day. This process lasts for 30 minutes.
Easy workout: After finishing the coffee/tea, I like to get my day going with an easy workout. Some people like to do their hard workouts first thing in the morning, but I’m not one of them. So, I have certain go-to morning exercises that I cycle. One is doing 100 push-ups, 100 bodyweight squats and 100 sit-ups. I call it BW-300 (BW: bodyweight, 300: total rep number). I do 10 of each and repeat. Second example is morning Yoga or Tai-Chi. Or, if the weather is right, I simply go out and walk for 20-30 minutes.
Hygiene: After finishing the workout, I head to the shower. I take a warm shower and end it with 1-minute of cold shower. This does a lot of good things in the body such as enhanced recovery, stimulating Vagus nerve, accelerated fat-loss. This is something I learned from the Iceman Wim Hof. Then, I do some skin brushing focusing on my abdomen to enhance blood flow to the area. I do have some loose skin in that area, and, I think, by increasing the blood flow, our bodies can tighten up the area more easily in time. Then, I brush my teeth with the toothpaste I make (I’m sure I will write about this in a future article) and get dressed. This process takes about 10-15 minutes.
Breakfast: After all of this, it’s time to eat. My breakfasts have some sort of greens (such as baby spinach, kale, arugula, etc.), cucumber slices, protein and fat. For protein and fat, I like eating 3-4 medium-boiled (about 4 minutes) eggs, some turkey breast (or sardines), 2 brazil nuts, and ½ avocado (or 1 tablespoon of coconut oil). I don’t eat any starchy carbs in the morning so that I don’t get high insulin release. This helps me to stay in the fat-burning mode throughout the day and allows me to not have blood sugar fluctuations. This way, it’s easy for me to stay sharp and get things done. This process takes about 20 minutes.
Heading to work: To have some sort of a “strict” time to be at work, I always schedule my office hours in the morning, usually at 9 or 10 am. This allows me to be on schedule and be aware of the time I spend at home in the morning. While heading to work, I listen to podcasts. This way, I can get the cognitive stuff going and start the learning process for the day.
This whole thing takes less than 2 hours. If you have a more-strict schedule, you can always find a way to squeeze enough time for yourself in the morning. By having powerful habits and techniques, you can improve your mood, your productivity and the life around you. After establishing this routine, my happiness and productivity went off the roof. I hope your routine does the same for you.