Originally posted on Medium.
We’ve all read the productivity articles: every successful person pops out of bed around 5:30 a.m. and does yoga/goes running/meditates on a velvet pillow overlooking the Himalayan mountains to start off their morning. But what about the rest of us?
I’m a chronic snoozer. Like in a “I went to the doctor to make sure I don’t have anemia” kind of way. I’m NEVER going to be a person that wakes up before 7 a.m. Dragging my butt out of bed at 7 is even tough. I’m also a napper. My day is optimized around a good 10 hours of sleep, which is mostly unrealistic. Here are some small steps I’ve been working on that I hope help you, too. And remember, it’s okay to not be a morning person.
1. Remember that having more time in the morning translates to a better dayFor all the hokey sunrise yoga pics on Instagram, there’s something to be said for having a bit of free time in the morning. I’m not saying you need to spend an hour just hanging out, but being able to go about your tasks at a slower pace is so much more satisfying and makes for a better day. Rushing through the morning SUCKS. You know it and I know it, and hitting snooze a bunch makes you nothing more than a masochist.
2. Hit snooze once. Once.
If you’re setting your alarm to where you can hit snooze several times, you’re setting your alarm too early. There is a sweet spot between “early enough to have time to wash my hair” and “late enough to forget socks on my way out the door”. Find that spot. If you’re hitting snooze five or six times, you need to just set your alarm later. You’re not getting good quality sleep like that anyway. Seriously. Y’all multiple snoozers drive me nuts.
3. Try this
Okay I swear I’m not a spokesperson for Sleep Cycle and they’re not paying me to write this article, but I truly believe in REM cycles and I keep trying to continuously make myself wake up in the middle of one. It’s just NOT working. It’s better to get up a bit earlier before you hit your REM cycle then to try to wake up in the middle. Your body will THANK you — and your sleep cycles will adjust appropriately. The first week is the hardest.
4. Drink a full glass of water as soon as you wake up
Tada! You drink a full glass of water and your brain says, “oh shit let’s roll.” Maybe not quite like that but it’s a good idea. After you’ve been asleep for a while, your body is dehydrated, which makes you feel more sleepy.
5. Journaling in the morning is bullshit
Who the hell wants to start the day writing out their intentions? Honestly, not me. I like starting off the work day by looking at goals and prioritizing, but you’re not going to catch me doing that within the first two hours of my morning. You DON’T have to journal. If you want to feel productive, spend ten or fifteen minutes doodling or practicing guitar or putting a puzzle together or something. Spend fifteen minutes making the perfect bagel sandwich. Pet your cat for ten minutes. Find that thing that brings you a bit of peace in your morning and stick to it! Trying to come up with things to write about when your brain is not fully awake is just way too hard and you shouldn’t feel compelled to do it.
If all else fails, just try one thing at a time. Baby steps. If you slip up and you’re late to work, it’s okay. It’s okay to not be a morning person. But you can still help yourself make things easier in the morning.
Originally published in Eritas Daily.
First, listen to the Goosebumps theme song while you read this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TdbO0uldDRs
Goosebumps is The Twilight Zone for kids. It’s the Black Mirror of the 90s — and it’s better than Black Mirror (but that’s for another conversation).
Who can forget R.L. Stine’s even-keeled baritone and the sometimes expected, sometimes unexpected plot twists? All of the episodes are good — except for that one with the shrunken head and the blatant racial Othering — but we’re here to choose the best of the best so we’ve compiled a list of seven. This post will contain spoilers but not many. If you haven’t watched Goosebumps, sign on to your ex-whatever’s Netflix account and get rolling with it.
7: “Perfect School.” Season 3, Episode 11/12
This episode had a real Battle Royale feel. Not ’cause the kids have to battle to the death, but because the parents are just overall unconcerned and negligent apparently.
I hated the main character, Brian O’Connor, because he has a total shit-eating grin, but later on I was impressed with him wanting to bring down the school. It had a very cool “fuck the system” vibe to it. Brian wasn’t going to leave those other students to their fate.
6. “Welcome to Dead House.” Season 2, Episode 21
OK can we first of all just talk about the fact that the city this family moves to is literally named “Dark Falls”? I mean, I would move there because I like goth shit but it’s absolutely ominous sounding. This was that “moving into a strange small town where all the residents are off putting in a way you can’t place” trope. I for sure thought the mom was going to turn out to be evil, because when they move into the house she hangs up this weird, dead ass wreath on the wall. The only explanation from her is that it was passed down through her family. To me it sounds like the mom’s a witch but that’s not canon.
5. “Go eat Worms.” Season 2, Episode 6
This episode is about a boy named Todd who loves worms and pranks his friends and family with worms a lot. But then they start popping up unexpectedly, surprising even him.
I can really identify with Todd’s love of worms. I mean, who doesn’t love them, right? But this seemingly innocuous worm obsession paints him as the boy who cries wolf when worms start showing up out of ~nowhere~.
Turns out there’s a giant worm. The message is clear: sometimes in life there are just giant worms.
