One byproduct of getting your biological clock all out of wack with international travel, is that it gives you a rare chance to make changes to your daily routine. You pretty much get a clean start. I decided to take advantage of this.
I have been trying for a while to lessen the time I need to sleep each night. Seeing as how I throw away nearly a third of my life sleeping, I figure that would be a good way to be more productive during my days. When I was a kid I used to get up relatively early without much trouble. The older I’ve gotten, the harder it has gotten.
My normal routine is to go to bed around 11:30pm and wake up around 7am. If I didn’t have important meetings in the morning, I would sleep in even later. On weekends I would often stay up until 2am and sleep in to 10am. I would normally exercise after work.
I found that following this routine, I almost always felt a bit rushed in the mornings. I also felt the pressure of having to exercise after work and deal with the massive crowd of people at out gym [the one downside of Microsoft providing a free gym membership is that people often decide to use it at the exact same time everyday].
Perhaps the worst byproduct of this routine was that I would be starving by the time I left work (normally 6-7pm) but wouldn’t be able to eat since I hadn’t yet exercised! My new routine solves these problems.
Coming back from India, I woke up [completely unplanned] at 4am. I was wide awake. I tried going back to sleep but couldn’t. I therefore just got up, got dressed and went to work! The next day, the same thing happened. This time, I went to the gym and then went to work. And so the new routine began. For the past 10 days (including weekends) I have gotten up between 4-5am. While it has gotten slightly harder to get up after the jet-lag wore off, I am still not finding it all that difficult.
In this new routine, I wake up, do my pranayama and meditate, and then head to the gym. I finish my exercise and make it to the office by 7am or so. Some days I take the bus, in which case, I get in by 7:20 or so. Since I get to work so darn early, I end up leaving by 5:30pm at the latest. Frankly, by the time 9am roles around, I feel that I have done more than in an entire day on my old schedule. I also find that I am getting a lot more done at work. My brain is able to concentrate much better in the morning. It doesn’t necessarily work as “fast,” or multi-task as well, but I find the sharper focus to be invaluable. By 7pm I am eating dinner and by 9pm I am pretty tired and head to bed. So the cycle continues.
The biggest plus that I find, is that no matter how bad my day went, or how unproductive I was at work, the fact that I got up so freaking early makes me feel like my day was a success. That is a priceless feeling.