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Published by bitsymetcalf

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Published by: bitsymetcalf on Jun 26, 2008
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am not what you would call a morning person. I’m a writer, for heaven’s sake! Butrecently,when I’ve had a lot of work stacking up and I’ve added a blog into my daily routine, it feltas if there simply weren’t enough hours in the day. So I decided to make a habit of getting upearlier. This is how I did it:
Decided what time I wanted to get up
. In my case 6am so that I could do a coupleof hours, write my blog and catch up my email before everyone else started work (andstarted sending me emails and phoning me). The point is to set a time and stick to it.
Set myself a goal
. Initially, I aimed to get up early every weekday for a month. I readsomewhere that if you can make a new routine stick for a month, it becomes a self-sustaining habit. It proved true in this case.
Promised myself a reward
. I always wanted to learn clay pigeon shooting so Ipromised myself I would book a day’s shooting if I got up early for a month.
Tracked my progress usingJoe’s Goals
. The more I use this little website app, themore I like it. I used to track these kinds of routine, habitual things using recurringtasks in Outlook but it was a bit fiddly and, addicted as I am, I didn’t have Outlook openall the time. I also used a little Post-it note on my monitor and ticked off the days,convict-style.
Get clothes, computer and breakfast ready the night before
. Don’t want to tripover everything trying to do basic tasks when I’m half-asleep.
. I set my beside alarm for 0600 - and this is the clever psychology - I also setmy telephone to ring at 0605 but I put the phone on the other side of the room so that Ihave to get out of bed to stop it ringing. In the UK, you dial *55*0605# to do this. Whathappens is this: either I wake up and cancel the alarm or I get up and answer the call tostop it ringing. First, we’re strongly programmed to answer the phone*. Second, I’mvery strongly programmed not to wake my wife up! A ringing phone will do this so Ihave powerful motivators at work: guilt and fear. This technique works every time but Ihad previously reserved it for early morning trips to the airport and things like that.
. Sleep is like money in the bank. If you overdraw by getting up early, you have topay in some other time. Initially, I did this by having short naps after lunch. I suspectthat over time the body adjusts to less sleep - most army people get by on less sleepthan the rest of us, for example - but this seems to happen over a longer period than amonth.
Earlier nights
. In the long run, going to bed an hour or so earlier and having lie-ins onweekends meant that I was getting the right amount of sleep. Like jet lag theadjustment is a little painful but it only took a week or two to get used to the newroutine.
Boast widely about your new early-birdiness
. It makes feel good to tell people ‘oh Iget up at 6am’. Also, my friend Stuart says ‘we are the stories we tell about ourselves.’ If I describe myself as a punctual, early-rising, efficiency robot then maybe that’s whatI’ll become (when I’m not a bohemain, enterpreneurial writer genius ).
Always leave them wanting more
! (See my post onwriting top ten lists.)To cut a long story short. It worked! I wake up at six, feel fresh and hop right out of bed withoutany alarms or bribery. I get two or three extra prime working hours a day.None of this is rocket science, but I reckon if it can turn a lay-a-bed writer into a member of thedawn chorus, it’s got to be worth sharing. Your mileage may vary.* This is the source of the classic joke: “The phone rang in the absent-minded professor’s house at3am and he got up to answer it. Wrong number! ‘Sorry to disturb you,’ said the embarassed called. ‘Oh, that’s alright, I had to get up to answer the phone anyhow,replied the absent-mindedprofessor.” (The old ones are the best.)
Technorati Tags: GTD,sleep, 
This entry (permalink) was posted on Thursday, July 13th, 2006 at 6:38 AM by Matthew Stibbe and categorizedin 
Comments (89) left to “How I trained myself to get up earlier in the morning”
wrote:I tend to wake up around 6.30am now, took myself a while to get into it, about amonth. I am very much a morning person, doing all my best ‘work’ before 11am.
Posted on 13-Jul-06 at 7:25 am |Permalink  
Sean Paulman
wrote:Great project! I’ve experimented with it by wakeing up about 5-10 min. earliereveryday, until I hit my goal. Being in the Marines doesn’t always allow this, but itseems to work for me.
Posted on 13-Jul-06 at 11:54 am |Permalink  
wrote:I am an early riser by nature - I love the mornings but dont like have to leave for worklol I like to study, read the paper (online). breakfast, talk with friends on the phone. Ifind that I wake earlier in summer than winter by about an hour and that this has beenconsistent for the last 20years that I have been aware of it.
Posted on 13-Jul-06 at 12:03 pm |Permalink  
wrote:I get up at 6am for work every day, I work freelance so there are some weeks where Idon’t go to work on those weeks I revert back to being a lazy bones again.I can confirm that not everyone will find that getting up at 6am for a month will make aself-sustaining habit. In fact even though I do this every day it does not always geteasier, some weeks it is almost impossible to get out of bed at 6am. On those days I aminvariably late to work.Also, wait until the winter when it is dark in the mornings, for me this makes it evenharder to get out of bed. In the summer with a beautiful bright morning outside it isoften much easier.
Posted on 13-Jul-06 at 12:19 pm |Permalink  
wrote:Good post.I was once the type of person that had to be at work at 8 so I’d wake up at 7:15 andrush. This was very stressful every morning and generally guaranteed that I would becrabby until Noon. Over the years I trained (forced) myself to get up earlier and now Iam generally up at 4:30-5:15 without an alarm. The 2 hours before I head to work arethe most productive hours of the day because I can get stuff done while the wife, kids,cat co-workers customers are all sleeping.Funny, I still go to bed at 11 so I think I’ve actually trained myself to require less sleep.
Posted on 13-Jul-06 at 12:53 pm |Permalink  

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