Waking Up Before the Sun

After high school you couldn’t pay me to get out of bed early. I became a full-fledged night owl, staying up until 3 am and sleeping in until whenever I felt like it. It was glorious. Very rarely outside of college and work did I ever need an alarm to wake up. Then the worst thing in the world happened: adulthood and responsibility.

All of a sudden I had to be up at a certain time, and it was an ungodly hour. It was also for something awful, work. Not the typical summer/part-time job I had during college, but real work, 9 to 5, 401k, and knowing what your medical benefits were. WTF?!

This lasted for what felt like an eternity. Get up early, go to work, come home, and stay up as long as possible to make up for it, then struggle to get up again. Oh and whether I partied or not, the weekend was for catching up on sleep. So even when I did fall out of bed, the day was half over. I turned to the internet in hopes of an answer, and after falling down a couple dozen YouTube rabbit-holes, I found some.

Like most people I had a LinkedIn account, and like most people for the longest time I never used it. No profile picture, barely any info and definitely did not check it regularly. However, I got a tip from a coworker that LinkedIn was good for prospecting and finding sales leads, so I jumped on the bandwagon. While it did help with prospecting and finding leads, it had a lot of useful articles and blogs people shared.

I found a lot of the list-based posts had some good advice in there. While every list wasn’t life-altering, and some were even complete busts, there was a high success rate that at least one to two points were something I hadn’t considered or was completely new. This led me to a life-changing decision.

I can’t recall the first time I saw it, but when you look at enough of one subject, you begin to see patterns and commonalities. This was one of them. Whether it appeared under “10 Tips For Improving Productivity,” or “The Top 7 Things Successful People Do,” one commonalty was always: “Wake up early.”

At first this did not appeal to me…at all. But the more I saw it come up, the more I began to think about trying it. What really drew me toward trying it started when I began to work longer hours, and it felt like that was all I did. So, what could the harm be in trying it?

At first, I just began to get up early to watch some TV, mess around online, read or make a real breakfast. It sucked at first. I was a zombie, trudging through my apartment, running into the little furniture I did have. Like anything the more I did it, the easier it got, and the more I actually enjoyed it. My morning morphed from making breakfast, to doing laundry, running errands, and eventually working out.

This plague of productivity spread from the weekday to the weekends, especially once I got to Portland. With so many opportunities for weekend activities, it was a no-brainer. If I wanted to hit the coast for the day, I was up and on the road by 5 am. If I was going to Seattle, I was through Vancouver, WA by 5:30 am. If I wanted to hike around Mt. Hood, I was bringing breakfast with me, because no place was open yet.

I would get to the trail-head hours before most people were even thinking of waking up. No looking for parking, or contending with someone’s unleashed dog for space on the trail. I had done six miles and was packing up my car when everyone else in their matching hiking attire was showing up. This was better than not setting an alarm. I get to Manzanita just as the sun is peaking over the mountains, and am back in Portland before dinner.
There’s been some adjustment, and it most definitely is not something that happens everyday on the weekend. With all the great bars, people and Timbers games, I definitely take mornings off. Many Saturdays I find that I can get laundry, dishes, grocery shopping, and a trip to the gym done before 9 am when I don’t have a trip planned. And there is always the promise of a glorious midday nap.
A big piece of the puzzle which none of the articles mentioned, was the resource of time. They mentioned it in the course of mapping out your startup, or working on projects with colleagues overseas, but not in terms of it as a general commodity. Time is our most precious resource, its nonrenewable and every second that passes we have no possibility of getting it back. So why would I want to waste hours of my life, while I am healthy and able to do so much, by laying in a bed?
I have never once regretted waking up early. Even if my scheduled plans don’t pan out the way I wanted, which has occurred a lot, I am still able to accomplish so much more. Conversely, I can’t even remember how many times my days were wasted/ruined by sleeping in. I didn’t start the next Amazon or Microsoft like some of those articles suggested, but I definitely have not regretted it one bit.

 

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