Wakey wakey

Posted by kdow on Jan 25, 2016 3:03:12 PM

There’s a lot of productivity tips & trick posts these days, outlining strategic ways to improve your day by waking up early and getting as productive as possible, as quickly as possible.

I’m actually an early riser. I don’t really know how or why, I just am. My body clock hasn’t really changed since my parents forced me to get up between 7 or 8am every day during school years. And now that I think about it, that’s a very early time to get up, have a wash, get some clothes on, eat some cereal and get to school… especially considering school was all of a 10minute walk.

However, I have noticed a few trends that I have in my daily routine that differ to other people I know. So I thought I’d jot them down.

Go to bed

Okay, this is fairly obvious. But often overlooked in the productivity lifehacks for getting a good morning of productivity out of the way is simply getting to bed at an appropriate time. Some people can survive on 5 hours sleep. Some can only survive with a full 8 hours. Plan your evening with whatever suits you in mind.

Before bed, stop eating stuff. Have little (or no, ideally) caffeine for many hours before you snooze. And if you need a snack, avoid anything heavy (e.g. cheese).

If you find it hard to doze off, wine & Xanax isn’t the answer. If you need to take something, try valerian root, which can be found in most health food stores. That said, the best medicine is to stop looking at computer screens before bed. And if you must (which I do, for working with various timezones), make sure you use Flux or similar. If you work a lot with iOS, opt into the new 9.3 beta, which includes a Flux sherlock feature.

Another sure-fire way to relax your brain before bed is to read something. Just for 15/20mins. Enough to take in some information, but enough to ensure you relax. I also tend to listen to a podcast while dozing off. If it’s a good episode I’ll go back to it. Otherwise I’ll forget & move on.

Also, slightly weirdly, you can listen to ASMR videos on YouTube. These are usually people making relaxing noises, whispering or trying to trigger your brain into a deep relaxing mode using audio cues.

Wake up with sound & light

Humans, as we likely all are here, developed to wake up when dawn hit. Depending on where you are this is going to be a different time. But this vaguely correlates to 7am in winter, and maybe 6am in summer months.

We also tend to wake up with some sound. I’m sure historically this was the chirping of birds and other animal noises. For city dwellers like me this means hearing the roar of aircraft, traffic on a motorway and bin trucks thundering around the neighbourhood.

A few months ago I got yet another Kickstarter sent to me, called Sense. It has a smart “pill” tucked into my pillow which senses my movement like so many iOS apps before it. At an approriate time around about when I wish to wake up, it’ll chime in some way at an increasingly louder volume. It also lights the room up with some ambient light to help the waking process. It’s easy to put this device back to sleep, but if I put it out of arms reach, it means I’m forced to actually move out of bed to turn it off before it disturbs my fiancé, who rarely needs to wake up as early as I do.

For me, an acceptable time to wake up is 6am. This gives me enough runway in the day to do what I need to do.

Of course, waking up in the morning is going to involve some sort of stimulant. There’s two types of stimulant: mental & physical. For me, the physical stimulant is coffee. I have a few various methods for brewing a nice coffee, but for the sake of convenience a nice Nespresso does the job for me.

I also recommend a nice warm (not too hot… you’ll just get sleepy again!) shower. That, followed by coffee with some light breakfast will get you enough energy to get going.

Depending on the day or your schedule, also doing a quick run or some exercise will really get you moving. For those without the time, energy or ability, the 7-minute workout apps are great.

Do something

Sounds odd, but actively seek out to achieve something. For me, that might mean chatting to folks in Singapore or Australia. It also might mean simply getting my inbox to zero. For others, that might mean anything as trivial as reading the news or a chapter of a book. But doing something after you’ve settled into your morning helps stimulate the brain mentally, rather than physically.

It also helps to start your day having ticked one todo off your list as early as you can!