Benjamin Spall On Morning Routines And Starting Your Day Inspired
Welcome to this week's episode, where we dive into a very interesting topic that has come up time and time again, and that is morning routines. My guest today is Benjamin Spall, the co-author of My Morning Routine: How Successful People Start Every Day Inspired.
Benjamin is also the founding editor of the website mymorningroutine.com and he writes at benjaminspall.com. He and his partner/co-author, Michael Xander, have written this incredible new book, published by Penguin, about morning routines, where they interviewed hundreds of people, such as leading entrepreneurs, thought leaders, Navy Seals, and beyond. They did all that to understand what these people do in the morning to make themselves more successful throughout the day. It's a really interesting book, which I'm looking forward to reading.
As you'll see, I really enjoyed our conversation, too! It's a far-ranging one, going from breakfast to the best 100$ that Benjamin has ever spent, and beyond.
Personally, I don't need to hope that you enjoy the episode, as I know you will!
P.S. Do you dream of starting your own business on the internet to achieve financial freedom, empower tens of thousands of people, and one day…one day… find yourself in the company of other great entrepreneurs and thought leaders like Ray Kurzweil, Peter Diamandis, Joe Polish, Dean Graziosi, Russell Brunson, and more?
Well… What if that day was today?
In this episode, we discuss:
- Who is Benjamin Spall, and how did he get interested in morning routines? [6:25]
- Why are morning routines important? [8:20]
- What is the wake-up time Benjamin suggests? [11:15]
- Is there a clear benefit to waking up at a specific time? [12:20]
- Taking sleep cycles into account [12:55]
- The quality of your sleep matters [14:10]
- Important advice on how to set up your morning routines [15:25]
- How can you guarantee success? [17:55]
- You must not beat yourself up if you miss a day or 2 [20:15]
- What place do workouts have in morning routines? [23:15]
- What else can you do in your morning routine? [25:35]
- Being reactive vs being proactive [26:55]
- Do people include breakfast in their morning routine? [29:05]
- How to start your morning routine [31:10]
- SuperHuman hacks that Benjamin Spall utilizes in his own life [33:10]
- The importance of winding down [34:00]
- Books that have changed Benjamin's life [36:55]
- Benjamin's most valuable purchase under 100$ [38:35]
- Benjamin Spall's takeaway message [39:30]
Resources Mentioned in This Episode:
- mymorningroutine.com by Benjamin Spall and Michael Xander
- My Morning Routine: How Successful People Start Every Day Inspired by Benjamin Spall and Michael Xander
- The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
- Our previous episode with Nick Littlehales
- Our previous episode with Hal Elrod
- Our previous episode with Jeff Sanders
- Our previous episode with Daniel Thomas Hind
- Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
- When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
- Malcolm Gladwell's books
Favorite Quotes from Benjamin Spall:
Introduction: Welcome to the Award-winning Superhuman Academy Podcast, where we interview extraordinary people to give you the skills and strategies to overcome the impossible. And now here's your host, Jonathan Levi.
Jonathan Levi: Before we dive into today's episode, I want to let you guys know about an opportunity to learn some of the most important skills in life if not the most important skills, and those are the skills of learning and doing so rapidly, effectively and easily. You see guys, I'm putting on a completely free 60-minute webinar that you guys can check out where I will be going into my absolute best memory tips, learning tips, and speed reading tips so that you can immediately begin applying them and accelerating your learning of anything and everything. All you need to do to claim your spot in this free webinar is visit JLe.vi/webinar, we have showings at many different times throughout the days for every time zone, but you have to log in and claim your spot. So that's JLe.vi/webinar, and I really look forward to seeing what you guys achieve.
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Greeting SuperFriends and welcome to this week's episode of the Becoming Superhuman Podcast, where we dive into a very interesting topic that has come up time and time again and that is morning routines.
My guest today is Benjamin Spall. He is the co-author of My Morning Routine, How Successful People Start Every Day Inspired. He's also the founding editor of the website, mymorningroutine.com and he writes at benjaminspall.com. Now Benjamin and his partner co-author Michael Zander have written an incredible new book published by penguin about morning routines, where they interviewed hundreds of people such as leading entrepreneurs, thought leaders, Navy seals, and beyond to understand what they do in the morning to make themselves more successful throughout the day. It's a really, really interesting book. I'm really looking forward to reading it and as you'll see, I really enjoyed our conversation. It's a far-ranging one going from breakfast to the best, a hundred dollars that Benjamin has ever spent and beyond so. I don't need to hope that you enjoy it. I know you will. So without any further ado, my new super friend, Mr. Benjamin Spall.
