What do you do first thing in the morning?

My work day currently starts at 6AM:

  1. Exercise (before work, yes I am one of THOSE people.)
  2. Check Email
  3. Drink Coffee
  4. Check Servers, Services, and Zenoss
  5. Create a Morning Systems Report
  6. Drink Coffee
  7. Write down things that need to be taken care of
  8. Read RSS Feeds

What's your Morning Ritual?

  • 1
    I love how every answer starts with "Wake up." Commented Jun 23, 2009 at 16:57
  • Some of these could use estimated times added to them.
    – sclarson
    Commented Jun 24, 2009 at 21:57
  • Times are included. Done. Commented Jun 25, 2009 at 15:51
  • Because, many mornings, just waking up is an accomplishment.
    – kmarsh
    Commented Aug 13, 2009 at 20:22

17 Answers 17

while [ 1 ]
   if [ $kidAwake -eq 1 ]

   walkToWork(4blocks) # See also: man exercise
   login ernied

   while evolution
      case $message in 
      VeryImportant ) 
         convertToTask() ;;
      Important ) 
         markAsUnread() ;;
      *****SPAM***** ) 
         fixSpamFilter() ;;
      Customer ) 
         replyOrFixNow() ;;

   opera munin.mywork.com

   if [ $notEnoughSleep -eq 1 ]
      avoidCoffee() # See also: man internals

   if [ $dayOfWeek -eq 1 ] # Monday system maintenance - see wiki
      for i in $DebianServers
         apt-get update
         apt-get upgrade
      checkBackups() # make sure they're actually getting done/are valid


   while [ $eatLunch -eq 1 ]

   goHome(haveFunWithkid(), eat(), sleep())

