Morning Clarity

July 11, 2019

 

Last July I wrote about my morning routine that I called “Morning Clarity.” I thought I shared it in our newsletter and posted it on our blog, but I just realized that I didn’t! Sorry! It’s been a year. I’m still doing the same routine, though. And I’ve been getting more and better ideas this year because of it!

 

Morning Clarity Routine

 

I’ve been doing this routine that I now call “Morning Clarity” for a few years. It’s been working for me; it might be of some benefit to you too.

 

My goal has been to clear my mind, write something every day, and enjoy the process. So with that in mind, here is my routine.

 

The main steps are:

 

      1. Walk to coffee.
      2. Write 28 cards or more.
      3. Walk back.
      4. Type.

 

 

1. Walk to Coffee (15 to 30 minutes)

 

I walk, fast walk, jog, or do any combinations of these for 15 to 30 minutes, using different routes depending on the weather or how I feel, to a nearby coffee shop. I don’t keep coffee at home. I use it as my reward for stepping outside and moving.

 

I usually do one or some of these when I walk:

 

      1. Pray
      2. Listen to a talk or a podcast
      3. Think
      4. Do nothing. Just observe and listen to my surroundings
      5. Photograph

 

 

2. Write 28 Cards or More (1, 1.5, or 2 hours)

 

I bring a stack of small business card-sized index cards. After I arrive at the coffee shop and get my coffee, I log the time on my phone Calendar app and set a timer for an hour. I then start dumping whatever is on my mind to the cards. I’ll also list the day’s to dos.

 

New this year: Now I use a custom-made shortcut on my phone’s Shortcuts app to log my time at the coffee shop. After I arrive and order a coffee, just one tap on the shortcut adds an entry to my Calendar app and sets a reminder for one hour.

 

I like using small cards because:

 

      1. They are inexpensive (so I don’t worry about preserving them and am able to write on or “waste” them)
      2. I can easily rearrange the cards
      3. I can throw away useless cards
      4. I can categorize them
      5. I can prioritize them

 

For me, usually the first 8 cards are “useless” brain dump. But this process somehow clears my mind, and after 15 or 30 minutes of “waste” writing or listing, new or useful ideas start popping up.

 

I’m usually in the zone and enjoying my session when the one-hour alarm goes off. I’ll set another alarm for 30 minutes or an hour depending on how I feel it will go. An hour is also about the time I finish my coffee and am ready to get a tea.

 

I can fit 28 to 30 cards into my little aluminum business card holder. I usually feel done when I finish writing on the cards.

 

 

3. Walk Back (15 to 30 minutes)

 

I walk the same route or a different one back. I either listen to a podcast or just think about things I wrote.

 

4. Type (one hour)

 

Not wanting to lose the momentum, after I come home I rest just a few minutes and get on the computer to type things I wrote and expound on them. Then I print the draft out so I can review it and rewrite it the next day.

 

For me, this morning routine has at least three benefits:

 

      1. Physically I get to go outside and exercise.
      2. Mentally I can clarify, prioritize, and focus on things that matter to me.
      3. Socially I feel more immersed in the community as I interact with other people.

 

I don’t like to do the same thing over and over again. So sometimes I resist going or feel like I won’t be able to come up with anything new. But when I force myself to repeat the routine, I’m almost always surprised by new ideas I didn’t think existed and I’m glad I did it.

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