Feb 122017

During the Christmas and New Year holidays, I read two books: The Miracle Morning and The One Thing. I tried to combine their recommendations in my daily activities, and the results have been quite impressive. I will start by explaining the The Miracle Morning first, which encourages people to establish a morning routine. There is a recommended routine, but the author encourages people to try different things to find something that fits them well. So here is mine:

1. Before going to bed at night, be determined to get up at a certain time in the morning. Depending on the time I go to bed, I decide the specific time I need to get up, but this doesn’t need to be crazy early, although going to bed early and around the same time daily helps.
2. Put the alarm away from arms reach, so I can really get up as soon as the alarm sounds.
3. Put on my fleece jacket, use the bathroom and brush my teeth. I feel much more refreshed after brushing my teeth.
4. Drink a cup of water I put next to my bed the night before. I put lemon juice and honey in the water which helps hydration in the morning.
5. My husband always takes a little longer, so I sit in bed, look over my new year resolution and the schedule for the day to wait for him (for meditation and exercise together). The new year resolution reminds me of my priorities, so I feel better saying no or delaying response to low priority activities. Checking my daily schedule ensures that I don’t forget important meetings that day. Also each day I give myself the top 1-2 things I need to get done (more details about The One Thing later).
6. Do 10 min meditation using Headspace or InsightTimer on my iPhone. Ariana Huffington recommended Headspace although there are many other mediation apps available. The Miracle Morning recommended “Affirmation” (kinda like going over our priorities) after meditation. However, if I don’t go over my priorities and schedules, my mind keeps on wandering over my priorities and schedules during the meditation. So I decide to mediate after I set my goal and schedule for the day.
7. Exercise for 30 min on yoga mat. We used to follow Sworkit, but recently we just sample some exercises from Sworkit ourselves. This really gets us warm and awake.
8. Take a shower, get dressed, do my writing. My husband gets the kids to school in the morning, while I pick up the kids in the afternoon. Depending on the time I have, this could be a productive time to get grants / papers written. No email at this time, although I need to be more disciplined here!
9. I take my vitamin and calcium pills and drink my breakfast while doing my writing. I prepare my breakfast the night before: add mixed bean porridge (16 mixed-bean bags from MarketBasket, cooked with high pressure cooker), yogurt, frozen fruits and vegetables, some nuts, and water, blend it into a fine mix. It looks disgusting but tastes great!
10. Go over my 3 daily SCRUM project meetings on Skype: 8am on immunology, 8:30am on CRISPR screens, and 9am on epigenetics. I am grateful to the dedication and hard work of my team, so we make progress every day!
11. Get more writing done alone at home, or prepare teaching on Tue / Thur teaching days.
12. Drive to work when there is no traffic, and listen to audiobooks on the drive. I don’t schedule meetings in the morning, so can drive in late. The Miracle Morning book recommends reading before writing, but writing is more important for me to get done in the morning, so I only “read” (aka listen) on my commute. Unfortunately audio books can’t be too serious (e.g. you can’t read scientific papers), but still could be very enlightening and fun.

The real “miracle” I have learned from this book is that these items (especially 5, 6, 7, 8) don’t always need to be the same length. Ideally, I get up at 6am and start my writing at 7am. However, if I sleep late and get up later in the morning, then I can shrink all the activities roughly proportionally: e.g. 1 min priorities, 3 min meditation, 10 min exercise, 15 min writing; or 30 sec priorities, 1 min medication, 5 min exercise, and 7 min writing. Even 5 min exercise is still better than no exercise. The key is to keep this routine every day! The habit, once established, could be very effective in making the whole day productive. Keeping the schedule makes me feel really good in the morning, so I am motivated to continue the habit. So now I really need to go to bed, so I can get up early to start My Miracle Morning tomorrow.