My Morning Routine in 2023

Published on 19th of December, 2023
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My circadian rhythm is that of a night owl.

Fresh and attentive in the late evenings, super tired in the mornings. I used to feel bad about this until I realized that from an evolutionary point of view, it makes complete sense: In order to guard the tribe well against all sorts of dangers, you need the people who are aware and awake in the mornings as well as those who can take care of everyone in the evenings and at night.

For sure, our ways of living have changed so much that being awake in the mornings is a requirement for most people who would like to behave in a beneficial way to society. Hence the popularity of coffee.

While there’s not much against coffee in the morning (some say it’s the “Greatest Addiction Ever”), especially in recent years there have been some more developments in the field of what makes humans feel and function better after waking. Sunlight exposure is a big thing, having lots of water comes to mind, some type of physical activity helps apparently, too.

I’m looking forward to more progress in individual medicine. Finding out what each person needs. This is the way we’re going and I can’t wait.

But until then, it’s trial and error for everyone.

“Whatever floats your bloat” should be incorporated into the morning routine of anyone who’s got trouble to wake up. I tried many different things, I’ve read books, blog posts and listened to podcasts about it, and tweaked my mornings in such a way that I’m currently quite happy with it.

Of course, nothing lasts forever, and I will also develop different needs as I age I’m sure, so it needs to be adjusted accordingly. But right now, as a 39-yo father of four daughters who go to school, it’s important to me that I’m as helpful to them and my wife as possible, especially because my body would much rather guard them at night instead of packing the special-request lunch boxes in the mornings.

“Who wanted the cream cheese on toast and who wanted the kiwi and carrots today?! No cucumber for you, but lots of it for you, oh no, the other way around!” – Me, all the time.

I’ve never been a big coffee drinker until a few years ago. I can’t pinpoint it exactly, but my best guess is that I started with daily coffee about 5.5 years ago, when my oldest daughter started school. Suddenly there was no going back from having to wake up early – and it wouldn’t change for many more years to come. So I might as well start.

While I love coffee quite a lot by now, it’s not enough to get me going in the mornings. There aren’t many nutrients in coffee and the energy which caffeine sets free can’t be created from thin air, too.

☕ Step #1 of the Day: Coffee

Here, I’ve also explored different options ranging between the cheapest and one of the most expensive ones: A ROCKET Cellini Premium Plus I had originally bought for our office. Delicious espresso, but hopelessly overpowered for my home. Oddly enough, I’ve found the next closest satisfactory coffee to be coming from one of the cheapest options available, the famous AeroPress.

I love the ritual of it just as much as the coffee itself
I love the ritual of it just as much as the coffee itself

I see no reason to change this. The AeroPress is super simple, makes excellent coffee, and lasts for decades. Add-ons which I’ve bought are this electric coffee bean grinder with integrated scales and a pricey but good-looking and well-made electric kettle by Fellow.

I usually buy a big bag of average FairTrade coffee beans for it. Not much of a difference to my taste buds there.

🥤 Step #2 of the Day: Huge Smoothie

I’ve previously written about my quest to find the best smoothie. Not much has changed since then except for two ingredients I sometimes include for some more variety. My basic recipe goes like this:

  1. 🍌 One banana
  2. 🍎 One apple
  3. 🌾 About 50g (2oz) of rolled oats
  4. 🥬 About 200g (7oz) of frozen spinach or 🫐 frozen blueberries

Sometimes I add a couple tablespoons of ground linseeds into it before filling up the Vitamix TNC5200 with cold water to the 1 liter (.25 gal) mark. Blending for half a minute, that’s it. Delicious, healthy, minimum preparation, cheap, and gets me going for the next 4-5 hours.

“Keep it simple, stupid!”
“Keep it simple, stupid!”
And that’s breakfast!
And that’s breakfast!

🧠 Step #3 of the Day: Solving the NYTimes Wordle

I’m definitely the worst at processing information in the mornings in our family. Even if something is important, listening to it during breakfast will go in one ear and out the other. That’s why I try to wake up my brain by doing the daily Wordle while I have my coffee and smoothie. It sort of works, but mostly it’s just fun to do.

I’m starting with the same word every day: SLOTH, ’cause they’re so cute
I’m starting with the same word every day: SLOTH, ’cause they’re so cute
Despite lots of practice, my stats aren’t amazing – but it’s still fun and wakes me up
Despite lots of practice, my stats aren’t amazing – but it’s still fun and wakes me up

💁 Morning Routine Interlude: The Kids

Of course, the kids are omnipresent since the very beginning of the first alarm clock going off, and taking care of a few of their needs during my first three steps of the routine is inevitable, too. There’s the overly tired kid who needs a personalized alarm clock (me), there’s one who can’t find her favorite shirt so I’m getting it from the laundry line in the basement, and the occasional disagreement between siblings needs to be broken off, as well.