Oh, wait, one more super important thing. Before we get into the episode, how would you like to hang out with me, Ray Kurzweil, Peter Diamandis, Joe Polish, Sean Stephenson, JP Sears, and about 400 of the top caliber entrepreneurs and thought leaders, including about a dozen or more past guests from the show? Well, it sounds pretty cool, right? Well, I am hosting a competition from now until the end of August 2018 to become the official brand ambassador for my new venture branding U Academy. You see the winner will not only get tons and tons of exposure and mentorship from me personally, they'll also get a free ticket to attend the invite-only genius network annual event, and meet 400 of the world's top entrepreneurs.
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Simply visit JLE.VI/giveaway before August 31st, 2018. Okay. Now on with the episode, Mr. Benjamin Spall welcome to the show, my friend, how are you doing?
Benjamin Spall: I am great. Thanks for having me, Jonathan.
Jonathan Levi: It's an absolute pleasure. You know, it comes at a really, really good time because as I was telling you before I hit record, I'm just about to fly to the States tomorrow and every time I fly to the States, I have a golden opportunity to reset my circadian rhythm and usually that means that I can get a couple of weeks of waking up early and getting a good morning routine in before I slipped back into being a lazy bum, I'm really looking forward to our call and, and learning all about morning routines.
Benjamin Spall: Yeah, no, it sounds great. It's actually surprising. Quite a lot of the people we spoke with told me that as the opposite of what you may think when they actually travel, they sometimes have a better morning routine kind of, as you just described.
Exactly. I always
Jonathan Levi: find that in-app, you know, I use the human charger, which I have in my hand right now, because I need to charge it before tomorrow and I, and be able to kind of work it, I think because we're so diligent when we fly that I'm paying attention to the clock and I'm saying, well, it's 10 o'clock in my destination. I need to go to bed now and taking the melatonin and stuff like that but before we dive into that and go on this geeky deep dive that I'm really excited about.
Tell me a bit about yourself, Benjamin, and how you came to write an entire book just about morning routines.
Benjamin Spall: Yeah. So basically I had a website with my Nalco alpha and Michael's Zander for a little as a five and a half years now and it's called mymorningroutine.com and we started it out. Michael came to me with this idea of kind of interviewing people about the habits they do in the morning and we quickly touched upon the idea that this is effectively morning routines and back five and a half years ago this really wasn't a topic that people were talking about anywhere near as much as they are now.
So we kind of got in the ground floor, as I say. Yeah, in the very beginning, we just put out the website in about three weeks. We interviewed a couple of all friends and over the next two, three years, we really just build up the website every single week by interviewing one more person every single week and approximately two years ago, we were approached by a penguin with the idea of the kind of turning the website into a book.
Jonathan Levi: Very cool.
Benjamin Spall: Now, the last two years, that was kind of, um, you know, being our main focus, we wouldn't just like bringing interviews from the website into a book. We were interviewing a bunch of different people to actually include just exclusively in the book. So it's been an enormous project, but it's recently released and it's been very rewarding.
Jonathan Levi: Congratulations. I mean, I love how you threw that out there. Like, Oh yeah. We were casually approached by one of the largest shows out there. There, you know, there are so many people dying to get a book deal with penguins. So that's really incredible and I guess a Testament to the quality of your work.
Benjamin Spall: We're very lucky. We're not pretending that you know, that was our idea. We're not pretending that that's something we went off to. So as we got the email and we approached the lab, we, uh, basically kind of grabbed it with both hands, you know, we didn't want to waste the opportunity but didn't want to do it half-heartedly. We really wanted to go for it.
Jonathan Levi: Yeah, I bet. So why morning routines? I mean, I know one of my favorite thought leaders, Tim Ferriss has an obsession with morning routines. I mean, what's the big deal with the morning routine? Why is it not the evening routine or the afternoon routine? That's so interesting.
Benjamin Spall: Yeah. So well we do have a chapter on evening routines in the book, the reason we focus on morning routines is because the morning is kind of unique, unlikely, often late evening or the morning, you're always starting with a blank slate. So we talk a lot about habits stacks in the book, which is partly taken off the idea by Charles Duhigg and his book, The Power Of Habit. I love that book.
It's a great book. It was kind of, I was actually reading that just before we started the site. So I definitely credit that book for even beginning. But yeah, the idea is in the morning, you always have this habit of you wake up and after waking up, we have to go global for him and then after that, you can kind of just keep stacking these habits one on top of each other, you know, they'd have to take a long time each morning, but when you have that kind of immediate go, you know, of the morning of waking up, it's much easier to, uh, stick to a morning routine as it is to stick to an afternoon or evening routine for a sample.
Jonathan Levi: I like that and to give people kind of the benefit of the book without reading it, do it argues that this is where, you know, the memory techniques come in cause I read that book a few years ago that all habits have to be anchored to a cue, then followed with a response than with a reward and to rephrase what you're saying. Waking up every morning. It's something that we can't control. We do knock on wood. We do every single morning, a very clear cue, and then, you know, because of that, it's a strong cue to anchor to.
