What is your morning routine?
I wake up at 5:00am and immediately grab a coffee from the fridge. Then I work from my desk at home for the first few hours of the day. The first thing I do when I open up my computer is browse the BBC and The Verge websites to get a quick fifteen-minute download on world and tech news.
I start work by sorting through any urgent items in my email inbox. For the rest of the morning, I take advantage of not being in the office to get any creative or copy work done while the world is quiet!
Around 9:00am I jump in the shower, get dressed, and then brush my teeth just before leaving the house to feel as fresh as possible for the day. I live in the East Village but work in Dumbo, so it takes me around twenty minutes to get from door to door via the F train, and I arrive at the office around 10:00am.
How long have you stuck with this routine so far?
My routine has been consistent for the past four years. Routine and habit are actually the foundation of quip’s brand (and good oral care), and I’m a firm believer in the power of both.
How has your morning routine changed over recent years?
Before starting quip, I was a late worker, not an early riser. I would get home from my design consultancy job at 8:00pm, eat, work until 1:00am or 2:00am, and then get up around 8:00am. I found that I was unproductive during the late-night hours, taking too long to do simple tasks (especially creative ones) due to tiredness.
I decided to flip to being an early riser, and have never looked back. At 2:00am people are still up emailing and wanting to talk to you; at 5:00am they are not. That 5:00am to 9:00am period of quiet in the morning really is key to starting off the day productively before the in-office madness starts!
What time do you go to sleep?
I pass out around 11:00pm. I’m an early riser, so I try to go to bed on the earlier side.
Do you do anything before going to bed to make your morning easier?
Before going to bed, I make sure I have coffee in my fridge for the next morning, as I don’t want to take the time to make it when I get up. I feel like my mental functions are slower without coffee (although I’m sure this feeling is 90 percent placebo effect!).
Also, before I hit the hay, I try to organize my email inbox by deleting non-urgent noise. I can’t sleep when my email is too out of control. Doing this the night before also helps me focus on replying to the urgent or important items first thing in the morning without taking up too much of my creative time.
Do you use an alarm to wake you up in the morning, and if so do you ever hit the snooze button?
I use an alarm. It goes off at 4:30am, and I hit snooze for about thirty minutes (two fifteen-minute snoozes).
How soon after waking up do you have breakfast, and what do you typically have?
I usually don’t have breakfast until I get to the office. My go-to’s are yogurt, a protein milkshake, oatmeal, or a breakfast bar, depending on the time of the year and the amount of time I have to prepare/eat them. It’s usually just something to help me sustain my energy and focus until lunch.
Over the years, I have strived for variety by experimenting with different breakfast foods. Throughout the year I go for different foods in the morning to jumpstart my day, the only consistency being my morning coffee. I get bored of other foods very fast, and need to rotate.
Do you have a morning workout routine?
Wishful thinking! I very rarely get to the gym in the morning. I do, however, play in an American soccer league, which has always been an outlet for fitness and wellness for me. I think it’s important to incorporate physical activity into your schedule to clear the mind, but it is often the first thing sacrificed when busy.
Team sports are good because you can’t let the team down by not turning up. Unlike a solo activity like going to the gym or for a run, a team sport forces you to go (and you always end up enjoying it). With that said, I do try to go for a jog along the East River or Hudson on a Sunday evening around sunset. It’s a great way to cleanse away the weekend’s food and drink while settling the mind for the week ahead.
Do you have a morning meditation routine?
I’ve not yet tried meditation.
Do you answer email first thing in the morning or leave it until later in the day?
I try to organize my inbox at night, but I don’t answer as I am usually too tired. First thing in the morning I jump in and respond. I also use my inbox as a to-do list on top of others in Trello, My Notebook, and Asana.
Do you use any apps or products to enhance your sleep or morning routine?
I don’t use any apps, but I do swear by my Jawbone Jambox speaker for streaming music/radio while showering. I also keep a quip in the shower (which is a great hack for brushing your teeth while on a fast morning schedule).
How soon do you check your phone in the morning?
I literally check my phone first thing when I get up at 5:00am.
What are your most important tasks in the morning?
My priorities in the morning are to make sure quip’s public channels are looking good, our website is stable, I’m not missing any important emails, and I’m prepared (and the team is prepared) for any urgent meetings or deadlines that day.
What and when is your first drink in the morning?
My first drink in the morning is coffee. I must have coffee straight away, or else. I often have a banana or vanilla flavored “protein” smoothie/shake from a store on the way into the office.
Do you also follow this routine on weekends, or do you change some steps?
I follow the same routine on the weekends. I might allow myself an extra hour or so of sleep in the morning, so I’m up closer to 6:00am instead of 5:00am. My body is accustomed to waking up early, which is great for staying productive - even on the weekends. I love to knock out some work first thing in the morning and then have the flexibility for other activities throughout the day. I find that when I don’t work, I can’t relax because I end up thinking about work all day. Following my routine has become extremely important for me, even when on holiday.
On days you’re not settled in your home, are you able to adapt your routine to fit in with a different environment?
When traveling, my morning routine is essentially identical. I’m up at 5:00am. I think it’s important to stick to your routine regardless of where you might be traveling, especially if you are someone like me who won’t be able to switch off if you don’t.
Even getting just the email management out of the way helps free the mind for the rest of the day, and helps me relax better. When I’m away in a hotel, I don’t stay in the room upon waking. I get up, get out, and go to a breakfast spot for a coffee and to work on my laptop.
What do you do if you fail to follow your morning routine, and how does this influence the rest of your day?
I am just mentally behind when I don’t get up early and organize my day this way. When this happens, any morning meetings are the first things to get pushed back as I try to reclaim the time I “lost” in the morning.
Our recommended book this week is My Morning Routine by Benjamin Spall, Michael Xander. We only recommend three things a week that we believe will be of interest to our readers. Please take a moment to check it out.