  • Nice :) .
    – squillman
    Commented Jun 24, 2009 at 21:06
  • 1
    Automate your workday. Literally. Commented Oct 16, 2009 at 11:28
  • Answer 2am page of employee that is rude and impatient.
  • Set alarm 15 minutes ahead to compensate for 45 minutes of missing sleep.
  • Sleep without dreaming.
  • Wake up and realize that you did not dream - which means another night of no REM sleep
  • Pull yourself - literally - out of bed, which is too stiff to support your back properly, which means each morning is a fabulous, new and amazing experience in soreness. Ever-so-carefully pop the 4 vertebrae that are out of place back into place, with a satisfying crunch.
  • Run downstairs, place 3 scoops of fresh coffee into coffee maker and turn it on. Time saved by running coffee before everything else: 10 minutes.
  • Run upstairs and shower quickly.
  • Shaving is not optional...well, most days it isn't...I did shave, right? Better get coffee soon...
  • Get dressed. Wake up the spouse and kids.
  • Wake up the kids again.
  • Wake up the kids again.
  • Are the kids awake? Are they getting dressed?
  • Did I mentioned "dressed"? Now?
  • Dressed yet?
  • Have spouse grumble at you about not being ready because you spent all your time coordinating the kids. Spouse will get the kids to school or other planned activities from here.
  • Grab wallet, keys, phone, and pager. Curse that you cannot reliably get rid of the pager because your work requires complete 365/24/7 operation, along with the ability to be on call and on-premise at any time, any where, for any reason.
  • Supress memory of coming into work on Christmas day and working all day, while you miss out on family.
  • Run downstairs and drink 3-4 cups of coffee.
  • No time for breakfast. Time saved: 10 minutes. Time lost from your overall lifespan, probably a day. Look outside and grab coat, if cold grab coat with hood, if hot, grab hat and no coat.
  • Walk 800 feet to the train
  • Wait 14 minutes for the train which was there just a minute ago.
  • Get on the train, somewhere around the door, because there are no seats.
  • Ride the train standing up for 45 minutes because it's important that snotty kids half your age (20) hog two seats at a time instead of giving them to people twice your own age (80).
  • Mental note: when much older, obtain cane that is lined with a 5-pound lead rod, so you will be able to beat the snot out of anyone who lacks manners. Riders now wonder why you have a maniacal smile on your face, not unlike Batman's Joker.
  • People start giving you room because of the insane smile. You now have room to move around and breathe. You can stop smiling now.
  • Avoid person who smells like they have been eating raw lit cigarettes by the pack. You are grateful when they step off the train and remove the smell of burnt something from your vicinity.
  • While waiting to get to your destination, listen to the recently released convicts almost screaming into their cell phones about getting across town in time for their court appearances, and realize that you are not knife-proof, fire-proof or bullet-proof. Also realize that you cannot have concealed carry on the train as well.
  • On the last leg of your train journey, pull out blackberry and read some quick articles at theoildrum.com, and realize that your job is heavily dependent on cheap fossil fuel. Ponder how you can find a job that isn't, given that your employer is in denial about this reality.
  • Push the concept of resource depletion out of your mind for another day. Pondering the fact that their doors will close in 10 years due to upcoming resource exhaustion just means you will have a job for 10 years, if you can keep up. So far, for the last 10 years, you have managed to hold on by your fingernails.
  • You have survived layoffs, a car accident that nearly killed you, selling your home, management changes, a coworker that was disruptive and nearly got your boss fired, health issues that hospitalized your spouse, health issues that hospitalized you, rude and/or disinterested employees who show up to get a paycheck, a lack of time in all things, a lack of sleep, a child with autism, a child with ADHD, a mother who is terminal with cancer, and a wife that has cancer. For about 2 minutes, you feel as if you are the luckiest man alive.
  • Train finally arrives at your stop. Time elapsed from when you got on the train to when you get off of it: 43 minutes. Of course, the bus stop that is located adjacent to it has no bus, because your urban planners are incapable of coordinating a syncronized stop (so that train passengers will get onto the bus). At this point, it will take more time to wait for the bus than it will to walk. And unlike the trains, the busses never run on time. Thank you, Tri-Met, for taking a brilliant light rail system and screwing it up.
  • If it is winter, you will need to put your crampons on to walk on the 1/2inch thick ice that has formed all over the sidewalks. Note how there aren't any cars, because while the snow is whimpy in Portland, Oregon, the ice is almost a killer, turning the city into a skating rink. Zip up your heavy jacket, and walk carefully so you don't fall. Step into the crunchy snow/ice mix and marvel again how the city is unbelieveably quiet. There are no cars on the roads, no day laborers waiting for work, not even the busses are running - just you. You are beginning to feel like the central character in a sci-fi story, the ones where everyone has died and you're the last person on Earth...
  • Walk 3/4 mile, regardless of weather conditions.
  • Halfway on your trip, the bus that was tardy will decide to pass you at 30 miles per hour, not bothering to stop at the next bus stop that is 1/2 way between the train and your work. If you are lucky enough to catch the bus (about 1 in 20 odds) it will cut 8 minutes off your walk
  • Proceed to walk down a steep hill to cut off another 3 minutes
  • Walk upstairs, and if needed, unlock the office
  • Sit down and unlock your machine. After an entire hour of standing and walking, your calves feel like steel rods. They are aching. Ignore the pain, it is for the weak.
  • Fire up email, Google Chrome, and Pidgin
  • Start the 64kbit ambient stream running from sleepbot (if you are the only one there) - this will calm you a bit and will come in handy to drone out the obnoxiously loud end-users that wander in. Yelling into a headset is the norm for most sales staff, but not for IT staffers trying to concentrate on systems and code. Unfortunately, this translates into yelling in the middle of a tiny office, because someone in their brain hasn't turned the damn volume down
  • If coffee is available, get about 2 cups of coffee in your hand-decorated mug that your daughter has gifted to you. For 2-3 seconds, as you marvel at the brightly colored mug, you miss her and wish you could see her.
  • After glancing at email (nothing important) and checking your servers, glance at world headlines for 60 seconds (no, really, you get 60 seconds) and wonder how so few people can screw up such a magnificent planet.
  • Despite your low user Id, you have long since left slashdot, which is now a combination of random noise. The empty tab you were going to use in your browser is closed and you forget going back.
  • Drink your coffee, which (unlike your tasty home brew) is two steps up from Rhinoceros bile.

I embellished a bit about the crazy smile, but otherwise, the trip is true - all of it, including the convicts. It makes for an interesting morning when your co-workers and boss arrive in a sing-song mood from their hermetically sealed vehicles and smooth commute.

Once every 3 weeks, this ritual is repeated at 4am instead of 7am, and I arrive at 5am in the morning. All users are kicked out of the ERP system and the database reindexed, balances recalculated, etc. This has to be done in 60 minutes, no excuses.

People wonder why I get pissed at techies that seem to think that money grows on trees, that life is easy because they are in tech, and why haven't I had the same wonderful experiences. The implication is there is something obviously wrong, and I am beneath them, as I don't have lots of money, I don't have a car, but I have a family that I love.