Sophie and I most often share these types of tasks. She prefers to wake up about half an hour before every one else so she has the kitchen and living room to herself for a while. We joke that this is her Miracle Morning, but in all honesty it’s not far from the truth.

But when I’m done with my short breakfast, including the couple of minutes solving the Wordle, it’s time for undivided attention towards the kids. I’m fully ready now. And I’m happy I managed to find this combination of actions which works so that even I, the night owl, can be a productive parent for my daughters in the early mornings. Sophie has generally the same task list and we fluently share it all on most days except for the ones when she has to leave for work earlier.

It looks basically like this:

  1. Preparing three lunch boxes (my oldest daughter doesn’t need one anymore). If I’m having a good day I take special requests, if not, I make three identical generic ones containing bread with cream cheese, often carrots, sometimes tomatoes, kiwi, red peppers, or cucumbers, and the occasional special. The three water bottles need refilling, too.
  2. Motivating the remaining eating kids to finish breakfast. For the younger ones, this sometimes involves manually feeding them. The dark winter mornings make it hard for them to focus.
  3. Getting them dressed. With four kids, everything goes on at the same time. Some of my daughters are perfectly independent, some throw a tantrum every now and then, some just need help with their shoes. The main thing for me is to keep calm and show them that stressing about it won’t be faster.
  4. Clearing the table. This isn’t too important because it can be done once I get back home, too.
  5. Finishing packing. Any special projects today in school, swimming lessons, or plans right after school, require consideration right now because they influence the packing list.
  6. Biking to school. Daughter #1 goes to secondary school and leaves on her own. Daughter #2 has the same route to school as #3 and #4 but prefers to bike on her own, so that leaves me with just half of the kids to take care of. On good days they cycle themselves and I just accompany them, but on tough days, especially during the winter, I still pull them in a bike trailer.
  7. The school drop-off. I’m happy about the fact that in 98% of cases we arrive on time, despite the occasional escalations like punctures, cries about forgotten plush toys, fights in the trailer about getting more space, and more. Both daughters #3 and #4 love it when I accompany them to their respective class rooms. We have our little rituals there, and then I leave.

It’s no surprise that this moment is bitter-sweet. They are on their own now, but I am alone as well. I now have the satisfaction of everything having happened mostly according to the plan, and from now on I get to decide what to do. Sometimes, there’s a literal sigh of relief involved. 😮‍💨

🏃 Step #4 of the Day: The Run

Except when there’s a highly urgent email to write or appointment to have, my next item on the list is the daily run. My streak continues and at the end of 2023 I’m at well over 700 consecutive days. I get dressed quickly and usually run for about an hour. This differs, though. There are recovery runs which can be just a quick twenty minute jog around the block, or easy half marathons which can take just under two hours. My weekday runs average out at exactly 1 hour, 9 minutes, and 54 seconds. The benefits of storing all your Strava activities in your own database! 🤓

A rare hill reps session: 3 sets of 7 times 30 seconds fast up a hill (pictured here) with 60 seconds of easy jogging down after each repetition – usually I do easy slow runs though

I love running very much and it never fails to clear my head and give me a healthy amount of endorphins for the rest of the day. Additionally, these days it’s not rare that there’s some friend running with me, so a good conversation is another benefit.

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  • This was one of the best articles I've read so far in telling about a race. I couldn't put it down. Your details were so awesome. You made New York just come alive.

    Betty J.

  • Great review, enjoyed reading it and recognize lots off related subjects and hurtles. I’m amazed by all your running and races well done.

    Andre S.

  • Great article! I've read so many long blogs only to get bored in the middle as I suffer terribly from ADD and move on to other things. Yours has been one of few that held my attention all the way to the end.

    Chae B.

  • Your good humor and ease in telling stories make this blog a really cool space. Nice review.


  • Amazing effort Tim, well done! Thank you for taking the time to write down your thoughts, feelings and memories from the event. There’s always something to learn from your posts and this one was no exception!! Another cracking read.

    Tom K.

  • What a ride! Surely the race, but also reading about it. Thanks for taking the time to write up such a detailed report, almost feel like I was there.

    Till F.

🥤 Step #5 of the Day: More Nutrients

After that run (and checking the stats on Strava, obviously…) the first thing I do is make myself a protein shake. Since I’m mostly consuming non-animal products and also do lots of sports, some extra protein can’t hurt. After exploring many vegan protein powders I’ve settled on the Rocka Nutrition brand, mostly because of their amazing flavors. My favorite is called “Vanilla Cookie” and tastes like a dessert. I mix it with creamy oat milk of the Barista edition of Lidl’s eco-conscious in-house brand. This combination is cheap and tastes great.

