Episode 037 - The Morning Routine - ProductivityCast

037 The Morning Routine – ProductivityCast

There’s a long-standing misconception (in Ray Sidney-Smith‘s humble opinion) that habits are how you become more productive. But, it’s actually your routines that power your habits, and therefore, your personal productivity. In this episode of ProductivityCast, we discuss the power of routines, and specifically look at the morning routine. We discuss each of our morning routines and discuss some challenges facing building a good morning routine.

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In this Cast | The Morning Routine

Ray Sidney-Smith

Francis Wade

Art Gelwicks

Show Notes | The Morning Routine

Resources we mention, including links to them will be provided here. Please listen to the episode for context.

Why Rituals are Superior to Habits

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi, PhD

A Workday in my Life With Evernote


Mango Languages

Raw Text Transcript | The Morning Routine

Raw, unedited and machine-produced text transcript so there may be substantial errors, but you can search for specific points in the episode to jump to, or to reference back to at a later date and time, by keywords or key phrases. The time coding is mm:ss (e.g., 0:04 starts at 4 seconds into the cast’s audio).

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Voiceover Artist 0:00
Are you ready to manage your work and personal world better to live a fulfilling, productive life? Then you’ve come to the right place. Productivity cast, the weekly show about all things productivity, here are your hosts, Ray Sidney-Smith and Augusto Pinaud with Francis Wade and Art Gelwicks. Good morning,

Raymond Sidney-Smith 0:17
everybody. And welcome to productivity cast, the weekly show about all things productivity. I’m Ray Sidney-Smith and I’m joined here today with Francis Wade and Art Gelwicks. Welcome, gentlemen. Good

Unknown 0:28
morning, Ray waiting for this morning. Good

Unknown 0:31
morning, everyone. Good

Raymond Sidney-Smith 0:33
to have you both. Today, we are going to be talking about routines. And specifically today in the next this in the next episode, we’re talking about morning routines today. And in the next episode, we’re going to be talking about evening routine. So we’re going to talk about how we bookend our days to be more productive. So I wanted to start us off with the definition of routine and talk a little bit about why routines are important and how they benefit us, we’re going to then go around and talk about our own morning routines, what really underlies what’s the framework under underneath which we created our routines. And then we’ll talk about some of the design challenges for implementing a morning routine, what what types of challenges any of us on the productivity cast team has experienced and how we overcame those challenges. Let’s start off by discussing what a routine is. And I’m going to give my own take on this, and then you all can jump in. So my thought here is that many times people talk about habits and habits being something that can be a huge productivity enabler. And for me, I really fundamentally disagree in large part that habits are what we should be focusing on. Because habits are really difficult to develop habits are automatic, once they’re done. And so they’re, they’re efficient in one way, but very ineffective. And another if you need to change in any way shape, or form or be flexible. And that’s where routines fit in. And so routines are just a set of practices. It’s a procedure in essence, that you that you regularly follow. So it’s flexible, it’s adaptive. And what we want to do with routine is, is, in essence, connect multiple types of things, which could include habits as an anchor for doing that thing, you get up every day, that’s a habit, you know, you get up out of bed every day. And then you can execute a routine because it’s all fundamentally tied to one another, right, it’s a set of practices, you might get up and brush your teeth, you might then drink a glass of water, you know, go for a run, whatever the things are, that are connected in your morning routine, they’re all fundamentally connected together by this by this procedure, well, Asian efficiency, which is a efficiency calm, and they, they, their blog has been blogging about habits and rituals for quite some time. And they talk about rituals as what I would hear the term routine. And I don’t believe this is semantic, because routines are secular, they’re not there’s no kind of religious connotation here. Whereas rituals to has a specific religious or spiritual connotation. So I, I always shy away from using that term, because I feel like people who want to have a ritual are looking for something that’s spiritual or religious Lee connected. And so it just doesn’t, it doesn’t click in my head to do or to have rituals in that sense, when when they’re saying ritual. I’m presuming I’m just hearing me saying routine, because I think that they are different in that sense, but also in the sense that that what they talked about here, and I’m just I’m scrolling through the article here now just to pull up their pieces here. But they they in essence, are talking about routines or rituals in there saying, being specific, having the first step clarified, emotionally connecting with your ritual, understanding your motivation, I suppose. And then the fourth item being that you use, quote, unquote, sticky tactics to maintain rituals. So again, I think that rituals are something different. But routines themselves are at the heart of what probably makes a series of habits more easily attainable in a morning routine, but they’re also what allows us to be able to be flexible when those things don’t happen. For example, if you’re trying to develop a habit and you miss some component of it One morning, that doesn’t mean that you you lose it because you have the routine as structure for being able to support you going forward. I think

