Dalyn’s Week 2: Morning Hack-A-Thon (Part 1)

I’m back to school tomorrow and I’m suddenly overwhelmed by that reality. Going back in January is, I think, always hard, but I don’t even have to look at my calendar to know there simply isn’t enough time to do what I need to do.

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              This Week=The Easiest Week

In a nutshell, here’s what I need to do: (1) Be a kickass teacher for all FIVE classes I’m teaching (yes, that’s an overload and, yes, I’m a dummy.); (2) Be a responsible committee member for all SEVEN committees I’m on (though I chair only a couple!); (3) Write a book review that’s now a little bit overdue (how did January 1st come and go so quickly?); (4) Attend and present and three conferences and a summer institute between now and July; (5) Submit two articles by mid-summer; and (6) Do all of this with three kids and a husband who works nights (which means I can’t go into campus until 12:30 on MWF, because I have the kids those mornings and he needs to, you know, sleep.)

This is why I say there’s simply not enough time.

But. There are a couple of hours that I’m not utilizing as well I could. Hours I’d typically rather not think about. Hours that are kind of obscene (unless you’re my mother). In other words, my second goal is to become a morning person.

The reality is that I’m not NOT a morning person. The kids are typically out of bed by 6:30, but I will often doze on the couch while they play on the weekends or let Josh start getting them ready when he gets home on school days so I can sleep until the last minute then bolt out the door. My morning routine has basically always consisted of sleeping as late as possible then getting up an out the door in 20 minutes or less. And that routine has served me well. When it was just me.

So, I’ve been doing some reading about improving my morning routine. There are lots of lists with basically the same advice (not using snooze, getting 8 hours of sleep, not drinking, etc.). All things I’ve heard before. What cemented my desire to become a morning person, however, was spending an obscene number of hours reading LifeHacker’s “How I Work” series. All of the people featured in the series are successful, creative, and generally awesome. Exactly how I want to be. You know what else many of them had in common? They wake up at 5:00am.

I know, I know. The early bird gets the worm and all that. Not exactly new and enlightening advice either. But, actually, for me, right now, it kind of is.

So, here are my initial strategies for becoming the morning person I never really wanted to be:

1. Get up at 5:00am. Every. Single. Morning. I know without a doubt that I will fail at this. Weekends will seduce me with their lack of immediate demands. But, I also know that I’ve done this before (when I was a telemarketer and I had to be at work at 6:30am and I rode my bike 15 miles to get there) and I can do it again. More importantly, I can start the day without being in denial and I can get it together before the kids are awake so that all our mornings run a wee bit smoother (i.e. with less yelling and fewer tears).

2. Be in bed by 10:00pm. I’m going to be realistic here. There’s no way I’ll be asleep by 10:00. I’m already good about keeping my bedroom a work-free zone. So, if I’m in bed by 10, I’ll do a little reading, maybe watch an episode of something, but I’ll be asleep within the hour. And that will have to do for now.

3. Do not open my computer for the first hour I’m awake. I’m sure we’ve all heard that we shouldn’t answer email when we first wake up. And I don’t. But I often open my computer and check Facebook and read the news and whatnot. And just like that: I’ve lost at least an hour, if not more. So, I’ll get up and read one of the magazines I love or listen to a podcast I that I can never find the quiet time for or work on my to-do list for the day or something. Since the kids are up just past 6:00, I likely won’t open my computer for far longer most days and I think that suits me just fine.

There are a lot of other strategies such as not having coffee until 9:30, meditating, exercising, prepping the night before, drink water with lemon, etc. And I’m sure they’re helpful. I’m equally sure that I’m not sure whether I can effectively apply these strategies during the craziness of the first week back, so I’m going to stick with these and see how it goes. I can refine and improve as I get used to being awake and hopefully productive during these unholy hours.

What I am sure of, however, is that the 52 Week Money Challenge is about as easy as it gets. My indecision over how to approach it (traditional, backward, randomly) solved itself. The hardest part about the challenge is having the exact right amount of cash on the deposit day. I did not have $2 (must have finally given it to the paperboy), but Josh did have a $20. So, random it is!

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10 thoughts on “Dalyn’s Week 2: Morning Hack-A-Thon (Part 1)

  1. Hey Dalyn, you’ve already discovered some of my sabbatical secrets! I’m a natural early riser, but I think the biggest thing is to go straight to the computer and stay off the internet. That’s how I did 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo in November. Oh yeah — and I use the Pomodoro Technique.

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    • Maybe I’ll put the Pomodoro technique on my list of hacks-to-be-tried! But, yeah, I haven’t been opening my computer at all for at least an hour and it’s really been lovely. I used to love writing, by hand, and I’m doing a little of that during the down time–just lists and notes, really, but it feels good.

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      • Pomodoros work GREAT in certain circumstances. Probably not so great on campus or with young kids in the house.

        Staying off the Internet in the morning is absolutely key for me. On writing days, DO NOT START THE DAY WITH EMAIL!!! Probably good advice every day! It sucks you down the black hole and sets the tone (usually a bad tone) for the day.

        I’ve also been trying to do a “tech-free day” once a week — no computer, no phone, no TV.

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    • I haven’t been successful at getting up every morning at 5:00, but I have stayed away from the computer for at least an hour no matter the time I roll out of bed. It’s actually been lovely. It’s a nice time for planning and reflection and just doing other stuff.

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  2. Seeing your schedule blocked out like this prompted me to do something similar. It’s very easy for me to have a vague and hand-wavy “I will work on a scholarly article this week” feeling, but much harder to actually accomplish anything with that, save annotating another source. I’ve been saying it for months and haven’t gotten to the formation of the actual thing yet, not even an outline or anything beyond the abstract I submitted. Good luck with the morning routine change! Not getting it all upside down on the weekends is hard, even for people who love morning. And thank you for the link to the “How I Work” series!

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  3. It’s even more blocked out now. I’m determined to schedule a few more things, and I’ll post an update soon. because our life is so crazy and I want to maintain a separation of work and home (as much as possible), I’ve found the blocking to be helpful. Glad you feel inspired, Holly!

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