Ever since I began Radiate, I've become obsessed with squeezing as much time out of my day as possible. Juggling one full-time job is demanding enough - add on starting a business and the phrase "glutton for punishment" comes to mind.
It's been a thrill ride building Radiate but sometimes the most difficult part of has been finding time - any time. When I was a child I used to wonder why adults were always saying they're "so busy." Now I'm one of them.
That's why for the past year I've been experimenting with morning routines. When I was hosting my Bloomberg TV morning show at 8 AM, my routine was pretty set. Wake up at 3:30 AM, schlep into the car and arrive by 4:30 AM. Drink my green tea, read the newspapers, hold meetings & have my hair and makeup done. By the time the clock struck 8 AM, I was bright and ready to greet our viewers on Bloomberg Television who were themselves having their bagels and coffee with me.
That was my routine for 8-plus years. Now that I anchor the evening show, my morning routine is more malleable - though no less hectic. I've listened to so many CEOs and entrepreneurs tell me their own routines. Some of their habits I mirrored; others I just knew were not for me. All the CEOs who told me they woke up at 5 AM everyday I tuned out. While I love waking up early, my days of arising in total darkness are over!
So for this past year, I've experimented with 5 different ways to go about my morning. In the process, I discovered some valuable lessons. Here they are below:
No Emails In the Morning: Inspired by a few articles and Radiate Experts who told me they don't read their emails once they wake up, I decided to do the same for a few months. I woke up and didn't look at my phone. I went about my morning making breakfast for the kids & buying a newspaper (a physical newspaper!) to catch up on the day's news before walking into the office. For a few weeks, I felt enlightened. I sat on the train reading and thinking while everyone's heads were buried in their phones. After a while, things started to happen that forced me to look at my phone. A work fire here or there. An email that, if left unanswered until 10 AM, would mean we may have missed an opportunity. Also, I found that the news was moving so fast that I was reading "yesterday's news" by the time I bought the newspaper. After a few months, I realized not looking at my phone was unsustainable.
Meditation In the Morning: Lots of folks make a big deal about how well-known people like Jack Dorsey meditate in the morning to clear their brains. I have never taken meditation lessons but I did download the app, Headspace, to try my hand at meditation for a few weeks. After dropping the kids off at school, I would sit and meditate in the quiet of the house. While I did feel more calm, I realized that meditating after you've been running around for an hour is difficult. By that time, your mind is buzzing so meditating for 5 minutes is not enough - you have to be dedicated to it for a good 15-20 minutes and I just didn't have time. I try now to meditate in the evening when I get the chance. My Headspace app used to ping me reminders. Now I think it's just given up on me.
Working Out In the Morning: I actually loved doing this while I had the commitment. For a few weeks, I was at the gym by 7 AM. The problem is I had to add in extra buffer time for a shower, makeup and change of clothes to proper work attire. That would inevitably add another 30-45 minutes to my morning which meant that I arrived at the office later or had to push back morning meetings. I think lots of men talk about working out in the morning as invigorating which is great but none of them have to wear makeup or blow dry their hair after. And surely I can't arrive at work in yoga pants. So this was unsustainable, period. Now I schedule in my workouts around my other commitments.
Read or Write In the Morning: A few of our Radiate Experts have said they read the Bible every morning to stay grounded. In other words, reading a book or writing in your journal is another form of meditation that helps center oneself for the rest of the day. I started to read some highly recommended books on my commute in and I must say, this was one of my favorite routines. I got more energized in a half hour's reading than I did just scrolling through Instagram. My habit came to an end after I started driving to work (see next routine below). But whenever I do ride in on a train, I pull out my favorite tome.
Commuting Off Hours In the Morning: In the end, this is the morning routine I found works best for me. I got this from Tim Armstrong, CEO of Oath, who said that sometimes to save time, he commutes outside of rush hour. I loved that advice. In fact, I still do it. I usually leave my house now at 9 AM and drive part of the way into work, then take the train in. I found by doing this, I actually arrived in the office nearly the same time as if I left my house at 8:15 AM, in the thick of the rush hour frenzy. Anything that gives a bit of sanity in a crazed morning is all I need to start my day right.