Wake Up. Time to Tile and Shine.

For some tile installers, the day begins in the stillness of the predawn hours, while others sleep hard until it’s time to wake-up-and-GTFOH. This article provides a snapshot of the morning routines of tile industry pros, based on responses from members of Global Tile Posse, whose a.m. habits are as varied and unique as the craftspeople themselves. I’ll wrap things up with a quick update on why Stone and Tile Stories disappeared for a while and how I’m doing my best to pick up where I left off.

What's for breakfast?

Tile industry pros are drinking anything from coffee and energy drinks to tea and sports drinks. Some of you take time to cook a proper breakfast, others grab something quick and easy, like a slice of toast, banana, or a protein drink, and some skip breakfast altogether.

What's your morning routine?

Those who like to gently ease into their day are snuggling with pets and watching TV, reading books to the kiddos, stretching, some time scrolling in the bathroom, doing meditation, taking a hot bath or shower, and enjoying the morning sunshine. Some of you prefer to pick it up a notch, shaking off the remnants of sleep and moving your bodies with yoga, light weightlifting, calisthenics, and dancing. Those who want to jumpstart their day run or hit the gym. Some of you like to keep things interesting taking ice baths, yelling and swearing, letting loose rooster-like primal screams, smoking weed, and getting a little action in the bedroom before starting your day.

Tile installers who have others depending on them often find it very challenging to carve out some me-time ahead of the workday. From preparing meals to attending to animals, toddlers, and preschoolers, their responsibilities extend far beyond the job site. There are shoes to be tied and noses to be wiped. The kids need to be safely deposited at daycare or school. Some industry pros have aging parents who need some assistance.

For those with the luxury of time, you’re reading or listening to the bible, inspirational books, podcasts like Floor Academy, classical music, or sports shows en route to the project site. Some of you sit in silence and contemplate your life choices. Others pick up a pen and journal or list goals and intentions for the day.

How do you begin your workday?

For some installers, there is a peaceful pause between the morning rituals in the rearview mirror and buzzing hustle of the workday. Emails are checked, bills are paid, and orders are placed. There are mini morning meetings where plans are made and tasks designated. Yesterday’s work is scrutinized, and intentions are set for ways to improve going forward. People connect on a more personal level about their craft, aka, BS and talk shop.

Tile and stone in my own morning routine...

I set up an area where I practice my morning routine. When I decided what should go there, I was not thinking about tile and stone at all. I was creating a collection of items to represent big concepts like time, space, matter, and energy, to assist me in getting out of my own head, connecting with the Creator, and tapping into my sense of purpose as a part of the human collective.

For example, I chose the blue tile because the space between the lines reminds me of space. I placed the timer there, because it measures time. The chunky stack of metaquartzite squares reminds me of matter. Since matter is also energy, I wanted to light a candle. The little dragon tile represents all those things that transcend scientific explanation.

One day, it dawned on me how I had unconsciously incorporated elements of my career in the tile and stone industry into the space where I practice my morning routine. The blue tile I purchased from Pratt + Larson in Portland, Oregon after touring their facility. I won the dragon tile from Tile Works in a Q&A contest at the end of an NTCA virtual round table. The metaquartzite pieces were a gift from Las Vegas Rock after a quarry tour facilitated by Stone Forensic’s Troubleshooting and Inspection class.

This trio of tile types, now treasured by one whose sense of professional purpose is derived from telling the stories of the craftspeople who expertly arrange these materials, tells a story about the evolution of tile design through the ages. Tile installers do more than secure these little squares in place. You make the world a more beautiful and enjoyable place to exist. It warms my heart to discover such an overlap between my personal holy space and my professional interests.

Why are morning routines important?

Everyone has their share of troubles and sorrow in this world. A mindful morning routine allows you to tap into something greater than yourself and your daily challenges. It helps create a birds-eye view of your day, and if you practice regularly, your whole life. It has a way of “clearing clips and wedges, striking thinset from joints, buffing faces, organizing cuts for next install” (Vince Parker) IN YOUR SOUL.

In July last year, health issues I have had for several years began to escalate, culminating in a trip to the ER mid-September. There, I received improper medical care that resulted in hospitalization and a number of serious side effects, including a brain aneurysm, irregular heartbeats, nerve damage, a blood clot, and some other concerning symptoms that have yet to be officially diagnosed. I was unable to drive or even care for myself for a couple of weeks. I still can’t eat solid food. It has taken me months to recover to the point where I felt like I could resume unpaid writing like this piece. It was very scary for me, as a writer, that it was taking me five times as long to produce a piece as before the medical fiasco. Thankfully, my writing speed has improved up to about 70% at this point. I hope the trend continues. My morning routine helped me stay connected to the Great Physician and redirect my focus in a positive direction.

Look for post-event coverage of THASIE 2024 here at Stone and Tile Stories. After that, I will resume unpacking the many captivating stories (and images and videos) I have been collecting since the beginning of 2023. This is a very exciting time to be a part of the tile and stone industry, a time of massive evolution in both tile technologies and the way the industry itself functions. I look forward to what the future holds for all of us!

By Alice Dean, Writer, Video Editor, and Content Manager

I help tile installers and other trades contractors to be seen, heard, and understood by creating marketing content that attracts and educates target audiences and sells services.