I hadn’t realized how important my morning routine was until it changed. In recent months, I’ve taken to a schedule of purposefully not working until 9am, if I could possibly help it — this really translates to “Not writing,” because I almost always use the time before then to read and do research for future things I will write, including making notes and sending myself links and the like. But I’ve come to consider everything pre-9 as, say, research time as well as breakfast time. A quiet, understated start to the day.
And then, for multiple reasons, that went to hell for the last four days. Deadlines and other things conspired so that, as soon as I was awake, I was writing — I had to be immediately on — and it utterly wrecked me in ways that were genuinely surprising. Without the slow ramp up to it, the checking in on the world through email, Twitter and news sites, the chance for my brain to engage at its own rate, my mood was worse, my anxiety greater. I felt more short-tempered, more behind the curve and needy to catch up.
What made this such a surprise is that, until very recently, that was how I started my day for years. I’d wake up and immediately get up and consider myself in work mode and ready to go. I’d wake up and get to my office straight away. That’s not to say I’d always be writing as soon as I woke up, but I told myself I was ready. Eating happened after 9, and I’d always try to have something accomplished by that point.
It’s only now, having tried this other thing, that I realize how much expectation I was placing on myself, and how much stress I was choosing to put myself under without knowing it. It’s only now that I realize there are better ways to start the day.