Francis Wade 4:49
you’re I think your definition of a ritual is spot on. That is a deep question that you’re getting at for the reason that were having the podcast is to this particular topic is to discuss why why set up a set of activities that become habits that turn into a ritual and I think the Why is the big sort of question that people come to this with, which is, why should what’s the benefit to me from having a ritual? What purpose Am I trying to serve? And if I am curable, my purpose, then what design rules do I follow in order to achieve the result I want? And I think it takes a certain kind of presence to identify the end result of the routine ahead of time before you’ve achieved it, and say, Okay, let me go, let me know that I’ve settled on what I really want to feel and the state of being I want to accomplish, then how do I design all of the elements, but I think that, that, that knowledge of the, or the awareness or knowledge of the presence that you want to cause for yourself, take some introspection, it takes some thinking, it takes some,

I think it takes some reflection, because if you if you can look back at the past and say, okay, on Mondays, I tend to end up being frazzled on Tuesdays. And I tend to end up being calm on Wednesdays, I tend to end up being energized. And if you kind of look back and say, Well, this is all happening by accident, that’s not by design, then the question is, what how do I want to end up on each given morning? And then how do I accomplish that. So I think the Y is sort of the big question that made people who talk about rituals don’t they had a hint at it, but they don’t help the user or the reader to define their way,

Art Gelwicks 6:54
I hear ritual and I hear routine and I look at it from a slightly more pragmatic position. To me, a ritual is something that is a series of steps that must occur in that sequence to achieve a specific end goal. It could be religious in context, it could be a recipe, I mean, it’s it’s that type of thing that they have to happen in that order. If they don’t, you either can’t achieve the end goal, or it doesn’t have the same significance. So for example,

if you think about the ritual of getting up in the morning, and you get up,

you eat your breakfast, you brush your teeth, you if you change that ritual around. So now you brush your teeth, and then you have your orange juice, bad things happen, if you flip it around, and you have that same ritual, you’re mentally setting yourself into a position a routine, to me are things that happen in a not necessary a specific sequence, but they happen together. So I look at like, for example, going to the gym, there may be a series of exercises that you do, and you want to do, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to do them in a specific order, you might. And if you do them in a specific order, every time that becomes a ritual, because then it doesn’t feel right if you don’t, but if it’s just a routine, it’s just knocking out this group of things at a time to get to that end goal. I just, I feel that routines are a little more forgiving,

but they still need to happen, rituals are much less forgiving, and much more structured, at least that’s my assessment.

Raymond Sidney-Smith 8:46
Yeah, thank you for that both of you. And, and I think it’s good for us to kind of have the listeners know, where we overlap, as well as not overlap, RUN RUN concurrent with with regard to all of these kinds of words, you know, language doesn’t make a difference. And as we talk about these things in the productivity community, not having a central definition of some of these things, actually creates more friction sometimes then, than good. And one of the things that I did want to pay attention to, for us is to is to talk about the benefit or the importance of of routine. And I’m going to stick to the term routine, just so that we’re talking about a sequence of events that we’re doing together, whether or not they are exactly in the same order or not, in deference to your definition, art. And so when we talk about a routines importance, or the benefits you get out of, it really comes down to this you can think about the work you have to do that is unique in a day or in a week or in a year that eventually comes to an outcome would typically what we would call a project, you could talk about a projects outcome and the work that needs to go into that and have really great benefits from that. There’s no question about that. But the reality is, is that what you do every day, the time you spend doing it, and the amount of energy expended doing it is most of your life. So why would you not focus on making the part that is most of your life efficient, enjoyable, seamless, so that you can have more time to do other things have more quality, in terms of the in terms of your relationships, because many times routines are where there’s a lot of friction between relationships in your life, or in relationships in your life. So from my perspective, I really do see routines as being the gel, the glue that fits together our harmonious productive life, all the things that happen in usually your personal life. But I think this probably makes a big difference in professional life as well, especially if you have workplace for teens. But the reality is, is that if you’re going to spend all of that this time doing what you do on a regular basis, you might as well do it really well, what you’re pointing to, is it reduces the sort of the cognitive load of, of trying to achieve a particular state and having to invent how to do that every morning, which is paying fully paid for have to reinvent the wheel every morning, it’s much easier just to rely on muscle memory, you know, until, till almost auto automate the achievement of that particular state using your ritual or your routine,

Francis Wade 11:37
I think it’s almost a as you’re speaking, I was thinking of automating as much as you can, your own activities by turning them into these kind of rituals, routines, and habits and then sort of being sitting outside of it. And being the in no way the puppeteer of your actions each morning. So being the designer behind the actions, then when I wake up in the morning and get into my routine,

Unknown 12:04

Francis Wade 12:05
I don’t really want to think about what I’m doing in the sense that I have to choose, what should I do for what should I, I don’t want to make those choices, they should have been pre made, if it’s a good routine, and all I’m doing is just kind of mindlessly following them in order to achieve some state.

