Everything's Waking Up Something

I’ve kind of stumbled onto a habit recently, which surprised me because usually I have to work at my habits for a while before I can really make them work for me. Overall, it’s been a positive thing in my life so far, but I would probably not say it’s for everyone or even for me unless I keep it up for a while. Lately I’ve been getting up early, and going into work early as well.

It started last week when I had to travel down to lower Minnesota for a trip for my work. The trip down takes about two hours, so usually when people go down they leave at 7am in hopes of getting in a full work day or close to it and getting back into the cities at a reasonable time. There isn’t anything wrong with that for me - normally I would be getting into the office around 7am anyway. However this time there was some confusion about whether we were going to visit at all, and because of that confusion I had to finish up some things at the office before we departed. That meant getting into the office at 6.

So I set myself for getting in at 6am, and put my alarm back another hour from where it had been set before. I was happy to find out that my whole day went a bit smoother when I got up around 5am instead of 6am: my commute was easier, my work got done quicker than I had planned (although still not done on time, I had to code on the trip down), and there was very little distraction. I decided that if I could get up so early for a single day, then it was possible that I could do it for everyday. I resolved to make it a daily thing, and I’ve been getting to work at 6am since.

The benefits magnified when I wasn’t under the pressure to get everything done before 7am as well. Being the first to get into the office meant that I had to make the coffee, but that meant that I could make it and get the first cup, and enjoy a bunch of uninterrupted time. As many people have noted, programmers like myself abhor the interruptions of a normal office environment, and it as been stated that it might even be a 15 minute setback every time someone asks a “quick question” because you need to get back “into the zone”.

Another benefit is leaving earlier from work, because I still usually stay for my prescribed 9.5-10 hours, which leaves a decent chunk of time between leaving time at work and the time when most things are scheduled at night. Having those two hours between “get home” and “social time” makes it a lot easier to work on my thesis, or get some consulting work done, making my day more accomplished even when I do have something to do in the evening, instead of having to set aside whole nights of my schedule for those activities.

There are a couple of things that could threaten this early wake-up time. If Diana doesn’t like it in the long run, or it’s too disturbing to her sleep cycle for me to get up at such an early time, it’s a no go of course. If people at work start complaining, I might push back a little bit saying that I get the uninterrupted time, but if they are a little insistent I’ll probably cave and switch back to a 7am show-up time. It might start grinding on me differently than it is now, and I could decide to change my habits on my own again. For now, it seems like I’ve stumbled into an early riser habit.