Day 10 – Early Riser

(This post is part of the 30 for 30 Challenge).

For quite some time now I’ve been wondering how I can keep up with this writing thing I got going on, and still maintain the demands of my regular day job.  It seems like there are just barely enough hours in the day to get it all done as it is.  So today, I’m trying something new. I’m waking up early.  That’s right.  It’s 6am, and I’m writing.  Go figure.

I work in a field where there is no clock punching.  I’m pretty much expected to get the job done, whether that means coming in at 10am and staying until 11pm, or somewhere in between – there are no strict rules about hours.  As such, I’ve gotten into the habit of sleeping late, and staying up late. That’s been all well and good when it was just the day job, but now I’m trying to essentially manage a daily writing job as well, and that’s throwing a wrench into the works.  There just simply aren’t enough hours to get it all done with the schedule I’ve been keeping.

I came across an interesting blog post recently on the idea of modifying sleep schedules in order to be more productive.  I’m not sure this is all that scientific, but the arguments seems legit. I read about it recently on the blog High Existence.

According to the post, there are basically two ways to approach sleeping.  One says that you should go to bed at the exact same time each day, sleep a set amount of hours, and get up at the exact same time every morning. Seems pretty straight forward.

The second approach is much more liberal in its allowances.  It basically says to only go to bed when you are tired, and only get up when your body naturally says so. I have to be honest, this would be my personal favorite.  But if I did this, I get the sneaking suspicion that things would fall apart fast in my professional life.

For the author of the post, his approach to his own schedule became a combination of the two philosophies of sleep.  He says:

The optimal solution for me has been to combine both approaches. It’s very simple, and many early risers do this without even thinking about it, but it was a mental breakthrough for me nonetheless. The solution was to go to bed when I’m sleepy (and only when I’m sleepy) and get up with an alarm clock at a fixed time (7 days per week). So I always get up at the same time (in my case 5am), but I go to bed at different times every night….After a few days of using this approach, I found that my sleep patterns settled into a natural rhythm. If I got too little sleep one night, I’d automatically be sleepier earlier and get more sleep the next night. And if I had lots of energy and wasn’t tired, I’d sleep less. My body learned when to knock me out because it knew I would always get up at the same time and that my wake-up time wasn’t negotiable.

I’m going to try this for at least until the 30 for 30 Challenge is completed to see how it affects my productivity. I figure, if I get up by at least 6am each morning, I will have almost an extra three hours more time than usual to accomplish personal goals than if I got up at my normal time and tried to slog through the day.

Okay, let’s try this.


Author: Zack Hayhurst

New Yorker enthusiast, cartoon caption contest contender, book hoarder, cultural omnivore, writer

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