I credit much of my freelance writing success to being a morning person. If not for the ability to wake each morning at 4:00, I wouldn’t have been able to find quiet blocks of time to work undisturbed. I woke early almost every day for five years – until my son was in first grade and I had the house to myself full time to work on projects.
It looks good in theory, doesn’t it? “Wow, that Deb’s so disciplined she wakes every day at 4 and works for three or four hours straight through while it’s quiet.” The truth is, there’s no better way to emulate a zombie and alienate your family than to wake every morning at the most unGodly hour possible.
Mind you, I’m not discouraging the 4:00 AM wakeup call if that’s your thing, but if you’re considering trying this at home, at least let me spell out what you’re getting yourself into:
- You’re always tired: It doesn’t matter what time you go to bed at night, you’re always going to be tired. If you have kids, you don’t necessarily have the luxury of taking a nap in the afternoon. You’re ready to go gangbusters at 4:00 AM, but five hours later, you’re ready to call it a day. You fall asleep while reading, while watching TV and while carrying on a conversation with your significant other. Your neighbors think you’re rude because you yawn while chatting.
- You miss out on the fun stuff: If you’re waking up at 4, you’re ready for bed at 6:00. You can’t stay up as late as you’d like, even with good intentions. You end up falling asleep soon after the kids. You miss your favorite shows and don’t always get to read a good book. Parties? You’re home by 10:00. If you have time for naps and TiVo, there’s probably no need for you to be waking at 4:00 in the first place. Those things don’t usually happen for very early risers.
- You make mistakes: When you’re very tired you make mistakes. Sometimes your tired eye doesn’t catch things during the final proof. If you’re waking before dawn, proofread with a fine tooth comb. You’ll be surprised at some of the stuff you miss.
- You become forgetful: When you’re tired you forget things – not just work but general day to day things. You can’t find your glasses, you put the ice cream in the fridge and things just slip your mind. Making sure to get enough rest is key.
- You’re cranky: If you don’t get enough sleep you’re cranky and you take it out on everyone around you. Think about if you want to be in a perpetual bad mood every day before making the decision to rise before the rest of the world each day.
- You’re unhealthy: When you’re not getting enough rest your resistance is lower. You get sick more often than when you get in a full eight hours each night.
- You’re going to hit the snooze button. A lot.: Next thing you know, it’s 7:30.
Did I mention you’re always tired?
Now, at the moment I don’t have to wake at 4:00, but I’m still an early riser, usually about 6:00 or 6:30. I don’t know if I could have managed my career while my son was young if I didn’t wake early. However, if you’re thinking of rearranging your schedule to accommodate your career, keep the above in mind. Plan for eight hours of sleep and know that you may miss out on a few things.
Do I have any regrets? Absolutely not, I managed and you will too. Just know that waking hours before your family has its benefits. For example, it’s quiet, you can work undisturbed and you can still care for your family and build your career. If you don’t get enough rest it can backfire.
If you’re planning an early rise:
- Get enough rest – If you’re waking early, you need to go to sleep early. If you’re waking at 4, you’ll have to go to bed no later than 8 or 9. You need your rest to be healthy and to adequately take care of your business and your family.
- See if you can schedule in a nap – It’s easier said than done, but if you have the ability to take a nap, do so for your sanity and your health.
- Take one or two days during the week when you can catch up on rest – If your spouse can wake up early and deal with the kids one day so you can catch up on your sleep, this can help you catch up on your rest. You’ll still need enough sleep each night, but having a sleep in one or two mornings each week does wonders for your demeanor…and your health.
How do you find blocks of time to work undisturbed? If you rise super early, how do keep from getting too tired and cranky? Share in the comments…