My exact morning routine to win the day

First off, GREAT news about our next Unicorn Society Retreat…

Would it sweeten the deal to know my dear pal Luka Hocevar is going to be a guest speaker at next Unicorn Society retreat on Fri June 17th – Sat Jun 18th? 😉

Come spend time with your BFU brethren enjoying business breakthroughs over a summer weekend in Portland, OR. 

Early bird pricing ends Sunday. Two spots left as of this email. Hit me back and I’ll give you deets!

Now as long time readers know, I take both education AND time management very seriously. And while I’m forever tinkering with my exact schedule, I thought it may be of interest to share what I’m doing now as it’s working really damn well for me.

Because if you win your morning, you massively increase the odds of winning your day.

And since I assume only a handful of you are perversely interested in the minutiae, here some immediately actionable potential takeaways:

  • Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day is one of the most important things you can do for your energy levels and sense of well-being.
  • If you struggle to meditate, give vedic (or transcendental) meditation a shot. It was the first practice that clicked for me. It’s had a massively positive impact on my resilience to stress.
  • Drink lots of water in the first 30-60 minutes of being awake. Even slight dehydration can impact mental and physical performance. Bonus points for adding a greens formula.
  • If you struggle with reading, consider listening to the audiobook version while reading the physical book at the same time.
  • Take a few minutes to brainstorm all the things going well in your life before you dive into work. This will get you bursting with positive energy.
  • Going at your day in a random fashion without a plan is not good.
  • Getting overly precious and rigid in your routine is also not good.

NOTE: I believe the principles above are important. However, I’m not offering the specific applications below as prescriptive. I’m comfortable with a level of structure and consistency that borders on Christian-Bale-in-American-Psycho-y. Based on your current personal or professional situation this level of rigor or sheer time commitment may not even be an option. But you may see some details below that inspire exploration.

So without further ado…

Mark’s Morning

Wake Up: I’m currently getting up around 600am – 645am. I set the alarm for 645am just in case, but usually wake up a bit earlier on my own. 

One of the BEST things I have ever done for my mindset, energy levels, and wellbeing is get consistent about waking up the same time every single day. I still sleep in a bit on the weekend sometimes, but more often than not I’m up at the same time. 

Meditate: I practice something called “vedic meditation,” which is essentially a form of transcendental meditation. The practice calls for 20 of sitting with your spine supported and head free. Notably, you don’t try to “stop your thoughts.” Instead you drop into a state of deep relaxation while gently bringing your awareness to a mantra. 

The practice calls for two “sits” a day of 20 minutes each. While I rarely ever miss a day, I don’t always do 20 minutes. I will also occasionally do it in the afternoon if my morning is particularly slammed. I’ve been doing this for years and it’s been invaluable for shaving off a handful of unnecessary f*cks given.

Coffee, Greens, Water: I’m pretty hardcore about lubricating my morning, literally and figuratively. The night before I set up my coffee (mug, grinds, scale, filter, etc.), greens cup, and water bottle in the exact same carefully chosen spots the night before. This allows me to minimize any extra movement. 

Over the course of the rest of my morning routine, I’ll finish 12 ounces of greens drink, 24-36 ounces of water, and two to three small (4 oz) cups of coffee. As an example of class Mark Fisher Quirk™, I drink my baby coffee cups out espresso mugs.

Reading/ Audiobooking: Once I’m settled into my reading nook in my office, I’ll spend 25-45 minutes reading. 

When there’s an audio version available, I listen to the audiobook while also reading it at the same time. This has been a real gamechanger. I’m not usually a very fast reader, and I’ve been finding this practice has allowed me to focus even more deeply on the book at hand. Depending on the book, the speed varies wildly: as low as 1.2x for denser materials, and as high as 3x if I want to “skim.” On average, 1.8x is my sweetspot.

If I catch my brain wandering, I welcome it. I often think of unrelated ideas or ways to apply what I’m reading. When that happens, I simply pause the audiobook. When appropriate, I make a note for an action step to be done later. When I’m ready to dive back in, I rewind 30-90 seconds as needed.