Benjamin Spall: That's exactly right and I find, and I'm sure you find as well, even non-morning people, as long as you've got a good night's sleep and we speak about sleep in the book as well, because, without a good night's sleep, kind of your morning routine is gone, you know, but as long as you've got a good night's sleep, but many of us will wake up feeling pretty good We feel pretty calm, especially compared to later on in the morning and all afternoon, once we like sifting through emails, for example. So we wake up feeling good and then from there, it's a great place to just begin your routine like you want to do a special workout or meditation. It's a great way to actually just start.
Jonathan Levi: I like that a lot and also Chris Bailey once told me that, and then I haven't read the research myself, but he told me you're 15% less productive. If you start your day in a reactive, you know, no reaching for the smartphone, checking the email. And so I definitely appreciate the value of having a morning routine and being deliberate about it.
Benjamin Spall: Oh, for sure. Yeah. I don't know the exact stats, but anecdotally that's definitely how I feel. And it's definitely how the vast majority of the people that we interviewed for the book fail.
Wow. Now tell me Benjamin about wake-up time, because I feel like this is a contentious thing, especially for, you know, folks like myself who have complete control over their schedules. I always say like I worked so many years and I worked so hard to have complete control over my time and my schedule and I kind of shot myself in the foot because a lot of mornings, you know, I can just roll back and go back to bed. So are you agnostic or do you have an opinion, on the right wake-up time and the right time to start your morning routine?
It's kind of interesting because everyone who hears about the book would kind of assumes that we're pushing people to kind of, you know, wake up at 4:00 AM and immediately go for this 10-mile run followed by a half-hour meditation, but that's really not what we're talking about and even though we do an interview, for example, we interview a general Stanley McChrystal and he gets up at 4:00 AM. It does exactly that. But even though we do interview people like that for the book, the vast majority get up quite a bit later. So our actual average wake-up time, and we have this as a statistics page in the book is 6:24 AM.
And that's still pretty early. You know, that's still about an hour earlier than I typically wake up. It's not for, you know, it's not five, even though we don't say this is the best wake up time or anything like that in the book, we generally do suggest that if you want to have more time for a morning routine that you slowly over the week started getting up just a little bit earlier just to give yourself that time.
But we're not telling people like if you get up, you get up at seven7:00 that's completely fine. You know what I'm not telling you to get up at 4:00 or 5:00
Jonathan Levi: And I guess the question that immediately follows is, is there a clear benefit to 6:30 over 7:30 over 8:30.
Benjamin Spall: Not especially, I would say that what we noticed is the greatest benefit is just getting enough sleep, and, uh, we speak about this a lot in the book. It's so important to actually get seven and a half eight hours sleep. The average that people need is seven to nine hours and so many people think that that means they need seven. You know, they assume that they need to show this amount of time. But you actually may need nine hours and I officially need eight hours if I get less than aI'm pretty tired.
So that's the most important thing. The most important thing is to go to bed, to give yourself enough time to actually get that seven to nine hours in.
Jonathan Levi: Right and another thing that I always find interesting is people assume that eight hours is better. I don't know if you agree with this, but people assume that eight hours is better than seven and a half. When in fact, I think one of the really important things is to pay attention to your circadian rhythm and wake up at the right point in that rhythm. Because in business school, I realized that I felt better sleeping six hours than I did sleeping six and a half. And it was just because I was diving right back into a sleep cycle.
Benjamin Spall: I mean, you know, if you can, for the most part control, how quickly you fall asleep. That's definitely true. I mean, I always aim for about eight hours just because I know that it's going to take me a little bit of time to fall asleep. So when I aim for am really kind of trying to 7 and a half but yeah, I totally know what you mean.
Like, especially it's the same with naps. Like if you aim for a short nap, but you fall asleep faster, for example, then you wake up during the deep sleep stage that can really mess with you.
Jonathan Levi: Totally. And that's a tough one that I've been struggling with lately is, and I think it comes from, you know, having a partner and they're being light and like no longer having my ideal sleep conditions, but it takes me way longer to fall asleep than it did a year ago.
And I'm not able to accurately predict actually how much I'm going to be able to sleep, which has been tough, to say the least.
Benjamin Spall: Yeah, no, I didn't recently. I had a sleep mask for a while now by recently buy a brand new sleep mask. And of course, you know, it's not the most manly of a tie to be wearing, but it, without it, like, it's very light, you know, the light stuff streaming in at about 5:30 AM.
So without a sleep mask, I'm not getting enough sleep. So, you know, it's worth it.
Jonathan Levi: Right. After we did an episode with Nick, the little Hills, I always said that was the most expensive episode we've ever produced because I went out and I spent thousands of dollars on mattress. Thousands of dollars on electric blinds.
