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I don’t set an alarm. Waking up to an alarm is soul-sucking. It messes with your natural body rhythm and disrupts your entire day.
Instead, I’m jolted awake when one of my 2 small children decides it’s time to jump out of bed and watch stampylongnose play Minecraft. It’s almost always before the sunrise. It’s never after 6:30 AM. Especially on the weekends. Don’t you dare sleep in on the weekends, it’s poisonous to productivity.
I find that coffee is a terrible way to start the day. I don’t rely on a crutch to give me any artificial motivation. As soon as I’m done carrying a 30-pound human downstairs, I energize my day by getting some random breakfast food ready for the kids, filling a sippy cup with milk, and if I’m lucky doing some Lego Serious Play with a 2-year-old. Nothing frees your soul for a day of productivity quite like stacking up Duplo towers for immediate destruction.
At this point in my morning I have a small window of opportunity to make the cup of coffee I drink to relax and focus (it’s not a crutch, remember.) This is a great time for a micro-meditation — I like to think about slowly boiling a pot of water, hand grinding some locally roasted coffee beans, and carefully watching my 4-minute timer as I draw out a slow cup of the finest pour over coffee. I concentrate on imagining a day when I’ll have that kind of time. I imagine it’s when the kids have left for college. Unless they just move back in and still need me to fix breakfast because I did a bad job parenting since I decided to raise the kids in one house and put them in school instead of roaming around the world and fostering their growth as international entrepreneurs.
But I don’t spend too long micro-meditating or I won’t accomplish anything today. It’s time to get that k-cup brewing and empty the dishwasher. Next up is a brain puzzle I call “matching up the sippy cup lids.” Anyone who doesn’t do a brain challenge before 7 AM won’t be a successful 2-company startup executive. Some days I’m lucky enough to complete the puzzle before its time to feed the kids breakfast number 2. This is the real breakfast with fruit and cereal.
Once the kids are sitting and eating, it’s exercise time! This is the super-powered “7 Minute Fix.” I start by dashing up the stairs and grabbing my clothes for the day. This is easy because of course I have a minimal wardrobe in the name of efficiency (duh, simple lifehack). Then it’s time to make the bed, since a made bed is the cornerstone of a productive life. Quickly wet down the hair since morning showers are for the lazy and weak and try to comb the requisite beard into some semblance of order. Finish with another dash down the stairs — that’s one whole flight, Mr. FitBit. Boom.
Next it’s time for janitorial work. This is a really important part of the routine because it gets me back in touch with a simpler time in the past when manual labor mattered and things were way easier since you had to catch and kill your own food. I can’t be a creative professional without this daily grounding ritual. Sweep the floors, clean the dishes, wipe down a random spill or stain or whatever else somehow managed to happen while the kids should have been eating.
The last part of my morning wraps up with negotiation practice. Now it’s time to out maneuver 2 toddlers in a game about why getting dressed is important, why you have to pee at some point before school, and why you have to wear matching shoes. Most days involve agility training as I try to apply sunscreen to a moving target without accidentally getting any in the eyes. Then it’s time to predict what sort of epic meltdown will happen while attempting to strap a 2-year-old into a car seat and trying to channel my psychic capabilities to prevent it from happening.
That’s what I do before 8 AM. And as I pull out of the driveway, I remember that cup of coffee I left on the Keurig machine.
Chris Schulte is the Founder and CTO at JamboDoc.