When I graduated from college I was already married, but I didn’t have a clue to what I wanted to do. Well, that’s not entirely true. I knew my dream job but as for the jobs out there—none of them appealed to me.
So I did what every smart college graduate with a working husband does: I did not get a job. Instead, I stayed home to focus on my writing career. I figured if I could spend all my time on writing I would get further than all the other suckers who had to work full-time.
Um, no dice. It turns out that having all the time in the world doesn’t mean you’ll accomplish all the things. I remember spending the first seven hours while my husband was at work watching the Simpsons, and then churning out some horrible excuse for a draft in the last hour or so before he got home. Just so I had something to show for myself.
That was several years ago now. But I really wish I could go back and tell myself what, well, an idiot I was for wasting all that precious time. If I knew then what I know now, about how we stretch our goals to fit in the time we have, maybe I would have pulled myself out of my funk, found a full-time job, and wrote in my extra hours. At least until I learned a little more self-discipline.
Now I have two little kids, a job, volunteering responsibilities, and a business I’m trying to build on the side. Now I have no time. I have 168 hours in my week and 200 of it accounted for, not including sleep. And I don’t have money for any more childcare, but I would like to raise my kids myself just a little bit anyway.
I still have the same dreams I did when I was a green college grad. Just with a lot more responsibilities.
I think a lot of us are in some sort of situation like this. We’ve got things we need to do but no time to do it in, and that doesn’t leave a whole lot of time to do the things we want to do.
So what’s left?
Those wee hours.
I’m not a night owl and don’t ever want to do be. I know some people are quite successful doing the stay-up-until-2am thing so I’m not going to knock it, but I do know that a lot more people seem to push for rising in the early morning.
So I’m really a morning person either, frankly I just like my sleep. I can’t get enough of it. But I want more time; I want to magically have more time so I can still do the things I need to do and also do the things I want to do. So I’ll try anything that’s free and not overly weird.
I started trying this whole waking up earlier thing and started slow. I have a baby after all, so he doesn’t sleep for me. That makes it even harder to not hit the snooze button. But I wanted those goals met more than I wanted sleep.
So what happened?
A full night of sleep still eludes me. But I have noticed that when I get up early, before my husband and before my kids, I get to enjoy the quietness of the morning and have a moment to just center myself. Because the day has just started, my brain isn’t fogged up with everything that’s happened and I can have laser focus on my tasks.
When I have the strength to pull myself out of bed, I find myself ready to face the day.
I have more energy.
And I have more focus for what I’m doing in the morning, and for what I have to do later.
I have given yourself my best and filled up my tank with premium.
I’m not distracted when I’m with my kids, because I’ve already given time to my passions and self-care.
I promise it works, because I am currently sitting here at 10 o’clock at night and zoning out as I write this; I have no energy left and I’m falling asleep trying to pound on the keyboard. Maybe it’s mostly because I have a newborn who doesn’t sleep through the night. But it may also be that my brain starts shutting down right about now. Whatever the reason, I’m still willing to give this morning thing another go.
Update: I’ve been a lot better at waking up in the morning, and starting with a routine has made the difference. I recommend Hal Elrod’s The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM). It’s one of those things where we need several people telling up the same thing over and over. I first heard him on a podcast, and I love what he has to say.