First off, let me say this has revolutionized the way I power-game my life. In my ongoing endeavors to challenge myself and increase productivity in my life, I thought a great place to start would be changing my morning routine by waking up earlier.
I started off the month with a thesis statement of sorts: ‘feel I’ll need to attempt this more than once, as waking up early is really not my strong suit’. I’d read a variety of articles (below) about the benefits of being an early riser, and recently saw this lovely visualization of writers and their waking times (which you can buy here!). Essentially I’d been feeling like I need to set better habits to encourage myself to write more/more regularly. At the very least, waking up early would give me time to do chores and life-admin when I’m potentially more alert. That said, I was worried it’d have a negative effect on my work or personal life, and I really do like to sleep in…
As we had Iceland planned in February, and California in April, March seemed a good chance to attempt a month of early starts.
The Challenge Begins…
Tried to start this 6am wake-up ‘challenge’ on March 1st.
…Upon waking up at 7am that Saturday morning, my disappointment was palpable. Although a record early start Saturday for me, queen of the long lie, I lay there thinking to myself: do I just wake up and consider this a ‘weekend 6am’ or do I start on Sunday? I went with the latter…
Sunday and onwards, I had much more prompt starts!
I actually managed to wake up at 6am pretty much every day with little effort! I tried my best to get to bed by 10pm (which really was a sour point in my personal life, but we adjusted). I was able to push this back later over the month.
Day 2: Husband’s not appreciating the ‘early to bed, early to rise’ ethos I’m going for as this goes against the grain of a hardcore gamer’s ‘late to bed, grumpy-scramble to get up and ready in the morning’ ethos. But this too shall pass, I tell him!
Day 3: Shrove Tuesday! GET IN! Early morning pancakes for the win. A stark contrast from our usual no-breakfast.
Day 5: Nice to check the garlic in the morning, get some paid overtime work done, do some sewing I’ve left off doing for ages, and generally have a moment of free time to gather my thoughts. Still not gotten to any writing, but hopefully before the month is through?
Day 10: Really getting into the groove of this now. Can’t seem to manage it well on the weekends (I love a long lie and really feel like I should be taking advantage of these in my freedom of youth!). But at least being productive from my bed? Does that count?
Day 13: Getting LOTS of transcription done for work. At least an hour a day the past few days. I don’t know where I would have fit this in otherwise. Glad to be getting overtime pay without it interfering with my regular life! Can basically do this with my mind shut off…
Day 14: Working on a few web projects on the backburner for some time now. Glad as well to have time for this – things I really enjoy.
Day 18: Cup of tea + book of poems + wing chair + bay window + sunrise = an amazing start to the day.
Day 22: It’s been weird to experience it actually getting so much lighter over the course of the month. At the start of March I was sitting in the kitchen with the lights on while it was dark outside. Now it’s basically light out when I get up. Light and dark times in Scotland are an amazing mystery to me!
Day 25: Made homemade granola last night so had that for breakfast this morning. Brought some to my husband = brownie points!
Day 28: Really feel like this could be the way forward. Although it’s still hard forcing myself to go to sleep earlier, it’s really nice to have time to myself in the morning to gear up for the day. Plus S is happy now that I’m bringing him breakfast in bed!
Day 30: EASY! Let’s go for a couple more days for good measure. =)
And how did I fare?
My mornings were spent mostly doing overtime (transcription for work = cash money!), catching up on poetry reading and doing a tiny bit of writing/organizing my notes, and generally doing life admin (especially in the run-up to our move, prior to our vacation, and doing boring chores I dread doing after a day at work).
After a bit of a shaky start that first day, I managed to wake up at 6am (or earlier!) pretty much everyday. It was hard work, especially on the weekend, and especially after very late nights out with my pals. Knowing I had an early start the next morning made me reconsider that extra hour spent on the internet or be more conscious of staying out late with friends. It also meant I had very little time on Mondays/Wednesdays when I have basketball, and I am grateful to my husband for being accommodating with our dinner timings and not getting much time together on these nights.
However, more than anything, I was (again) impressed with how easily my body adjusted to this change in habit. I feel like challenges set you up for success because they make you accountable and provide the tools needed to succeed. I feel like I personally function better in the morning, am more productive and alert, but was ‘wasting’ precious hours sleeping in. I stay up late and feel too tired after work to get much done. So by going to sleep earlier when I’m too tired to be productive, and waking up earlier, I maximize my best functioning time, and I found a way to get a bit more useful time out of my day.
In the long term, I think I’ll give myself a break but maybe keep this up on weekdays. I relish the quiet time in the morning to work on my goals, exercise, gear up for the day, and generally start in calmness instead of chaos. Also, because I did many of our chores in the morning, it meant that we had more free together-time in the evening for games, cooking/baking good food, or impromptu fun, without me dreading whatever chores I was leaving unattended.
Such an insightful experiment. I recommend it!
Some tips and blogs on early starts
- Waking up early Wiki
- 10 Benefits of Rising Early and How to Do it
- Never Let the Sun Catch you Sleeping (from the Art of Manliness blog – still interesting for ladies!)
- The Power of Mornings (from Entrepreneur.com)
- Benefits of Early Risers (from Forbes)
- I’ve also found another infographic at Fastcodesign on the daily routines of creative people, of a similar ilk!