What is your morning routine?
I usually wake up around 6:00am but I get out of bed around 7:30. From there, I allow myself twenty minutes of silence or a light meditation using an app called Headspace. That app has been a huge help for me to prepare for the day and to assess the projects I have on my plate. In this time, I hone in on what tasks I absolutely want to complete by day’s end and how best to accomplish them.
Meditation is easily my favorite part of the morning because I’m deliberately setting the tone for what I’d like to accomplish. Following that I take a sip of Alpha Brain Instant as an alternative to coffee to kickstart my brain, read my emails, shower, get dressed, feed my two dogs Alex and Camilla (yes they have people names, I’m that type of owner) and head out the door.
On the way to work, I’m usually listening to an audiobook, one of my favorites right now is Creativity and Problem Solving by Brian Tracy. If you find me riding on Bart (Bay Area Rapid Transit, or the train as we call it), you will notice me reading articles or on Dribbble viewing other brilliant creatives.
Once I arrive in San Francisco, I stop for a light breakfast and enjoy a glass of Earl Grey tea and head into the office.
How long have you stuck with this routine so far?
My routine has been fairly consistent for at least the last two years. It is however, open to change a bit from day to day.
How has your morning routine changed over recent years?
Over the years, I have begun to focus my mornings on preparing myself for the day’s demands and using the time I’m in transit to my advantage. Taking these moments to clear my head and get my mind ready for meetings or to stay abreast of the latest trends in design, tech, or science. I’ve also begun to eat breakfast to give my body what it needs to work efficiently.
For too long I worked without properly taking care of myself, and as I’ve gotten older, it’s become apparent that I’m no longer a spring chicken. Eating right and taking the time to slow down and plan in the morning is crucial to a productive day. I’ve also set reminders to check my Google Drive and an app called Paper to go over all of the photos and sketches I designed the day before to keep those ideas fresh.
I’ve found that sometimes ideas that didn’t work the day before may magically work for something else another day, so it’s beneficial for me to review and stay familiar with them.
What time do you go to sleep?
I go to bed much later than most would say I should (I’m looking at you Dr. Oz).
I feel as a designer we’re kind of a slave to our creativity, and my mind is always going a mile a minute, so I don’t have a set time. I would usually say I turn in around 11:00pm or midnight. However if there is a design challenge I’m trying to solve or an article I’m writing, which I’ve gotten into lately, then there is no hard set time, or I’m working through the night.
Do you do anything before going to bed to make your morning easier?
Oh absolutely, before turning in I’m usually scouring design, tech, or political blogs and saving them for the morning. I also rough out ideas for any projects on my plate coming up the next day or writing down specific project goals. I also have several sketch pads, notebooks, and a chalkboard wall in my house to frantically write down spur of the moment ideas.
Do you use an alarm to wake you up in the morning, and if so do you ever hit the snooze button?
Fortunately, I don’t. Unless I have an important meeting in the morning, in that case, I set an alarm as a fail safe because inevitably that’s when I’m at the most risk of oversleeping. Wholeheartedly due to being up the night before thinking about it.
Honestly, it’s difficult to oversleep when you have two dogs that love you to death.
How soon after waking up do you have breakfast, and what do you typically have?
Usually, I have breakfast a bit later, around 9:00am, at this great little cafe by the office. It’s always fairly light as I’m not a heavy breakfast eater. I usually really begin eating around 1 or 2:00pm.
Do you have a morning workout routine?
I would love to say that I run or swim every morning but alas I haven’t followed through on that quite yet. Exercise is usually an evening decompress activity for me. Although I’ve recently got into a spin class, and I could totally see adding it to my morning routine. It snaps you up!
Do you have a morning meditation routine, and if so what kind of meditation do you practice?
I do, and I’ve found it extremely helpful in the past few years. At the very least I have twenty minutes of silence in the morning. Usually, I like to take the time to use Headspace for a deeply focused meditation. My uncle gave me that tip as a child but of course, I was stubborn.
Now that I’m an adult this has proven to be an excellent way to jump start my mind and to begin to get the creative juices flowing. I’ve also found an incredible meditation/yoga group at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, and I invite everyone to visit.
Do you answer email first thing in the morning or leave it until later in the day?
I do answer emails first thing in the morning, but I typically wait until after my twenty minutes of silence. I’ve come to think of myself as a car. I give myself some time to warm up before I start moving around and answering questions.
Do you use any apps or products to enhance your sleep or morning routine?
I do! Headspace has been one of my favorite apps this past year and a half that helps me to fall quickly into a clear state of thought or to help my mind slow down before turning in.
During my commute, I use Paper to gather inspiration from around town which is also synced to Google Drive. I’ll also use this new app, Tster, to create quick UI (User Interface) wireframes from my phone, and Pocket and Medium to save various articles.
What are your most important tasks in the morning?
I would say that my most important task is my twenty minutes of silence in the morning. It’s been crucial for me with regards to planning my priorities, especially in an industry where there are so many moving pieces. You want to enter the day with a clear idea of what your top priority is.
Other than that I still try to keep everything fairly routine. During the week, I like to keep decisions to a minimum so I can use that energy to focus on the main choices. For example, there are places I eat where I’ve ordered the same thing for years. I would rather just concentrate on creating or being around creativity during the week and use the weekends to shake things up.
What and when is your first drink in the morning?
My first drink is Alpha Brain Instant followed by Earl Grey tea every morning. It never fails to help my mind slow down after the commuting, and it helps me begin to focus on the task at hand.
Do you also follow this routine on weekends, or do you change some steps?
On weekends, I tend to sleep in much later and then ease into whatever freelance or passion project I have on my plate. Spending time with family and “smelling the roses”, or checking in on an event I’ve planned to see that week.
I try to reserve the weekends for friends and family unless there are unusual circumstances. I’m fortunate to know some brilliant people who are working on building their business or developing their talents. I find it imperative that I support them in some way.
On days you’re not settled in your home, are you able to adapt your routine to fit in with a different environment?
If I’m not home, then it’s usually for a reason. I’m relaxing, at the most I’m responding to emails. Other than that I’m completely segregated from the work world. I have to give my significant other credit for this one as she taught me a lot with regards to creating a balance between work and life. Sometimes in subtle ways and sometimes not so subtle :) but it’s been a huge help. I’ve found ideas flow a bit faster when I’ve carved out time for them to grow. Usually during this period off when I’m not at home.
What do you do if you fail to follow your morning routine, and how does this influence the rest of your day?
If I happen to miss my twenty minutes of silence or don’t plan out my goals for the following day I notice that’s it’s harder to find my groove in my morning. I don’t make a big deal out of it I just focus on trying again tomorrow!