👍 My formula to guarantee a good productive day
How to feel great, optimize the brain, and live more at ease.
I want to share something that I believe has been really impactful in any success I’ve had thus far. This has allowed me to accomplish more, stress less, and feel more at ease in almost everything I do.
It allows me to think clearer, concentrate harder, and focus on the things that matter in my businesses and for my investments.
It’s my morning routine.
Now reading about morning routines on the web can be a bit polarizing.
On one hand, you have people who spend hours on their routine covering everything under the sun. Affirmations, manifestations, crystal fondling, “🍆 sunning”, etc. On the other hand, you have plenty of people who think morning routines are a waste of time, or at least that they are too busy and don’t have time for that.
So of course I’m going to share with you my morning routine, but I think it’s equally important to share with you my thesis around it.
What works for me might not work for you, but the principles behind it probably will.
The Rise of the Machine
I view the body as a bit of a machine.
What inputs can I give it to get the best outputs?
If I do X, I get Y.
If I don’t do X, I get Z. (and Z isn’t much fun)
My theory is that I can do certain things to my body and brain in order to maximize my outputs and to minimize as many of the pesky little negatives along the way.
Doing these certain things also provides me with another massive benefit; momentum. It gives me positive momentum going into my day, where I'm kicking ass from the start, and momentum is hard to stop.
Mark Manson’s now famous book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck has a couple of big points to it. One main one is that you cannot actually give a fuck about too many things. Giving a fuck about everything means that you essentially give a fuck about nothing, so you have to choose carefully.
But there are just soooo many things that you’re supposed to give a fuck about, right? How’s one supposed to choose?
Hang with me here for a moment on this thought: the hardest part of doing all the things you’re supposed to (exercise, meditation, etc) is not the actual doing of it, the hard part is actually mentally making time to do it.
Sitting and meditating for 10 minutes is super easy (you’re literally just sitting), but setting aside those 10 minutes for some reason frequently just seems too difficult. “Oh, I’ll get to that later… promise" 😬.
And the worst part of all of this is that throughout the day, you have this little nagging voice of guilt and resistance in the back of your head: “you know you should stop doing these emails and go workout dude”. Multiply that voice times 100 microtaunts a day and it’s actually a big drain on the psyche.
My Solution - Batching
The solution that works for me, and probably many others, is to just batch everything into the very first moments of the day. To do them all together, all at once, as soon as I get up.
If it’s not the very first moments, then the chances of it all getting done goes down exponentially.
Once I start doing ANYTHING else, then my routine gets 1000x harder to accomplish. And by anything I do indeed mean anything.
Even one glance at social media, or one look at my inbox, and the chances of me being successful goes down by multiples. Again, I’m not exaggerating. I don’t know why it is what it is, but that’s how it works. To make it easier on myself I generally stay in airplane mode, or at least DND mode, for most of my morning.
My morning routine is centered around how I can knock out all of those supposed-to’s in the shortest amount of time possible and in the most efficient way possible.
How can I give the machine (my body) the inputs it needs to have great outputs for the rest of the day, and how can I remove as many of those nagging regret feelings that would otherwise follow me around.
I’ve found it actually takes infinitely less willpower to knock everything out early and all at once than to try and drip it out throughout the day.
I know that if I can just complete my morning routine, then the whole rest of the day is just gravy. Even if I suck and fail at everything else I do for the rest of the day, if I just do my morning routine then I’ve succeeded at moving my life forward and being a productive human, and that just feels good.
And of course as we all know, it’s not the big “giant swings” that lead to improvements in life, it’s those little 1% improvements that compound over time.
My process is broken down into three sections:
Activating the body - turning on all those processes that make it run properly
Stimulating the body - getting the blood flowing and boosting dopamine levels
Optimizing the mind - calming that chatty monkey mind, boosting my outlook, and focusing on the important tasks for the day
My personal routine
Activating the body:
Immediately after waking I chug 700ml of water w/ electrolytes. This rehydrates everything Iost throughout the night. (The water is always prepared the night before).
I stand in the sun for 5 min as I take my dog out. Morning sunlight in your eyes activates all kinds of hormones and signaling devices that wake you up, and even helps you sleep better at night. Don’t listen to me though, listen to this quick clip from Andrew Huberman. (seriously, listen)
Stimulating the body:
I do a ~ 10 minute HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workout. I make mine hard AF so that if it’s the only thing I do today then I’m happy with it, but everyone has their own fitness levels. Some good places to get started are the Seven App, 30 days of HIIT, or the Power10 series from Alo Yoga if you like nonstop strength-based yoga (it’s really good, here's 60% off annual membership). If you want to know exactly what I do, feel free to ask.
A 2-minute ice bath in my Ice Barrel (affiliate link w/ a discount). Let’s just say it like it is… a lot of ice bath people have those crazy eyes. But despite the oddness of the ice bath niche, there is definitely an abundance of scientifically proven benefits that come from cold exposure. The most pronounced one that people feel is the 2.5x increase in dopamine that lasts for hours after exposure. This boosts motivation and alertness. Most things that boost dopamine come with a drop afterwards, but cold exposure is one of the only free lunches. I’ll lean on Andrew Huberman once more to explain all the goodies.
Optimizing the mind:
I do 10 minutes of meditation. It helps me create awareness, calm my chatty little monkey mind, and boost my ability to focus on the task at hand. Using an app is the easiest way to get started. I have subscriptions to Headspace, Calm, and Waking up but just one (or none!) is fine.
A quick journal. I find this to be perfect right after meditation. My journaling usually only takes about 3-5 minutes. It helps me have more gratitude, focus on what’s important that day, and to “eat that frog”. Below are my prompts if you’re curious (and here's a Notion template version if you'd like to copy).
And that’s it. I like to almost challenge myself to see how quickly I can get it done, as the real time-sucks here are not the activities themselves, but the transition time between different tasks. If I don't rush it, then I blink and it's lunchtime.
You might be wondering what my success rate on this is? Is it realistic? Are you a robot Travis? (My wife sure thinks so)
I'll let you know how it works for me. The "activation" part (water/sun) happens almost without fail (it's easy). The morning workouts happen a good 28/30 days a month, and the mediation/journaling happens maybe 60% of the time.
If I'm running late (or I'm weak and open my phone early), then the meditation is the first thing I cut for whatever reason.
All of this failure is ok though, as I just want to be roughly moving in the right direction in life, not being perfect all the time. The more that I do these things the easier it becomes to do every day. It becomes a habit that happens naturally.
As I mentioned at the beginning, I know that my routine isn't perfect for everyone. Kids will certainly complicate some things.
I think the general principles behind my routine could work for most people though. Activate, stimulate, optimize. Even if I shortened it to just 3 minutes of jumping jacks after rolling out of bed and a 3 min meditation, I would still get a lot of the results.
It's also worth noting that I change mine, it's not a forever-fixed routine. Sometimes I'll add in a bunch of stoicism and sometimes I'll ditch it completely. Play around with what works for you.
And my final tip: write it all down. Make it into a checklist and print it out on a little card. Take the decision-making out of it every day, and it all gets easier.
Have any thoughts or improvements? Let me know!
1. The 10min workout is my usual, but sometimes I change. Sometimes I add in a mobility routine first, and sometimes if I have more time, I'll do a true full 30min workout. The 10min is the minimum that at least always happens.