This Old-School Activity Has Made My Mornings So Much More Pleasant

published May 17, 2022
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Credit: Photo by Madeline Bilis

It was only a few weeks ago that I’d check my email immediately upon waking up. Then I’d scroll over to my Instagram notifications and maybe watch a couple of TikToks before physically getting out of bed. I imagine this isn’t an uncommon experience, and yet… what kind of life is that?

Looking at screens in the morning isn’t morally bad. I still do it often. But for a while, I’d been searching for a better way to jumpstart my days — a screen-free way that might even enrich my little ol’ brain.

One of my friends suggested starting the coffee pot and reading a book. While I do find that relaxing, I spend almost all day at work reading and writing, and later, before bed, I read for pleasure. Reading for the majority of the day does sound pretty dreamy, but I longed for something else.

That something else, I discovered, is still a book — just not the kind of book my friend was talking about. The old-school, screen-free activity that’s made my mornings so much more pleasant is a Sudoku book. 

First, I want to say that this isn’t just any Sudoku book. It’s a beautiful book of puzzles printed by Princeton Architectural Press, and it looks lovely on my nightstand. (No shade to the neon-colored workbooks of yore, but I think I prefer my stylish navy blue one.)

Second, the book transports me back to the Sudoku-crazed days of the mid-2000s, when my friends and I would carry around Sudoku workbooks from class to class during middle school. (No? Just us? Never mind.) In other words, I have positive associations with Sudoku puzzles, so starting my day with them is quite nice.

The other thing I like about these fairly quick brain teasers is that they involve numbers — something I typically avoid. I’m not a math gal by any means, but playing a numbers game is a nice change of pace amid all that aforementioned reading and writing. 

Now, I try my best to avoid scrolling through any kind of screen before I start work. Instead, I ground myself before beginning the day. Playing Sudoku for a few minutes is a way to not only be present, but also to think about solely one thing at a time for once

It’s an interesting time in this society of ours when a complex-looking grid of numbers makes me feel calm. I wouldn’t have guessed this morning routine for myself, but that beautiful book cover drew me in. Maybe it’ll draw you in, too.