Lisa Congdon is a fine artist and illustrator known for her colorful abstract paintings, intricate line drawings, pattern design, and hand lettering. Lisa currently lives in Portland, Oregon with her wife Clay.
What is your morning routine?
I wake up every morning at approximately 6:00am. I say “approximately” because sometimes I don’t actually fully wake up or get out of bed until 6:30 or 7:00. But my alarm goes off every day at 6:00am.
Once I’m up I make the bed if it’s my turn (my wife and I have a chore chart to make sure we get stuff done around the house, and every other week it’s my turn to make the bed). Then I get dressed (sometimes to work out if I’m headed out for a run or to the gym) and go downstairs for coffee. I am lucky because my wife made a vow to me on our wedding day that she would make me coffee every morning for the rest of my life (as long as she is able). And she’s stuck to her promise! So I come downstairs to freshly brewed coffee every day!
I also eat a small breakfast, like toast or a little cereal. While I eat, I check email to see if there is anything urgent and I make my to-do list for the day. I have breakfast clean up every other week, so sometimes I wash and dry dishes and wipe down the kitchen counters.
Then, several days a week, I head to the gym, swimming pool, or out for a run. Exercise is what really wakes me up and gets me ready for my work day. After my workout, I head back home, get myself dolled up for the day, and get to work. Part of my routine is getting dressed as if I am going to leave my house for my job. My studio is on my property at home, so I don’t really leave. But I find that getting dressed into a nice outfit like I would if I was going to an office or retail job (and out of my pajamas or workout clothes) helps me feel much better about my day, even though sometimes the only person who sees me is my wife.
How long have you stuck with this routine so far?
This has basically been my routine since I became self-employed in 2007.
How has your morning routine changed over recent years?
Last April I moved to Portland, Oregon, and my wife left her job at that time to be self employed (she also works for my business part time). So now I have someone sitting with me to drink coffee and check email, where before she’d head off to her job. I love having another person to share my morning routine with; we have a lovely little breakfast nook in our new house which is the perfect spot to convene each morning for coffee and preparing for the day.
I really want to begin a journaling routine in the morning, and one of my major goals for 2016 is to do that each day, Monday through Friday. I work long days and am very focused on my clients and getting my work completed most days, so I think it would be good for me to have a chunk of time each morning where I had more personal time to get my feelings on paper and reflect on my life. I think the challenge will be breaking up the routine of the last eight years to fit that in.
What time do you go to sleep?
Usually between 10-10:45pm. Getting up at 6:00am requires an early bedtime. I like to get eight hours of sleep a night.
Do you do anything before going to bed to make your morning easier?
If the next day is a day when I’m going to work out, I always lay out my gym clothes the night before so I remember to put them on first thing. I find that I am much more likely to flake on my workout if I don’t!
Do you use an alarm to wake you up in the morning, and if so do you ever hit the snooze button?
The alarm is on my wife’s side of the bed, so if it gets hit, she’s the one doing it. But she, like me, is pretty disciplined about getting up early, so that helps.
Do you have a morning workout routine?
I like to mix up my workouts, and so some mornings I go swimming, some I run outside, and some I go to the gym and run on the treadmill.
What I do for my workout depends on the weather (Portland gets both very hot and very cold), and whether I’m training for something. Right now I’m training for a 10K so I am running a lot. But it’s pretty cold in the morning (today it was 26 degrees Fahrenheit when I woke up, which is -3 degrees Celsius), so sometimes I wait to run before lunch when it’s warmed up a little.
I’m regimented about working out regularly, but not about what form of exercise I do on what days. I am pretty loose that way and decide day to day what I feel like doing. The important thing is to move my body!
Do you answer email first thing in the morning or leave it until later in the day?
I do get on email within an hour of waking up, but only during the week. My business is very busy and staying on top of my business email is something that my wife and I work very hard at. Customer service and responsiveness to my clients and customers are very important to us.
We don’t spend all day on email, however. Once we check it in the morning, we take a break until midday and focus on other things.
Do you also follow this routine on weekends, or do you change some steps?
Weekends tend to be super different. I usually sleep later, and if I don’t it’s not because an alarm’s gone off! We still get up and have our coffee, but we don’t go on our computers or phones so quickly (sometimes I stay off the computer all weekend).
And if we work out, it’s never as early either. Weekends are just more relaxed, and I love my weekends!
What do you do if you fail to follow your morning routine, and how does this influence the rest of your day?
Routine, and rituals for that matter, are a very important part of being a creative person. I find that when I go off my routine, my sense of balance is skewed. And sometimes that can make me feel really anxious, which, in turn affects my ability to do good work, or in some cases, to get any work done at all.
My morning routine grounds me and keeps me organized, and that frees me up to focus on making new artwork each day.
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