Getting up early stinks
Getting up early is a hard thing. Especially when there is nothing great awaiting you once you crawled out of bed. Most days of the week we are forced to get up to drag ourself into an office for a job that is eventually paying off that credit we had to get to buy that new flat screen television to watch movies we have already seen again in HD quality or the new car to impress the neighbor.
It’s totally understandable that no one is really keen to sacrifice precious sleep time for such a thing like work. We’d rather stay in bed as long as possible just to snitch one or two more minutes of sleep, or what we think is considered as that.
No matter how hard we try, we can’t escape your alarm clock
But eventually everybody of us has to face reality and get up to get prepared for another day at work. But thanks to our constant laziness that forced us to stay in bed as long as possible, now we are in an unreal hurry to reach work in time, fighting ourselves through traffic jams and spilled hot coffee to go on our new work pants – does that looks like a good start in the day? I don’t think so.
More freedom doesn’t mean more right to slack
Things might get even worse, when you have the freedom to schedule your working times with a certain degree of freedom. Maybe you are lucky enough like me, to decide whether you want to start working at 10am rather than 7am. Of course it’s great because this will allow us to sleep in and we can hardly being late at work. So how can this be a bad thing? Well, the reason is that we tend to get more sleep in such a situation than we need. And getting more sleep than required doesn’t make you fitter or more awake. The contrary is the case, you will be quite tired, which means less eager to do something actually productive.
“If you dance with the devil, the devil don’t change. The devil changes you.”
And last but not least there is a psychological factor. Unless you are really used to a shifted day to day schedule, your body will remain thinking in standard patterns, which means that you are having lunch around noon, dinner in the early evening and at some point you will be tired as everybody else. And this won’t change just because you got up earlier or later today.
This inner rhythm also applies for your productivity. When you get to work at 10am, you might be up and running around 11am, after you skimmed through your mails and read the news, so far so good, but just one hour later many of your colleagues might have already started to think about lunch and so did you as well eventually. Just because you got up a little bit later or earlier, this doesn’t mean that the rhythm of your environment will change, you will rather try and adapt to this situation.
The conclusion of this is that you will spend lot’s of your time where you might be able to do some productive work with getting prepared for those everyday slacking phases like lunch, afternoon down phases and the 5pm rush when everybody is leaving the office apart from you. Your body might be physically at the office, but your thoughts will revolve around your spare time already.
I need a way out of my laziness, but I can’t be bothered to find one
On the long run, that behavior can’t be quite satisfying. At least it wasn’t for me. Don’t get me wrong, I like an easy life and yes I would like to slack as much as possible, but nothing is worse than an unnerving feeling of wasting your time and potential when you could do better and you know it.
That made me rethink my behavior and how I could spend my days more efficiently, so that leaving the office in the evening feels like you have managed to achieve something today and that you have still enough time and energy for your hobbies and friends.
The answer was surprisingly easy: Just get up a little bit earlier. But of course, this didn’t come to me out of nowhere. In fact, a couple of months ago I’ve stumbled upon an article of Steve Pavlina called “How to become an early riser“.
At first, I read it just out of curiosity, but quite soon I realized that he was quite right in many of his arguments and his approach how to get up earlier seemed rather appealing and doable to me – I decided to give it a go.
Treat yourself if you do something well, treat yourself for getting up early
His advice was to start slowly. Don’t try to get up at 5am straight away, because you might be able to do it once but soon after you will be back to your old patterns, which made totally sense to me. But I knew that it would be hard for me to find some drive to get up earlier just to go to work. I required something that had some benefits and was rewarding for getting up early. Work was not a reason enough.
Since I have a gym attached to my apartment complex, I had a cunning idea: Get up early, do some exercise and go to work afterwards. This shift in paradigm was overwhelming and had effects I couldn’t even foresee in my wildest dreams. Usually you set your alarm for a reason, which is work in the most cases. Not really a great thought to wake up with. Waking up because you want to exercise and get in shape feels much better instead. Work was degraded to a the second thought of the day, which is totally alright, because after crunching weights you simply feel strong enough to tackle any problem in this world. Yes, you might call it a head fake – but it works better than expected.
It has been nearly 4 months now that I’ve started doing this and I am surprised that I kept up with it for such a long time, but I did and it feels great. I am able to be twice as productive as before and not just in terms of work but everything a day of a bachelor demands.
Getting up early became a new standard behavior and doesn’t require effort to convince myself each morning to crawl out of my warm cave. In fact, sleeping in is now much harder, but I can’t see anything bad about that.
In case you are interested: My alarm clock rings at 5.15am in the morning everyday and I am looking forward to it, each time I go to bed at 11pm, since 6,5 hours of sleep are more than enough for someone in his mid twenties. Besides, I don’t drink coffee.