Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Getting Up Early: My experiment

Photo by: prakhar

I'm going to start a series of weekly posts that track my experiences with trying to wake up earlier on weekdays. A combination of realizing that I am more alert and energetic in the morning and this post on zenhabits made me want to try. I've been doing this for a couple of weeks now (halfway successfully) but I decided this week that I should start tracking how each day went. I figure tracking my experience may help me be more diligent with going to bed early enough to make it work and could be informative to anyone thinking of trying to wake up earlier too.

Here is some background on my sleeping habits so you know where I’m starting from:

  • I haven’t considered myself a morning person until maybe a few months back, when I realized really that I wasn’t a night person and figured maybe I’m getting older.
  • I need about 7.5 to 8.5 hours of sleep a night to not feel sleepy throughout the day, although I always get up at least once during the night. These days I usually get up after about 6 or 7 hours to go to the bathroom. This makes the last hour or so questionable in terms of sleep quality.
  • I’m 24.
  • I’m male.
  • I workout regularly and eat well.

Before this experiment (or habit change I hope) I would normally go to bed between 11 and 12 and get out of bed (distinct from waking up) at 8 or later. I would then get into work no earlier than 9am. Usually not before 9:30am. Every once in a while I would wake up between 7am and 8am. I found that when I got into to work well after 9, I would often sit down, check my email, and not actually start on that day’s important tasks until 10am. Now I’m trying to wake up by 6am on non-workout days (M, W, F) and 5:30am on workout days (T, Th). I’m hoping on both workout and non-workout days to get into work by 8am and start on my important tasks immediately. The weekends are free, but I try not to sleep in past 9am.

Here is what I’m hoping to gain from waking up early:

  1. I can workout in the morning when the gym is not a zoo.
  1. I’m hoping to be more efficient by shifting my work hours towards the morning, when I’m more fresh and there are fewer friends and colleagues there to talk to. I’ve found that working straight from whenever I get to work until lunchtime (sometime between 11am-12pm) is no problem regardless of how early I get in, whereas, after lunch I get distracted more easily, I’m tired, and doing work just seems more painful. This means I usually end up sitting at my desk feeling like I’m at work, but just doing unimportant tasks or browsing the internet. This is a supreme drag because you get home thinking you’ve worked hard, psychologically feeling like you’ve worked hard, but at the end of the day have little to show for it. That’s like taking the stress work gives and not getting the rewards. This realization is the straw that broke my back into starting this experiment. I also find that when I get in early (8ish) and no one is there, it somehow makes me want to quickly start working and get my A1s or MITs done (whatever you want to call it), who knows why, but I’ll take it.

I will answer the following questions towards the end of each day: 1) What time I went to sleep and got up. 2) What time I got into work and/or gym. 3) How tired I was throughout the day. 4) Did I feel it was worthwhile?

I'll try to write the answers up at the end of each day but I'll post the whole week’s responses on Friday. Wish me luck!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Simply GTD: Cell Phone Capture

SMS to email my friends, SMS to email. Months back, I posted about trying Jott. It's nice. It transcribes ridiculously well and it's pretty convenient to be able to push a speed dial button and say "do this tomorrow because it's so important" and have that show up in your inbox. But then I got in some situations, like a quiet, packed bus in the morning, where it would have been rather embarrassing to open my phone and say "Myself....at errands, tomatoes, pasta, milk" and hang up. So I just texted my email address. Then, I started texting myself more and more. I liked how I didn't even need to open the email in gmail, I could see what I typed in the "snippet" and it didn't say "Jott.com" all over it. And then I realized, why bother using services I don't need? The goal is not to get things done by adopting a million different services, buckets, tools, and gadgets. The goals is to simply get things done. My cell phone is always on me, so I can always capture things. My cell phone (shown above), isn't a fancy qwerty keyboard phone either, and I still find it easy to capture with it's T9 capabilities. And I'm not one of those high school kids that can text faster than they can type and I still find it easy. Oh the cell phone capture.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

5 Healthy Foods that are Fast

Aahh, January. A time when resolutions have been made our health that we have been making for many years now....

Students have a terrible time with food because they don't have a 4 bedroom suburban house with a decked out kitchen and a stay at home spouse to cook for them, nor do they have much time for cooking. That and the whole cafeteria thing. And if you ask non-students why their eating habits have slipped, most will give you the same one word response: time.

If you're eating almost every meal in a cafeteria, I'll post some suggestions on picking good choices there later. But for now here are some healthy fast and easy meal suggestions for those that are in a time crunch but want to stay healthy.


Oatmeal, an essential staple of complex carbs. The instant packets are better than McDonalds, but the reason they taste so good is because they often come loaded with sugar. Try regular oatmeal in non-fat milk. Heating it the microwave takes minutes and a little cinnamon and the amount of sugar you need (exercising self control) will do wonders. Alternatives to sugar are berries and raisins. For those that don't mind protein shakes, shredding raw oatmeal straight into a blender literally turns it into a powder, add that with to your regular shake for wonderful complex carbs.


Eggs are a great source of protein and essential fatty acids. If you want to watch the cholesterol, just remove the yolks. Frying or scrambling eggs is pretty darn fast as well.


Non-fat, low-fat, organic, heck even whole milk (with caution). No matter your preference milk is a great source of casein protein which digests slowly. This makes it great right before bed to let your body have a slow steady source of protein for a through the night. Non-fat is great to get the protein and prevent putting on weight. You should have milk in your fridge at all times.

Sweet Potatos / Yams

Sweet potatoes are a nutritious, vitamin rich source of complex carbs, and they're sweet for crying out loud! An absolutely fantastic source of carbs and vitamins that tastes so good. They can be boiled, baked, even microwaved. Make a batch and keep them in the fridge.

Whole wheat bread

Make sure the first ingredient says "whole wheat" and not "enriched" and you're good to go for a great source of complex carbs that will complement any protein rich sandwich stuffer for a great midday meal.

These are just a start, but for many people, replacing simple carb, high fat, or sugary snacks or "breakfasts" with any of these (or better yet a combination), can do absolute wonders. Try it out!