Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Morning routine and introversion

One of the exercises we have done during BlackBelt training is to map our morning routine, identify wastes and improve our process.

I won’t do the exercise here; though I can tell you everyone that knows about my morning routine reacts strongly to it. To men, it is a waste of time. Women’s opinions vary depending of their own routine. To my parents it is way too rigid and organized (that’s one of the perks of being a Lean expert: you optimize your process and make it sustainable!). To my husband, it is too long but consistent enough to help him anticipate the step I am at.

Tasks at hand

I am not a morning person, so the snooze button is my favorite thing in the morning. When I am awake enough, I check my calendar for the day and the weather to determine what I’ll wear – while still hiding under the covers. I then shower, brush my teeth, get dressed, apply makeup and do my hair. I hopefully only have about 20 minutes commute and usually have a coffee and / or breakfast at work.

Getting ready to me is not only being appropriate enough to go outside. It is also getting in the mind frame to face my day and be successful at it. By checking my meetings and the weather, I’m able to put together an outfit that fits my day. If I have challenging tasks / appointments, I’ll make sure to wear comfortable but empowering clothing. If I feel strong enough, I’ll wear something out of my comfort zone, like a dress or something more formal.


But the highlight of my morning routine (no pun intended) is doing my makeup. During about 10 minutes, I am alone in front of my mirror doing something by myself and for myself only. It all started when my husband got diagnosed with cancer. I needed this selfish time and the extra layer of concealer. With years, practice and Youtube tutorials, I’ve learned that I can easily change the perception people have of me thanks to makeup. I can look less tired or more “serious” than usual. Obviously, the opposite is also true: I can make myself look sick, but it’s not pleasant for anyone. Makeup feels a lot like war paint: I’m trying to make an impression on my enemies (or colleagues in my case) just using the right colors strategically placed on my face.

When I say to people that I am not a morning person and I describe my morning routine, the first piece of advice they give me is to skip makeup. Don’t get me wrong: I am comfortable with my “naked” face and often go out without makeup. For work though, I always try to look professional, strong and confident. And it seems to work, as the days I go for a very natural look, people tend to say that I look tired…

Setting the mood

I also choose strategically the music that goes with my morning routine. I’ve recently created a “Moral Boost” playlist (inspired by some found on Spotify) to give me more energy and strength. It really makes a difference to the state of mind I am in when I arrive at work. I don’t listen to full albums anymore, just to playlists that are mood or situation oriented.

I sometimes carpool with my husband and even though I appreciate the extra time together, I don’t feel ready when I arrive at the office. I lack the mental preparation and alone time to be ready for a day of pretending to be an extrovert. On the way back home, I usually sing (very loud and off key) all the way, to get rid of everything negative and work related.

So when looking at a morning routine (or any “personal” process really), keep in mind that waste can only be qualified as such by the person who benefits from it. My next post will be a few hacks I’ve found to reduce waste in my morning routine.

Have a nice week!