Design

What’s your morning ritual?

4 min read
Margaret Kelsey  •  Apr 10, 2015
Copied To Clipboard

The way you wake sets the tone for your day, leaving you pumped up and primed to create, or sluggish and grumpy.

That’s why we asked you to share your morning rituals with us this week. And from bike rides to baby-taming, cat-scratching to coffee, it seems mornings are the perfect time to indulge in what enlivens the senses, energizes the body, or makes you appreciate all the world has to offer. Sometimes all 3 at once.

“My morning ritual is breakfast with my wife. I love enjoying breakfast with sunrise pouring in through the windows, and the sense of accomplishment that comes with an early start.”
Mark Grambau, Experience Designer and Illustrator at Fresh Tilled Soil
“Riding from my home in Brooklyn to our offices in SoHo is my favorite way to start the day. Biking across the Brooklyn Bridge and through Chinatown is sure to wake up all 5 senses and forces you to be aware of your environment.”
Denny McFadden, Senior Product Designer at charity: water
“My morning ritual involves a lot of Ashtanga.”
Ellis Neder, Founder and Creative Director at Sway Design
“Early every morning, my dog Frankie and I take a long walk around Greenpoint before I head to work.”
Craig Williams, Founder at Auxiliary Design Co.
“My ideal day starts with stretching and an early run through Prospect Park, followed by coffee or tea paired with fresh fruit, some light reading and sketching, and a dash of skin care before a sunny walk to the studio.”
Alonzo Felix, Designer/Art Director
“I enjoy my commute to work, which consists of a 5-minute walk, 5-minute train ride, and another 5-minute walk. It’s another opportunity to think and be in my head—I’m not sure what I’m doing in there. It’s chaotic, but strangely, I find comfort and peace in there. I like my walks.”
Damian Madray, Designer of Experiences at TheGlint
“I try to start each day right: bacon, eggs, coffee, orange juice, and a reminder of failed dog training.”
Ben Hernandez, Senior Product Designer at Dialexa
“For the last year, most of my days have started by spending some time with my 1 year old. We play at home or sometimes we go to the park for a while.”
Guille Lopez, Full-Stack Developer and Designer
“My morning ritual: coffee and code calisthenics.”
Herman J. Radtke III, VP of Engineering at Nordstromrack.com and HauteLook
“I eat oatmeal (steel cut, not rolled) with chia seeds, honey, cinnamon, and berries and drink genmaicha green tea with ginseng out of my favorite cup. I don’t think it’s the “prettiest” or most “designer-y” cup, but it’s my favorite because it’s orange—my favorite color—and also because my mom gave it to me.”
Jono Lee, Lead Product Designer at Disqus
“My morning ritual is me making coffee with my trusty ole Mr.Coffee and owl mug.”
Chris Meyers, Lead Product Designer at Prolific Interactive
“My morning ritual is to read up on the latest industry and world news while eating breakfast. I just got back to NY from a family visit in the Netherlands and brought some Dutch magazines with me to see what people are working on over there.”
Alvin Groen, Art Director at Firstborn
“My morning routine is making coffee, opening all the windows, then riding my bike to work. My bike ride is often the best part of my day—it really wakes me up!”
Allison Shiman, Product Designer at AnyPerk
“My husband cooks up two scrambled eggs with herbs every morning. (Every single day. Can’t make that up!)”
Aviva Buivid, Creative Director at The Smack Pack
“7 a.m. is the magical time when coffee happens. Today I’ve got my ‘bears gettin’ stuff done’ mug. I usually alternate between that and my NASA or Eureka mugs.”
Brad McNally, Designer
“The first part of the morning is always dedicated to reading the internet for fun and artsy stuff over coffee. And like any developer worth their salt living in SF, I’ve gotta start with as fancy a cup of coffee as humanly possible.”
Jamie Kosoy, President/Head of Technology of Arbitrary
“Making a fresh pour-over for the office.”
Andrew Cornett, Designer/Cofounder of Jukely

