No one knows anything. That’s something the screenwriter, William Goldman, said in his book “Adventures in the Screen Trade.” When he said that, he meant that line to refer to how, in Hollywood, nobody knows what movie is going to be a success and what won’t. I also think the saying applies to almost everything; Especially when it comes to what you should do to be a more productive person. Like, as just one example, practice the morning routines of Tony Robbins, Jocko Willink, and others.
(That Goldman quote, by the way, has been making the rounds in tech and business books for some time now. It bothers me to some extent because I’ve read “Adventures in the Screen Trade” and I can pretty much guarantee that the people quoting him didn’t and had no idea that he created the beloved classic, The Princess Bride, as just one example. If you’re going to quote someone, you should know their work and who you’re quoting. Don’t just repeat it because you saw some asshole used the same line as a fashionable way to explain that our species doesn’t know much of anything.)
In the same vein of not randomly repeating things you hear, what those people I mentioned do in the morning doesn’t matter. What matters is what you do; Because you’re not Tony Robbins. You’re you, and as far as we know anyway, you don’t eat people.
Sure, the next president of the United States may consume ten pounds of food every day, but if you or I tried that, we’d probably die.
So What Should You Do In The Morning Instead?
I’m not in the business of telling you what you should do. I can make suggestions, but that’s all they are. They’re suggestions.
More importantly, there’s no reason why you can’t try what these people do in the morning unless the advice is to murder and eat the flesh of your neighbor. Then you might not want to do that; Unless you live in a place like Wisconsin where that sort of thing isn’t frowned upon.
But trying the routine doesn’t mean following that method for the rest of your life. Like, the world is not going to end if you don’t eat a bowl of blueberries in the morning and write down all the things you’re thankful for if you miss a day.
What’s a better approach is to pick and choose what you like from articles like that and leave the rest behind. If talking to yourself in the mirror for a few minutes in the morning helps, even if it’s just to go over your goals, great. Copy that. But if the other stuff doesn’t work for you? Don’t bother. It’s just noise.
The world is filled with noise, and your brain already has its hands full trying to filter out the bullshit you encounter during your day to day life. Why give it more stuff to decipher through? Especially in an age of Evernote and Google Assistant. If you need to do something, write it down. Don’t keep things in your head. Offload everything, even if it’s something small like a grocery list. The less you have to chew up your brain’s resources, the better and more efficient you’ll be in processing the stuff that’s important. Like figuring out who you’d kill first after moving to Green Bay.
It’s sort of like how people think they need to read a nonfiction book from cover to cover. You don’t. As an author, I prefer that you did, but some books suck, and other books (which might be great), have sections in them that are entirely irrelevant to you. If it doesn’t matter to you, don’t read it. For example, I just had that experience with the personal finance books I’ve been reading. One of them was Ramit Sethi’s “I Will Teach You To Be Rich.” Great book, but the entire section in there about where you should invest and get involved with stocks and funds on a more granular level is entirely irrelevant to my new book and my own life. So I skipped it and read the rest.
One other trick when it comes to non-fiction books: Read the first chapter, the last chapter, and the one that interests you the most. If you like those three sections, read the rest. If you don’t, don’t waste your time. You know who taught me that? A graduate school professor.
So, since we’re not in the should business over here, I can make a recommendation. You can do with it what you will, and that advice is that whatever you choose to do in the morning, you start with the end in mind.
As I’m researching for “Don’t Be Evil,” there are ten books (my primary sources) that I need to get through. Most of them are great, but there’s a few in there that are kind of boring and not fun to read. (People who write about the future of technology are often not the best writers. I know you have a lot of great ideas about what Wittgenstein meant to say pal, but I don’t need thirty-four more pages with you explaining his dreams to me and how it involves Bitcoin.)
Since I have to read those books from cover to cover, because I’m researching them and not just reading them for fun, I spend my morning with the shitty book first. I wake up. Read it for an hour, and then go about my business. Play with the cats. Watch superheroine-in-peril porn. Write. Repeat. The advantage to doing this is that, with the crappy book out of the way, I can look forward to reading the books I enjoy later in the day. I got the thing I hate first out of the way and don’t need to think about it until the next morning. I started with the end in mind, which was that I need to read and finish these crappy books for my research. Reading them in the morning first allows me to do that.
Now, most people aren’t me and aren’t going to blow through thirty books in a month. So will this work for you in the morning? Maybe, if you like reading or doing research, but perhaps not. If not? Don’t do it. Don’t copy what I do, or what anyone does in the morning, just because that’s what I do or because I said a funny thing. Do what works best for you. Spend some time finding that something, or a bunch of things, test them all out, and then stick with what you like doing the most. The stuff you like and find rewarding is what you can stick with.
As “the youths” like to say, you do you.