Ben Brooks is a respected tech writer, a project manager at MartianCraft, and a former commercial property manager. Ben currently lives in Lakewood, Washington.
What is your morning routine?
Every morning I wake up at 6:00am and shower and get dressed. My kids wake up any time between 6:30am and 7:30am, so this is my chance to get myself ready before I have to get them ready. From there I watch my kids until 8:15am when I either leave for an office, or head to my home office to work for the day.
Typically I check in on email, Twitter, and Slack before the kids get up.
Once I start work in the morning it is usually off to the races for me. Keeping up with calls and Slack takes most of the first couple hours of my day. I don’t even bother planning this time out, everyday is a little different.
How long have you stuck with this routine so far?
I’ve been on this routine specifically for four months, since that’s when I started a new job.
How has your morning routine changed over recent years?
A few years ago I was getting up at 5:30am and writing until I left for work. Then the kids were born and my mornings have been all over the place since then. I’ve gone from waking when they wake, to trying to get up before them. It’s been a hodgepodge, but the current morning routine seems to work really well.
What time do you go to sleep?
I typically hit the bed at about 11:00pm, much past that and I am asking for trouble the next day. Ideally I would make it to bed by 10:30pm, but my wife is a night owl so I try to spend more time with her.
Do you use an alarm to wake you up in the morning, and if so do you ever hit the snooze button?
Yes indeed, I use my iPhone to wake up.
I’ve never been a snooze button person. If I could afford to waste my time with a snooze button I would just set my alarm later. So I just get up when my alarm goes off.
How soon after waking up do you have breakfast, and what do you typically have?
I usually eat about an hour, to an hour and a half after I wake up. I’ve never been a breakfast person, but my kids won’t eat unless I eat with them, so that’s what started me on breakfast. Even so, I don’t eat much. Usually a toaster waffle, or a piece of toast is all I will eat in the mornings.
Do you have a morning workout routine?
I have tried many times to establish a workout routine at any time during the day, but nothing sticks for me. My morning workout is walking to the other end of the house for breakfast.
Do you answer email first thing in the morning or leave it until later in the day?
No. I will check email in the morning just to see what is going on, or read any newsletters that I may want to see. Otherwise I tend to wait until mid-morning to respond to emails. A lot of times by then I will have either talked to the person, or the issue will have gone away. I also don’t like people thinking I will immediately respond to emails, so I try not to set that expectation.
Do you use any apps or products to enhance your sleep or morning routine?
While not technically a sleep enhancement app, I heavily rely on OmniFocus to be my brain, and knowing that it houses everything I need to do helps put me at ease when I get into bed at night. I don’t have those freak outs right before I drift off of something I forgot to do, but cannot address at that moment.
How soon do you check your phone in the morning?
Right away. It’s my alarm, so I see it. Typically I won’t unlock the phone, so I just glance over the notifications on the lock screen. If nothing seems urgent I don’t look at it until I am dressed and ready.
I am very frugal with what apps can send me push notifications, and for what reasons, so typically it is important (relative to me) if I have a notification on my phone.
What are your most important tasks in the morning?
To feed the kids and try to keep them quiet so my wife can sleep in a bit longer. Once I get going on work my top task is to check in with all my teams to make sure they aren’t waiting on anything from me, or needing help in any way.
Most of the people I work with are on the East Coast, so they have been at work for quite a while before I start work. Checking in with them is always at the top of the list after family time.
What and when is your first drink in the morning?
I typically take some allergy medicine with water first thing, and will finish maybe a half a glass of water. And then I kickstart the day with a Pepsi — yeah, it’s bad for me, but it’s my habit for sure. No coffee or tea.
Do you also follow this routine on weekends, or do you change some steps?
On the weekend I don’t work, so I spend all morning with the kids. I will still get up before them if we have plans for the day, but if there are no plans I’ll tend to sleep in an extra hour.
I also don’t do email on the weekends and I don’t check in much with my teams at work, though I stay connected in the company water cooler chat which can be quiet on the weekends.
On days you’re not settled in your home, are you able to adapt your routine to fit in with a different environment?
Yeah, my routine is really flexible. I used to have such rigid routines that travel would throw my whole day off, but when you have little kids you just have to make everything more flexible or you will go crazy. So now travel feels like a refreshing change.
What do you do if you fail to follow your morning routine, and how does this influence the rest of your day?
Usually the worst thing that happens is that my hair is a mess for the entire day. I really am not someone who is easily thrown off by a small hiccup. I’m not sure why that is, but some really crappy stuff can happen and I can mostly brush it off and keep focused. The only exception being computer problems — that’s my achilles heal and will throw off my entire day.
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