The snooze button is a definite weakness of mine. I don’t have a typical alarm clock. I have a smart device that I turn off verbally, which may be worse. (Maybe because the alarm is soothing rather than a little bit jarring.) I’m typically asleep again before my alarm goes off the second time. Sometimes without missing a beat in my dream cycle.

I know snoozing’s not good for me, but I only snooze once per morning so it’s been a pretty low priority as far as making a change is concerned. However, my wife is the one who encouraged me to get up after the first alarm after I started disrupting her sleep.

I was convinced it wouldn’t make me feel less lethargic. And I was reluctant to give it a try. My thinking was that everyone needs an Achilles’ heel. Snoozing would be mine.

Okay, I’m kidding. My wife wanted me to stop snoozing, so I had to try. But I was more than a little skeptical about a lack of snoozing, decreasing my sleep inertia. I didn’t think my body was getting confused about whether or not it was time to sleep so much as I was suffering from exhaustion. Ultimately, there was no way of knowing without a little experimentation.

On my first day without a snooze, I woke up ten minutes before my alarm because of a crying baby. I’m not sure if I felt better or not, but I did get to the writing desk faster and without feeling like I needed a shower to wake me up.

I thought this was because a crying infant caused me to stir, not because of skipping a snooze. By just day three, I was ready to give up. I again tried to tell my wife that I needed to be deficient in some areas. But she disagreed, so I had to keep at it.

Almost a year later, circumstances have changed, but I never think about snoozing. This could be seen as an accomplishment or, at the very least, the elimination of a bad habit, but neither one of those things has kept me from feeling groggy in the mornings.

photo: Amanda Jones


Most of the time, I listen to NPR while driving around town or going to work. On rare occasions, I might get fed up with the news and listen to our local classical station. It tends to soothe the savage beast, or so I hear.

Other times, I’ll roll the windows down and blare Iggy Pop, David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, or any number of other bands I have on CD. Yeah, I still listen to CDs. But only in my car. It helps me feel like it’s 1996, and I’m in high school. Back then, I thought I was a pretty cool dude.

Things have changed a little bit.

I was fortunate enough to welcome a healthy baby girl into my life about half a year ago. It’s been great. I’ve loved it, even though I’m getting a little less sleep and my free time has taken a definitive hit. Now, in addition to music and talk radio, I’m driving around with a baby seat in the back seat. We’ve set it up with a mirror so I can keep an eye on her.

A few months ago, I was driving down the highway, doing about 75 mph, and listening to the radio. It was a warm day and the perfect time to listen to a little music. So, “Sympathy for the Devil” started pouring from my factory speakers, and I began rolling the windows down.

I noticed very quickly that rolling all of the windows down meant that the mirror I’d installed in front of our car seat started to vibrate–not violently, but enough that it might loosen and have to be repositioned, which isn’t a one-person job. It’s hard to get the angle right with just one person.

I rolled up a window and checked the rearview mirror again. The baby mirror was still shaking. I rolled up both windows on the passenger side. No change. So, I rolled up the rear window on the driver’s side. That worked. No more shaking, but my first thought was to question whether or not this meant I was one-quarter the dude I used to be. I only had one window rolled down, and I’m a “windows down kind of guy.”

I don’t want to sound diluted, but I think I can still be sort of a dude. I was able to listen to the song even if I had to make sure the volume was way down when I parked. I turned the volume down because little ears were going to be in the back seat, again, very soon.

photo: Dan Sealey


My phone had fewer pictures on it before my daughter was born. If I took a photo, I typically uploaded it to the cloud later that day. But for the first few months of my child’s life, I was taking pictures every day.

So, I needed to have an organization method for my images. I decided I’d upload to the cloud every few months and remove all but the photos I’d selected as favorites. That way, I’d have pictures to show someone who feigns interest and is willing to humor a new dad… or genuinely loves babies.

