Tag Archives: early riser

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.

Why am I awake?!?


I seem to have a certain peculiar ability to awaken well before my alarm clock. I do this most of the time, regardless of what time it is set to bring me to consciousness with rudely elevated decibels. Some of you will feel me on this. You wake up and with bleary eyes roll over to look at the timepiece that is likely somewhere in the vicinity of your bed. It registers not yet time to get up (but likely too close to said time to allow for return to blissful somnolence). My response to this mechanism that I have named my “internal torturous awakening function” is “Why the @#$% am I awake?!?” Sadly, no one seems able to give me a cogent answer to this question. The process appears to have no relationship to the actual hour. If I need to be up at 6:00AM, my body will wake me at 5:47AM. If I need to be up at 8:00AM, it seems I will awaken at somewhere between 6:30AM and 7:45AM. Trying to sleep the full planned time appears to be an impossibility.

Associated with the phenomenon of pre-alarm wakefulness is the sad fact that when this occurs on days when I do need to be awake and alert and productive by a certain hour, I feel as if I could actually return to the land of Nod and sleep for a week (I know it is patently untrue, but it does feel that way). However, on days when I have no alarm set and no need of one because I am at my leisure… I will awake with the dawn and be unable to return to slumber without the assistance of a sleep aid (like maybe a sledge hammer or iron frying pan to the cranium). It seems that I have lost the gift of being able to sleep in. What makes it baffling is that it seems to matter not one jot how much sleep I’ve actually had. I have been known to lay my head upon the pillow at 3:00AM only to come to a full roused wakefulness at 5:30AM when I needn’t be awake until 8:00AM (if at all). Unless I am actually ill, I seem to be doomed to being an early riser now. Oh the shame of it!

There are some benefits to the curse of early waking. I get things done while most of the population is still slumbering peacefully. I can take this time to get in workouts before the gym is populated, run in the dawns early light on a deserted beach, greet the day on summer mornings before humidity and temperature closely resemble the surface of the sun… It fails to make me truly more productive however. Just because I’m awake, does not mean that I am willing to deal with people or make noise. So, many of the tasks that I don’t have time to do during the day generally don’t get done in the early hours of said day (like running the vacuum or mowing the yard… neighbors get cranky about that stuff too early). I do get a jump on things like bills, filing, running reports, organizing, and planning.

I suppose there are worse things in life than having a natural clock that kicks in (especially during power outages). However, I still occasionally miss the days when I could anticipate sleeping late and being lazy. I will still continue to wonder as I wake at 5:30AM on my vacation, “Why the @#$% am I awake?!?