Free Agents 61: The Morning Routine

Mike, just listened and I couldn’t help but think of my own origin story. In the early 90s, I got swept up in a downsizing exercise and found myself looking for a new job and I got offered a contract instead. I was on that contract for 18 months, went back to being an employee for a while and then returned to Free Agency in 95 and have never looked back.

At the time of my first contract, most people I met that were independent ended up that way not necessarily by choice but once getting over the initial hurdle, most would never go back.

Wishing you best of luck on this new phase of your work life, welcome to the Dark Side

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I really liked the discussion of morning routines. Since we were invited to share, mine looks something like this:

  1. Get up
  2. Exercise
  3. Shower
  4. Breakfast
  5. Leave for work (yes, I’m still working for the man every day).

My problem is not that I don’t do these things; it’s other, extraneous things infiltrating my morning activities. Email, diddling around on the internet (including and other distractions. This sometimes turns a routine I should easily be able to get through in less than two hours into more than three. In order to get a good start to the day I need to be more disciplined at keeping those distracting activities out.

@mikeschmitz, best of luck in the next phase of your Free Agents journey!

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Very much enjoyed this episode.

@mikeschmitz - your current situation brought back A LOT of memories for me. There was the time…

  1. When the provincial government cut our non-profit funding (addictions counseling), and we all had to go from full-time --> part-time. I agreed to leave - allowing my colleagues to stay on full-time, and move to the same city where my then girlfriend (now wife) lives. Those challenging times led to my marriage, fatherhood and other good stuff.

  2. When the maternity leave position I was occupying came to an end. I was out of work, but that led to a contract and ultimately the courage to open my private counseling practice:

I can go on and on. It’s a rollercoaster ride, but I prefer the anxious bumps vs the alternative.

As an observant Jew, I’m emotionally drawn to your project. Wishing you the best of luck (Mazel tov) with it.

I honestly don’t know what the relationship between religion and productivity is.

Thanks @ChrisUpchurch! Re: your comment about still working for the man, that’s completely fine! I think it’s really interesting how many Free Agents listeners don’t consider themselves “real Free Agents” - something David and I have been talking about as we consider the next year.

Exciting times, stay tuned :wink:

@Avrum it’s quite a ride to be sure :slight_smile: As one of my mentors told me one time, “life has a way of kicking you out of the nest.”

Appreciate the interest in the project and the kind words!

For some people, religion has nothing to do the productivity. For myself, religion has everything to do with productivity - it’s the spiritual “why” behind all the productivity things. 2 very different approaches, both completely valid.

My course is definitely not for the former, and that’s ok. There’s lots of other stuff out there to serve that group well.


Great pod, I have a slightly different way of handling my morning routine as a free agent. Due to my current situation, I am the logistics parent for our 3 kids, I run 3 morning routines; the pre kids getting up routine, the getting kids ready and to school routine & the post kids drop off routine, breaking my responsibilities down this way has really helped me achieve more each day, the last routine actually doesn’t stop in the morning, it keeps going till school pick up. I also have a list of things I need to accomplish on the day, things like my run or gym session, paying bills and other logisitics, these can be morning or in my day tasks, so they are items I tick off at some stage in the day.

My pre kids getting up routine is pretty simple; get organised and get at least an hours work done on my Frog(s)
The kids one is more time based, it takes me 90 minutes to get them fed, lunches made, rooms tidy etc and I have a checklist per child, age specific and most of it is check ins.
My post 9am routine is my bread and butter and is heavily scheduled to what is required to be done on that day & depending upon the number of interruptions or new work I get to some of my daily tasks. I wrap up at 3pm generally before collecting kids, activity time and making dinner.

  1. Get up 5am.
    1 8 oz glass water.
  2. Read 1 page of “Disipline Equals Freedom: field manual” by jocko willink, I read one silently then the same one out loud for emphasis.
  3. Journal 10 minutes. In Day One.
  4. Meditation using Calm. 10-15 min

I check off these 4 big things using Streaks on iPhone. If I can do these 4 things before my 18 month son starts screaming bloody murder it’s a great day. I’m 28 days straight using Calm for meditation. Using this routine has really helped me with angst, anxiety and focus. I’ve found if I get up before he gets up I’ve won the day. I used to just lie in bed and let the day come to me and that never went in my favor. I never left the house on time, prepared or focused to do anything constructive.

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Do drinking water, going to the bathroom, and taking a shower really count as a “morning routine?” My kids do that without thinking. It seems rather silly.

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It depends. I forget the statistic, but many people (myself included) don’t drink enough water and that does have a very real impact on your productivity. So I’d argue that drinking a large bottle of water at the beginning of your day (especially if it’s not something you’d normally do) should count.

The other thing to consider is that a routine consists of the things that you normally do. So recognizing what you do can be valuable if you want to make changes.

But there is obviously a point of diminishing returns. I don’t need to put “use the bathroom” or “take a shower” on my task list for the day, that’s for sure :wink:

I would say it depends on your situation. If you are not in the habit of drinking enough water that can be an important part of building a new habit. If, like us, you are on a very low volume well, in the middle of a major drought with no option to get water other than by hauling it in a tank from town if the well goes dry, then scheduling showers is a necessity. We are currently watering 129 sheep, 4 dogs, 2 horses and 2 humans from a well that may or may not support that use for very long. So we don’t flush toilets unless necessary and limit the showers. Many other water saving things we do are second nature since we’ve been on low volume wells for decades but the extreme drought has impacted us in many ways.

I look at the “Morning Routine” as the habits you are either doing or want to do because evaluating your regular actions, however insignificant and tiny, can prove enlightening.

FWIW my Morning Routine this time of year consists of starting coffee, making my breakfast, turning on my main computer and checking the weather, checking my calendar, checking my task list and then reading news and forums like this one. Outside chores are next then in for my regular work day.

During lambing my morning routine is get up, get dressed in waterproof pants over the top of my regular ones, grab the lamb bag and head out to check for new lambs as oon as it’s light enough to see. Then once the morning lambs are dealt with I come in and do the make coffee eat something and then depending on what the morning cehck was like head back out to check sheep again. Checking sheep can be as simple as nothing (no new lambs), tagging and weighing and entering lambs into LambTracker or full on ovine midwife taks for a ewe having problems. I never know until I get out in the field what I will be doing or how long it will take.

Morning routines change during other times of the year too based on farm activities but those 2 are the biggest differences in the routines I have.

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Enjoyed this episode. That said, I’ve never found a morning routine that works for me as well as getting enough sleep. If I have a long day, I’m better off waking up at 7 than waking up at 6 and doing an hour of other things, no matter how valuable they are. I of course get back to the routine when I’m rested again.

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