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Your Boot-Up Cycle

As I was getting ready to write this, something bothered me, and for a moment I couldn't remember what other task I needed to accomplish first. Then it hit me -- why, I hadn't Twittered yet, and it was silly not to throw in my $.02 worth on that site when it would take so little time and effort.

Once I had done so, I further realized that I might as well update my Facebook status. And then I could turn my attention to this blog... which has led me to this entry about all the digital duties I find myself compelled to perform at the start of each day.

The task list varies depending on whether I'm at home or at the office. At home, the routine runs something like this:

1) Wake computer from sleep;

2) Scan new e-mail in my home and work accounts;

3) Look over RSS headlines;

4) Read Twitter and Facebook, often updating each (that's less likely on weekends);

5) On workdays, log into the Post's instant-messaging system;

6) On workdays, log into our blogging software to see what comments have trickled in overnight and junk any comment spam that got past the filter.

At work, I first have to login to my computer -- always before I check my voicemail, since the time this PC takes to rev up leaves me with nothing else to do for a minute or so. And I can set aside Facebook, since I usually check that from home before heading into the office.

Oh, and there's also coffee involved. Lots of coffee.

The digital to-do list I would have had six years ago probably would have been about as long, but with different items. I didn't have any social networking sites to distract me, but without RSS I had to skim a few different tech-news sites and hope they hadn't missed anything.

I've now been in this particular routine -- or is it a rut? -- for long enough that I'm due to reevaluate what sites and services should be part of my personal boot-up cycle. You can help: What are the first things you take care of on your computer each day?

By Rob Pegoraro  |  August 8, 2008; 10:10 AM ET
Categories:  Digital culture  
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E-mail is always first on my priority list. A close second is my iCal software, so I can double-check that I don't have anything coming up that day that I've forgotten about.

I also have Stickies auto-open when I boot up, and iTunes usually follows soon after, especially if I plan to be working on the computer for any lengthy period of time.

Posted by: Doc | August 8, 2008 11:24 AM | Report abuse

My routine looks as follows : turn on the main power switch which delivers current to my computer and peripherals. Turn on the computer and the screen. From the boot menu, choose Ubuntu Hardy (I also have Windows XP and Vista available). Open Swiftweasel (an optimised version of Firefox for Linux), which in turn automatically loads my Gmail inbox. Wouldn't miss it for the world !...


Posted by: M Henri Day | August 8, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

At Work:

Plug in MacBook Pro laptop, attach network cable or decide to stick with wireless, and attach cable to my 22" secondary display. Boot. Get coffee. Log into OS/X. Fire up Firefox. Open three tabs and log into Meebo, corporate Gmail, and personal Gmail. Open a separate browser window with tabs for our corporate collaboration site, Washington Post site, and Slashdot. Open a third window with tabs for the webapp I'm currently developing and phpMyAdmin for access to my webapp's database, as well as my IDE (Zend Studio), and a terminal window in which I then SSH to my development server. Whew. At this point it's time to peruse my recent mail (both corporate and personal), the Post home page and Technology section front page, and Slashdot. In my personal mail I will usually find a Twine Digest with another slew of distractions, any number of other RSS-ish updates from various services, and of course actual real email from actual real humans that need my attention. It probably takes me at least 20 minutes to boot, and often more like an hour or two.

At Home:

Very similar, but omitting the corporate stuff. If I'm just checking in, I'm done after wilfing a while, but if I'm going to be working on any of personal side projects or home business stuff, then I'll again fire up another browser window with tabs for my current webapp and its database, along with Zend, and maybe Photoshop if I have any graphics work to do.

Posted by: Haig Evans-Kavaldjian | August 8, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Boot up
Give dog belly rub
Open Thunderbird, Firefox (Google Reader, Gmail, Local news portal)
Make coffee
Drink coffee
Manage business and personal email
Open Digsby (catch up with Twitter, Facebook)
Read interesting/important RSS feeds
Walk dog
More coffee
Client visits or phone calls
Download podcasts

Posted by: catester | August 8, 2008 2:50 PM | Report abuse

1? Who puts their computers to sleep anymore? That's not for home desktops, that's for laptops when you're gonna move from one place to the next. I run Windows and never shut down my computers. Even when I'm going out of town I leave my computers running so I can access them remotely.

Posted by: diesel | August 8, 2008 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Ok, I think we all do the same things but in different ways.

