What is your morning routine?
5:45am: I wake up and walk to Playlist Yoga, a yoga studio that’s about six minutes from my house.
It’s usually dark outside and I’m the only person on the street, except a few cars. I’m barely awake during the walk, but it’s one of my favorite parts of the day.
Going to yoga before work has changed my life. When most people are starting to wake up, I already feel like I accomplished something. It’s a pretty awesome feeling.
7:00am: After yoga, I either walk to Alfred Coffee for coffee or a place called Beaming for a smoothie. I try to avoid coffee before breakfast so I usually go for the smoothie. And that’s my breakfast.
7:30am: I walk home and read the the Financial Times for 10-15 minutes. The act of receiving a physical newspaper reminds me that there is much more happening in the world outside of tech. I feel inspired when I read a physical paper. It’s definitely my guilty pleasure.
8:00am: At 8:00am, I focus on learning new things. My New Year’s resolution this year is to become a mobile designer. I recently started doing a Daily UI Challenge every morning before work each day to improve my skills.
I try to finish each design challenge in one hour and I immediately post them on Dribbble, no matter how they look. Showing my work to the world before I “finish” is a rush and the feedback keeps me motivated.
9:00am: I wrap up my design work and drive to work. I usually listen to NBA Radio or CNBC during the drive. My office is five minutes from my home which isn’t enough time for a podcast. I wish I spent more time exploring podcasts before work. But I’ve never really had to deal with Los Angeles traffic so I’m a happy guy.
How long have you stuck with this routine so far?
I’ve been doing yoga every day before work for three months. Starting my day with yoga has been the best thing I’ve done for my physical and mental health.
How has your morning routine changed over recent years?
I’d say the biggest change is that I now use my mornings for yoga and learning. I used to always say “I want to learn that,” or “I want to get in better shape,” and I’d try to do it after work. But that never happened.
Before focusing on design, I was focusing on learning how to code. I’d wake up at 6:30am for a two-hour pair programming session on Skype almost every day. Dave (my programming tutor) was based in Nashville, Tennessee, and this was the only time that worked for him. My brain didn’t function at that hour without exercise. It was rough and I’m glad I now exercise before learning.
If you want to get better at something, I recommend finding time in the morning to learn. It’s hard to wake up, but you’ll get used to it pretty fast and it’s worth it.
I also credit the fact that I have a girlfriend to improving my routine. When I was single a few years ago, I was going out more and staying up later.
I love spending time with Simone after work. We usually have a glass of wine and go to bed pretty early, which has been a huge change for me. I love that my schedule is more predictable now, and that I’m not tired when I go to work.
What time do you go to sleep?
On weeknights, I try to fall asleep by 11:00pm.
I remember in film school when I thought it was cool to stay awake until like 3:00am working on random projects. I functioned on six hours of sleep for about five years. My body can’t do that anymore.
Do you use an alarm to wake you up in the morning?
I don’t trust myself to wake up without an alarm - I’ve had way too many close calls. I keep my window shades open to let sunlight wake me up, but I still need an alarm.
My trick is that I set my iPhone alarm clock to a super loud Vampire Weekend song that gets me excited to wake up. Is that pretty lame of me? Is Vampire Weekend still cool?!
How soon after waking up do you have breakfast, and what do you typically have?
I usually have a smoothie after yoga, about an hour and half after I wake up. I should probably eat before yoga but it’s too damn early.
Do you answer email first thing in the morning or leave it until later in the day?
I’ve read other morning routine writers who recommend not reading email until later in the day. I’ve tried to follow that practice, but I definitely read my email before work. It’s something I’m trying to figure out.
Do you use any apps or products to enhance your sleep or morning routine?
I was using the Sense Sleep Tracker for a few months and thought it was an awesome product. When I moved to Los Angeles, I lost the sensors and fell out of the habit. I gotta start doing that again soon.
How soon do you check your phone in the morning?
I check my phone on the walk to yoga - mostly to see if I have any important text messages. As I mentioned, I try to avoid my email because that stresses me out before my workout, and I’d rather respond to messages when I’m feeling more awake.
What and when is your first drink in the morning?
I drink a glass of water right when I wake up. I usually drinks lots of water during yoga too. Hydration is a major key.
Do you also follow this routine on weekends, or do you change some steps?
I try to sleep in on weekends until 8:00am. Simone and I usually do something social on Friday and Saturday nights so we’re up a bit later. We need to stay young :)
On days you’re not settled in your home, are you able to adapt your routine to fit in with a different environment?
I’m such a home body for this reason. When I’m not at home, my routine is unpredictable and it’s tough to stay on track.
I’ve lived in four cities in the past five years (San Francisco, Kansas City, New York City, and Los Angeles) so it usually takes me a little bit of time to get settled. I’m feeling pretty settled right now so hopefully my routine sticks.
What do you do if you fail to follow your morning routine, and how does this influence the rest of your day?
If I fail to follow my routine, I’m not as productive or mentally sharp.
I try not to be mad at myself because that’s never productive, but I definitely notice a huge difference. And I usually need much more coffee :)