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The Miracle of a Morning Routine

_patrickgod profile image Patrick God Originally published at patrickgod.com on ・3 min read

New year, new resolutions. No time seems to be better to build new habits. A habit I always wanted to start in my life was getting up early or earlier and creating a morning routine. And it really did improve my life. Here’s why.

Most of us coders seem to be night owls. But I figured that many famous and successful people get up quite early in the morning. You can even read of times like 4:30! Crazy.

Since I have to be in the office somewhere between 9 o’clock and 9:30, I usually got up at around 8. Stressful bathroom stay, getting dressed, making some – if any – breakfast and getting out of the house. Sounds familiar?

Needless to say that with a start in the day like that, you arrive in the office very stressed.

Quite often I came across the idea of the early bird. Like Benjamin Franklin said:

“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”

But is this really true?

As a software developer who can’t stop coding in his spare time, I always struggled with my side projects. You know the drill. Work, housework, friends, family, exercise, grocery shopping, all that stuff has to be done and then you also want to find the time for your side projects. Not to mention other hobbies like playing video games for instance.

I tried different ways. Adding one or two hours after work when there was an open window, doing many hours on the weekends, but in the long run, this was not fulfilling and did not really work out. The breaks between these hours have been too long. Then I came across the idea of spending only 30 minutes for your side projects – but every single day, or at least on workdays.

That was something I wanted to give a try. And I tried to spend these 30 minutes in the evenings after work, with no success. I was either too tired, or I came home too late, or there was something else going on or I just wanted to spend some time with my fiancée.

After that, I found this book: The Miracle Morning. And it hit me. I always wanted to try getting up early and implement some kind of morning routine into my life. The content of the book promises to transform your life with the help of the magical time before 8 am. So I tried that.

Believe me, getting up early when you’re not used to it is very hard. But I figured it’s crucial to know the right reason why you want to get up. When you know that, it’s a lot easier. And when your side projects are important to you and if working on them makes you happy, you will get up early.

You get quiet time for yourself. It’s amazing when (almost) everyone else is sleeping and you can focus on yourself and whatever you want to do or create (like this article here for instance).

Even better, now it’s not only 30 minutes. It’s more than an hour I really enjoy to get up early. Of course, the downside is, that you have to go to bed earlier, too. But somehow, it works. And honestly, is it really a downside to got to bed early? Usually, I’m not productive anyways and burn my time by watching TV which doesn’t benefit me in any way. It is a miracle.

So maybe, if you still need a New Year’s resolution, try to get up earlier. Maybe just 15 minutes for starters. And you could also try to implement some kind of morning routine into your life. Grab a cup of coffee or tea and write a line of code, 100 words for a blog post or play a video game for God’s sake if that’s what your missing in your daily life. The morning is perfect to do the things you’re otherwise missing out in your life.

Happy New Year!

The post The Miracle of a Morning Routine appeared first on Patrick's blog.


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Patrick God

@_patrickgod

Into code as long as I can remember. First games, then web, now both. Located in the sweet Taunus-region in Germany. Always eager to learn, create and teach something new.

Discussion

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I've always been a morning person and since leaving dev in my career behind and moving to enterprise architecture I've spent my mornings working on all of my side projects. My routine sounds pretty brutal but I have a hectic life during the day and a family I would like to spend time with when they are awake and I'm home from work.

Here's a quick run down of my typical day:

3:30 - 4am wake up
4:15 - begin some coding while eating breakfast and drinking coffee. Catch up on dev.to and news between.
5:40 - Prepare notes for gym
6:00 - Gym
7:00 - Home for 2nd breakfast
7:30- Commute to work
8:05 - Working day begins
16:30 - Time to come home
17:20 - Home
17:30 - Meal prep and eat
19:00 - Daughter bed time
20:00 - Bed and browsing
21:30 - Sleep

I typically get between 5 and 6.5 hours sleep. I'm perfectly functional at this time and it's just something I've always done.

During my lunch, commute to and from work as well as whilst sat in bed I'm generally reading up on code articles / reference docs / Twitter etc to keep feeding my knowledge ready for my hour and half code time in the morning. I stick to this routine pretty religious. Im pretty deep into the gym lifestyle too so some days I'll switch my coding for a long walk (10k steps) for low intensity cardio which is a great refreshing time to read up some more on all my typical Dev outlets.

You can get a hell of a lot of work done in the mornings. Regardless to how tired you feel. I've found this routine has actually got my mind active and primed ready for work.

It's also worth noting there is a big difference between coding after work late at night as opposed to waking up early to do it. There is a loss of clarity in the former method, I used to do it a lot. However since life being more complex and wanting to keep my evenings free for family I've found a real good balance by waking early and having some time to better myself.

