For the last two months or so I’ve been adding three extra hours to my day. Every day. The hack is pretty simple. I sit down and start work at 5am every weekday. This has allowed me to get a solid three hours in before my second cup of coffee. The math is easy: five three’s equal fifteen. Four fifteen’s equal sixty. Voila! Sixty hours in the bank. Another week (and a half) added to every month.
Of course if you are one of those people that is already sitting down at your desk and beginning to work at 05:00, then skip this story. You already get what has taken me a lifetime to find out. I wish I had learned this earlier. A simple tweak to ones routine does require a fair bit of cooperation from your partner. Especially if you have children. Leaving the breakfast/school lunch/extra mural bag packing/school run to your husband or wife requires significant buy in from them.
My day typically looks like this. A 4.40am start (funny how twenty-to-five looks so much better in print than 4:40), I sit down to my desk and start working with a coffee at 5am sharp. I start work. Real work. No email, no checking news feeds or social media, I start writing. I lift my head again at 8am for another coffee. Then I push through to 10am. I begin the commute to my office aiming to be there at 11:00. I find I get precious over my hard fought time gains. To win three hours in a day only to lose them again commuting is an anathema. Why not work from home for a few hours to beat the rush hour? I have found that since I’ve been getting up earlier I am subconsciously making the commute time work better for me too. I am fortunate that we enjoy brilliant public transport where I live. It’s reliable, its dependable (transponder and even WiFi enabled trams allow accurate scheduling) and it is on the tram that I use my mobile or iPad to check mails and respond to messages. I might also ‘read’ an Audible book. I do love the tactile feel of a book book, but Amazon’s brilliance at machine learning algorithms mean I can pick up where I’ve left off on any of my audible or kindle devices whenever I want. I’m getting morning emails done and I’m finishing a book nearly every week. I used to spend the time swearing at other drivers in the traffic.
The best part? I stop work at 16:00 and head home. My spouse is off the hook in the afternoons. I jump in to supper, kids homework and she gets a break to get her stuff done. Full disclosure; I knock off on Fridays at 10:00 and don’t even go to the office. The rest of Friday (burger day in our house) is spent working on my own book, or taking a walk or grabbing a coffee with a friend in Old Town. Currently I’m working on perfecting Burger Night fries by soaking red potatoes in a salt solution for five days before the ‘twice’ fry. I would never have had the time for this before. I’m also constantly amazed at how early it always is. I’ll glance down at my watch and notice its just gone midday. It feels like I have accomplished so much already, that it should be 5pm. At least.
There is a price to pay though. To get enough sleep I’m in bed by 21:00. I know. Giving up Netflix. A full day means I fall asleep easily, waking up before my alarm at 04:40.
I’m getting stuff done and I have more free time. Working flexible hours makes sense. Cutting down commute time to off peak periods makes sense. Give it a try. If you can bend the rules a little to fit your life and become much more productive in the process, then do it. No snooze button, get up, go make that coffee and start working on your important stuff. You’ll have gained an extra week every month. Your stuff is getting done. And you’ll have your sanity back.