Benjamin Spall: Oh, that's funny.
Jonathan Levi: All kinds of lights, gadgets for the TV that makes the light. I mean, I just, that episode probably cost me five or $8,000, you know, but well worth it. And my partner and I sleep extremely well. So.
Benjamin Spall: No totally like, yeah. Anything you can do to improve the quality of sleep is going to improve your life as a whole, but certainly going to improve your morning routine.
Jonathan Levi: Oh yeah.
Okay. So we've woken up at whatever time we've woken up. Talk to me about morning routines, I mean, I think if you're in, in the same position that I'm in, where you've interviewed so many people that you don't even need to do the statistics that probably some trends jump out at you by themselves. So what are those trends where you're like, geez, this just keeps coming up over and over and over again?
Benjamin Spall: Right. Yeah. So the interesting thing, like both the book and the website, they kind of give you a peek into the lives of successful busy people and make it simple to replicate what they do. So it's not actually just routines in the book, but at the end of each chapter. So we have a chapter on working out meditation on being a pairing. For example, at the end of each chapter, we kind of dig into the details about what those people said and what the 300 plus other people we've interviewed said, and kind of give tips for each of those chapters. So on a very general level, I would say one of the most important things that people can do is to keep your routine short and easy to accomplish, especially in the beginning, as you're starting out with a new routine.
Jonathan Levi: Wow I love that.
Benjamin Spall: Yeah. It greatly increases your chances of sticking to it and the examples we kind of like to use is. Kind of like what we mentioned with General McChrystal's routine earlier. If you suddenly decide that on Monday, you want to get up, you want to go for 4:00 AM. You want to go on a 10-mile run and then you want to do a half-hour meditation and something else that just takes a long amount of time. You're not going to stick with it. You're likely not going to stick with that for two or three days but if you instead say, okay, I want to get into this slowly. So I'm going to wake up 10 minutes earlier than I usually wake up and just do a short stretching routine followed by a two or five-minute meditation. You are going to stick with it. You know, it's going to be difficult, not to stick with that and over time, you can increase the length of these things. That teammate meditation may seem a little ridiculous. So you may quickly increase that to five or 10, minutes but over time you'll increase the length of the things you enjoy and parts you don't enjoy so much.
You couldn't drop out of it but I think that's the only way that you're really going to be able to stick with it and be able to grow over the long term.
Jonathan Levi: I'm really, really glad you said that Benjamin, because for me a lot of times and people know this. If they listen to the show, you know, we interview an ultra-marathoner. The first thing I want to know is where does the discipline comes from? Right? Because I'm human, right? I'm like painfully Raymond and that's the same here. You know, we've had hell a lot on the show. We've had Jeff Sanders, we've talked about the 5:00 AM thing, and yet here I am still waking up at 7:30 to 8:00 getting in the good breakfast every single morning, but not getting in the meditation or a lot of mornings that fall by the wayside. So I wanted to ask you, you know, how do you really glad that we both are on the same page with the Charles Duhigg and, and kind of the neuroscience of the habit, but how do you ensure success? And it sounds like, correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds like your answer is to start very, very small in a way that is easy to succeed.
Benjamin Spall: Yeah. So we kind of think about it as kind of like starting your morning with intention, because you want to know what you're going to get out of the morning and what you're going to get out of the day and when you start your morning with intention and you have these little things that you're doing like I said two, five-minute meditation and short stretching routines, it can then be increased into a short running routine or so the gym, you know, workout. Um, but when you start your morning group intention, you can take these wins with you into the rest of the day.
So you may want to get up at 5:00 AM, but you may want to kind of work up to that. So if you currently get up at 7:30, getting up at 5:00 AM immediately, really isn't going to work for you and it's a great concept. It's a great idea. And it's definitely something to work towards. If that's what you want to do, that you really just need to start small, because like you said, you're human, I'm human.
We all struggle with these things and it's kind of, it's difficult to just assume that we're gonna be able to change because we know we weren't and we know that we need these small steps together.
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All right. Back to the show.
Any other ideas, tips, thoughts for adherence?
Benjamin Spall: Hmm. I mean, one of the most important things is to really not beat yourself up if you miss a day. And we actually have a whole chapter on this in the book, because we think it's so important and even the long time that we've been doing the website, we always ask the question um, I can't remember the exact wording, but it's basically what happens if you fail. So what happens if you fail to do a part of your morning routine or even your whole morning routine on one day? And so many of the most successful people we spoke with say that they just let it go.
And you don't let it go for, you know, days, weeks in a row. If you just miss one day or even if you just missed two days, just let it go and get back to it the next day or the next day after that and this is even more important if you're traveling like you said, you're, you will be soon if you sometimes feel your morning routine falling by the wayside, but you're traveling because you're in a hotel or somewhere where you just can't perform certain elements of it.