Art Gelwicks 12:25
Yeah, to me, routines are especially the morning routine is the kind of thing that gives you momentum, it gets you as Francis was talking about the muscle memory part kicks in the play. So if you look at it, like an athletic event, it’s the stretching before you actually go do the whatever the running or or jumping or whatever they happen. It whatever it particularly is, for me, it’s it’s a process of doing things that historically have taken the same amount of time an effort repeatedly. So I know exactly when I start the process, it’s going to take X amount of time and X amount of effort to go through and do these things. I don’t have to worry about my own schedule. I know if I do it. And I do it the same way, I’m going to be on schedule, because this is what it’s happened in the past. It also means that I have a certain level of accomplishment at that step. Or at that point in the morning, I have done this much. And I know I’ve done this much because I completed my routine. Without that I’m I have to start to reassess, okay, am I far enough ahead in the day or not

Raymond Sidney-Smith 13:40
yet, both of those make total sense, I think it’s important for us to be able to have skills, practice those skills, and have ready metrics for, for how those are being used in context of time, specifically, but also in terms of actual excellence in achieving those particular pieces, especially as it relates to routine, you know, if you if you are having to, to deplete your willpower, by constantly choosing to brush your teeth first, or to wash your face, it just doesn’t make any sense. It’s just a reason to, to create conflict in your mind early in the morning, when you should be using that energy for creative output for enjoying, you know, being able to be on the planet and other day, that’s just my perspective, I know that other people probably have others. But I really do like the idea of being able to just enjoy the practice of being in the moment,

let’s move on to our our individual morning routines and how they came to be where it was most likely we were all we all develop morning routines as young adults, and they organically developed now that we’re adults, we have probably been running morning routines and made adjustments over time. So I’m curious about what went into your morning routines in the most current iteration, where some of that history came into being, and specifically, what allowed them to be more productive for you is a attention that’s developed over time with respect to my morning routine, which is, on the one hand, it’s when I do I get

Francis Wade 15:27
my best exercise, I don’t exercise really any time other than in the morning, that’s the only window that I have available practically. And then second, it’s also the time when I enter the flow state, the deepest I do my best creative work. So there’s, there’s a, unfortunately that they, they compete for the same block of time between about 5am and abodes 12, about one o’clock, I sort of Renata totally run out of steam. So it’s a, it’s a, it’s a careful dance that I’m sort of trying to orchestrate so that I get my exercise done. And I do my best work between the two. So somebody is like, to Tuesday’s Sunday’s juices. And Sundays are the days that I I most most exercise, so to speak, because I joined a group and I go riding and this one’s starts at 4:30am on the Tuesday at 6pm on a Sunday. And, and these are kind of strenuous rights, they’re not they’re not, they’re not, they’re not casual, you know, beginner, and these are, these are the fast and if you don’t, if you don’t, if you’re not sharp, you’ll get dropped off at the end. And that means riding home in the darker you know, office thing. So you sort of have to be at your best on these rights. So for those two days, I’ve given over to exercise completely but for creative work. So this today is Monday and we’re on our usual Monday creating the podcast call. So Monday mornings, Fridays, some Saturdays, the day is very depending on on on sort of my schedule for the week. But my intention is to to spend either my time either doing lightweights on the other days, or get an or getting into the flow state as deeply as possible for as long as possible to do my best work. So I don’t try. I don’t check email until after lunch. Or I don’t process email until after lunch. I may check if I’m expecting an email that may change the course of the day. But the point is to end up at around one o’clock, sort of physically and mentally depleted, so to speak, where I’ve given my absolute best I’ve been sprinting, either physically sprinting on a bike or running or I’ve been mentally sprinting, because I’ve been doing something creative. My I tried to script my morning sort of very carefully and heavily and, and tried to prevent disruptions and distractions and phone calls, I’ll put them off to the afternoon. I don’t take meetings in the morning, if I can hit pit.