I generally suppress the urge to punch them; I smile, and say "you wouldn't believe me". I also suppress the urge to tell the person to ${censor} themselves.

An update: It's been a few years since this post. Time has past and things change. I no longer take the train, although I don't mind doing so when needed. I have improved my sleep, toned down the coffee, eat right now, and have overall a better life balance. Being an admin is hard enough work. It's extra hard for no reason when you have to live at an "existence" level for so long. Doing so for about a year and a half was a difficult, dark time, and having a parent pass away made it even darker. I'm glad it's over, but I wanted to say that I appreciate what I have now more than ever, because of going through it.

From that perspective, I've gained a bit more insight into my end-users. I now appreciate their requests, even the silly ones, because in their minds, they think their issues to be "of the greatest importance"; it matters little if it really is or isn't. Most of the time, it's little stuff that is easily addressed; sometimes, it's bigger than thought. But in the end, making their day better is what makes the job - and the challenges that come with it - part of why we do what we do.

Lastly, if anything, the insight I gave about techies "that seem to think that money grows on trees, that life is easy because they are in tech, and why haven't I had the same wonderful experiences" - that little bit has proven accurate over time. To those that still do not or even choose not to understand how the interaction of demands on you and the demands of the work can drain you and others around you, herein lies a little nugget of wisdom: You'll never grasp your profession until you really listen to what is being said.

tl;dr: don't make dumb assumptions that everyone is just like you, don't be defensive because someone disagrees, be polite and sparse with criticism, and listen with your ears, not your mouth.

  • This right here is awesome. Do you have a blog or anything like that? I really like your writing style.
    – phuzion
    Commented Jun 25, 2009 at 13:17
  • Unfortunately, I do. However, the writing there is sub-par compared to this post. It's mostly brain dumps of things that I happen to muse about, and it's all drivel. But this post - this post is actually 99% accurate. Seriously. Commented Aug 13, 2009 at 14:30
  • 1
    +1... I'd +100 if I could. Great writing. :-)
    – KPWINC
    Commented Aug 13, 2009 at 14:51
  • 1
    If you're in this business for the bling, you're doing it wrong. Great answer!
    – dmoisan
    Commented Aug 13, 2009 at 18:18
  • 1
    +1 for "I don't have a car, but I have a family that I love." Kids/wife first.
    – Lazlow
    Commented Aug 13, 2009 at 21:04
  1. Wake up
  2. Drink coffee
  3. Get out of bed
  4. Drink coffee
  5. Shower, get dressed, kiss the wife and kids, leave for work
  6. Get coffee
  7. Drink coffee
  8. Get to work
  9. Get coffee
  10. Check Dilbert (and other feeds)
  11. Check email
  12. Check systems health, job agent reports, db backups
  13. Check case tracker for new user support issues
  14. Drink coffee
  15. Finish any user support cases
  16. Begin working on project related things
  17. Get interrupted by high-maintenance users
  18. Chug coffee
  19. Finish newly acquired support issues
  20. Continue working on project related things
  21. GOTO 12

For those of us who love (not) GOTOs read this

  • 1
    definitely +1 for GOTO statement. I even write it like that when I am writing an email, 'if you goto the coffee shop please pick up a venti for squillman'
    – cop1152
    Commented Jun 22, 2009 at 16:59
  • Wake up
  • Check Server Fault
  • 2
    Now you're just pandering to the up voters. +1. Commented Jun 22, 2009 at 11:55
  • 2
    ..and its totally working...
    – cop1152
    Commented Jun 22, 2009 at 17:04
  • Is your computer always on?
    – Lazlow
    Commented Aug 13, 2009 at 20:59
  • Yes, it's on :) I even got a gold badge for checking this site everyday!
    – Jindrich
    Commented Nov 3, 2009 at 13:22
  1. Wake up
  2. Hit alarm clock in another room
  3. Go back to bed
  4. Wake up
  5. Hit alarm clock in another room again
  6. Finally get up
  7. Get dressed
  8. Drive to work
  9. Drink coffee
  10. Check serverfault and other "I'm avoiding work" sites
  11. Drink coffee
  12. Check email
  13. Do work
  14. Drink coffee
  • You need to be done with the whole alarm-clock idea!
    – squillman
    Commented Jun 24, 2009 at 21:07
  • 1
    It's funny. I actually always wake up before the alarm clock, but it's a motivational tool to actually get out of a perfectly comfortable bed.
    – MathewC
    Commented Jun 25, 2009 at 12:27
  1. Wake up
  2. Catch up on the lives of friends from around the world
  3. Get out from under the covers (yeah, laptops are weird)
  4. Tea and toast
  5. Exercise
  6. Shower, brush teeth, evaluate whether the beard is worth shaving
  7. Go to work
  8. Check up on user support cases
  9. Disregard half of them that said "urgent"
  10. Disregard the ones that said "very important"
  11. Deal with the non-urgent, non-important ones - the other ones will take care of themselves anyway (if it's urgent and important)
  12. ... do this till 4 o'clock
  13. Answer the telephone call and deal with that one report that actually was urgent and important
  14. Go home
  15. ....
  16. Go to sleep, GOTO 1
  • +1 For anyone who posts an XKCD
    – squillman
    Commented Jun 24, 2009 at 21:04

