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Archived entry | Matt Wilcox .net

Getting stuff done by adding a few hours to my day

When I was a kid, I used to wake up about 5-6am and through my bedroom window would wave goodbye to my dad as he drove to work. Then, I got older and started sleeping in later. Over the last six months or so I’ve been hitting the snooze button as often as possible, and I’ve been getting out of bed about 8:05am, in the car for 8:25 and at work for 9. At the weekend I’ve been sleeping in until about 10, and on a few occasions recently, have managed to sleep solid until 11 or 12. The trouble is, I feel worse, and more tired, the longer I sleep in, despite the fact I’m tired enough to be asleep. On week days I get up so late I don’t have time for breakfast, and after lunch I get practically catatonic. 2:30pm I struggle with concentration, and I really want to take a power nap. At weekends, by the time 6pm comes around I still have a fuzzy ‘not quite connected to reality’ head, and I’m thinking to myself that I’ve completely wasted an entire day.

So, yesterday I decided to commit myself to a new regime, and so far (day one) I’m doing pretty well. I went to bed at about 10:15pm, just as it turned dark outside. I slept with the curtains open, and got up feeling more alert than usual at 6am. It was raining outside, but there was that morning blue sky peeking around the clouds. By 8:05 (my usual weekday getting up time, and a full 2hrs before I’m normally awake at the weekend) I had had breakfast (mini shredded wheat with hot milk, mug of tea, glass of orange), read through the news stories on cefax, dried last nights dishes, done all the ironing, put yesterdays washing to dry, and charged my camera battery. It’s now 8:30am and I’ve caught up on my RSS feeds, read two forums, and practically finished a blog entry (er, this entry).

Assuming I keep this up (and I plan to), that would effectively add 18hrs of free time to my week (5x2hrs on weekdays, and 2x4hrs for weekends). Eighteen hours of spare time a week. 72hrs per month. That’s thirty six days per year. By getting up at 6am, I’m buying myself one month of free time per year. OK, I’m going to bed earlier than normal, but I’ve been so tired in the evenings that my ‘free time’ is utterly un-productive, so I’m not counting it as a loss of free time at all, as I was too tired to enjoy it.

Anyway, spell checking and proofing took another 15min, so it’s 8:45am, and I’m off to wash the breakfast dishes, and finish tidying the front room…


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  1. MWF posted 8hrs, 40min, 56sec after the entry and said:

    Joey got out of bed at 3:30pm today.

    While I am a big supporter of making the most of a day it does concern me we're all getting a bit too hung up on being productive. Joey has an interesting psychology article on how resting is now often seen as being lazy.

    Anyway regarding your curtains open technique I can thoroughly recommend a sun simulating clock which we've been using now for around 6 months. It's a little redundant this time of year but in winter it really helps your body work out what time of the day it is.

  2. Matt Wilcox posted 1 days, 0hrs, 13mins after the entry and said:

    Update (day two): Adjusting to this new schedule may be harder than I thought. I got up this morning at 6, but holy wow was I tired. Took until 6:45 before I'd finished breakfast (porridge is not the most motivatingly flavourful breakfast dish, no matter how fruity). On the other hand, I then wrote an Email and went out with my camera for an early morning walk. I even met a nice older gentleman that had been watching me get some shots of the waves crashing into the shore. We stood on the walkway and had a good chat about photography, Llandudno, and the weather (we were both British!) before he went back to his hotel for breakfast. So, a nice start to the day, and I was back at home for 9:05am too.

    I am, however, pretty shattered. Mug of tea and a bit of Craig Armstrong are now calling I feel. I think I'll take a 20min power nap this lunch time too.

  3. Matt Wilcox posted 1 days, 23hrs, 56mins after the entry and said:

    3:30pm!? I know only one person, who's name begins with 'Ben', that's gone longer than that within the last week.

    I'm not so much hung up on being productive, as tired of feeling like I get no useful time for myself. I get up, go to work, come back, make tea, glaze over a bit as I read some blogs or watch mindless TV, then go back to bed. What's the point? Where's the 'me' time in that? And while I agree that resting has gained that reputation, I don't think I've been 'resting', so much as 'wasting time' and not feeling any better for it.

    I'll keep the clock in mind thanks Chris, I've a feeling it'd be really useful in winter.

    Day three has begun, and I'm feeling substantially better today than yesterday, despite a poor night's sleep. Had a shower, had breakfast, made dinner, posted a bit on some forums. Though I think in future I'm not going to fire up the PC in a morning. It's a time-sink, and gets nothing achieved that won't be achieved in the day anyway.