“I wake up slowly by checking my email. I let the dogs out and head to the kitchen to brew a pot of coffee. Once my coffee is brewing, I shower and get ready for work. I drink my coffee, and sometimes make breakfast. I’m a fan of either cereal, or eggs with bacon. I tidy up the kitchen and head to a nearby office that a friend owns to work. I like to keep my morning simple – it’s the best way to start a busy day.”
Ismael Burciaga, Creative Visionary / Founder of Circles Co.
“My morning ritual involves breakfast with my two kids, ages 1 and 3. It’s great to spend quality time with them in the morning and helps me to slow down and appreciate the things I have.”
John Blazek, Creative Developer & Director of Development at 1 Trick Pony
“Every morning, I walk my dog Kirbi before going to work at my studio space in Gowanus. Kirbi is blind, but she knows the way to the dog-food store. This is what happens when I don’t let her turn that direction on our walk.”
Mark Forscher, Principal of Under After
“I’m currently trucking through the second issue of The Great Discontent. In this picture, I found a good quote from Michael Cina. I love his artwork.”
Andy Rossi, Developer
“Every day I sit down at my dining table, eat a banana, and have a cup of black coffee from a Nespresso machine.”
Anton Zykin, CEO of SFCD
“My watch doesn’t get set until I drink my first coffee. Before then, time isn’t too important.”
Aaron Grando, Tech Lead at RTO+P
“My wake-up ritual at 8 a.m.: wake, sit in meditation for 20 minutes, shower, go to the studio.”
Dominic Bortolussi, Director of TWG Accelerator Partners
“My brother and sister-in-law got me a nice pour-over coffee setup for my birthday, so that’s recently become a nice part of my morning routine. It gives me a good task to do first thing to wake myself up.”
Matthew Healy, Designer at Foursquare
“I get up and grind some fresh coffee for my fiancee and I, walk our dog Pippa around the block, and go to a crossfit class before hitting the road to work.”
Jason Q, Lead Web Designer at AMI Entertainment


“Once I crack my first pop (or soda, depending on your location) of the day, I play Marvel Contest of Champions until I’ve used up all my units.”
Jason Schwartz, Creative Director/Founder of Bright Bright Great, Avondale Type Co., and The Secret Handshake