 

Wow, thank you very much for your post and sharing your schedule. Really inspiring how one can organize a day. You have all my respect. ;)

 

This is a very good write up!

I tried this a year or so ago. I would wake up at 4:30am and sleep around 8:30-9:30pm. It was amazing. I was just playing with the idea so I wasn't committed, I spend most of the time out running or gym. Now I want to do it again, this time do other things with the time before everyone wakes up.

After reading your post, shortly after you might have posted it, I started reading - and finished - the book you mention. My god it was rubbish! It felt as though the guy was only interested in selling his "free" content of his blog (our time, to sign up to the free stuff isn't free)

Anyway, as so often with self help books, a well written post would do.

 

Thanks Aurel, and sorry to hear the book wasn't for you. Sometimes the core message of a book can be sufficient to put someone in the right direction, I guess. :)

And I agree, sometimes a single blogpost is all you need.

 

The world would be boring if we all liked the same stuff.

Anyway. I'm glad to report that since reading this post I've become a morning person!

Honestly. I now wake up at 4:30am. Sleep no later than 8pm.

What I did the first day was what I did all the time, the bathroom stuff then checked my internet feeds with a coffee.

I noticed that that take so much time. And at the end I achieve nothing.

Now, by 4:40 I'm sat in my kitchen table with a cup of coffee writing. I start with "idea vomit" where I just try to come up with app ideas. Then I write in my journal. Then check the web for a bit, then hit the gym. But I want to refine it so that I'm working on personal projects first thing.

Wow, that was really fast. Congratulations! :)

I think this is a start for a greater transformation. 4:30am is really an impressive time to get up.

As you mentioned, in the morning you notice how much time certain things take. It's easy to burn your time by watching TV in the evening for four hours. But you won't get up early many times to just check some feeds, I guess. The morning is precious. And that's why you'll rather be productive then.

 

+1 to "Anyway, as so often with self help books, a well written post would do"

I often find that youtube video summaries of short non-fiction self-help books are just as effective. For example the youtube channel 2000 books

 

I started doing this a few months ago. I get so much more now - particularly my personal projects, and I'm ready to go by the time I get to the work. Probably because my morning coffee has had enough time to do its magic ;)

 
 

Im a firm believer- 5:15 the alarm is buzzing, very chill morning routine!

 

When I see this kind of posts, I feel weird. Lots of people seem to be liking this way of life.

To me, it just sounds like something I'll never be able to so, also because I think it's something I'll never want to do. Am I the only one ?😅

 

Each person has his own schedule, I think that more important that "following the right schedule" is to respect your body needs.

I'm at the other side of the spectrum, I used to get sleep past 11:00 each day when I was young and free of responsibilities xD

For me there's something magical on staying after midnight.

 
 

My issue with waking up early (apart of how hard it is) is that when I had some free time before I go to work I get so absorbed on what I'm doing that I can't leave it. When I code or play before going to work I always end up loosing the train and end up more stressed up. I just don't want that flow to end and always squish 5 more minutes that I should.

I finally found what works for me, I moved far away from the city, now I have 1h+ commuting time most of it on train so I can just code or play there. There's no 5 more minutes, when train arrives to my station I have to get down.

Following @imthedeveloper my schedule is

8:00 - wake up & shower
8:55 - drive to train station (time to add tasks for the day talking to the phone)
9:15 - train picks me up (time to code or play)
10:15 - working day
14:00 - launch time
19:15 - train back to home (time to read or organize my life)
20:15 - drive to home (nice moment to think about the day)
20:30 - home

Then I play with my kid and/or watch TV until dinner is ready (wife is chef, she won't let me cook), we usually go to bed at midnight.

If I'm specially fresh I might play or do something else until 1am or 2am but usually I need 8 hours sleep, I used to sleep 10+ hours when I was unemployed so that's it for me.

I'm in Spain anyway, here the schedule is delayed from north Europe or EEUU a few hours.

 

I have started doing that for a few months, becouse of my dissertation and project related to it and now I am pretty close to the finish. So it really works, but I have still some problems with trully morning routine like everyday meditation or journaling, but I think that with every day I do it better. Quite helpful for me was Tim Ferris post and podcast about morning routines.

 

Thanks for sharing and for the link to the podcast! Really helpful. :)

 

You feel like you needed a post only when you read it. Thank you!

 
 

I am thinking about that for a while. Mayby your post will be the thing that push me to take this into an action :)

 

I hope so. Good luck! :)

 

When I was little I had a book that paraphrased the quote slightly...

Early to bed and early to rise
makes you feel stupid and gives you red eyes!

This is quite interesting. I did go through a period of waking up early, but it helped to have the morning sun blissfully streaming onto my bed each morning. I wonder if you have been doing this long enough to know whether this routine is easy to implement during winter, when it doesn't get light until late in the morning?