You really need to just think okay, I'll be home soon. This isn't a big deal. I'll just need to get back to it tomorrow and of course, that's a danger here. There's a danger that you may never get back to it, but that's kind of why you have to forgive yourself because if you just see one mistake as like it's messed up your whole routine, then you really are never going to get back to it.
Jonathan Levi: Right. A lot of people love to cite that kind of Jerry Seinfeld tip, you know, you take the calendar and you X out, and then you just never miss a day.
Benjamin Spall: Right, right, right.
Jonathan Levi: A break your streak. And he hasn't, Jerry Seinfeld, hasn't missed a day of writing for like 35 years, but for the rest of us, that's a great way to start an incredible shame spiral.
It's like with diet, we've talked to a lot of people like Daniel Thomas Hind about diet and the psychology of eating. And it's like, you know, I already screwed up. So I might as well enjoy it or I can sleep till 11:00 instead of 10.
Benjamin Spall: That's exactly right and I do, I really love that Seinfeld example where every single day he puts across on his calendar, that he writes a joke or writes some material.
And it's a really, really great example but the thing is, I don't know if he still sticks to that or if he still does that, but if he does one day miss a day like he sleeps the whole day also something happens where he can't do it. He's going to feel terrible afterward and there's every chance he'll miss two free four days in a row. That's kind of why we kind of begged the forgiveness element and we're not saying. You know, do your morning routine two days out of the week and forgive the next five, I'm not saying that. We're just saying if you really can't do it or you just, something happens and you can't do it one morning, you have a really early meeting, for example, I don't think, okay. I'm screwed. Just think, okay. I'll just do it again tomorrow.
Jonathan Levi: Right. I really like that. I really liked that. A lot of what you're saying has to do with kind of self-awareness but also self-compassion.
Benjamin Spall: Right. You know, self-compassion is very important.
Jonathan Levi: Oh yeah. You can do more harm with a lot of this than you can. Good. If you're beating yourself up at every possible turn.
Benjamin Spall: Is that clear? Yeah.
Jonathan Levi: Talk to me Benjamin about content. So we've talked about the, how and the why. Tell me about the what, I mean what are the things that stand out as being more worth your time in the morning and why?
Benjamin Spall: Yeah. So one of the most common friends that came up again and again, which you won't be surprised about is morning workouts,
Jonathan Levi: and the interesting
Benjamin Spall: thing that we heard about wanting workouts is that they don't always have to happen in the morning to get the full benefit. So many of the people we interviewed, they actually prefer to work out in the afternoon, kind of around lunchtime or even in the evening, and what we found from our data on that we put together anecdotally is that you should kind of just work out when works for you and just having a workout tool is where the benefit comes from.
Like many of the people, we spoke with actually the mornings is their most productive time of day full of writing, for example, doing any other form of creative work. So even though some of them, they make it up really early and get their workout in first many of them, they kind of wake up seven, eight, and they want to just get right down to writing and because of that, they'll then get their workout in 12, 1:00 PM. And that was at the, uh, the previous CEO and current chairman of Vanguard. And he tells us exactly that he likes to get up. He likes to kind of be with his faults. He likes to go for his email and such, and then he'll get his workout at lunch. So even though we have kind of a whole chapter on morning workouts, kind of the summary of that chapter is more to the point of having that workout, a tall is more important than doing it in the morning.
Jonathan Levi: Yeah, that's really interesting because there is research that shows that we're most creative in the morning, but you know, that's only for certain types of work and so I find that interesting. I do wish that I was the kind of person who woke up and did a workout every single morning, but you know, as we've said that that's hard, especially if you're a workout partner of choice or life partner of choice is not on board with that.
Benjamin Spall: Right? No, exactly. Like I said, it's all about being like giving yourself compassion and like, I don't want people who currently, you know, do a great workout in the afternoon to read my book and then think, oh, I need to change everything and move into the morning. That's not the point at all. We're saying if you already do a workout at some point in the day, you may want to move in some morning and see if it works for you. But if it doesn't and if it's currently working well for you, then you've already got it set.
Jonathan Levi: Right. Right. So I want to, re-ask the question, because I feel like there are some other things that stand out some really prominent themes. I have a few ideas as to what they might be, but did you find were some of the most worthwhile or some of the other worthwhile things to be doing in the morning?
Benjamin Spall: So the next one is a morning meditation, and we've discussed this before, you know, the two or five-minute methods. Yeah. This can be incredibly short and it can be incredibly long. We have a whole chapter in the book where we speak with a Buddhist priest and she meditates all day long at certain times of the year.