Using my old cocktail shaker, I add a drop of vegan Vitamin B12 essence and use it to swallow two supplement pills: An iron one and one containing vegan Omega-3 acids. These I take because people who don’t eat meat or many animal products are often insufficient of these three important nutrients. Interestingly, people who do eat meat and other animal products but don’t take care of their nutrition, also often lack them.

The post-run selection
The post-run selection

My most recent blood testing happened half a year ago and every single marker was well within the recommended range, so this is apparently working well for me. Here’s the full recipe summarized:

All ready to go
All ready to go

This is my main vitamin and nutrient cocktail. There are a few exceptions I add under special circumstances:

I do not do this religiously. For example, when I travel, I usually take nothing at all. A few days or a week or two without these supplements is no problem if the baseline is set. That’s not only true for the nutrients you’re getting but also for training of any sort. As long as you’re doing it right on most days, it’ll be fine.

💪 Step #6 of the Day: Strength Workout

My main motivation here is becoming a better runner, especially since setting the goal for myself to one day run a full marathon race in less than three hours. Also, it helps me combat the annual trail ultra marathon I’m doing in order to qualify for Western States 100. I’m happy about the visual and health-related benefits of it, too, but honestly I would probably get rid of these if it weren’t so effective in making me faster and going up the hills more easily.

I use an app called Freeletics (paid version) which creates a workout for me to my specifications. Most days I set them to last no longer than fifteen minutes and sometimes I exclude the legs in the settings if I just did an interval workout during the run, for example. I take the workout seriously and give it my best shot every day. The variety which the app offers helps so it doesn’t get boring.

Maybe I should invest in a non-slipping mat?

🫁 Step #7 of the Day: Breathing Exercise

My trigger to get into this was learning about Wim Hof, known as “The Ice Man”. The amount of world records he has broken is astonishing. The records involve him withstanding extreme conditions, most often the cold, and he does this by utilizing special breathing techniques.

The effects of breathing techniques are clinically proven and there’s nothing esoteric about them at the core. Our body’s chemistry will in fact be altered by the way we breathe. It helps our immune system as it strengthens the response towards infections. Depending on the type of breathing exercise it will help us wake up or help us fall asleep more easily. I find it to be relaxing and resetting after the strength workout.

Three sets of 30 breaths with a 60, 90, and 90 second breath hold after each set

This takes me about ten minutes and I switch between using the Othership app’s free sessions and the classic Wim Hof guided three rounds video on YouTube.

✅ Ready to Go!

A quick hop into the shower and that’s it. Sounds like a lot, but all of this is done at 10 AM usually. Then, the unhealthy part of the day in front of the screen starts. Up until I sold my company midway through 2023, this was when work started. Most often I would jump into Slack and email right now and have the first video calls at 11 AM. These days both is replaced with life admin email, doing the laundry, clearing the breakfast table, running errands like shopping for missing groceries or dropping off packages. In any case, the real day starts.

🗒️ Timing Recap (approx.)

  1. 06:15 - 06:30: ⏰ Waking up using the Sleep Cycle app
  2. 06:30 - 07:00: ☕🥤🧠 Coffee, smoothie, Wordle
  3. 07:00 - 07:30: 👨‍👧‍👧👩‍👧‍👧 Lunchboxes, getting the kids dressed and ready
  4. 07:30 - 08:15: 🚴 Biking to school, drop-off, biking back
  5. 08:15 - 09:30: 🏃 Daily run
  6. 09:30 - 09:45: 💪 Strength training
  7. 09:45 - 10:00: 🫁 Breathing exercise

Whatever the tasks and challenges are, I feel a lot better after completing this refined routine.

On the other hand, I also appreciate the weekends, where I often stray from it. Especially since the kid routine isn’t necessary in the same way and there’s often time for a long run, shaking things up keeps everything fresh. 

This isn’t a static routine, just one that works well for me right now. I’m curious how it will develop over time, especially since the demands of the kids change a lot, but also my goal-setting and other priorities in life might affect it. 

Also, tiny disclaimer:

I do realize that this exact type of routine isn’t possible to do for most people who have a standard 9-to-5 job, or one that’s taking up even more time. I’m quite lucky in that sense that I’m able to manage my time in such a way to allow for all of this. I would argue though that many of the less time-consuming items on my list could be easily adapted by others who do have a workload that’s demanding, and I’m positive it would help those to cope with it in a better way. Whatever it is, maybe the ten minute strength training or breathing session, the vitamins, the smoothie breakfast, basically everything apart from the run, should in theory fit into everyone’s day and improve it somewhat.

Do you agree or disagree? What’s your routine like? Is there anything you would add? Let me know down below!

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