The responses to my first Lifehacking column, “Quest for the Perfect Morning Routine,” turned up a gem. Mason Currey—writer, editor, caffeinated snack expert —maintains a blog called “Daily Routines,” where he compiles “how writers, artists, and other interesting people organize their days.” Mothers who write will sympathize with Alice Munro:
As a young author taking care of three small children, Munro learned to write in the slivers of time she had, churning out stories during children’s nap times, in between feedings, as dinners baked in the oven. It took her nearly twenty years to put together the stories for her first collection, Dance of the Happy Shades, published in 1968 when Munro was thirty-seven.—The Atlantic, Dec. 14, 2001
Immanuel Kant relied on a servant to kick-start him:
His daily schedule then looked something like this. He got up at 5:00 A.M. His servant Martin Lampe, who worked for him from at least 1762 until 1802, would wake him. The old soldier was under orders to be persistent, so that Kant would not sleep longer. Kant was proud that he never got up even half an hour late, even though he found it hard to get up early. It appears that during his early years, he did sleep in at times. After getting up, Kant would drink one or two cups of tea—weak tea. With that, he smoked a pipe of tobacco. The time he needed for smoking it “was devoted to meditation.”—Manfred Kuehn, Kant: A Biography
Many of you kindly noted that Slatewas part of your morning routine, though mostly in the service of avoiding so-called real work. The motive force that trumped all others—that woke the dead—was the bagel. Without the promise of this breakfast staple, half the world would go missing. The women of Jezebel took the occasion to reveal their difficulties in the shower/coffee-making department, but that kind of fits with their punk-recluse style. They should try the lifehack of one reader who advises drinking coffee in the shower.
Cats were another big theme. Our feline friends help us get out of bed with a considered choice of sitting location, but after that service has been rendered, they can require a lot of work. One reader must sing a song to her cat—”He’s a Bad Cat,” to the tune of “Our House” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young—every morning while getting the paper.
The recent economic collapse has left some readers with a longer morning than they would ideally prefer. Under normal circumstances, greeting the sun with the Lifetime morning lineup of Golden Girls and Frasier might not be such a bad thing. But a few of you discovered that situation comedy of excellent vintage can dull the day when viewed day after day after day.
Take heart, then, that a morning routine takes a lifetime to perfect. The most humane and finely tuned routines came from old folks. I will leave you with the beautiful routine of a reader’s 87-year-old grandmother:
Rising at a leisurely 8 or 9, she puts on her dressing gown and pads into the kitchen. Sets to brew her little 2 cup Krups and gets a grapefruit out of the fridge. Puts half a muffin in the oven to warm and goes and gets the paper from the driveway. Sets up the paper on the wooden paper racks made by her now deceased husband and brings her half a grapefruit with her half a banana to the table with her always black coffee. Begins perusing the headlines and at some point remembers the half a muffin or scone or cinnamon roll in the oven. Half a grapefruit, half a banana, half a muffin, half a pot of coffee. One-side of a conversation. Evidence of over 50 years of shared life with someone.