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  • Will Hendrickson

Morning Matters

Game development is a challenging field. Whether you're an artist, programmer, designer, musician, businessperson, or some combination thereof, it's hard to perform at or near your peak every day. Despite my pride in being a hard-worker, unafraid to toil for hours or even all day, I still struggle sometimes to reach my full potential every day.

The one thing that I've found to be the key differentiator between the days when I'm most productive and they days when I'm less seems to be my early morning pattern. Those things that I do in the first forty-five minutes of waking, when my brain is still a bit foggy, seem to make all of the difference in the world.

I'm writing this blog post today because this morning, I screwed up. I laid in bed for almost forty minutes, fighting the urge to go back to sleep, and when I finally sprang up I chose to watch the news instead of a motivational or self-improvement video. It took half the day for me to really get productive, and I'm behind schedule for the day!

So, that begs the question: what is my morning routine, and why is it so influential?

Morning routines are influential on our day in such a powerful way because of a psychological principle known as priming. Priming is the technique of exposing ourselves to some stimulus to later influence our own behavior. Priming first-thing in the morning seems to be especially effective: if I start out the day with some lazy video game playing, I tend to work slowly and playfully throughout the day. Conversely, if I start the day with self-improvement videos and light exercise, I usually crush out all of my tasks before noon!

And that's exactly what my morning routine looks like almost every day: I watch a video or two with a protein shake for breakfast (I prefer soy because milk apparently can lead to inflammation, or so I hear!), and immediately take a walk to the lake and watch the birds fish for insects and fishes as the sun breaks over the treetops. This all takes about an hour and twenty minutes. I don't rush myself during this time but I do track my time with a cube timer. The timer helps curb the temptation to go overboard with videos or bird watching, and at the end of the routine it's easy to jump into my work for the day.

There is a challenge that we must overcome every day: no matter how productive we were the day before, we always wake up with little motivation to move forward. That's why the morning routine is such a critical component: it breaks the frost on our consciousness and unlocks our brain's power to produce our best selves for the day.


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