early morning experiment: results q&a

2018-0331 OBT_Blog Post_early morning 6.jpeg

Well, hello. Two weeks ago I got the flu (or something very flu-like that I do not wish to encounter again). Now I'm back. And I have the promised Q&A post for you--the last post in this early morning experiment series. Here goes . . .

How did you begin? Did you, one day, knock yourself out with a sedative or boring book at 8:30 on night, or did you build up to it somehow over time?

(AND the similar question)

Your recent posts have really hooked me, and here's a question. Did you go "cold turkey" and just decide, "Tomorrow, I get up at 4:30!" Or did you ease into it with 5:30, 5:00, 4:30 over a few days? I know you were already getting up at 5:30. Just curious how you decided to start. 

About a year ago, I was getting up at 6:30 to write, and my husband and kiddo were getting up at 7 a.m. The 6:30 a.m.-to-write thing felt VERY EARLY at the time. Also, we were late getting our daughter to her 9:00 a.m. preschool start almost every single day.

This past fall, I started getting up at 5:30 a.m. to exercise. I did not ease that back from 6:30. I just set my clock earlier and jumped right in. That's what worked for me.

It was the same when I went to 4:30 a.m. I went to bed at 8:30 p.m., and set my alarm for 4:30 a.m. The insanity of the experiment carried me through the first couple of days, I think.

Why not 5:30? 

5:30 could be great. I can't fit in all the stuff I want to fit in plus get out the door in time with 5:30, so it doesn't work for me, but it could be the best early start time for you. I reckon 7:30 could be a great early start time for you, depending on what your days and nights look like. 

That said, there is something about going to bed soon after dark and getting up before the sun rises that works. I think if I had a little more leisure in the mornings, I'd go with 5:00 or 5:30.

How does your stuff "land" in a 4:30 a.m. - 8:30 p.m. format? I mean, what goes where? How does a typical day's schedule play out? Between after-work and after-school stuff (such as homework and packing that lunch), I'd imagine you are moving pretty fast to get it all done in time for the 8:30 p.m. finish line.

Right now, it looks like this. Of course, this shifts all the time because life happens. Also because we're not machines. This is the ideal version, and sometimes it actually goes like this, and sometimes it goes close enough, and sometimes it goes completely haywire but at least we had a starting point.

4:30 a.m.: Get up.

4:45 a.m.: Silence, affirmation, visualization, reading.

5:15 a.m.: Writing (scribing).

5:30 a.m.: Wake up husband. Exercise together.

6:15 a.m.: Shower, get dressed, start laundry.

6:45 a.m.:  Daughter wakes up and goes to couch for "second sleep." Husband makes breakfast. I pack work/school/lunch bags for everyone and put them by the door. (The kid lunch was made yesterday, and the grown-up lunches were prepped over the weekend. That's a whole other blog article.)

7:05 a.m.:  Wake daughter from "second sleep." Read to her while she gets dressed.

7:30 a.m.: Breakfast, kid teeth-brushing, kid lice hair spray.

8:10 a.m.: Driving to school drop-off OR cleaning up breakfast, depending on whether it's my day or husband's for school drop-off.

8:30 a.m.: Work as Executive Director or work with onebrokenteapot clients. Sometimes an errand thrown in. Sometimes lunch with a friend thrown in.

3:15 p.m.: Pick up kiddo from school (except one day a week for longer working--thank you, Grandma!).

3:45 p.m.: Pack kid lunch for next day. Finish laundry. Hang out with kiddo.

5:45 p.m.: Warm up supper, which was made over the weekend. (Again, a whole other blog article.)

6:30 p.m.: Eat supper when husband gets home.

7:00 p.m.: Clean up table, do random stuff with kiddo.

7:30 p.m.: Get ready for bed alongside kiddo (unless it's my night of the week to go out for the evening with friends or creative group). Includes putting workout clothes plus daytime clothes in the bathroom for the next morning.

8:00 p.m.: Read to kiddo.

8:30 p.m.: Either fall asleep with kiddo, or go to bed while husband falls asleep with kiddo.

Do you do the same routine on weekends? I'd imagine it would be hard to shift greatly on weekends without consequences. 

I start at 5:30 a.m. on weekends. Usually. And since we all wake up later on those days, I still fit in all the same stuff. Usually.

Do you get up at 4:30 in the morning when you're sick?

No. No no no no no no no. I haven't gotten up at 4:30 in the morning since I got the flu two weeks ago. My body needed to recover. I'll start again this week.

In general, I work best all or nothing. I don't have a good track record so far with moderation; I just end up chucking the whole whatever-I'm-trying-to-do.

BUT. Waking up at 4:30 in the morning is intense enough that I highly recommend allowing yourself some days off from it when it makes sense. Like when you're sick. Or when you stayed up until 1:00 a.m. with friends, which you almost never do anymore. Or when you can't find any other time to have a conversation with your spouse than 10 o'clock at night. It's the Don't Be Mean To Yourself thing.

Alrighty. I'm going to close out by sharing two comments from readers who have tried dipping their toes in the 4:30 a.m. waters in the last couple of weeks:


[Partner] and I woke up at 4 this morning, and after spending some time cleaning up the floor to make room for yoga mats, and searching through videos on YouTube for awhile, we enjoyed  around 30 minutes of Just Dance before the kids woke up. We are hoping to make it a regular thing. Yay!

and Two

I got up at 4:30 this morning, and I don't know if I was more productive this morning than I would have been if I did the same thing last night, but I definitely had a way better rest of the day. I was surprised at how well it went.

. . .

That was the final installment of the results series about my early-ass morning experiment. Thanks for reading along--and for bearing with my two-week silence.

I'd love to hear from any of you who try it.

With love from Cheryl

PS: You are not alone.