And, um, It just came up time and time again, meditation and all these different forms like people describe exactly what they do whereas some people talk about just being kind of mindful in the moment. I think somebody mentioned when they put on their tea kettle to boil, it takes like two or three minutes.
And during that time they just aim to be mindful. And, um, that kind of also bleeds into self-care which can be anything from just giving yourself some time to read in the morning to, uh, taking a shower to kind of just generally feeling good about yourself and your place in the world and we actually led to think a bit consider your morning routine and how it would look like from an outside observer.
And if it is frantic and confused, you know, kind of rushing from one test and then I suppose, spilling coffee all over yourself, this is probably an indication that it's time to make a change and this change needs to be some level of self-care and you could definitely argue that meditating and working out is that in itself self-care but you may want to do something else kind of just to give yourself that time to have some calm, like a grounded experience in the morning.
Jonathan Levi: Yeah. And you know, I hear you speak and I'm seeing a lot of myself in that bad example, writing up frantically before calls and, and it wasn't always that way and, and you're absolutely right. It does set you down a path of reactivity. One of the things I really like one of the kinds of core values of Genius Network, which I joined not too, too long ago, is to respond, not react, to get yourself into a situation where you're able to calmly respond to your surroundings, not react to them, not be in a reactive state, as they say and I think a lot of that starts with how do you show up first thing in the morning.
Benjamin Spall: Yeah, and it's, it's incredibly tough. Like for example, I keep my phone in the kitchen overnight and I have to keep it on airplane mode and if possible, I try to not take it off airplane mode until I leave the house or sit down to work and the reason for that is I'm sure, you know, many people listening have this as well. My co for Michael, he actually lives. In Germany and I'm on the West coast of the US so when I wake up at 7:00 or 7:30, he is in the middle of his workday and he's like, I've got a lot of emails from him, a lot of emails from other people and all these notifications and I don't want to jump into my workday immediately, you know, so I find that it's better to just, just, you know, keep that on airplane mode until I'm actually ready to sit down to work and until I can properly respond to these emails without kind of just feeling grumpy and like, why is this happening right now.
Jonathan Levi: Right. You know, I did the exact same thing and that was one big step is moving the phones out of the bedroom was really helpful. I mean, really, really helpful because at the very least you get those first five to 10 minutes even if you go for the phone.
Benjamin Spall: It benefits both of your morning and your evening because you know, depending on when you take out, I guess you could take it out right before he goes to sleep. If you take it out of your bedroom, you know, even just an hour before you go to bed, you, then, you know, you have your book, you have your, your partner, but you don't have your phone and it makes a huge difference to helping you fall asleep and then as you mentioned in the morning, it's not the first thing you reach for.
Jonathan Levi: Yeah, absolutely. So we talked about meditation. We talked about morning routines. How does a healthy breakfast fit in? I mean, is it true? What did they say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day?
Benjamin Spall: Yeah, it's funny. Somebody asked me about this the other day and we collected statistics on what people eat. Um, but somebody asked like, you know, do people still eat breakfast? And generally, yes, like for the most part, everyone we spoke with does eat breakfast. But when it's unfolded, well, someone who does not is a General McChrystal. Again, he doesn't eat until dinner time every day. And I asked him, I actually heard him say that on an interview previously.
So when I spoke with him, I asked him if I was, you know, that was true, you know, really the case. And, uh, he told me if he starts to feel hungry around lunchtime, he will have a small snack. He's not like crazy. Uh, even he wouldn't make him stick to it if he's feeling hungry. But one was the most part he doesn't eat until he eats dinner in the evening.
But yeah, in terms of breakfast, pretty much, I'd say almost everyone we spoke to do eat breakfast of some kind, some of them, you know, they may eat at home or they may go for a run and pick it up there, but it's, uh, it's pretty typical to have breakfast.
Jonathan Levi: Right. And I think that has a lot to do with kind of blood sugar as well and hunger and I've been experimenting with higher and higher quantities of fat in the morning, specifically MCT medium-chain triglycerides and that's been really interesting and helpful. It turns out Dave Asprey knows what the hell he's talking about. Yeah, and definitely breakfast is a really, really important thing. Though, I will say I'm equally effective when I fast. So it's either ketones or high quantities of fat.
Benjamin Spall: No it, yeah, it's interesting. Yeah. I definitely eat breakfast and I just need to eat, but I do have this strange thing where if it's coming up to lunchtime and I'm trying to finish an article, I do try to finish it while I'm still hungry, because I know that I'm going to be much slower after eating lunch. If you see what I mean.
Jonathan Levi: Oh, absolutely. I'm the same way. I'll generally put off lunch to two or three if I'm in a flow state.
Benjamin Spall: Exactly. Yeah, yeah,
Jonathan Levi: absolutely. So. What would be the first step Benjamin for people who want to, I mean, obviously the first step is to read the book, which I plan to do, but what would be the other first step for people who say, you know what?