So that’s, that’s that’s sort of the principle I’m sort of trying to get to one o’clock, having done my best work for the day. And all that remains in the afternoon is sort of real, no brain, no effort, naptime and work that makes sense. Yeah,

Raymond Sidney-Smith 18:31
I can see that I can see that so. So I’ve a couple questions. At some point in time, you you likely came to this decision about your morning routine. And I’m curious about when that happened in your world what what kind of what precipitated the decision basically, what precipitated the awareness that that needed to be for you the most productive morning routine.

Francis Wade 18:58
Um, I thought his do triathlons heavily in 97. And that the volume of training meant that I had to be careful about how I spent my my morning time that the afternoon times I was living in Florida at a time. So the afternoons were just too hot and too humid to do very much. So it kind of had to be a morning activity. So that dictated a sort of the request requirement exercise in the morning,

when I learned about the flow state, and started to observe my ability to get into it.

I think, as I reflected on it, it was very rare, very rarely happen in the afternoons, for whatever reason, and I definitely know that night, some other night person, I’m a morning person, for sure. So as I started to learn more about myself, this is maybe the early 2000s, I think, I read the book floor and, and started to incorporate it into my life and started to use the ideas in mid 2000s. And I became very particular about what I needed to put in place to enter the flow state.

And usually not, usually, by the afternoon, if things are going to go wrong, they’re going to manifest somewhere in the mid morning to to maybe lunchtime, and they’re going to manifest in the afternoon as opposed to in the morning. So between five and nine, I can’t be troubled, let’s put it that way, the world cat can’t quite intrude on my floor state, I’m sort of protected, I mean, a little cocoon where no one no one can reach me yet. So that probably happened around then. And over time, it’s become more more it’s become stronger and more definite than I have more sort of routines in place. And I have more

because I become more strict about locking locking into the flow state the overtime so that’s that, that nothing prevents me little prevents me from getting into it, if I really need to get into it. Nothing short of an emergency. So maybe that’s it, those are the timeframes.

Raymond Sidney-Smith 21:12
Thank, you know, I appreciate that. I think it’s good for us all to be aware of when we become aware of these things. And for those of you who are listening, if this is the first time you’re really thinking about a routine, especially in the way in which we have all co defined them both the same and differently, this is the time in your life to really start to think about what are the activities that are your passion, that are things that really define you in the sense that you define you by deciding on what these passions are, and in Francis’s case, it was this physical activity that really drives the rest of your routine or, you know, rounded, it helps you whether it whether it’s distress, prefer, well be excited by life, and that has helped it’s threads them together. And I really like that, I really like that. Thank you.

Art Gelwicks 22:08
Mine is definitely different. And I’m going to move to Jamaica now, because I really like Francis’s

Unknown 22:18
minds, hey, you know, it’s wonderful. It sounds great.

Art Gelwicks 22:24
I would love to spend that much time on my but for me, it’s a different beast. Because of just the nature of my work. Being being a consultant, my time is pretty much constricted by what my client once so I have a very, I don’t want to say very short, I have about an hour window of opportunity that I’ve established at the very beginning of the day between seven and eight o’clock. And that window of opportunity is what I consider my dashboard time I’ve created a routine of change hacking all of the different systems and sets of information that could potentially affect me during the course of the day I do, which is like the cardinal No, no, I actually look at my email quickly during that time period, and see Is there anything on fire otherwise, move on to the next I check my news feeds very quickly, I go through my to do list, I check audit reports, I share all the information that I need. But I don’t take action on any of it. It’s literally just take that time period to go through and understand everything that’s going to potentially impact that day, and all the information that I need. It’s evolved in a weird manner, though, because I used to do it as we’ve talked about in the past. And it really doesn’t, it’s not tool specific.

By going through the course of a day, I found that there’s something that I need to check frequently could be anything could be your bank account. Let’s take that as an example. So you want to check that every day? Well, you get into this habit of checking it sometime during the day. But the days that you forget that for me, that was an issue because I need that piece of information, not because I really need it. But because I feel weird if I don’t have it. I like to know everything that’s going on all the time. So by establishing this block of time in the morning, this basic dashboard time, I take those items like Check, check my bank account and move it into that time window. Because I know it only takes 30 seconds maybe to go through and quick check. But it’s done, it’s accomplished. And I have that information in my head. And I can move forward. So by allocating that block of time, I now can go through the rest of the day, knowing that I don’t need to check all those things. And I can focus on changing and dynamic projects and activities.

