While you were sleeping…


I get a ridiculous amount of crap done while everyone is in bed. No brag, just fact. I am not by nature what one might call a “morning person.” In fact, I am unlikely to be able to respond in a civil tone or in human language before I’ve had at least two cups of coffee and the sun has passed the yard arm. I will communicate when I must, but I prefer to avoid all interaction that might require civility.

That being said, I am usually awake and conscious at what might be considered a very early hour. I usually wake up before my alarm (which is set for 6:00AM on work days). My eyes will generally fly open around 5:00AM or 5:30AM. While a part of me is significantly resentful of my internal clock that insists upon robbing me of 30 minutes to a full hour of time that I might otherwise have spent slumbering away before being dragged from somnolence by the blaring klaxon of my alarm (yes, it actually does sound like that), I’ve gotten used to it. Instead of resentment or anger, I have chosen to approach this particular facet of my biology with resignation and use the time accordingly.

So, up I am at the butt-crack of dawn. If I am feeling more tired or irritable, I may use the additional moments before the alarm to meditate (either on my own or using my guided meditation app). More frequently as of late, I have chosen to go ahead and remove myself from the bed clothes and get kitted out for my gym time and run. I take some additional moments to drink a cup of coffee and boot up the computer. Then, I go ahead and get in the workout. Returning home, I shower, get more coffee and maybe something to eat, and I dive into my day.

For weekdays, this involves going through email (reading and responding), reading up on various reports, news stories, and starting to run the productivity and affordability reports for which I am responsible. On weekends, the routine is similar but often includes writing projects, bill paying, and any correspondence not involved with job #1. Some days during the weekend, there may be clients, and some weekends, there are other activities like camping. However, between the hours of approximately 7:00AM and 10:30 or 11:00AM are the most productive of even my very long days.

I usually feel very accomplished during these early morning hours. The rest of my day whether during the week or the weekend, I feel as though I spin my wheels but find absolutely no purchase. Why?

Well, it seems that I have something that many parents have found to be true. The only time to get anything done is when the rest of the world is asleep. From the moment that others in my life become conscious and aware of my own presence (this includes the demonic feline that shares my living space), I am besieged with questions, comments, pleas, and requests. I spend the majority of the time putting out seemingly unending numbers of metaphorical fires (although there have been some actual ones as well) with the equivalent of a tiny kitchen extinguisher. I run hither and thither virtually or actually trying to patch and stitch the many levels of my responsibilities together, and by the end of the day, any projects or things that needed doing that did not get done before someone noticed I was there… well, there they sit at the end of the day waiting for me to have the quiet and repose to address the myriad of tasks.

I cannot blame it entirely upon the pings, rings, and meetings. I have to take some responsibility for the productivity variants myself. I am a victim of the “But First…” disorder as well. So, despite my best efforts, I do get distracted by the shiny squirrels dancing in my workspace and sometimes find it incredibly difficult to finish a sentence, let alone an actual task or project. You would think that the shiny squirrels would not necessarily be constrained by the time schedules of my daily routine, but for some reason, it seems they are not early risers. So, from the real and the imaginary distractions, I am free to pursue my list of things that must be done without distracting escapades so long as I do so while I am alone and in the early hours of the day.

Why wouldn’t this be the same with perhaps the hours after people go to sleep? I honestly do not know. It is possible that I could be as productive post bedtime routine as I am in the pre-dawn glow of day. I know that for many parents of toddlers and even older children, this is true. However, it does not work that way for me. The late night is not as productive as the early morning because my brain wants to shut down. After a full day of corralling the shiny squirrels and putting out the metaphorical (or literal) fires of the day, my brain often decides that it has had enough of the productivity and deserts me entirely. Thus, trying to stay up late (as I once did during my higher education days) to accomplish tasks that were pushed off during the day generally results in poor progress towards my productivity goals.

I suppose the title of this rambling examination of my activity and attempts to be productive is a misnomer. I suspect that there are many other humans out there who are, in fact, not asleep during my more productive hours. They, like me, may also be less than happy to interact without sufficient time to caffeinate or participate in morning rituals. For whatever reason, I am remarkably grateful for the time (regardless the cause) when others appear to be still in hibernation so that I have opportunity to attack my mental and physical agendas for the day. If it were not for that window of opportunity each day, it is likely I would never get anything done.

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