My phone has plenty of space, but I tend to treat it like my computer. I don’t want it to be cluttered. So, I view my apps through this lens. Periodically, I’ll go through them and delete the ones I’m not using anymore.

I also avoid keeping apps on my phone’s background. Instead, I put them all in a folder beside my calendar, the call button, and my text app at the bottom of the screen. The most often used apps are on the first tile of the folder. The rest are in alphabetical order. Sometimes they’re all just in alphabetical order.

I don’t allow podcasts to download automatically. When I want to listen to a podcast, I choose one and then take 30 seconds to download it. Podcasts automatically delete after I listen to them. I use streaming services, so there’s no music on my phone.

My phone does not have an excessive amount of hard drive space, so keeping it free of unnecessary files is essential. Especially if I have another use for that space. For example, I recently slipped a shotgun mic into the lightning port and shot a mini-documentary with my iPhone. The last thing I wanted was to have to start deleting pictures or apps while I was on location.

That’s a practical reason for keeping space available, but I also want my phone to be streamlined if I can. Just like my computer, I think this makes for a more efficient tool.

photo: Christian Allard

Wake Up

I wish I could say that I woke up like Bruce Lee. I read in John Little’s The Warrior Within that he was doing a set of exercises before he was out of bed in the morning (e.g., arching the back, stretching, leg lifts, and more). That’s not my routine. I roll out of bed, stumble into the bathroom, and then fill up on as many cups of coffee as possible. This is something I’ve worked on, but it hasn’t necessarily been effective.

In the past, I had my breakfast and coffee, spent a little time waking up by staring at the weather report, then proceeded to move into the office to write for an hour or so.

Periodically, I’d head straight from my office to the gym. It just depended on whether I was working out in the morning or the afternoon that day. This struck me as reasonably productive, which may have been the problem.

I slipped into some complacency over my morning routine because there were times when I’d schedule my mornings out in 15-minute increments, sucking out every possible bit of productivity possible by adding a little cleanup and 15-30 minutes of reading before going into work.

Granted, just writing that down makes it seem a little bit over the top. And I think that level of performance should possibly be reserved for special periods when my workload is high.

But that doesn’t change the fact that I’d like to wake up feeling a little more alert and vibrant. There are ways to go about this, but most of them have had little effect on me. For a while, I took a shot of V8 every morning but there were no noticeable effects.

So far, the only healthy morning activity that’s stuck is a little hydration in the form of a 20 oz. glass of H2O. Most likely, Lee already has the answer (which shouldn’t come as a surprise). I’ll have to refer back to Little’s book and start waking up with his routine. Especially since after the birth of my daughter, a 3-minute workout is all I have time for in the mornings.

photo: Fervent Jan


I experienced wide-eyed wonder in my late teens and early twenties while traveling to other countries, but I think the first time I experienced real joy was when my child was born.

This may seem cliché, but I hope the same for you if you’ve not yet had children. And if you’ve been lucky enough to experience joy before the birth of your child, then I would posit that you are indeed a lucky individual. And probably not nearly as jaded as me.

Having a daughter has been the most significant event in my life. I was warned I was going “to fall madly in love” and, subsequently, accused of being “over the moon.” I can’t stress enough the amount of happiness that becoming a parent has brought me.

Granted, it’s early, and it’s already been difficult, at times. I haven’t always gotten the sleep I needed, and being unable to console a weeping infant has not necessarily been fun, but the joy remains.

This is fairly significant, considering I may or may not have been someone who believed in joy previously. In fact, the idea that someone could experience this level of happiness seemed almost delusional.

I’ve experienced pleasure, and I have had fun engaging in certain activities, but this is very different. I now find contentment in simply knowing that my offspring is near. And what I feel that I need to achieve and what I want has been permanently altered. I still have desires and ambition, but the idea that they can give me what I already have is laughable.

I don’t know if it will always be this way, but the notion that it could be is comforting. Simply put, joy has opened a new world for me. And my life as a parent has only just begun.

Photo: Mohamed Nohassi