I've been travelling quite a bit of late. In the past, I'd fight the desire to go to bed early and suffer waking up at 4a as little as possible. The past few trips, I've stopped fighting it and embraced this arrangement of the body instead.
It's by no means a perfect rhythm yet, but here's what my morning looks like.
Although I set my alarm for 4:30a, I wake up naturally just before 4a. I know that many have written about the importance of not looking at your phone right away but, when I travel and am away from my family, the first thing I want to see is if any of them sent me something during the night. I normally then give them a call (I don't know how people travelled away from their families before things like FaceTime).
I try not to check Slack or email at this point of my morning, although I'm still working on this discipline. My faith is important to me, however, in the last year, I was too quick to get going to work and allowed my quiet time of reflection to become a far too infrequent part of my morning. Getting up at 4a gives me all the time I need to spend time reading, thinking, and praying. Although, I'm still fighting the urge to get going as though everything else is more important; like I said, not yet a perfect rhythm.
A few weeks back I was fortunate enough to spend some time with my sister who is a certified fitness trainer. She walked me through two excellent workouts that I can easily do while travelling. It's been a struggle to consistently keep this as part of my routine but, with so much time in the morning, even when I talk myself out of it, there's still plenty of time to talk myself back into it. If I got up any later, I'm afraid this discipline would be the first to be dropped.
So far, I'll have spoken to my wife and children in various mixes (one of the funnest parts of having a big family) and had my first cup of coffee... okay, let's be honest, I'm drinking at least 3 cups of coffee before 7a.
Lately, I've been getting into reading a newspaper over breakfast. I remember seeing the other businesspeople doing this as they ate and always held this as a slightly romantic, if not antiquated, activity. There's something important about digesting the world's events in more than 140 characters, though. I'm still not sure which paper best suits me but, when in Canada I've been reading the National Post and when in Europe I've been reading either The Independent (Irish) or The Guardian (UK). I've never gotten into reading digital versions of the newspaper, but I'm considering subscribing to a couple to see what it's like.
By 8a, I've accomplished a lot on the personal front. I've probably delved into a few work topics already too, if I'm honest, and I'm ready to engage on the work front. I feel like I can approach the day with my eyes wide open.
There are other elements that I'm exploring during this time as well. For example, it's 6:30a at the point I'm writing the first draft of this post. The sun is just starting to rise, and I find I'm able to write more leisurely. I also intend to look at changing the time of my workout to after-work as a means to create a buffer between work and personal time. As I intend to begin my MBA soon, my evenings are going to need to be focused on schooling, and I need a way to ensure I can fluidly switch modes.
With this new routine, I've struggled to stay up past 9p. Some nights I've not made it past 8p. Ideally, I'd like to make it until 10p, thus allowing an hour before I go to bed to turn off everything and enjoy the stillness of the evening with my wife.
I've still a lot of work to do to refine this schedule, and I'd love to hear about other people's routines (please share yours with me). I'm a very free thinking person and have struggled with the thought of creating so much routine but, the older I get, the more I realise that routine gives me freedom. So, I'll keep on pursuing this and see where it leads.