Day starts at 04:00-04-15 am


  1. open my eyes and wake up about .
  2. Morning prayer.
  3. Drink Tea. 3a. Log in to check (not always).
  4. Do some study.
  5. Wake everyoneone up.
  6. Get ready and get a lift to work.
  7. Tea again.
  8. Some work.
  9. Read RSS feeds.
  10. Some more work.
  11. Lunch (on desk).
  12. Tea again.
  13. Some more work.
  14. Head home. :)
  15. Dinner/TV/Family time
  16. Some more study or work on personal project.
  17. go to sleep @ 11:30 pm


  • Wake up, hit the snooze on my alarm
  • Go back to sleep
  • Wake up, Hit the snooze again
  • Go back to sleep
  • Wake up, Hit the dismiss on my alarm
  • Get up, shower, get ready
  • Drink a glass of water
  • Do a couple of sit-ups/push-ups
  • Go to work
  • Launch laptop OS X (Safari/Firefox, Adium (Multiple Accounts), Terminal, RDC to user TS and Admin TS.
  • Check: MRTG stats (Looking for unusual bandwidth variations on different sites), Zenoss Console, Email (specially look for 12am-7am outage/update emails)
  • 9am: Have one 'shot' of coffee (or if very tired have a 75% full cup).
  • 10:30am: Another 'shot' of coffee if needed.
  1. Wake up
  2. Silence cell phone alarm
  3. Wake up
  4. Silence Cell phone alarm
  5. Wake up
  6. Throw phone across room
  7. Bolt out of bed as i realize i'm supposed to be at work NOW
  8. Shower
  9. Cofee
  10. Check email, coffee
  11. Drive into work
  12. Coffee
  13. Coffee
  14. Waste Time
  15. Lunch
  16. Decide to check and make sure junior team members are working
  17. Visit With boss
  18. Coffee
  19. Do work once everyone leaves me alone
  20. Home
  1. Wake UP
  2. Connect to work and see if everything looks fine
  3. Go to work
  4. Read email
  5. Work 'till the evening
  1. Wake up
  2. Walk dogs
  3. Fix breakfast
  4. Check emails while eating
  5. Read RSS feeds
  6. Get dressed
  7. Go to work

Mostly of days

I wake up before sun goes up an do a morning pray after that drinking tea while checking online weather to make decide what device should I use to came at work (motorbike or car).

Usually when came earlier then 7 o'clock I need explain myself to boys at security why I came first and how I can maintenance servers only while nobody is online (re index tables on SQL and do some custom DATAMINING tasks). After that I drink coffee staring at my paper notebook marking with pen impormatn tasks. and said to my self "Where Do You Wont Go Today".

I really miss that sentence since in today IE.

