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Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise

My Mum

Finding myself in the fecund field of employment, I’ve struggled with the busyness of business. Days fly by, perilously skating from “if you could” to deadline, to fixed immutable deadline, to final warning, and then the crashing crescendo of “do it now now now” with an inevitability that makes me laugh.

The pattern is so Dilbert, I scarcely believed it.

I adapted.

One of the side effects is that time slips from your grasp. You lose the creamy centers that make life worthwhile. You lose the ability to do what you want, to take leisure time.

For me this is a morning rite.

By nature I am a morning person and need to cruise smoothly into the day. I need time for my pre-dawn rituals. To check my email, scan my blog,  scroll through the  information that Google Reader faithfully fetches and spend a few minutes chatting to those in GMT+1.

Getting up at seven and being out of the door at twenty past eight was not accommodating these desires.

My mind recollected a piece I’d read, a piece of lasting interest. A piece written by that doyen of the self improvement genre: Steven Pavlina, a rich spring of information on all things personal development.

The post, titled How to Become an Early Riser (there’s also a sequel) set out a simple discovery on mastering the art of early rising. Your body is the best judge of what time to go to sleep. What it needs is some gentle direction by which it can make this decision. This gentle nudge is your waking up time. You have to pick one. If you commit to waking up every day at a fixed time, and get up at that time, you will automatically feel tired when its time for you to sleep. This time changes, paralleling the activity you’ve done in the day.

I’ve taken it upon myself to commit. For the last month, I’ve woken up every day at 5:30 am. Each day of every week, I’ve been awake to watch Hong Kong’s three suns rise, reflected back of the glass walled office towers and bounce straight down my window.

The results have been phenomenal.

I’ve clicked straight back into my school day habits of not needing an alarm clock. By body and mind are so habituated that I click instantly on when 5:30 comes. My alarm clock ,as a precaution, is set to 5:40 but I’ve not needed its services.

Mornings are incomparably vast. Today I wrote three blog posts, checked my feeds, watched the F1 qualifying from Montreal and read a hundred pages of Roy Jenkin’s excellent Churchill before anyone else in my house (excluding mum, who’s been doing this for far longer) stirred.

There is an incredible vitality that you tap into so early in the mornings. Tinged with the slightest spray of fatigue, you find the mind calm and focused. You see what needs to be done, assign some priorities and dispatch tasks with a cool clockwork precision.

That tinge of fatigue does stay. I’m no Maggie Thatcher, running around at odd hours. I do feel like I’m running on the bare minimum that I need. But this fatigue is soothing. It gives a feeling of calm. It’s not really fatigue. It’s something close, akin to it,. but without any of the weariness I associate with fatigue.

A further benefit, I sleep about 45 minutes to an hour less every night on average. Sleeping roughly 10 – 5:30 instead of the old 12:00 – 8:30. That adds up to 7 hours a week. Which is about half a productive day. Which means 15 full days of useful time a year. Imagine what you could do with that time. A bonus half month in your year in which you were entirely awake and at the peak of your potential.

Imagine what you could do with that. Imagine those things that seemed impossible that you could suddenly do.

Cause you have the time.

That’s what I feel like now. I feel the possibilities that are open to me are so vast, that I can do unbelievable things with these mornings. I just have to pick what direction to go in and charge into that expanse.

And I will conquer.

An awesome power, the power to rise early.

I’m enjoying it.

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One Comment

  1. I totally agree with you on this. I was hoping you would mention how this can be achieved though, namely committing yourself to go to sleep when you feel tired at night. This means dragging yourself away from any unfinished tasks including work, TV and games. Any stalling tactics such as “just let me finish this section” has to be banned.

    Too bad I can’t practice what I just preached.


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