Start Your Day Right

Will is a morning person and enjoys getting up early and getting going whereas BJ is not and drags out of bed in the mornings but gets going strong in the afternoon and evening. Life and work places don’t always care whether you work best in the morning or evening. There are business hours and times for family, church, and social events.

“Ok I’m not an evening person but I can work effectively in the evenings.”

Will has a morning routine to help organize himself to be more efficient when he is at his prime in the day. BJ has one because if not he wouldn’t get anything done in the mornings.

No matter if you are a morning person or a night owl or if you get up early or stay up late and sleep in you have to start your day at some point. It might seem difficult at first but go back and listen to our episode on starting new habits. You are starting new morning habits and it takes time but eventually it will become a routine that you won’t want to break.

Episode Breakdown

At Home

13:30 The Night Before

Prepare meals and snacks for the next day. Have your lunch ready and set it up to be transferred to lunch box. Also, set up for making coffee in the morning. If you have an important meeting layout clothes for the next day.

Wind down before going to sleep. Get into a habit of doing the same thing every night before sleeping such as reading, bathing, etc.

“The bedroom should only be used for bedroom things”

There are a few things you should avoid before going to bed in the evenings. The first is don’t check work email right before bed as you may find stressful information and not really able to fix anything until the morning. Also avoid watching TV in bed before sleep. Watching TV or playing video games can reduce your ability to sleep. Finally, don’t drink too much water or stay up too late.

21:38 Waking Up

“It’s still better than a bucket of water to the face.”

Alarm clocks can be your friend and worst enemy. They can keep you from oversleeping and gently wake you up. However, they are agnostic to the part of you sleep cycle you are in and can jolt you awake when deep in sleep. It is your responsibility to set it and make sure you have enough time to sleep.

Beware of the trappings of the snooze button. This gets you in the habit of ignoring alarms. You have to set the alarm earlier which cuts into sleep in order to wake at same time.

Stretch before you get out of bed to avoid injury. Stretching will help wake you up and avoid pulling muscles and causing cramps. Doesn’t seem as important earlier in life but get into the habit now. Later when you need to do it you’ll already be doing it.

27:39 First Things First

You have to take care of bodily functions such as going to the bathroom or putting on glasses/contacts to see. Drinking some water if thirsty.

Also have some awareness of how you feel. Adjust your routine if feeling bad such as your teeth hurt from clenching jaw.

Breakfast is very important to starting your day right. Though this doesn’t have to be the first thing you think about in the morning. BJ usually eats at work while Will eats on the drive in. You want to aim to get a lot of protein and fat while avoiding a sugar spike.

32:57 Planning and Pre-Work

Review your schedule for the day. Look over notes from day before. This helps you remember when meeting are scheduled. Next create a rough overall plan for the day. This should be a general idea of what you plan to accomplish with milestones for the day at work. Also look at what you will be doing after work in case you need to bring a change of clothes or plan to leave at a certain time.

Make sure audio (podcast, book, etc) is updated before leaving. Also be sure to prepare your vehicle for the drive to work. Check traffic and weather reports. Make sure you have time to clear ice/frost/fog off windows.

Finally visualize the day you have ahead of you. Walk through the day in your head. If you have meetings think about what will be discussed. If working on a difficult code area visualize the solution you want and finding it. Will sometimes does this in the car on his way to work.

In Transit

36:55 Morning Fuel

“Think about your transit…you don’t want to have the opportunity for things to make it worse.”

Will eats his breakfast and drinks coffee in the car on the way to work. Have your vehicle fueled up before your drive. Gas stations are rough in the mornings. You’ll be more tempted to grab unhealthy foods there as well.

38:38 Not Getting Stressed

“Always be tweaking your route.”

Commutes can be very stressful. Traffic gets backed up. Random wrecks on the drive in. Weather can cause people to drive poorly. Work on ways to avoid stress while driving. Such as know multiple routes to work. Shortest routes aren’t always the best. Longer routes may have less traffic and stress on your drive. Check the traffic report and weather before hand.

41:17 Working From Home

BJ gets exercise by walking his dog. Usually a mile or two in the morning then again at lunch. This is a good time for motivation or audio learning via podcasts or audio books.

Will would sit out on the deck in the morning when he worked from home. One of the benefits of working from home is being able to reconfigure your work station. You can work from a multi-monitor desktop or take your laptop on the go

At Work

44:00 Communications

“We’ve got a channel in Slack that is #good_morning.”

Say hello to everyone as this keeps distractions down early in the day. BJ will check emails in the morning so that he knows if meetings have been scheduled since leaving the day before. They may also contain important information from the evening before.

With the popularity of Agile and SCRUM many workplaces will have morning stand-ups or meetings. Before the meeting write down your contribution to the meeting. For SCRUM this will be what you’ve done, what you play on doing, and what impedes your work. Have all materials you’ll need ready for your meeting. Feel free to call people out when they get off topic.

51:33 Planning Out Your Work Day

Create a List of what you have to do throughout the day. Have milestones and a rough timeline for accomplishing your daily tasks.

“It’s not for other people it’s for you.”

Don’t show these to other people. They aren’t so you will be held accountable. This is organization for yourself to make life easier.

54:12 Start Coding With A Quick Win

“You feel like you’re going to have a successful day when you set the tone with an early success.”

This helps start your day with higher motivation and feel like you are successful. It sets the tone for the rest of the day. Your mind is still getting into the right mentality. Ease into coding for the day. Do something simple while your brain is still waking up.

This is a good time for Code Katas. These are simple practice to start off the day. They get you thinking about problems in a different way.

IoTease: Project

Nobody Parks Here!

Using a Raspberry Pi 2B, AWS, and a Node.js wrapper for OpenCV you can create a car recognition system to tell if someone is in your parking spot. It’s a fun project that only costs about $50. If you don’t have a parking space in mind you could also use it to tell if someone is parked in your driveway or in front of your home.

Hardware

  • Raspberry Pi
  • Camera

Software

  • Amazon Web Services IoT, SNS, and S3
  • CyclonJS
  • OpenCV

Tricks of the Trade

If you want to be more effective in everything you do, working harder will not get you there. Instead, you must work smarter. Take one thing at a time, and optimize it intelligently, experimenting to see what you can do to improve it. Once you’ve found a reasonably optimal solution, practice it until it becomes habit, then go tweak the next pain point. Build optimization feedback loops into your daily workflow and everything gets easier, even as you are doing more stuff.

Editor’s Notes:

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