“My morning routine consists of a careful mix of espresso and seltzer. Hydration, carbonation and caffeination are all keys to a fruitful day!”
Graham Siener, Director of Product Management and Design at Pivotal Labs
“I’m a morning person. My wife is not. Fortunately, we both love breakfast, so I usually make something to eat while she gets ready.”
Daniel Ritzenthaler, Digital Product Designer
“I usually get coffee at a spot by my house in the Italian Market in Philadelphia called Gleaner’s Cafe, but mostly I lay in my bed with my cats until the world requires that I get up!”
Alex Newman, Co-owner/Designer/Developer at Copter Labs
“I generally wake up pretty early. Usually it’s just coffee, emails, and off to work, but every once in awhile—especially if I’m in a new city—I like to wander around early in the morning and see the sites.”
Joe Chow, Technologist
“My weekday mornings typically start with a cup of PG Tips in a Moss mug—it’s quicker than making coffee in the Chemex. Then, I’ll walk the pups around the block before heading over to the subway to start the workday.”
Brett Mascavage, Creative Director/Product Designer at MovableInk
“When I manage to wake up before the kiddos, I love to read in the early morning—it’s usually a steady diet of The Bible and saved articles in Pocket (both on my iPad), along with The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal … paired of course with multiple cups of coffee.”
Jason VanLue, CEO of Envy
“My morning ritual typically consists of making my bed (of course), making a smoothie, and listening to WNYC before I head out the door. Lately, I’ve been rocking this pin by Georgia Perry, which has brought nothing but good luck and good vibes. Pretty much the best way to start the day.”
Carly Ayres, Content Strategist
“My morning ritual in the office is coffee from my mug the size of a bucket.”
Gavin Elliott, Head of Product & UX at traveljunction.com
“My morning ritual: kissing my daughter good morning.”
Jan-Paul Koudstaal, Senior Designer at Mangrove
“Since reading Buster Benson’s post about it as an easier alternative to meditation, I try to free write for ten minutes every morning. It helps me to put my thoughts in order and gets me in the habit of getting my ideas out there—a good counterbalance to the perfectionism I am sometimes prone to.”
Grant Custer, Designer-Developer at Fast Forward Labs
“I spend my mornings working around my cat before heading out to work in coffee shops for the rest of the day.”
Al Monk, Product Designer at Heroku
“My morning routine consists of getting up at around 6 a.m. with my 9-week-old and making breakfast with him so mum can get some more sleep. Breakfast always starts with a cup of tea, whilst cooing at him to make him smile.”
Ben Coleman, Managing Director at fffunction
“My morning normally starts with a trip to the gym then a pot of coffee to set me off to a productive start.”
Jake Giltsoff, Designer at Adobe Typekit
“My morning ritual is being awakened by my 3-year-old daughter, who snuggles in with me and gives me the sweetest hugs. Her name is Sila. When we hang out in bed early in the morning, she plays gently while I fall back to sleep in her hair. And then she wakes us up because she is hungry. So, first things first for me: coffee!”
Celine Vernon, Designer, founder, Creative Director and User Experience Design Director for both slowfactory.com and Le Design Team inc.
“Coffee with my kids. Pictured: Evelina and Casey. Not pictured: David.”
Casey West, UI and DevOps Architect at WhiteHat Security
“Before I do anything, I make coffee (usually in this Smiths mug) and I manually change the date on my analog (go figure!) calendar. Then I do about 10-15 minutes of meditation and yoga-like stretching. I tried to get a picture of that but it was a downward dog disaster.”
Margit Detweiler, Founder of TueNight.com and Gyrate Media
“Making coffee in my favourite Bodum French press and my favourite mug.”
Avery Swartz, Web designer and Founder/CEO of Camp Tech
“My morning ritual consists of a 30-minute walk into the office, occasionally stopping for coffee. I get to walk along some of the most beautiful parts of Dublin City. I’m a big fan of walking; it gives me a chance to clear my mind and to focus on some of the things I’m working on.”
Jonny Belton, Design Manager at Zendesk
“I make a green smoothie every morning and drink half and save the other half for lunch.”
Anthony Nguyen, Interactive Designer
“Henrietta (named for Henrietta Pussycat from Mr. Rogers) and I wrestle with who gets to do work in the morning. Usually she wins, but I give it my best!”
Erin Sparling, Head of Newsroom Development at Dow Jones and technology teacher at Cooper Union
“If I wasn’t designing, I’d likely be doing something food-related, so picking up one of my food magazines or books before work not only takes care of my food obsession, but also the magazine’s layouts and design get me pumped for the day ahead.”
Brian Hoff, President & Creative Director of Brian Hoff Design, Inc.
“I love a good run first thing.”
Joel Bush, Cofounder of Amplifier
“Blogs and Kashi are what get me out of bed during the week.”
Brendan LaCroix, Front-End Engineer at Animoto
“I walk to work every morning. It’s a mile through Brooklyn. I spend the time snapping pictures of found street typography.”
Dylan Greif, Head of Design at Atavist
“I’m a huge runner—I travel often and love running as a way to see a city and discover new places, especially trails and hidden alleyways. I recently settled into San Francisco, and every morning I’ll wake up, catch up on all the email that Europe and the East Coast have been busy writing, then run for an hour around 7 or 8 a.m.”
Garrett Miller, Head of Labs Team at Mapbox
“Every morning, I make a cup of pour-over coffee and catch up on email until I finish the cup. Then, I walk to my studio.”
Jonnie Hallman, Founder of cushionapp.com
“A typical picture of my mornings, playing piano to my King Charles, Angüs.”
Greg Hoy, Creative Outreach & Integration at Pinterest
Photo by Matt Brown
“My morning ritual usually starts on my back porch at home with my two black Labs.”
Adam McCombs, Owner/Founder of Taecho Group
“Huckleberry Roasters Coffee Aeropressed into my favorite mug.”
Andrew Cohen, Product Designer at thoughtbot