Next show when we talk about afternoon routines,

Raymond Sidney-Smith 25:00
no afternoon routine, this is the this is the closest thing I have to a solid fixed, repeatable routine. So my morning routine starts about 6am. And it ends at 815. And that’s it. The rest of it is catches catch can. So I’ll ask you the same question that I asked Francis, which is at what point in your life at some point, you recognize that as a consultant, your your world was controlled by where you need to be on site and that kind of helped you become aware what When did that happen for you? What What was the process maybe that ignited your understanding that that needed to be the case and how you manifested your your routine. Yeah,

Art Gelwicks 25:48
for me, it wasn’t really this grand awareness of all the sudden did I read a book and all the sudden I have a routine it was more a crap, I missed that again, oops, that didn’t get done again. Or this fell through the cracks again. And I needed a way to start to move things together so that they didn’t get missed. And it was truly an evolution far more than it was a realization, I started doing a couple of things at the same time, all the time. And they worked. So I’m like, Okay, well, I’ll do another thing that same time, and I’ll do another thing and it just continued to grow and grow. I don’t recommend that for everybody. Because it can spiral wildly out of control. If you’re not careful, you can try and cram too much in in that that little early time period.

But identifying to me the big thing was identifying a cohesive block of time that I had control over that I knew that then the external impacts on that time, we’re going to be minimal, if any. And because that was for lack of a better term, my time I could decide what fit into that block. And a routine as we talked about earlier, is a sequence of things. It can’t be just one thing, you know, a routine is not one thing or two things. It’s a sequence that has to occur

the term routine, I’m going to revisit it real quick, if you if you ever watched gymnastics, like Olympic Gymnastics, watch the women’s uneven parallel bars, those are called routines, and they are practiced sequences of events that must occur, but they’re different. each person’s routine is different. But they have specific elements that need to happen. That’s the way you should start looking at your own routines, they get to an end result, but they’re a sequence of events that need to happen. And when they’re done, they’re done. And you can move that on. But they also have a fixed time period. And for me, that was the most important thing, excuse me, it needed to start end at a

Raymond Sidney-Smith 28:01
specific time, I’ll give a little background in terms of my own routine, my own morning routine. And, and hopefully this is helpful to folks. Because the way in which I have developed my morning routine is probably a little bit more structured than the average person. And it’s just the way I’m built. So the reality is, is that I made a very conscious decision that when, when I left home, I wanted to start out my world, my, you know, college education, my work life, all of that stuff with some level of control over my mornings, because they were very, very, like a limited amount of time, I didn’t have that much time before I needed to get on the road to drive to and from work in school, because it was a very long drive. And so I had already lost a lot of days just because I had to work and go to school at the same time. And so I was just, I was very prepared for the reality that I needed to get a lot done in a small amount of time. So I was probably forced into making, becoming aware of that reality just because all of a sudden, now I needed to figure out do I brush my teeth before I showed up, brush my teeth in the shower, do I not, you know, all of those kinds of things. So that I was able to have as efficient of a time to getting out the door. And there was no real development of anything new or interesting in my world at that time, because everything else was happening outside of that routine. my morning routine then meant you know, I had to be up at 530, I needed to make sure that I had everything in place the night before. And this really comes to when we talk about the evening routine, how having a strong afternoon evening bedtime routine can really appropriate some of the stress of your morning routine and therefore make it more enjoyable. So I had everything set up the night before, so that everything hygiene wise was basically set up for me ready to go just short of me putting toothpaste on my toothbrush, and everything was pretty much laid out. And that meant my clothes are ready, all of that stuff. So when I got up in the morning, I was able to get up, go for go for a short run. And back then I wasn’t running as much as I do today. So I was just doing a little really quick run that allowed me to quickly shower when I got back and then brush my teeth, shower, shave, get dressed and in essence, run out the door today, my world is is so much different. Because I have so much more control over my time, especially my morning time. And if I’m not presenting, you know, if I’m not doing seminar or workshop, I have control over my mornings in terms of what I want to do. So I decided that I wanted to be able to do things in a particular way to help me grow. So I came up with this whole idea of habit tracking for purposes of developing different kinds of habits. And I call it the Goldilocks zone of habit development, right, which is having not too many and not too few, but just enough to be able to challenge me that is from a skills difficulty perspective. So that I was able to try these different personal development tools and professional development tools. Like I’m, I’m I’m currently learning JavaScript, and I want to be able to, you know, build out my coding skills. And that’s just something I want to do. So I’m doing a little bit of that every morning and my my foreign language skills. So I play the game dual lingo and I use the Mango Languages app. And that allows me to be able to in a few minutes a day, just enjoy the process of exercising languages that I don’t get to use with people in my everyday life. So all of these things are parts of now what I’m going to say is kind of the morning routine. So my morning actually starts with having had Evernote receipt, both my Google Calendar and in an agenda format and emailed into Evernote so that I don’t have to look at my email first thing in the morning to arts mirror image system. I don’t want to see email at all that that early in the morning. So to avoid that I haven’t emailed into Evernote so that I’m able to see my agenda and make changes to that agenda and just look at it make changes and then share that with my assistant so that if something needs to change, it can be done. But at the same time, I don’t need to I don’t need to interact in order for that to be done because it’s just going to be shared the the note the Evernote notice shared with her so that I don’t have to even worry about anything. So I’m able to look at my agenda know what’s going to happen for today. And that really sets the tone for how I’m going to execute my routine. So then I know from there, okay, how much time do I have and what things can actually fit into the course of of my day, kind of going to arts point about not being too structured and too strict about this, I try I try and probably fail at this. But I have a checklist in that Evernote note that I have for my morning routine. And it takes off when things happen. And they don’t always happen in the same order. Because if I’m not home that I’m out on the road, and if I’m at a hotel, then things have to happen differently than if I were at home. And I had everything available to me. So everything’s kind of happening in relation to where I am and what resources I have available to me and how much time I have available. So I have all of the things that are of greatest importance at the top, and then they trail off to the bottom in terms of optional. So if I don’t have enough time, I’m not going to be doing any JavaScript coding. If I have ample time, I might have a little bit more time that I spend practicing and playing dual lingo to practice languages. So it gives me a little bit of expansion and contraction there. So that I’m still getting what I want out of the aggregate weekly. Whereas each day may may be a little bit different. So I hope that makes makes sense. So yeah, so I, I use the I use the morning routine as a way to really fit in both physical and other types of high jeans and then do a little bit of personal development mixed in with it, I wrote an article on Frank books website, Dr. Frank book, and I’ll put a link to this in the show notes. But it’s it’s called a work day in my life with Evernote and I do outline my morning routine there. So if anybody wants to check it out, they can go ahead and and read that article and learn a little bit more about mine specifically,