  1. Wake up and silence alarm clock
  2. Wake up again and silence cell phone alarm clock
  3. Use flashlight to pick out clothes and get dressed (so I don't wake up wife)
  4. Sneak in my son's room to see him before I leave
  5. Try to sneak out of son's room without waking him
  6. Grab an Uncrustables for breakfast
  7. Curse at slow people while speeding to make it to work on time
  8. Log in and check email/voicemail
  9. Solve user related issues/check servers are up and running
  10. Read RSS feeds and visit serverfault and lifehacker.com
  11. eat lunch, more RSS feeds
  12. Drive home curse at people driving slow
  13. Spend time with the family....study
  1. 4:00 AM Wake up to incessant cell phone SMS ping
  2. 4:02 AM Probably false alarm or wrong number or too tired to really care anyway.
  3. 4:08 AM Back to sleep
  4. 7:15 AM Wake up; decide too early to get up
  5. 7:45 AM Realize no more sleep coming; wake up computer
  6. 8:00 AM Wait for cranky home SBS box to deliver mail
  7. 8:02 AM Read various network email reports, some familiar to SBS, some homemade.
  8. 8:05 AM See spurious error message in reports for tenth time, decide someday maybe to fix it.
  9. 8:15 AM Waste too much time on Boston.com, panic.
  10. 8:25 AM Breakfast.
  11. 9:00 AM Coffee. Waste 30 minutes reading Salem News comment section; realize brain cells lost for good
  12. 9:35 AM Walk to work (across downtown). Dodge tourists and their trolleys.
  13. 9:50 AM Talk to boss, who offers me coffee. Sometimes goes to Dunks across the St. but not today.
  14. 10:00 AM Open Outlook. Marvel at new spam techniques. Prays that boss doesn't click on eBay customer profile email.
  15. 11:15 AM Talk to program director about our video server and how it's eating shows. Comisserate and agree to flame vendor on their support board.
  16. 11:30 AM Executive director drops by, asks if it isn't a big problem, could I design a solution for us that we can't buy? No problem! We have to be visionary once in a while.
  17. 11:45 AM Bookkeeper comes in for the month. Can't find our database. Find it's in the wrong place and not on the server as it should. Realize the db was unprotected for six months. Fume.
  18. 12:30 PM Go home for lunch
  19. 1:30 PM Cell phone rings. Talk staffer through problem and realize it's not fixable over the phone.
  20. 1:50 PM Back in. Fix problem.
  21. 3:00 PM Get sales call. Pretend not to hear pitch, knowing last time I listened it was for something we couldn't afford or wasn't appropriate for our shop. Sales guy didn't take hint.
  22. 4:00 PM No problems. I duck out before anyone finds any.
  23. 8:00 PM Get SMS ping. Remote in and easily fix problem.
  24. 12:00 AM Get another ping. This one not so good. Can't remote in. Panic.
  25. 12:20 AM Arrive back at work. Miskey alarm code. Unfortunately, PBX misconfigured so alarm company not able to call. Manage to silence alarm.
  26. 12:40 AM Find problem. Two scheduled jobs collide and put the PBX and my remote access offline for 5 minutes. Figures.
  27. 12:45 AM Police come. Explain situation. Try to reset alarm. Fail. Cops take my information and leave, satisfied.
  28. 1:00 AM Lock up and go home
  29. 9:30 AM Explain situation to Executive Director.
  30. 9:45 AM Contact PBX vendor to fix system so we can actually answer the phone in night mode.
  31. 10:00 AM Just want to go home...

Don't do coffee until i'm at work (10 mins walk!) because the boss is a kindly soul and provides excellent caffiene from Coffee Compass, so this morning I got in at 7.45 and already had sales folk moaning they couldn't log in.. didn't get my first hit of the good stuff til nearly 9!

Out of interest... we're currently hiring a new sysadmin - would you take someone on who didn't start their day with coffee? I mean, that's just odd, no?

  • A dear friend of mine prefers tea, but point taken.
    – dmoisan
    Commented Aug 13, 2009 at 18:21
  • tea... its a good drink and steeped in ritual. Its no coffee when it comes to mornings though. The real odballs are the "only soda/water/juice" crowd. Try mint tea in the afternoon, if you need to kill the coffee buzz before you get home and wind up your family :)
    – Tom Newton
    Commented Aug 13, 2009 at 21:15
  • If you don't need caffeine before dealing with users or problems, you are NOT HUMAN. Not that there's much wrong with robot sysadmins...
    – SilentW
    Commented Aug 13, 2009 at 21:34
  • Get out of bed, shower and have breakfast
  • Check my email for system alerts - I don't like surprises when I get to work
  • Drive an hour to the office
  • Have coffee
  • Start waking up
  • Check monitoring systems
  • Change backup tapes - nightly tapes come home with me
  • Say "good morning" as others start trickling in (my office is nearest to the front door)
  • Start thinking about having another coffee but the kitchen is full by now with people preparing their breakfast
  • Get stuck into work proper

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