Now if uh, six, turned out to be nine
Oh I don’t mind, I don’t mind
I was reminded of that Jimi Hendrix lyric thinking about my mornings lately. I tend to wake up automatically between, say, five-thirty and six-thirty… but I haven’t been setting an alarm and haven’t been getting out of bed.
I know, I know: I quit my day job, lucky me, shut up. This is the struggle I’ve chosen, do you want to learn from it or not?
Anyway, I tend to fall back to sleep and then when I finally wake up and rise for the day it’s like 9:45. I don’t like this, as luxurious as it sounds. It puts the whole rest of the day behind the eight ball. Let me illustrate.
By the time I have breakfast and dawdle around and shower and look at the internet and read some, it’s noon and I should go outside and get a walk in, and the next thing I know it’s three in the afternoon and I’m in a coffee shop somewhere and then it’s dinner time and I haven’t done anything all day but it’s like 8:30, so… do I go to bed, or stay up late?
And the cycle repeats.
Again, if this sounds like heaven to you, well, fine. I’m not complaining like I have to dig ditches for fifteen hours a day. But I’m trying to be self-employed over here and they don’t tell you that structure is a challenge when you’ve had it forced onto you for your entire life by parents, school, more school, work.
The solution seems to be to form new habits, and they seem so simple it’s insulting: whaddya mean I have to learn to wake up at the same time every morning?
But it’s true.
As easy as it is to think, well, I don’t really need an alarm because no one’s gonna get mad if I’m not wearing a collared shirt in a fluorescent-lit building downtown in ninety minutes… life starts to suck when you have no structure for more than a couple of weeks.
Really. It does. I promise.
So this morning I set my alarm for seven. I use an app called Sleep Cycle, which tries to wake you up inside a half-hour window so you won’t feel groggy. When I set the alarm for seven it actually goes off between 6:30 and 7:00. You can snooze it, but every time it snoozes for fewer minutes until finally at 7:00 it won’t snooze anymore at all.
This is a pretty good way to get your ass out of bed even if you like to snooze… unless you just turn the alarm off and fall back to sleep. Which I have done, I’ll admit.
But not today.
Today I actually got up. Here are things I’ve found make the difference for me.
Put the phone across the room.
Alas! The way my bedroom is set up I can reach from the foot of my bed to the phone on my desk without really “getting up” but it’s better than having the phone lying next to my head, which is how I used to use Sleep Cycle. I’ve thought about going even further and putting the phone in the bathroom with the alarm volume at max, but I might not hear it when I shut my bedroom door.
And I’d lose the benefit of sleep tracking. Yeah. That’s the reason.
Me, I wear glasses.
Putting my glasses on right away makes it a little harder to just drop back onto the pillow.
Get your feet on the goddamn floor.
Even better, stand up. Even better, leave the room—go to the bathroom. If you develop the habit of splashing some water in your face first thing, that’ll probably get your day started.
Open the blinds.
Once there’s too much light in the room, it gets difficult to stay in bed, which is probably why I eventually get up between 9-10 when the sunlight gets intense1.
Look: it feels ridiculous to write those things down, like people haven’t known about these dark secrets for centuries, but we’re in rarefied air, here: nothing will die if I don’t get out of bed on time… nothing except my dreams, anyway. So I’m trying to swallow my pride and start doing this stuff, to see what’s effective.
Do you hop right out of bed every morning and start writing? If so, tell me your dark secrets.
- I should note that I made a lot of these notes back in the summer; this whole game gets even harder in the winter when it’s still dark at 6-7 in the morning, and the room is cold, and your bed is so warm and comfy… ↩