Living my mornings like a modern caveman- 5 mins
Why I decided to make a change to my morning routine to a more caveman routine
I’ve been a ‘morning person’ for as long as I can remember now. While most of my friends in college preferred staying up very late to work on projects, I preferred waking up before sunrise to work with a fresh mind. I enjoyed those periods of the day. No noise, no messages/notifications to look at, and for me - it was a time when I could think clearly. This routine served me well since my best studying came from those early hours.
However, when I started my job, my morning routine didn’t need to be focused on studying/learning. I was still wired to wake up early and so instead, I used my early hours to catch up on the latest news, do a workout, listen to podcasts/youtube, write on my journal and then get to work.
It was in the journal that I realized, albeit slowly, that I just wasn’t able to pick up some of my personal projects or sometimes even get to the most important item on my plate for the day. I also tracked my mood and ‘effectiveness’ and it was no surprise that these two entries were highly correlated.
Why was I struggling to get things done What changed me to have a better morning routine was when I stumbled upon this point from Kelly McGonigal’s book The Willpower Instinct -
Self-control is highest at the beginning of the day and then slowly depletes during the course of the day
It seems obvious at first but keeping this point in mind is how I’ve structured my days lately. Heavy and intensive work in the quiet hours of the morning and then guilt-free time to relax at the end of the day. Personally - I call this routine my caveman mornings.
Setting up for success by planning the night before
I begin planning for this routine the night before. This has been the key for me. A lot of general advice to have productive mornings on the internet starts describing what you should be doing as soon as you wake up My phone and laptop is where I end up spending most of my unfocused time as well so I do the following things -
- Make sure that my distraction blocking app on my phone is turned on (I use this app to block apps on Android. You can find similar apps on iOS.)
- Then I make sure to keep my phone away from my bed. For me, I store it in my wardrobe.
- On my laptop - I wrap up my daily journal and enter the last item on my journal note - ‘Highlight work item for tomorrow’
- I then set a distraction blocker on my laptop that runs until 5 pm the next day.
- Right before sleeping, I set an alarm on my watch so that I don’t need to have my phone next to me when I sleep.
That’s it. I then shut my laptop down and head to reading a book in bed. Having clarity in my mind about the first thing I want to do in the morning that provides the highest leverage to me has been a game-changer.
The best way I like to kick start my mornings
I like to start my mornings with some hot water and meditation. And recently I’ve started also doing breathwork along with my meditation having being influenced by James Nestor’s book Breathe.
As soon as I have meditation practice out of the way - I like to get some writing done. This could either be some morning pages or an entry into my journal. I treat this as a brain warm-up exercise.
And this is the time I like to get really focused and work on my highlight for the day. If it is not a research-related task - I turn off the network on my laptop, plug in some ambient music (brain.fm mostly), and then I’m ready for my 1-2 hours of deep work.
Recently, my girlfriend and I have also been doing Yoga together. A daily 20-minute practice early in the morning has not helped us improve our flexibility, mindfulness but more importantly, the practice has bonded us together.
Putting it to practice and getting into a routine
If you’ve been struggling to have a creative output or feel like you aren’t as productive as you’d like to be - start by building awareness with how you’re spending your time.
The moment I realized that getting to accomplish that one thing in the morning made me feel more relaxed and happy the rest of the day - I built my system of caveman mornings.
To quote James Clear -
You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. Your goal is your desired outcome. Your system is the collection of daily habits that will get you there.
Start planning for your caveman routine the night before. Write down your highlight for the next day. Turn on your distraction blocking apps. And make sure that your environment is free of those distractions. That’s all. Start slow and small and build on from there.