You do WHAT???
I get up at 4 am. And I’ve been doing this for over a year.
What in the world has driven me to such desperate measures? I’m really busy and if I want to get my writing and editing work done, it’s easiest to do it before the kids wake up and my day is completely overrun by family.
My kids are homeschooled and my husband works from home so we’re always together, which is truly awesome, but the bad news is that no one likes to sit quietly and watch me write. In fact, if my office door is open I’m a sitting target for any minor complaint.
I didn’t want to start getting up early. All my life I’ve been dedicated to sleeping in and when I realized early mornings were my best option, I may have shed a tear.
It’s just that by the time the kids go to bed my prime fiction writing time has come and gone. My brain is tired and all I’m up for is a night of watching TV. On this schedule, weeks can go by before I even remember my poor novel.
So, early mornings were the only time for me. In fact, it’s about 5 am right now and I seem fairly coherent, don’t I?
You probably want to know how you get from waking up at 7 or 8 (or 10 or 12) to 4.
The hard part is letting go of your after dinner routine. If you sit down every night to watch TV for a few hours, you’ve got to give that up. Use your TiVo and watch TV on the weekends or in the afternoon (but only if your work is done). If you’re used to having a drink or two at 10, that’s not really going to work for you anymore. I had to let go of the idea that ‘grownups stay up late, and only kids go to bed early’. It was a surprisingly tough idea for me to give up, and I finally replaced it with ‘grownups get their work done, whatever it takes’.
The good news is, the physical adjustment isn’t difficult. Every night you go to bed 15 minutes earlier and wake up the next morning 15 minutes earlier. When you get up 15 minutes earlier, put that time to good use. Don’t lie around hitting your snooze button. Make a plan the night before of things you want to accomplish in the morning that will inspire you to get up. Some mornings the only thing getting me up was the idea of drinking freshly brewed coffee in front of the fire. The house is silent that early and in a family of six, silence is a precious commodity.
Here’s my early morning schedule:
4:00 wake up
Start fire in fireplace
Make coffee (try not to drink the whole pot)
Power up laptop and read email, Twitter, Facebook. Warm up your brain as you drink coffee and the fire starts to warm up the living room.
4:30 Time to get to some serious work – Get to work on the list of things I really want to accomplish. Write 1000 words, read in peace, edit a chapter – whatever is on the list for the day.
6:00 Look up from work, realize I’m starving and make breakfast. I have never liked eating breakfast first thing (even when I woke up at 10 am, I wouldn’t eat breakfast until at least noon). Eat something healthy to power me through my day, preferably a high-protein meal. This morning I had an egg white omelet and some Canadian bacon. I find that if I have carbs (even plain oatmeal, which is undeniably healthy) in the morning I get sleepier faster and I eat more throughout the day.
6:30 Back to work
7:00 More work. At some point, my early-riser child will wake up. He’s a snuggly kid, so I spend about 10 minutes sitting in front of the fire with him, hanging out and snuggling. I’ll be heartbroken when he grows out of this phase. Go back to work when his needs for mom time are met.
8:00 More work. Don’t forget to get dressed before my assistant shows up at 8:30. She’s very easygoing, but I think it crosses a line to work in my jammies when she’s here.
9:00 The other three kids wake up around now. One of the joys of homeschooling is that we don’t have to meet the bus at 6:15, so they can sleep until they wake up naturally. At this point, my day devolves into some work, some child management, some husband management, answering the phone, helping kids with school…the usual day of a stay at home mom. The good news is that if I’ve been diligent, I’ve got several hours of work done already and feel pretty darn good about it.
On the other end of the day, I go to bed between 8 and 9. I’m tired by then and I know I’ll pay for staying up late the next morning. Sometimes it isn’t pretty (or cool or even fun) being a grown up.
Was it easy? Not always. Moving myself from a 9 am to a 4 am wake up time took a while because there were several days when I was still really tired at my designated wake up time, so I slept more. I have a policy of being kind to myself and if I’m sleepy, I get to sleep more. It’s not going to do me any good to wake up early if I’m so tired I can’t get anything done.
One final piece of advice: don’t try to power through your day with extra coffee or energy drinks. Keep yourself well-rested and you’ll be successful. Extra coffee will ensure a late afternoon crash that leaves you feeling horrible.
If you’re going to start getting up early to be more productive in your day – let me know and I’ll cheer you along.
Lisa Bouchard is a Speculative Fiction writer from southern New Hampshire. When not tearing books down and building them back up again, she enjoys hanging out with her husband and children, and avoiding housework. Her first novel, Untitled Novel #1 will be out in the fall of 2012 (with a substantially better title) at fine ebook retailers everywhere. To keep up with her progress visit her website LisaBouchard.com.