These guys know what they're talking about. I want to implement a morning routine.
Benjamin Spall: Yes. I think the first step, even, you don't even have to read the book chameleon just to flip through the book and like stop. If you see an interview, that seems interesting to you. But the first step is to kind of think of some ideas that you would actually like to bring into your routine.
So that could be working out or meditation. As we previously mentioned, it could be a certain form of self-care. It could be reading. It could be generally. I mean, if you want, it could be checking your emails. I mean, that's not my idea of what I want to do. First thing. If you get a lot of emails throughout the day, you may want to just check in first thing.
So get the idea of what you want to do and then consider your current wake-up time and see if you can push that back by five or 10 minutes for the whole week. And I don't mean every single day, you know, push it more. When you say you normally get up at seven, then get up at six 50 every single day that week.
And then if that goes, well, you may want to push it back another 10 minutes the next week. And the point we're making is kind of like what I said earlier. We're not trying to make you get up earlier, per se. We're just trying to give you that little bit extra time so you can fit stuff into your morning.
And, um, of course, if you spend your mornings, you know, watching TV for two hours before you leave for work, cause then you already have that time. That's the first thing I would say. And then once you start to bring these things into your morning routine, definitely like I mentioned earlier, keep it short and easy to accomplish because you're really gonna struggle if you don't.
And I would even suggest just bringing in one item at a time or maybe two items. So. The working hour and the meditation. For example, if you want to do both of those things, keep them short and just do those two things or one of those things for a week. And then over time increase how many things you're doing, increase, how many habits you're adding to the stack.
Don't do everything at once because like, what's that metaphor about like, you know, if you juggle too many balls, you gonna drop them all. It's going to be really tough to keep it up if you're adding too many things at once. So that's the main thing I would say.
Jonathan Levi: Right. Brilliant advice. Brilliant advice, Benjamin.
I know we have a little bit of time left. I want to ask you about some of the other performance hacks or ways that you keep yourself functioning at optimal levels.
Benjamin Spall: Oh, okay. So yeah, the main thing I would say, this is more something I try than I, you know, like you said yourself earlier, we're all human. I try as much as possible to procrastinate as little as I can.
Jonathan Levi: I can, and it is incredibly hard. But I had this great line from the awful rhino holiday recently, and I can't remember what he said. Uh, the line was simply that you need to work harder and relax more. And I love that line because he's really, he's separating out with two things. He's not saying work moderately hard and procrastinates at the same time and kind of feel stressed out at the end.
He's saying, you know, work hard while you're working and then relax hard, I guess when you're not working. And I love that. And I've known that line for about four months now. It's tough to stick to, like, we love to procrastinate, but certainly writing this book and then promoting it, um, in recent months, it's, uh, there's really stuck with me.
So that's one of the things that I'm really working on right now.
Jonathan Levi: Love it. I really, really love it. And I love that idea, you know? In my last genius network meeting, we had a whole breakout session, spontaneous breakout session with Joe Polish and, and a bunch of other really top business people. And it was all about free days and the importance of not only taking them enthusiastically taking them but also not feeling guilty because I used to feel guilty around my free days.
And then even some of my employees. Would tell me, you know what, you're really not at the top of your game, your writing's not as creative or you're not bringing fresh enough ideas to the table. So I started taking one or two days off a week and some of the best ideas that have come into our business recently come from free days.
And so now I'm encouraging also our staff members to take the occasional free day and do whatever.
Benjamin Spall: Yeah. For sure. And I actually, in the lead-up to this book coming out of the book, came out a few weeks ago and in the lead-up, I was feeling a little bit hypocritical. Cause last year I went 14 days in a row working every single day.
And I've never really done that before. You know, I just kept heading it because, because you know, you just kept coming in to help promote the book. And by the end of that time, I was. Worn out, you know, I was just exhausted mentally. And, um, you know, I wasn't getting that much sleep either because I was stressing over the book and all these things.
And even though we know these things, we know that we have to rest. We know that there's a weekend for reasonably. So from things, sometimes we really have to take her in advice. And that was definitely an occasion where I just needed to, you know, I need, I need to sleep. I needed to take time off. I needed to read materials that are related to my own work.
And I think, yeah, as you say, it's just so important to give yourself that time.
Jonathan Levi: Yeah, absolutely. And that's something, I think every content creator author struggles with is, and we can go down this spiral of feeling inauthentic, but it's human. You know, I put a video on our Facebook page the other day about just the silliness of the fact that I had wanted to memorize the nato phonetic alphabet.
I like downloaded it. I left it in my downloads folder for like six months before I realized like, Holy crap. I literally wrote the book on memorizing. It took me under a minute to memorize it. You know, we have a saying in Hebrew, which translates to the Shoemaker goes barefoot, or in German, I understand that they say the Baker's children go hungry.
