Having non-negotiables is crucial for my productivity and task management.

Non-negotiables, as the Oxford Dictionary defines it, are “not open to discussion or modification.” 

I follow a set of seven non-negotiables in my daily routine:

Getting a minimum of seven hours of sleep.

I prioritize getting enough sleep as it directly affects my energy levels and productivity the following day. Although it’s not always possible to get seven hours of sleep every night, I strive to set myself up for success by turning off screens by 8:15 pm, reading a physical book (not an app on my phone) until 9:00 pm, and creating a conducive sleeping environment with complete darkness, cool temperature (my thermostat is set to 69 degrees), and proper air circulation using a fan. To track my sleep with my Apple Watch, I use the AutoSleep app (iOS only, requires an Apple Watch).

Houston sunrise, one of my non-negotiables.

Waking up before the sun.

Inspired by Robin Sharma’s book “The 5AM Club: Own Your Morning. Elevate Your Life (affiliate link),” I have made it a non-negotiable to wake up before the sun every day. The early morning hours are incredibly peaceful and allow me to accomplish much before the day officially begins. This includes weekends, holidays, and vacations.

Reading my Bible.

As a continuous student of the Word, I make reading my Bible a non-negotiable daily. I have been doing this since August 16, 2013, and I currently use the Life Application Bible (NKJV) (affiliate link) and accompanying commentary.

Writing my goals twice daily.

I believe in the power of setting and writing goals down. I write my goals down twice daily using Grant Cardone’s 10X Planner (affiliate link) to make it even more effective. Research from psychologist Gail Matthews has shown that writing down goals increases the likelihood of achieving them by 42%. The 10X Planner also provides space for daily targets, successes, and quotes of the day, making it a valuable tool in my goal-setting process.

Flooded street

Running at least one mile.

After reading an article about the benefits of running every day, I started a streak of running at least one mile every day since August 29th, 2017, and have not missed a day despite challenges like illness or bad weather. I am committed to continuing this streak even on my 100th birthday, 42 years from now.


Also known as earthing, I make it a non-negotiable to spend time with my skin on the ground, such as walking barefoot on grass, dirt, and sand, or swimming in a lake. Grounding has been shown to have numerous health benefits, including reducing inflammation, pain, and stress and improving blood flow, sleep, and vitality. I often combine grounding with my daily run or outdoor reading to maximize its benefits. Watch the documentary, The Earthing Movie: The Remarkable Science of Grounding on YouTube.

Michelle and Mark in front of the chateau de Balleroy

Practicing my French.

After winning a trip to France in 2009, I made it a non-negotiable to practice my French regularly with the Duolingo app to improve my language skills.

By incorporating these non-negotiables into my daily routine, I can better stay on task, be productive, and lead a balanced and healthy lifestyle.

What are your non-negotiables?