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!

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