From Night Owl to Early Bird

Posted on Posted in Dad is Learning, Family, Goals, Health

My ability to live as a night owl helped me survive grad school.  Balancing work, marriage, and fatherhood led to some very late nights as I worked on that degree.  Bedtime was typically between 1 and 2am.  I have always enjoyed staying up late.  Never in my life did I think I would be an early bird…and enjoy it…but here I am.

Did you catch the Wall Street Journal article about the rise of the early bird and the benefits of getting up at 4am?  I don’t get up quite that early but I thought I would share a few benefits I have gained from changing my schedule…

Why Did I Change?

We took a long driving vacation this summer so my wife and I had a lot of time to talk.  One of the things we talked about was managing our schedule and things we might be able to do to better ourselves.  My wife works two days a week as a nurse and is at the hospital by 5am on those days.  Waking up at 4am on some days and 7am on the others was proving to be difficult.  I suggested shifting our schedule so we both went to bed early and woke up earlier, maybe not 4am but something that leveled out her schedule a bit.

Well, you know what they say about plans 🙂  I made the shift to an early morning schedule and I love it.  My alarm goes off at 5am so I can squeeze in a couple of hours of work before the girls get up.  The biggest benefit I have gained is a focused period of uninterrupted work time.  No one calls or texts early in the morning.  Important emails don’t come that early in the morning.  I spend my time packing boxes for eBay, writing lessons, writing blog posts, or reading.  Knowing my time is limited helps me block out many of the distractions (Facebook/Twitter) that abound in our connected world.

Find a Routine

I have found it is important to have a routine.  We put the girls to bed between 8 and 9pm and make our way to bed pretty soon after.  The girls know that the time after they go to bed belongs to Mommy and Daddy.  My first alarm goes off at 5am.  Sometime I make it to the second alarm at 5:30.  Most days I am excited to get out of bed and go.  (One of the tips in the WSJ article was sleeping in gym clothes so you just have to put on your sneakers and you’re ready to go in the morning.)  I’m out in the Dad Shack soon after.

Having a place to go and a purpose in mind seems to be a key factor in successfully making the transition.  For me, getting up early isn’t about easing into the day, it is about capturing the day.  My early morning hours are the most productive in the day.  Getting up early and accomplishing some tasks sets a positive mood for the day.

Benefits Outweigh Drawbacks

The only negative of an early morning schedule is turning into a pumpkin at 9pm.  I can still power through the occasional late night if there is an event but if we are at home I am out cold by 10pm.  That’s the only negative I can think of.  Here are some of the positives…

  • My early morning hours are the most productive in the day.  Some days I get more done from 5-7a than I do in all the hours at the office since I am fully in control during the early morning hours.
  • The quality of my work is better since I am able to focus without a text, phone call, or other distractions.
  • No more next day regrets after staying up super late.  I look forward to getting up early and getting the day off to a good start.  Anyone who has stayed up late and woken up early for work knows the regrets I’m talking about…they’re gone with an early schedule.
  • I am annoyingly positive on my early mornings.  My wife has to tell me to tone it down from time to time but I am sure 99% of folks would prefer to deal with annoyingly positive instead of nasty negativity 🙂

What benefits have you experienced with a transition to an early schedule?

Final Thought

Thinking about trying an early morning working schedule?  In my experience, you need to have a plan in mind.  What do you plan to accomplish?  How will you do it?  Where will you do it?  Having a good plan will really help you escape from your warm, inviting bed.

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