Making in the morning

I am kind of a generalist when it comes to what I do professionally; I like both design and programming, for example. What this means for me, is that I’m not really satisfied unless I do both activities regularly, and since I’m not really designing during my main job as a programmer, I have my nice little hobby projects on which I work in the evenings or weekends.

The problem with that is that there’s occasionally better things to do in the weekends, and in the evenings I’m tired or I just don’t feel creative enough (I believe I’m generally a morning person).

That’s why for the last month or so I’ve been doing a little experiment: getting up 2 hours earlier to make stuff with the goal of getting better at skills that I don’t really develop during the day (or just to experiment)

Why two hours? Well, since it can take a while to get into a nice flow, it would be a waste if you had to stop within an hour or so. 2 hours seems like a nice time to be productive.

So what’s coming out of it?

  • I’ve been doing a lot of designing for a little product idea that me and a classmate came up with a couple of years ago. It’s great to start something from scratch and exploring ways to design it. Hopefully I can show some of it soon.

  • I’ve made a little visual todo app to help me in choosing something to work on during these mornings. I took the opportunity to get familiar with CoffeeScript here. It was also my first experience developing a touch-based interface from scratch, quite interesting.

  • Reading books, I’m going through JavaScript: The Good Parts right now, for example.

  • Watching inspirational video’s, like this gem: Inventing on Principle

  • Preparing a talk discussing some ideas from my Thesis.

I’ve been quite happy what’s coming out of it – I especially like spending more time designing. I’m not a 100% satisfied with my productivity, however, but that might be a matter of managing my own expectations: occasionally you just have to fix one stupid little detail that’s blocking the rest, but takes a while to solve.

Although I don’t really have problems getting up about 2 hours earlier (that’s what alarms are for), I’ve been pretty terrible at getting the same amount of sleep as before (which means going to bed ±2 hours earlier). I’ve been more tired during the day recently, and I guess this is the main cause (that or the weather here). I guess that this is all a matter of discipline and routine. I could decide to get up at the same time during weekends – it would certainly be better for the routine, but it has a social effect as well, of course. I’m still thinking about this.

So far so good I think. As you might have read, I have some little things I still need to work out, but I’m pretty satisfied so far. I’m curious to hear if you have done similar experiments or have generic tips about this. I’d love to hear from you.