Do you ever wish you had more time?
Of course, you do. I’ve never heard anyone wish for less time.
But actually, you don’t need more time; you need better time. You need time when you can be more productive. And when is that? After the kids get up, and you need to make breakfast? Between your conference call and your Zoom meeting?
No. The only time where you can indeed be more productive is the only time in which you have total control.
I hear you. You’re not a morning person. Sorry, but I don’t know what that even means. Forget that circadian rhythm crap. You don’t get up early because you don’t want to. And when forced to get up early, you act like anyone else being made to do something they don’t want to.
You stumble around all disheveled bitching about the hour and how much you hate mornings.
One person I know said she couldn’t get up early because she liked to watch the eleven o’clock news. What!?! How about page me with your fax number. I’ll dial up a Telnet server, print out the news on my dot matrix printer, and fax it to you.
Or, try this for a change. Get over yourself. Don’t get up early because you have to, do it because you want to. Do it because you will have kicked more ass and taken more names before anyone else shows up.
Trust me. I haven’t always gotten up early. At one point, I owned a construction company and ran it out of my home. And like many of you who find yourself working at home, I got up with just enough time to hit the bathroom and grab a cup before I had to be in the office. I did the same for ten years.
Then I got a job in the corporate world programming computers. I discovered two things. I did my best work early before anyone else showed up. And more importantly, if I started early, I got to go home early. Sweet! In by six, out by three.
And that was all well and good, but those extra hours weren’t for me; they were for the company. Then a few jobs later, actually my last job, I worked for someone who didn’t buy into the come in early and leave early mentality. I think this was mostly because she never came in early. She would stroll in around ten o’clock every day. And since she stayed late every day, she expected her managers to do the same.
Not the first time I disappointed anyone.
But I had to stay until five anyway. Or 4:59 as it were. And since I couldn’t leave early, I wasn’t inclined to start early. There was no point. Any work I did before 9 am was like the proverbial tree falling in the forest. It didn’t count.
And so, since I couldn’t stand to wander in at nine, the middle of the morning in my mind, I settled on eight. But I had developed this habit of rising at five over many years, and I wasn’t going to try to break it now.
That left three hours for me. Time to stretch and get a good workout in. Time to work on personal projects. Time to go for a walk or a run. Have a good breakfast. Time for me to be productive on things for my family and me. The important stuff. The only stuff that matters.
And then, one day almost six years ago, I retired. The company threw me a big party and gave me a gold watch. Actually, I said, “I quit,” and walked out. But it felt like a big party and a gold watch to me.
That’s when I discovered I had a superpower. I had been using it for years but didn’t realize it until I didn’t need to be anywhere in the morning. I can decide what time I want to wake up. And then I do.
I thought about sleeping late, but I had grown so accustomed to doing all that stuff in the morning, I decided to keep it up. At least for a while. So, on day one of retirement, my eyes popped open at 5 am, just like I decided to the night before. And they have done so for over 2,000 days since.
Actually, that’s not entirely true.
Sometimes, I decide to wake up at 4:45 or even 4:30. And I do. No clock. No alarm. Some days, I decide I want a little extra time in the morning, or there will be something happening earlier than usual that might infringe on my golden hours.
The other exception is sometimes when we travel, back when we did so. If I am on a cruise ship, I get up at my usual time. I have the run of the ship and sole control over the coffee urn; once I train the crew to have it ready in time. If we are in a hotel with anything interesting within walking distance, I get up before sunrise and head out to take photographs.
But every once in a while, we will be somewhere for a day or three with nothing to do early. I don’t usually travel with my laptop, so if there is nothing to take pictures of and no quiet place on a ship to read and drink coffee, I will sleep late. It’s always kind of weird and leaves me sluggish. I don’t enjoy it and miss my mornings.
But the rest of the time, I still get up early. My retired neighbors look at me with a mix of awe and disgust when I share this dirty secret. But getting up early gives me the best start to my day. I do a little stretching. I walk upstairs to my office and put my first of many pods in the Keurig. I do some more stretching.
Then I start my day. It may be writing. It’s 5:32 as I write this sentence. Or I may shift things up and work on my photography in the morning. I’ll spend a little time (operative word, little) browsing social media. Not news; never that. I entertain myself and get some work done. At the right moment, I turn and watch the sunrise.
And as the sun comes up over the houses down the street, and a few lights begin coming on, I have already done more than most of them will do all day.