I realise this is a bit of a departure from the usual subjects User interface designers talk about, but for me it’s so fundamentally important to start your day in the best way possible, that I thought it was worth writing an article about my morning routine!
For years I’ve been pretty terrible in the mornings, ever since a my teenage years really, I’ve tended to get out of bed at the last moment possible and rushed through all the usual tasks before rushing my way to work.
When I started my first job after university, I used to share a lift with my best mate David who also worked in Bristol. Several times the sound of him knocking on the front door was the signal to me that I’d slept in, and was due to leave in 5 minutes! I often had to skip a shower due to lack of time (thank goodness for Lynx Safari!). Gladly my hygiene levels have improved a great deal since then.
I noticed that some people were better in the mornings than others. I tended to be a bit grumpy, whereas my wife seemed to wake up on cloud 9! I once saw a documentary by Terry Wogan saying that there were two distinct types of people – early risers (Larks), and late to beds (Owls).
I don’t like the idea of being pigeon holed like this though, and I have always believed you are in control of your thoughts and actions, and if you want to change something – you can.
So this week, after lots of failed attempts I decided to sort out my morning routine, once and for all!
My current morning routine
Here’s how my routine has looked up till now (it was not always as bad as this, but often):
- Go to bed after 11pm sometime, and actually get to sleep 12-12.30am
- Alarm goes off 7.30am
- Turn off alarm and snooze
- Get up – 8am ish
- Get dressed
- Have breakfast – 8.20am
- 8.35am Say goodbye to the kids as they leave the house for school with my wife
- Make lunch for the day
- 9.45am Leave for the office on my bike
- 10am Get to work
- 10.30 am Start work
So basically I was often starting work 1.5 hours after 9am, and not feeling the most alive / energised at that point particularly, despite having cycled to work. I was letting that feeling of having an unproductive start impact on my first few hours. I wanted to change this.
The ideal morning routine for me as a Freelance UI Designer
Here’s the plan I wanted to have in place:
- 7am – get up immediately
- Shower / get dressed in fitness gear
- 7.10am – Go outside and breathe in the fresh air of the morning
- 7.15am – Make a cup of tea
- Read my goals
- 7.20am – Do 10 minutes of fitness / stretching or similar
- 7.35am – Make good breakfast for me and the family
- 7.50am – Help get the kids ready for school
- 8.30am – Leave the house and accompany the family to school
- 8.50am – Cycle to work
- 9am – Arrive at my desk and ready to get to work
It’s not ground breaking by any means, but for me it represents a massive change, and one that I believe will have a really positive impact on my life!
It all comes down to preparation!
I’ve come to realise and accept how crucial preparation is for any fundamental change in your habits.
The first thing I did was to ask myself why it was not working up till now, what were the biggest issues? Then how could I solve those issues:
Going to bed too late
Not having the motivation to get up
Finding it too easy to turn off my alarm and go back to sleep
Not having a plan for exercise
Not knowing what to have for breakfast
I’ve planned lunches for the week and made sure I sort this out the night before by making lunch
I clarified my goals
I worked out how much money this was costing me (roughly) – 1.5 x £35/hr x 5 days/week x 48 weeks = 52.50/day, 262/week, 1,050/month, 11,550/ year!
I now put my iphone on the other side of the room, so I have to get up to turn it off. Once I do this, I’m up and won’t go back to bed! This is the biggest factor I’d say!
I’ve planned my breakfasts for the week and put list on the fridge
I’ve also planned an exercise routine for the week too. Nothing too strenuous, just quick and easy!
The results so far
All I can say is wow! I’ve managed to do this for 4 days in a row so far. I aim to do it for 10 days solidly (giving myself weekends off) so that I can form a habit that sticks, and doesn’t even need any work!
So for almost a week now, I’ve been getting up exactly when I said I would, having a really good breakfast that I actually enjoy, exercising, and appreciating the morning with the family, rather than it being a chore!
I actually enjoy the mornings now, and feel more energised and positive. I hit my desk at 9am and hit the ground running making me much more efficient.
Don’t get me wrong, I still find getting up tough, but I don’t give myself time to think about it, it’s like I’ve created an anchor in my mind: alarm goes off > boom, I’m up!
I’ll keep you posted on the results financially and personally! But I think there are going to be some great results!
Update – you can find out how my UI morning routine progressed…