 

Hi! My wife just asked what I am smiling at. It's amazing how I have identified mysel while reading the "struggled" and "not fulfilling" words from this post.

I'm implementing this morning routine planning into my life right now. I used to wake up at 5am already but have had a hard time trying to put a good and productive set of habits onto it. E-mail and WhatsApp used to bug me, but no more. Then it was Twitter.

Now I'm training to wake up earlier and get used to 4:30am. Wake up, bathroom and breakfast until 5am. Then, one hour and a half of full concentration work! I'm very excited to try it tomorrow morning! I'm planning a Udemy course I'll offer (Algorithms and Data Structures, in brazilian Portuguese) and it seems early mornings are a perfect time for recording!

Thank you, Patrick for the inspiring post and for the book recommendation (just bought it).

 

Hey Marcelo,

Thanks for your reply. This, in turn, put a smile on my face. ;)

How does your "new" routine work so far?

And good luck with the Udemy course. If you need any help with that, feel free to ask. I also published some courses on Udemy (here's my profile).

Take care,
Patrick

 

Hi, Patrick!

I've been kind of successful with my morning routine. Following the Miracle Morning advice, I'm still experimenting with different schedules, trying to find the best match to my daughter's school time, which tasks give best results and so on...

For 3 days a week I have spare 90 minutes between 5pm and 7pm when I do a role "alt-tab" from developer to professor. I'm currently testing if this could be a better time for watching code along Udemy classes (I'm learning React right now). Early mornings seem to benefit my programming side projects more, although I get a little upset when the time slot runs out (that is why I hate Pomodoros, they interrupt the flow state).

[ ]s

 

Great post, I cannot agree more! As a senior in high school with has a software development job, soccer, and other school clubs, it can be hard to find time during the week for my freelance and side projects. I recently started getting up at 4 AM so I have two extra hours of work before my usual 6 AM for class. I get extremely tired around 9PM, which I like a lot more than being up past midnight.

 

It is very nice, but respecting your circadian rythm is extremely important not only for focus but for health. And science seems to point that some are morning people and some are evening people, and there is nothing to do about it.
Of course we can make an effort but it's bad in the long run. The job life is unfortunately made by and for the early birds, as the evening owls would require to start later. I would definitely not recommend waking up even earlier if it goes against your natural rythm.

 

I have found I am happiest at 6am! Starting that early gives me time to sip coffee and do my morning devotional (and take my time about it) at the breakfast bar, in the quiet, dark seclusion of the morning hours. I usually open the blinds to watch the sunrise, which is a bonus.

Then I spend 30 minutes to an hour doing some independent study - currently studying SQL, linear algebra, and C - and then by 8am I'm relaxed, awake, and ready for my day!

 

This is just great, I'm always struggling with the fact of getting up early. I wake up at 6am most of the days, but to complete everything I should get up by 4 am. As you said most of us are really used to be owls, so the first thing is to learn to go to sleep early.

 

I've never been able to get into a routine for more than a few days to a week at a time. I wish I could, but transitioning between sleep/wake states is very difficult... haven't been able to master it in nearly 39 years of life so far.

I speculate that the optimal schedule for me is a 36-hr day: 24 hours awake, 12 hours asleep. That's not compatible with my work or family, though. So what normally happens is I get ~6 hrs sleep most nights and then crash early one night during the week for 10-12 hrs sleep.

 

Baby wakes up at 5 and she's really "nice" since she will drink her milk and play mostly alone during the first hours, so I will give a try to this morning routine. Right now, after having a baby, I feel like I have no more free time at all, trying to keep the "single" life and failing completely.

 

I keep my fingers crossed. But don't pressure yourself. Even 15 free minutes can make a big difference.

And congrats on the baby! :)

 
 

Thank you. Very helpful article.

 

Thanks! Glad you like it. :)

 

Very motivational!, this is one of my 2018 resolutions, it's not easy, but is a really fun challenge when you do thing you like in the morning (like code :) )

Thanks for write this.

 

Great article. I have been trying to get up early and go for run by the water near by. I did it couple of times in past weeks and definitely one of the best thing I could have done.

 

Hey, Thanks!
Glad it works out for you! It takes a whole lot of discipline to go for a run early in the morning. Keep it up! :)

 

Interesting article, starting something like that would be extremely hard for me due to the fact that I was a hardcore gamer for over 10 years... night was my day. I will give it a try, thanks!

 

I do this. I get up at 6 am and while the family is still sleeping it's really the only time I have to myself. Though I just finished a side project and I'm not sure what to start on next.

 

Finished the book this weekend and I'm on Day 2 of practicing Life SAVERs!