Benjamin Spall: And it's exactly that, you know, by taking your own advice.
Jonathan Levi: Yeah, you forget, you forget that it also applies to you what you're teaching and writing about. So definitely don't get into a crisis of confidence over that because I do the exact same thing.
Benjamin Spall: That's good to hear.
Jonathan Levi: Awesome. So, Benjamin, I want to ask you some quick, rapid-fire questions before we let you go. First one being what are some books that have most impacted your life?
Benjamin Spall: Yeah.
So this is tough because I do read a lot of books, but I went through my list just now. And so one of them is kind of a classic nowadays, but meditations by Marcus Aurelius.
Jonathan Levi: Oh yeah.
Benjamin Spall: I first heard of that through Ryan, you know, he's a big believer of services and he pushes out very hard.
Yes. A meditation is a great book. Last year. I read that book when breath becomes air by Paul. Kalanithi something like that. And that was a great book. He was the, uh, the neurosurgeon who he got cancer and he wrote about that and he eventually died and his wife finished the book. That was amazing. I listened to the old day book has today, but that was really a great book.
And Another book. I couldn't think of it. Anyone book. So I'd have to say. is The kind of Malcolm Gladwell's series, because that is what kind of sparks my interest in writing. I don't know, like 10, 8 10 years ago. And I think I've read some less up-to-date stuff, but just in general, like his style of writing and how he goes about it.
And he's got a great podcast, actually, that kind of sparked my interest in going down this route in the first place.
Jonathan Levi: Yeah,
absolutely. I love Gladwell's. Well, and I want to ask you though, which edition, if you know, off the top of your head, which edition of meditations do you prefer? Because I've picked up a couple of them and really not like them.
Benjamin Spall: Yeah, I read that this is the one Brian recommend Gregory Hay's A New translation, which I believe is the most recent, but yeah, it's very tough actually on Amazon, you have to make sure you get the right translation. So just search meditation's Gregory Hays in Amazon or wherever you get books and, uh, you should find out, I think the actual, the image is like a Raven or bird on front something like that Okay. Brilliant.
Jonathan Levi: Last rapid-fire question. Well, Yeah, we'll make it. The last one. What would you say is the best a hundred dollars you've ever spent?
Benjamin Spall: So this is, I mean, I guess you may have to spend more than hundreds of babies, anything that plays audiobooks, so it could be a phone. It could be like a very cheap kind of iPod thing.
And the reason I say that is because I have started listening to audiobooks probably in the last two years to supplement my own, you know, I read books still, but audiobooks are just amazing. And actually just being able to. I listen on a faster speed, depending on the speed of the office. So between 1.5, sometimes two times, and it's just really a great way to listen to a book and to read a book effectively.
And yeah, I just go through a lot of audiobooks, and yeah, I just love them.
Jonathan Levi: Brilliant. Brilliant. So, Benjamin, I want to be respectful of your time first. I want to thank you very much, but before I get to all of that, I want to ask you our last takeaway question, which is if people take away really just one message from this episode and they carry it with them for the rest of their lives, what would you hope for that message to be.
Benjamin Spall: Yeah, it would be actually the point about keeping your, your morning routine, very short and easy to accomplish. And I guess you could say that about all routines in your life, your evening routine as well, but yeah, you should experiment and just start out, short because if you try everything at once, it's just not going to work so well.
Jonathan Levi: Brilliant. That was my takeaway as well. So I really, really appreciate that. Benjamin. It's been an absolute pleasure chatting with you. I want to congratulate you and wish you good luck on the book.
Benjamin Spall: Thank you.
Jonathan Levi: And, uh, I really do hope we keep in touch. I really love what you guys are doing.
Benjamin Spall: Yeah, this was great. Thanks very much.
Jonathan Levi: All right. My friend, you take care.
Benjamin Spall: All right, bye.
Jonathan Levi: Alright, SuperFriends. That is all we have for you today, but I hope you guys really enjoyed the show and I hope you learned a ton of actionable information tips, advice that will help you go out there and overcome the impossible. If you've enjoyed the show, please take a moment to leave us a review on iTunes or Stitcher, or drop us a quick little note on the Twitter machine @gosuperhuman. Also, if you have any ideas for anyone out there who you would love to see on the show. We always love to hear your recommendations. You can submit on our website, or you can just drop us an email and let us know that's all for today, guys. Thanks for tuning in.
Closing: Thanks for tuning into the award-winning superhuman Academy podcast for more great skills and strategies, or for links to any of the resources mentioned in this episode, visit superhuman.blog while you're here. Please take a moment to share this episode with a friend and leave us a review on iTunes. We'll see you next week.