Art Gelwicks 34:43
you know, just something I want to throw out here real fast. If you listen to our the three of our routines, something that everybody should take away from. The fact is that morning routines are not the type of thing that get included in your annual review at work. These are personal, they should be considered personal, you may have a routine of things that you do at work. But this is truly what makes a difference for you, as an individual, take hold of that fact. And revel in that fact that this is your point of control over how things are working. Because often you don’t have that in other routines that are kind of inflicted upon you. You know, if you look at children, children have a routine that you have to follow with them, or else they wind up wandering around the house with one sock here, you’re more thinking about what’s going to make me more successful at what I’m doing and feel better about what I’m doing. Definitely.

Raymond Sidney-Smith 35:40
And and I wanted to throw out the question what are the what are the things that you think challenge people the most when they approach morning routines? Are there things that people need to watch out for, and what can they do to kind of overcome some of the challenges that you may have faced in the development of your own routines. I think that the

Francis Wade 36:06
there I think it was a point before I realized that I needed to hit a particular kind of state to be productive. So before before, then I would just jump up and do whatever. So this is way back in maybe the early 90s before I started the triathlon stuff. So I didn’t have a demanding workout schedule that I needed to follow in order to produce a result, it was more matter of just responding to whatever happened the day before, and whatever I slept on that night, and I would jump onto the bed and just start whatever exercise I felt like it or work if I felt like it, or there was no sort of design to what I was doing, it was just very random and not well thought through.

And I think the first challenge is, is is a step back challenge, which is, what do I want to where do I want it to what state level want to be in each day each morning,

