I live about an hour south of Calgary in a town called High River. Each day I was driving into the downtown core and parking. It wasn't the expense that was the issue, but the fact I was on the road for about 2 hours a day, every day and my routine felt like I was driving from one place to the next (which I was). I felt unproductive and like I was switching context from one state to another with nothing in between.
Recently I decided that I would stop driving all the way into the downtown core and just drive to our community rail system at the south end of the city (about a 30 minute drive). There I would take the train into the core (about a 45 minute ride) and walk 2 or 3 blocks to the office. This would afford me the opportunity twice a day to wind down (or wind up as it were) as I got into the day. Everyone is always go, go, go these days but my attitude is to relax and enjoy the ride. This supported that.
With my spare time I either crack open a book (currently re-reading Jimmy Nilsson's Applying Domain-Driven Design and Patterns) or get 30 minutes or so on the laptop coding or something. And of course I plug in my iPod and whittle away the time with tunes. I think everyone needs a little downtime, not only between projects but between days. If you're constantly moving from bed -> work -> dinner -> bed, you'll burn out.
I'm not a music afficiando or anything (don't even have a geeked-out home theatre system) but I do enjoy music. My top 5 items on my iPod that I listen to each day is:
- Mike Oldfield. When it comes to music, I live, breathe, and eat Mike Oldfield. Most people have no clue who Mike is, but I'm sure you'll recognize it. It's the music played at the end of The Excorist (aka Tubular Bells). If you heard it, you would probably go "oh yeah". Mike is a musical genius in my books and anything he does is gold (especially when he pairs up with Maggie Reilly on vocals). Easy listening and relaxing.
- Bond. 4 drop dead gorgeous girls playing classical instruments to a boppy beat. What more can you say?
- Enya. The celtic sound does it for me, and her voice is soothing, especially at 6 AM on a crowded train.
- Sarah Brightman. Another muse that lets me ease into the day without frying my brain.
- Loreena McKennitt. More celtic goodness from someone with a heavenly voice and Canadian to boot!
Other stuff I'll listen to:
- Podcasts. It's always good to catch-up on the train with an episode of DNR or Hanselminutes. I never grow tired of listening to those guys.
- Peaches. A NSFW punk-girl band that kicks things up a notch. Another band like this is Evanescence. Good music with a little raunch and kick ass attitute. I'll throw Siouxsie and Banshees in here too.
- Classic rock. Yeah, I'm a 70s rock guy so you'll find things like Queen, Kiss, and Electric Light Orchestra happily playing alongside New Age goodness. This also includes ABBA that I'll admit I listen to. Who doesn't like these guys?
- Old TV themes. They're short and cute and take me back to my younger days and break up the emotional ride you might get from a deep instrumental piece. Fun and peppy.
- Movie soundtracks. Some music just works at any time of the day, like both volumes of Kill Bill. Awesome music and really gets the neurons firing early in the morning.
- Chemical Brothers, Moby and trance music. While I do like easing into the day sometimes it's good to mix in something spicy to kick it up a notch. These guys do it for me.
- Johnathan Coulton. Johnathan who? I only listen to one song from this guy, Code Monkey, as it bridges the music world and my geek life together in 3 minutes. Brilliant!
To kick off the morning I'll either down a coffee or two (or three or four...) but prefer a Red Bull or Rockstar (sugar free). Silly and probably damaging to some part of my internal organs (including losing about 10,000 brain cells each day), but it's that kickstart that I use to get going.
When I get to work I'm ready to face the day. I'll kick into work mode about halfway on my way there, thinking about the morning scrum, what I need to prepare for it, projects I'm working on, and accomplishments I intend to commit to for the team. This gets me into a mindset that lets me slip into business-mode rather than a quick shocking start like I used to have and I find it makes me more productive as a whole.
So what's on your iPod? How do you start your day (or finish it) so you're not burned out and ready to face any challenge you might have?