4. “Stay out of the basement.” Season 1, Episode 11
NOT recommended if you have father issues. This dad is a total dick. And although it’s revealed to be the influence of nature or whatever, it’s still annoying to watch. At the end, the university he was fired from just offers him his job back like he isn’t an evil scientist? Bonus points for scary green sludge seeping out of the dad’s wounds. Grade-A freaky stuff from Goosebumps. I also have to appreciate a plot line that involves the brother and sister trying to work together to defeat a great evil. Give me less bickering siblings, R. L. Stine!
Side note, have you noticed Stine is obsessed with the nuclear family?
3. “Shock on Shocker Street.” Season 3, Episode 1
Man, this title really hits you over the head. I mean, there’s actually electrocution in the episode. Shock on Shocker Street. Get it? There’s no mystery to any of the pronouns associated with Goosebumps. It’s all pretty much what you think it is, which is kind of why it’s perfect.
If this episode isn’t a chilling overture on the dangers of A.I., then I don’t know what is. Side note, for a similar conceptual idea, watch the movie Artificial Intelligence featuring young Haley Joel Osment in his prime. It’s literally only relevant for the child robot element.
2. “Awesome Ants.” Season 3, Episode 15
Let’s start with Lantz the exterminator. Like, honestly, just secure that huge ant to the top of your car so it doesn’t maim another child, dude.
Also, that twist ending. This is seriously some alternate universe weirdness. Nothing could have prepared me for the possibility of humans living in an ant-monitored enclosure. It’s truly a harrowing look at what could happen if we start feeding hot dogs and ice cream to our local ant population.
1. “The Haunted Mask.” Season 1, Episodes 1/2
Are you even surprised? The main character’s name is Carly Beth. I could not make this shit up. But R.L. Stine can. This episode got 14 million views upon airing. I think it’s because everyone’s inner child can relate to the desire to terrify mean boys at school. The feminist in me is absolutely tickled. Things take a dark turn, however, when the monster within is revealed. Carly Beth’s descent into madness is one that happens to everyone who puts on a mask (think of the Jim Carrey movie The Mask).
On a separate note, the moaning plaster doll head is actually the creepiest part of these episodes. I respect that her mother is expanding her creative output, and it’s also interesting that it turns out to be exactly the witch magic that Carly Beth needs to become herself again (seriously, alternate Goosebumps theory: all the moms are witches), but that plaster head is arguably way creepier than the creepy mask Carly Beth steals from the man in the mask shop.
I originally thought of user experience as a pet project. Or a side passion. Something I could get interested in and invest my extra time in while I was working on email marketing. As time goes on, though, that line between "user experience" and "literally any other tech job" is disappearing. In fact, what I'm finding out instead is that everything in marketing and design has to do with user experience in some way or another.
I recall this conversation with my manager:
"I don't think 'call us' buttons make a good CTA and we need to figure out a different strategy for our customers," I said. OK it probably wasn't that well-stated. But we're a company that creates email campaigns (as well as social media content) for small businesses. And my job is to constantly consider strategy and how it's working for our customers, who are not experts.
"Why is that?" My manager asked, rhetorically, because I think she knew what I was getting at before I got there.
"Because people, especially in this era, don't like making phone calls. They want to find the information they need online without having to interact. They don't want to talk to a stranger."
This came from my own experience as a user. "Don't make me think" was working, in action. In this case, it was "don't make me think about what I'm going to say to someone, because I have no idea what it is I really need". I just didn't connect the dots at first. Calling someone on the phone didn't appeal to my millennial sensibilities, in a similar way that snail mail might seem too much of a task (lookin' at you, grandma).
Call-to-action buttons were the first aspect of email marketing that got me thinking about email usability. If the button copy is vague, people won't click on it. Doesn't matter how cute and clever it is. People want to know what they're clicking on, they want to know where they're going.
As it turns out, in our day-to-day, we're not all down for Willy Wonka's spooky cave theatrics. We really want to know what's at the other end of that tunnel.
Interaction design in action -- "Call us" buttons have a significantly lower click rate than a "View our specials" button or a "RSVP on Facebook" button, even. "Let's go" is cute copy, but it gets zero clicks. Let's go where? How can we create user interest without totally obscuring their end goal? If this button is gray rather than red, will they click on it? If this button is at the very end of the email, will they get to it before they get bored and click away?
I haven't answered these questions fully. But the data gathering has begun.
This began translating into other aspects of an email campaign, like the subject line. I started to really consider strategy as a marriage of great visuals and interesting, but clear, copy. Open rates are arguably the most important indication of the success of an email campaign, and they depend on the customer's feelings about the sender-- and also, what they think the email is going to be about. You can use a subject line to pique curiosity, but if you get too deep into that, then you're just causing confusion and disinterest.
There's a reason Old Navy and other big box stores have defaulted to urgency and percentages like "50% OFF TODAY ONLY!" They have a great grasp of the human psyche.
A big strategy hurdle for our customers is giving their subscribers some type of action. Promotions, product highlights, announcements about business changes. These are all great things. But we're serving these emails into someone's inbox, which is highly personal. We are constantly needing to prove value. So we need these emails to give our subscribers (the users) a clear action.
I could go on about this forever. But trying to figure out how to provide a great user experience for our customer's subscribers, while also bridging the desires of our customers, is a puzzle that I'm still solving for. And this was the original domino that started a chain reaction. My interest in GOOD user experience was facilitated by my desire to create really good emails. Coming soon!