A bulletproof day-starting routine

Although I haven’t been diagnosed (or at least not recently), I’m almost certain that I have a chronic, low-grade depression that has gotten slightly more pronounced over my thirties. It’s definitely not crippling, but it makes it harder for me to truly get going most days, especially if I don’t have external pressures like a work contract with deadlines.

I have plenty of great work to do, related to starting two companies and contributing my best code to the world – but this purpose work is not very effective to break the slowness/lazyness/depression spell that I face most mornings.

Relying on work contracts to break this spell for me is a fragile solution that is not oriented with my deeper purpose. I want my movement to be free, not forced.

To break the spell, what works best for me is to have a habit that I perform when truly starting my day. A going-through-the-motions, yet impactful habit that takes up to an hour, after which everything feels easier and more possible.

If you experience the same spell when you start your day, I encourage you to find your own bulletproof day-starting routine (I call it the base habit).

In my case, it is a combination of meditation (10 minutes), journaling (10 minutes) and working out at home (40 minutes). Almost always I shower after that – and the day is always different after that. And it is a rare day where I feel I don’t have the strength to actually get the routine started – I might procrastinate a while, but eventually it gets done and everything else follows.

In this context, bulletproof means two things: the fact that I can do it almost every day, and it being a watershed of my day. If you can have something that you do every day, and which completely changes its tone (particularly on the bad ones), I would call it bulletproof :).

How to make your routine bulletproof? Since I’m extrapolating a pattern from a single data point, I’m not sure about how this might look for you. There is much to be said, however, for the combination of meditation, journaling and working out. Meditation gives you mental space and calmness; journaling gives you structure, insight and accountability. Working out vastly improves your physical and mental health and energy; and morning exercise tends to be more effective since you’re carrying more growth hormone in the early hours.

To see the routine as an indivisible unit, always performed in the same order, makes it easier to accomplish. I recommend that while constantly refining it, you stick to a certain sequence of things that you do. Some of these things might expand or get more intense (like, for example, the repetitions you perform on a set or the exercise itself), but the overall pattern should be stable – choose what works for you, and experiment.

Finally, if you find something that works for you, share it with the world! We can all learn from each other, particularly in matters of personal energy.