Mornings - Morning routines without distractions
Behavioural Design, Ideation, Visual Design
Mornings happened during a one-week summer school course I took at Copenhagen Institute for Interaction Design (CIID): Designing for Behaviour and Impact. During this course students were offered the opportunity to give 7 minutes lighting talks, which I spontaneously committed to the night before.
I had 12 hours to come up with a concept and mock-ups to communicate my idea of designing app that would help you get through your morning routine without distraction. This case study describes where the idea came from and how I arrived at my solution.
At the start of the course students were asked whether there were any behaviours they were trying to implement in their lives but failed to do so. Most of the answers were - as expected - around the topic of health: eating well, sleeping more, exercising more regularly. Mine was in the same ball park: I wanted to meditate every morning.
I have a fairly strict morning routine and in my mind meditation was an integral part of it. It had a very specific spot: after drinking a glass of water and before having breakfast. However, despite sticking to all the other elements of my morning routine, I continued to fail at doing my morning mediation.
When discussing this issue with my classmates they understandably suggested I should maybe consider changing the time of my mediation since this particular time frame obviously didn't work. However, instead of changing my behaviour and 'giving up' on my plan to meditate at this particular time I decided to dig a little deeper and investigate why I failed and what I would need to do to succeed.
Story-mapping my mornings
After story mapping my journey from going to bed the previous night until after my intended mediation time I became aware of a behaviour I practiced every morning, which may be the cause for my inability to meditate.
I put my phone on airplane mode before I go to bed. I use my phone as an alarm clock, so naturally when I reach for it in the morning the first thing I do is switch of airplane mode. I receive my emails, messages and next thing I know I spent 10 minutes scrolling through social media feeds.
The two brains
This reminded me of something we've learned on the first day of the course, which is based on the book Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. He essentially divides the brain into two systems: System 1 is the part of our brain, which deals with actions we do frequently and almost unconsciously without requiring much thought (i.e. brushing our teeth), whereas System 2 is required for thought processes that include calculated and more intense thinking (i.e. reading and responding to emails).
The root cause of my inability to meditate
Connecting the dots I realised that what I did every morning was to propel my brain from System 1 into System 2 only to ask it to sit down and go back to System 1. Did my brain feel like sitting down and meditate - an action with the sole purpose of calming my mind - straight after signalling it to be active and ready for the day by reading emails? Of course not.
So how could I solve this issue?
I needed to avoid activating my System 2 brain until after my I finished my morning routine.
So I sketched out an app that would help me achieve this goal.
Mornings helps you navigate through your morning routine without distractions. You commit to your morning routine (which is customisable to your liking) by activating the app the previous night. When you wake up Mornings automatically opens and prompts you to start your morning routine step by step.
By only committing to one action at a time your brains remains in System 1 as it doesn't require highly sophisticated thought processes. Once and only if you have completed your morning routine will the app allow you to switch off airplane mode and start the day.