Thursday, March 21, 2013

Waking Up On the Wrong Side of Dawn

I've been up and about on weekday mornings before 6 a.m. — and may I say I hate it?

Wait, maybe "hate" is too strong a word... Nope. I hate it.

I am not, and never have been, a morning person. Let me stay up long into the night, all night, every night. I can burn the midnight oil forever — as long as I can sleep in to make up for it with the proper amount of sleep. What, work until 2 a.m.? Will do! When that "work day" is done, I settle into the quiet of late night and drop off to sleep. I'm up eight hours later, fresh as a daisy, raring to go.

Yet, unless you're a night watchman or bartender, this schedule isn't a regular option.

My husband David works in an industry that embraces Benjamin Franklin's idea of "early to bed, early to rise." For some reason, waking up before dawn is presented as virtuous (as opposed to, say, insane). I bought into it, too, when I was a younger runner: if I ran before the day started, I didn't have to fit it in. As a "get it done" philosophy, it still works.

So, can it work for [fill in the blank]?

For me, that is [reading, writing and social media], which means early morning hours on the computer.

At first, however, it was to meet some deadlines for work. I told myself if I worked in bed, it wouldn't be so bad. (That phrase sounded better in my head.) Anyway, I tried it — and you know what? It wasn't so bad. Oh, the "work" part was challenging, as was the "5 in the morning" part. However, I found a way to make it work: tucked under the covers so the cat could doze on my chest or legs, a cup of joe at my side, a little quiet to focus... it was doable.

Once the push at work was over (for the time being), I decided to try it for myself.

A couple of weeks into The Great Experiment, I can declare it, for the most part, a success. I still have to control my personal social media use — ooh, cute cat photo! funny book poster! — but that's evolving, too, as I learn to focus on the task at hand. I'm still a slow starter, so I "lose" the first bit of the morning. But I can live with that.

Now, the big challenge is getting to bed "on time" to grab my eight hours. (Adults seem to think only youngsters should get to bed early enough to function well. Crazy.) I'll figure it out — or fall on my face trying.

What would you do with an extra hour or two in the day?

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