  4. MWF posted 2 days, 5hrs, 30mins after the entry and said:

    Most people I have discussed this with feel the same about the comotosed life they lead. Get up tired, go to work, work hard, get home, eat, tv and go to bed tired. Imo it's a sad result of a society that has too much of a work ethic, by choosing to work nine hours a day five hours a week we've effectively slaughtered the vast majority of our time, given we need to eat, sleep, run our homes and administer our lives in what remains it's no surprise we all feel we're wasting time when we sit idle.

    Become a freelancer and you'll see just how much little extra personal time and a little less work time it takes to transform your life. I can assure you it is remarkable and highly fulfilling.

  5. Philip Roche posted 2 days, 22hrs, 31mins after the entry and said:

    As you know - I tend to get up early anyway (with having the walk bobby [when I had him, sniff smiley icon: sad ]) but with my new job I get up at between 6 am and 6.15 am every morning. I have a shower, make my lunch and eat breakfast. I leave the house before 7.05 am for a 3 minute drive to the train station.

    I'm at my desk and working by 8am. I leave work at about 5.15 pm and get the train to my car. I then drive to the gym and start a 2 hour workout untill 8.30 when I go home and have a small meal. Watch TV and do house work till about 10 - 10.30 and hit the sack.

    I've only been on the gym routine for less than a week but it's paying off. I feel a whole lot better for it. My plan is to stay on it for 7 weeks, football on monday and thursday and gym the rest of the week. I'll be fit as a fiddle.

    I do recommend getting up early, 10 minutes or half an hour extra in bed means nothing so why bother. Up early and start every day with a short cold shower. Works wonders.

    I too tend to get a bit sluggish during the day but I've found small snacks like an apple or bannana bring the sugars up.

    Keep it up - you'll be productivity king

  6. Matt Wilcox posted 3 days, 1hrs, 59mins after the entry and said:

    A two hour work out sounds rather tiring (but impressive)! I'm not quite at that stage yet, but it's definitely nice getting up that early. In fact the whole going to bed as it goes dark and getting up when it's light feels good. This morning I went for a walk on the beach, listened to the waves, checked out the scenery, and generally relaxed before getting to work half an hour early.

    I'm going to have to try the snack thing. I think I'll be getting some bananas and sultanas in this week, cheers Phil!

    Shan't be trying the cold shower though. *shudder*

  7. Joey posted 5 days, 2hrs, 45mins after the entry and said:

    Hope it's still going well Matt.

    I love weekday mornings (despite my 3.30pm out of bed which has been documented here!). Now that I am part-time I have one day off each week and usually a half day as well. I still get up at normal time (7.30ish) and get loads done during the morning. I like to go for a walk/jog first thing, then come home and either do washing or clean the kitchen (unload dishwasher etc.). Then I tend to start studying at about 9am until lunchtime. Even with only half a day I find my morning so useful, it's great for going to the Post Office or supermarket early too.

    However, I do love a good lie in, it's one of the small pleasures in life which I really enjoy. A couple of hours (or more!) in bed reading, playing on my Nintendo DS (which was the reason for my 3.30pm start to Saturday!) or even just thinking (I spend a lot of time planning things in my head) is a wonderful start to a weekend day.

    I like to relax at the end of my day too, I used to spend a long time trying to clear my head and get to sleep and would often lie awake until the early hours making me incredibly tired the following morning. I now always read (or play on my Nintendo DS) in bed with a lamp on until I am tired, and then I fall straight asleep.

  8. Matt Wilcox posted 8 days, 12hrs, 55mins after the entry and said:

    It _was_ - and then there was the Bangor Summer Ball this weekend, which was awesome fun, and I'll be writing up once I've managed to pool everyone's shots from the night. I'm slowly returning to my 6am routine, but today _needed_ to be a 7:30 start. Wow but I'm tired.

    Reading before bed is great, as long as it's not a book. A magazine I can put down when I'm tired. A good book I never even notice that I'm close to passing out, suddenly it's 3am and I'm still reading. That's not good!

  9. Ben posted 11 days, 2hrs, 50mins after the entry and said:

    Dude get up at 6am and get your post up about the summer ball! you've got plenty pics now! smiley icon: joke

  10. Matt Wilcox posted 11 days, 5hrs, 44mins after the entry and said:

    I spent the entire of last night resizing them, tweaking most, creating the low res versions, creating the thumbnails, and uploading them. By that time it was 10:30pm.

    I have a hell of a cold, and I've been sleeping badly. But yes, dear lord, that needs writing up and adding soon. It'll be an evening getting them into the database though.

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