By Leslie Merinoff
Mornings are sacred.
And so, I am on an eternal quest to get them right. Perpetually tweaking, adding and subtracting rituals that set me up for the best possible day. I’ve always been fascinated by the habits of high performing, deeply happy people. What really stands out in the information I’ve collected is—while their individual habits are incredibly widespread, they tend to have one thing in common: they are intentional. High performers have deep and deliberate structure to their morning.
Warren Buffet wakes up at 6:45 a.m. every day, following eight hours of sleep. He starts his days reading several papers, including The New York Times and Wall Street Journal. He then takes exact change to McDonalds to purchase one of his favorite three meals, which he enjoys with a Coca-Cola.
Zuckerberg wears the same outfit every day.
Steve Jobs used to ask himself in the mirror every morning, “If today was the last day of my life, would I be happy with what I’m about to do today?” If the answer was no more than a few days in a row, he made a change.
Tony Robbins has a three-step morning ritual he calls “Priming,” which involves the following: three sets of 30 Kapalbhati Pranayama breaths, three affirmations––things for which he is grateful, and finally, a wish of good things for the world, his friends, family and business associates. He follows that with a breakfast of salad and fish.
The reality is that all of us—no matter who we are—have a finite amount of self control and energy for deep thinking. Figuring out how to spend your morning is a waste of that energy and brain power. Rituals allow us to free up that brain power for those activities that help us reach our goals.
So, in case you’re wondering, here is my a.m. ritual:
I wake up after eight hours of sleep. To me, eight hours is mission critical. Every hour I lose will take with it a measure of my capacity to think, control my actions, emotions and accuracy. My schedule changes dramatically from day to day, so unfortunately, it isn’t the same eight hours every night, but eight nonetheless.
I go straight to my OmniFocus “Forecast” view, where I can see what my day looks like, as well as my goals and critical tasks for the week, the month and the quarter.
If I’m in the city, I get in a workout at SoulCycle or hot yoga at Modo or Y7. In the summer, I’ll take a swim (maybe, gun to my head, I’ll go for a run).
I whip up a morning tonic. A coffee / MCT Oil (I love the powder variety Kiss My Keto makes) or I’ll blend some Oatly Milk with Four Sigmatic Mushroom Powder + Moon Dust. I’m a strong believer in Adaptogens and Intermittent Fasting. Eating during the day gives me a cloudy head, and the MCT Oil and/or oat milk give me the calories to make it through the day without eating. This has been something I’ve been experimenting with a lot, and I have found this this is the best thing for me, unequivocally. Adaptogens help me stave off stress; it’s important to find one, or a combination, that work for you—and then take it daily. They’ll likely take a few weeks to really kick in (although the new formulation of the Moon Dusts enhanced my energy, performance and resistance to stress very quickly).
If I wake up with one task looming over me, something that is giving me any sort of stress—I tackle it then and there. Chance’s are, it’s sitting in the back of my head, depleting my energy and hurting my ability to think. Mornings are great for getting that stuff done.
I check our Slack account to see what the team is up to.
If I don’t have anything pressing, I read The New York Times (I love reading the paper—the smell and feel of it makes me feel connected to my grandfather, a total legend, who LOVED reading The Times.) I love reading Non-Fiction. I love, especially, to learn about big decisions people had to make, and how they got there. I’ve been reading The General vs.The President: MacArthur and Truman at the Brink of Nuclear War (although I misplaced it and started reading Wine All The Time: The Casual Guide To Confident Drinking).
After all of that is done, I quickly shower, brush my teeth, throw on some black jeans and a white or black t-shirt—and I’m off to work.
On the way to work, I listen to podcasts. I’m a Pod Save America (politics) and Lovett or Leave It (politics game show) junkie. I also love Masters of Scale with Reid Hoffman (business) and More Perfect (SCOTUS). I go in and out of listening to The Tim Ferris Show (efficiency porn) and The Productivity Show (nerdy efficiency porn). All are great ways to get the mind working in the morning.