I, for example, wake up, reach up, grab iPod Touch and check mail/rss feeds/calendar all before my feet have hit the floor. Now I can do everything else either at lightspeed (damn, when will a working SSH tool hit the 'Touch?) or more leisurely, depdning 'pon what I encountered in my email.

Anyone else have a "Morning Coffee"-type bookmarked folder in their firefox? I hit that and read a ... lot .. of tabs-worth of comics, salon/slate/WashPost articles, etc, while doing the beginning part of my day.

By the time I get to work, I've either done most of my procrastinating things or actually accomplished a good bit of work, again depending 'pon what the morning's email/security news brought me.

Posted by: Bush -- not related | August 8, 2008 4:33 PM | Report abuse

I also use digsby! (For IM, web email, twitter, and facebook, and since I have my blog email me when there's a comment in moderation, this covers that too, but I have maybe 10 friends and family checking my blog, so it's much less work than most people, I would think.) Then Thunderbird for work email if it's a work day. And Firefox for feed reading/WashPost reading/etc.

Posted by: mim | August 8, 2008 7:38 PM | Report abuse

PC on. Coffee (espresso). Open Thunderbird and Firefox (XP). Read daily thought at Glance at email. Morning Coffee as noted by above poster: weaning off of six or seven online papers into a rotation of 2 or 3 on weekdays, full menu on weekends. This all happens when I get out of bed, usually at 4 AM, just so I can waste my time, er, enlighten myself before going off to work.

Posted by: MrTwoSticks | August 9, 2008 9:38 AM | Report abuse

The first thing that I do, even before email and RSS feeds is to check my tasks in BOINC Manager and see what WU's are running.

BOINC is the most important thing on my computer, allowing me to contribute to important scientific research at august institutions around the world.

If you are not a "cruncher" yet, which is probable, then...

visit and

Posted by: Richard Mitnick | August 9, 2008 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Hey Rob-
I always scan WaPo first thing...
Don't you?


Posted by: badness | August 9, 2008 7:03 PM | Report abuse

At the office: Boot up the Lenovo PC, get a cup of coffee while it boots. After the first cup is half way down, I open Outlook, check emails, then open my browser and check my personal gmail. After that, open a another tab on the browser and read the news. While I read the news, I glance at my Outlook calendar for my day's meetings. After that, check voicemail and call my assistant.

At home: Wake my iMac, which has Entourage open, check email, open Firefox and check my bank balance. After responding to any email, open another tab on Firefox and read the news. While reading the news, open iTunes and refresh my Podcasts, then synch my iPod Touch and go about my happy day at home!

Posted by: NJ Analyst | August 10, 2008 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Roll over, see if anything on my BlackBerry is important. Go back to sleep. Repeat.

Once something important arrives, power on PCs, power on coffee maker, put in contacts, get coffee, sit at computer, work if required and if not scan the news old-fashioned style, site by site. NYT is first, WaPo second (sorry).

Since I like my privacy, I don't maintain any social nonsense. More and more I simply rely on my mobile device for important business related alerts (e-mail and calls) and I try to "have a life," with actual humans (including my kids), the rest of the time.

Posted by: Dawny Chambers | August 10, 2008 1:32 PM | Report abuse

My boot-up routine:
1. Get out of bed, usually between 10 and 11 a.m. (I'm retired).
2. Get dressed.
3. If I get up before my wife does, I feed the dogs.
4. Turn on the computer. (I used to leave it on all the time, but I'm trying to save energy. This forced me to develop the habit of manually running my file back-up program and anti-virus scan; both used to run automatically early in the morning.)
5. Log onto Flickr and check for comments on my photos. Check others' newly-uploaded photos. Possibly upload a photo or two---or three---or more.
6. Eat breakfast (no coffee!), which I used to do before using the computer.
7. Check e-mail (always brief, as I get little).
8. Read on-line offerings: Seattle Times, Washington Post, New York Times, Arts and Letters Daily. Sometimes other stuff too.
9. Return to Flickr---and FreeCell or computer billiards.

Posted by: Dave Beedon | August 10, 2008 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Your routine sounds a lot like mine. Except half the time when I turn on the computer to do a certain task I actually end up forgetting what I was supposed to do because I got so distracted with the other things I normally look at!

Posted by: Joshua Johnson | August 12, 2008 12:12 PM | Report abuse

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