02/17 2011

Early to Rise: The Many Benefits of Less Shut-Eye in the A.M.

Are you happy to hear the alarm ring in the morning? Do you jump out of the bed anxious for the day to begin? Walk around the house with a bounce to your step, even before that cup of coffee?

alarm clock

Me neither.

I am not an early riser by nature, despite the fact I’m not a night owl either. Plain and simple, I like my sleep!

Recently, however, I have been trying to alter my ways a bit. It all got started as a means to pick up my little boy from school at 3:15, rather than send him to an after school program. I wanted more time to spend with him, since he’s at such a fun age (7). And I want to take advantage of his interest in hanging out with me – before the day comes when he doesn’t want to be anywhere near me!

To compensate for the “work time” I’m losing at the end of the day, I’m getting up an hour earlier. I’m not as heroic as Bobbi Welch, who’s out of door by 4, but I’m getting up at 6 instead of 7. Baby steps, right?

Leo Babauta who writes at ZenHabits, offers up ten benefits of rising early and how to do it. Adam Dachis, at LifeHacker, claims that waking up early is the key to productivity. Cameron Plommer, who blogs at WorkAwesome, recommends the wee morning hours to pursue passion projects. I really like his idea for using that quiet, uninterrupted period of time in the morning to pursue personally meaningful “work,” even if you have a day job from 9-5.

After reviewing others’ assessments, here are my observations thus far in the early journey:

1)      Efficiency. I get two hours of work done from 6-7 because I’m so much more efficient in the morning, especially after a cup of coffee. Some of you may have brains that function well after 10 p.m. Mine, sadly, shuts down completely in the evening.

2)      Solitude. There are no interruptions in the early morning hours, not even a bark from the dog  – my little Walden sleeps quietly in a chair in my office. A peaceful start to a day gets it headed the right way. For those of you who like to meditate, I’m convinced this is the best time to do it.

3)      Fitness. If I am in the mood, rare in the winter but more probable in the summer months, I will exercise when I rise. Workouts are a great way to start the day, and a sure-fire way to make sure you get it done. (Right Bobbi?)

4)      Hidden joys. I get to see my little guy run with excitement toward my car when I pick him up at school in the afternoons – with a huge grin on his face – happy to see his mom. If that doesn’t make a mom feel like a million bucks, I don’t know what does. (Now I won’t mention a couple of days recently when he kicked and screamed because he wanted to play on the playground longer).

5)      Less rushing. Ending the work day earlier gives me more time for (Luke’s) homework and the leisure to start dinner earlier. Everything doesn’t feel like such a rush – all from adding an extra hour on the front end of my day.

As the days begin to lengthen, I am going to push myself to rise even earlier than 6. Want to join me?

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