what’s the end result that I’m trying to accomplish. And I learned a lot of that from triathlon training, because you could easily make a mess of it. And it would mean that you wouldn’t finish a race or you get injured or you get burned out, or they’re all these ways to do it wrong. If you didn’t take care of these multiple parts, multiple sports multiple parts of your life, the rest nutrition, you messed up any of it, then it would, it would, you just wouldn’t accomplish your goals. And it would take months, you know, copy years, maybe sometimes if you’re doing a really long race to build up all of these morning routines into an end result. So I think doing something like that had me think about what if I want to write a book for example, and it’s built up of morning routines, which which mine was that he to be very, very conscious about the activities that was undertaking every morning, including, you know what time I went to bed at night. So part of my successful morning routine is going to bed by a particular time and for example, right know for that Tuesday, right? That I mentioned the one that starts at 430, I have to get up at 320 in order to be on the bag and hammering away with with these folks at 430 in the morning. And that means I need to get to bed bad particular times. I have an alarm on my watch around my phone. Sorry, at it goes off at I think 9pm on Monday night. Which reminds me to get the bed that’s going to go up today is Monday it’s going to go off tonight that remind me to get the bed just in case I get distracted doing something or watching something on TV and lose track of time. It reminds me that I know into that danger zone that if I spend too much time awake and not sleeping, when I wake up the following morning, I’m going to have a disastrous right and that’s just not on for me. So there’s that that thinking about what you want, and then translating it into behavior. I think the biggest challenge is sort of connecting the dots. And for the four years, I never connected the dots. It wasn’t until I guess I had some consequences visit me that I realized that if I wanted to accomplish these long term goals that I needed to put in place these routines and execute them faithfully and that they worked. But for me, it was all trial and error. I think for most people can listen listening to our podcast and benefit from the mistakes that that that I’ve made, or that we’ve made. I think that that challenge is connecting the dots. That’s how I phrase it. I guess

Art Gelwicks 39:38
I agree with Francis it’s definitely a connect the dots type of thing, figuring out what fits into your routines. I think the one thing that has been my biggest stumbling block is incorporating steps into my routine that do not have clear durations. So for example, incorporating checking the news on my phone, while I drink my coffee in the morning

initially was not a good step in my routine. I did it I had it. But it could easily spiral out of control until I reversed the thinking around it. And that was I now allow myself to check my news as long as my coffee last. But once my coffee is done, the news is done. And I move on from there, that kind of fixed parameters around giving the routine rails failing to do that has been a consistent stumbling block on anything that I tried to put into a routine,

I have to recommend to anybody, if you’re going to try and establish routines, make sure you do that. Make sure you know how long things are going to take. And don’t put things in there that are going to scale up. I mean, if I had to give a hard number it individually, things really shouldn’t be more than like 10 minutes, they’ve got to be if it’s a bigger thing, you can break it down into smaller items. But you should be able to feel those steps being taken that not doing that has been re currently what has derailed my morning routine. Yeah, I

Raymond Sidney-Smith 41:18
would I would add to that art that you have some kind of quick or immediate feedback loop as it relates to whatever that thing is that you’re doing. You should be able to know that you completed some portion of it and know how well you did it almost immediately, you should be able to brush your teeth, and then be able to know that you brush your teeth. Well, you know, go go kiss your spouse or partner.

Art Gelwicks 41:43
You’re right. That feedback loop is critical. And even if it’s your own, even if it’s like, Yes, I got the information I need move it on that it could be something as simple as putting all the items in your routine and a checklist and being able to check that box. That might be your feedback loop. That’s what I have. And it gives me that opportunity. You say, Yep, I did it or no crap, I didn’t do it. And then you can move on from there. But you’re right, you’ve got to have this is where truly trusting your system can make all the difference in the world. Because if you’re having to think about working your routine, then you’re just working.

Unknown 42:17
And the challenge

Unknown 42:19
is, as

Francis Wade 42:20
you mentioned, one traveling is a is a major major disrupter. And when I travel my routine, if I’m not very careful and very aware, minute routine goes the heck moving is another one if you move house survival lots of times over the years. And it takes big time discipline to re establish a routine because a lot of what I’ve discovered is not a lot of my routine depends on sort of physical activity, how I get out of the band, what I do first, what I do second, where the location of those of those items or tasks are done, because my body moves sort of along a groove early in the morning. And when I move it doesn’t follow the same groove. And it takes a month, two months, three months for me to re establish a new groove so that the behaviors and the routine can reestablish itself. So there’s, there’s that there’s sort of a grace period, I guess I have started to give myself that I’m traveling to know that my routine is probably going to fall apart. And if I move, it’s going to take a month, two months before I get into a new set of physical motions that then trigger the right behaviors that then trigger the end state that I want to accomplish. I think that’s useful to know what people that so that they didn’t have to hide himself when their routine changes. And they don’t know why they’re not as productive as they were before.

Raymond Sidney-Smith 43:57
I couldn’t agree more that that travel for most people is going to be disruptive. And it is for me, and it is actually something that I don’t like about my work.