  • I usually start with at least 15-20 minutes of personal development. Examples here include: The Compound Effect, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, The Gap and the Gain, and The One Thing. I start the day by reflecting on how I want to show up in the world, my personal values, my commitment to service, etc.
  • After that, I’ll spend 15-20 minutes reading/ listening to something more focused on skillset development. Specifically, leadership/ management, finance, or marketing.

60-70% of my reading is re-reads of books I’ve already read that I want to review.

Affirmations/ Gratitude Journal: This has been a habit I’ve long considered, but just couldn’t get into it. The past few years I’ve gotten very consistent and I really do think it’s been valuable to get my mind right. I’m usually already feeling pretty inspired from my reading; and slightly high from my morning coffee. I sit down at my desk, I read my affirmations out loud, I visualize specific elements of the life I’m creating. I take a few minutes to write dow things I’m grateful for. I always start by writing out one thing I value and appreciate about my wife.

By this point, I’m bursting with positive energy to take into my morning work.

Key Priority/ High Impact Tasks and Projects: I’m usually done with my morning ritual by 800a. After a quick review of business dashboards and my personal health habits KPI tracker, I launch into a few 30-45 minute modules of high impact project work. 

These are high priority tasks that are uniquely important to move my professional balls forward. They can vary from working on presentations, preparing for a team meeting, writing marketing emails, reviewing/ creating forecasts, or any number of high impact projects. The key determinant of what I choose to work on is that it must be 1) high value and 2) cognitively demanding. I start the day crisp and I end the day crispy. So I’m intentional about the time of day I schedule a given task or project. 

This part of my day usually lasts till 930a. This is when I’ll inbox zero, and if time, check in on the MFF and BFU Facebook groups.

Quick Hits About the Rest of My Day During the Week:

  • Food: I usually eat yogurt and berries around 10am, before heading off to the gym for a mid-morning workout. I also tend to eat the same lunch and afternoon meal pretty much every day, with dinner seeing a bit more variance.
  • Training: I strength train about 3-4 days per week, with 2-3 additional cardio workouts. I take one morning off per week, but try to be active every day..
  • Podcasts: During my workouts I listen to podcasts, usually about the business of fitness. I find these easier to digest than audiobooks, which I now reserve for my morning reading time. Although the podcasts vary in quality and relevancy, I listen to pretty much every fitness business podcast. Most can be easily digested at 2x speed.
  • Breaktime: 12-130 is low energy, recharging time. This is when I cook and eat my breakfast (usually while doing some education). I pretty much eat the same breakfast every day (eggs, vegetables, yogurt, fruit, and a slice of Ezekiel bread). This is usually when I take a shower. I’ve been ending my showers with ice cold water at the end.
  • Afternoons: 130-530p is for meetings and calls with my team and clients, random work tasks, and keeping up with emails. I’ll occasionally sneak in another 15-30 minute block of reading/ listening. I try not to do back to back meetings when I can avoid it. I take meetings in 25 and 45 minute increments so I have “catch up” time in case meetings run a bit late and so I can catch up on some to dos as they come up. I also walk on my desk treadmill for many of these meetings. This increases my total activity and helps hit my daily step count target of 10k per day.
  • Ending the Day: Depending on the day, I usually need 30-90 minutes to clean out my inbox, take action on small to do items that came up during my calls and meetings, and plan out tomorrow’s schedule.
  • Unwinding: Then it’s time to unwind with my wife and dog before getting into bed around 830p- 930p to read for a bit. I mostly read literature or hard science fiction books at this time of day.

As always, you’re the person that knows your life best. This is NOT meant to be prescriptive, merely to give you ideas to experiment with.

In fact, be careful of getting overly rigid/ inflexible. That can be as much of a trap as being completely reactive.

I encourage you to play with your routine over time. Discard what doesn’t work. Test out new stuff, not only to improve your routine, but to keep it fresh and “alive.”