How a morning cuddle with my dog replaced my sleeping

I used to be a morning person. I woke up at 5:30 a.m. to exercise, eat a healthy meal, and then walk to the office while listening to a podcast while preparing for a marathon. But, as a freelance writer with numerous deadlines and no set schedule, I’m simply too exhausted to do so these days. How can I make my mornings more productive? In current economy, what are your options? I get out of bed at 8:00 a.m., stumble to my laptop, and push myself to walk Henry, my drowsy dog, one hour later.

We’re told that successful people take advantage of the early hours of the day, when there are no meetings or business emergencies to disrupt the day. Benjamin Spall and Michael Xander explain in their book My Morning Routine that this is the only time of day that is guaranteed to be free of distractions. It sounds like the nefarious adversary of my own personal discovery—that it’s the last chance to linger in blissful unconsciousness. Even yet, waking up late makes me sluggish and cranky. So I tried to get back into the habit of getting up early by following a morning routine.

I decided to go all out with a morning routine based on Spall and Xander’s best practises after interviewing hundreds of innovative people. On my first day, I stumbled across my chilly bedroom to turn off the alarm on my phone at 6:23 a.m., the average wake time of people covered in the book. To avoid snooze-button overuse, I had removed the device from my bedside the night before. The majority of interviewees said they checked their phones as soon as they woke up; squinting at the screen seemed harmful, but it did help me wake up a little. Then I shivered under a duvet in the living room, drinking lukewarm lemon water (the collective morning beverage of choice).

I fell asleep during guided meditation, one of the most popular activities on a list of options for enhancing productivity, creativity, fitness, mindfulness, and self-care—the five pillars of a strong routine—that participants in the book choose from. According to Spall, most people try to address one or two of these pillars, but I decided to go for all of them. I started to feel… alert? while I did yoga. I doodled a still life, started a manuscript I’d been putting off, and petted Henry, who snored at my side throughout the entire sequence, in an attempt at self-care.

I only followed this super-routine for two days. The monotony of the list of tasks was irritating. I make a living as a writer and have enough of hobbies; I don’t need to get up earlier to fit in more creative self-improvement. And it didn’t take me long to realise that my brain simply doesn’t want to do challenging work first thing in the morning.

So I eliminated the creativity and productivity parts while keeping the lemon water, an hour of activity, and meditation. I’m afraid I’ve been stuck with it ever since. I rarely use the snooze button because the extra time energises me more than sleeping. It’s as though I’ve snatched an hour for myself. I’m infuriatingly cheerful by the time my lover wakes up.

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