It’s it’s something that I do, because I I love what I do. But the reality is, is that that having to be away from home constantly going from one location to another does create its own productivity disabling and the reality is, is that it’s a it’s a lot of time and energy that has to be spent making sure that I can still be productive in transit. And then in different environments, where my brain typically wants the same location to do the same types of things. And that may not be the case from a week to week basis. And so it’s very difficult for me, the reality is, is that you need to create your own space, wherever you are, to be able to give yourself as many of the same features, the same clues that what you’re working on is in the same type of space, categorically speaking, as opposed to the same exact location with the same exact resources at all at all times. Because it’s just not not possible. So as it relates to your routine, I would say some of the challenges that I that I’ve faced over time was trying to do all of the personal hygiene things at one point in time. And then realizing that that didn’t quite work out as best as I wanted them to. So for example, I wanted to be able to get up, drink a glass of water, brush my teeth, wash my face, take a shower, all of that stuff all at one time. And what I realized was that one, it was kind of out of sequence to what was necessary for my own well being. So I realized that I needed to brush my teeth after I ate my breakfast. And that way by wasn’t walking out the house with little bits of things in my in still in my mouth, that really disrupted my whole world. Because I was like, Well, no, I get up in the morning. And then I do all these things all together and was really efficient, but actually lacked effectiveness. So understanding that some things are out of sequence, by virtue of you not thinking about doing them efficiently. And some of those things are going to have to be out of the sequence you want them to be because of just good practice, right? What, what’s best for you. So you need to kind of give some thought there to where do you feel pain points, because things are just not working the way they they should be. And that’s where you can really find the greatest benefit. And again, as we said, at the top of the show, most of that’s probably going to be based on your conflicts with other people if you live with other people. But then if that’s not the case, then think about the things that frustrates you about your morning. And those are probably the low hanging fruit for you to be able to somehow remaster to be better for you in your routine to just build a better routine, then start to look at the way in which things are sequenced, and whether or not that’s the best are using the best tools, right? Are you know, are you using the best toothbrush? You know, are you using the best toothpaste, all of those things level up your game as it relates to those things. I know I keep talking about brushing your teeth and dental practice. But it’s just the thing that comes to mind when I think about morning routines. But I’m is this goes across the board, right, every part of your morning, start to think about what are the skills necessary to do it best. That way, you can just do it better, you don’t have to do it best, you could just do it better. And therefore you’re choosing the right things to do in the right sequence. And that’s going to naturally make you do a little bit of research. And in that research process, you’re going to learn Okay, well, actually, I’m supposed to do this, before I do that, or you know what, it would be really helpful if I did this. At this time, I could be listening to an audio book while I’m on the recording stationary bicycle in the morning, or while I can listen to this podcast while I’m on the treadmill at the gym, these these are things that you can start to kind of fit together like a little puzzle that eventually creates a picture that seems cohesive and consistent for your life. Because it’s art said, this is really all about you having it this is your life, it’s your opportunity to take control over that space. And if you’re going to do it every day, if you’re going to have to experience this every day. It should be a picture that you like that you enjoy.

Art Gelwicks 48:35
I’d be curious to hear anybody who listens to this if they’d be willing to share their routines in the comments. routines are such a personal thing that we can all learn from each other’s routines, so couldn’t agree more.

Raymond Sidney-Smith 48:49
So with that this is going to wrap up this episode of productivity cast if you have a question or comment about this cast, or if you’d like to share your productivity routine. As art said, please do free to if you’re listening from anywhere other than the podcast website, please head over to the website at productivity cast dot net there at the bottom of the page, you can leave a comment or question one of us will be glad to respond. You can also send us a private message by clicking on the Contact link on productivity cast. NET while they’re at productivity cast dot net, you’ll also find our show notes. So the links to anything that we mentioned here during the episode are there you can easily jump to those links. And you can also learn to subscribe to the podcast on the website. If you’re not already a subscriber thanks to Francis and art for joining me here on this cast. Also, if you’d like please leave a rating and review there on iTunes or Stitcher or wherever you might be listening to us. Just for the kudos, we like to. We like to know that you’re listening and to help us grow our personal productivity listening community. And so thank you. Thank you for listening. Thank you for subscribing. That brings us out to the close of this episode of productivity cast, the weekly show about all things personal productivity, I’m Ray Sidney-Smith with Francis Wade and Art Gelwicks. Here’s to your productive life.

Voiceover Artist 50:04
And that’s it for this productivity. Cast. The weekly show about all things productivity with your hosts Ray Sidney-Smith and Augusto Pinaud with Francis Wade and Art Gelwicks.


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