The Morning Struggle – My Plan to Beat it

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Before we get into the meat of my morning struggle, let me tell you why I’m writing it. The reasons are twofold. Firstly, I think it’s important to share our daily struggles with others. I often wonder if people are struggling with the same things that I am, and by publishing posts like this, it may help someone in a similar situation. Secondly, by outlining my plan in this post it will give me some much-needed accountability. It’s a lot easier to stick to a plan if you have people (you!) to hold yourself accountable to. The second reason is a bit of a selfish one, but I’m hoping it will provide the kick I need to spring into action.

The Morning Struggle – What is it?

 

Let me give you a quick outline of the problems I’m having before we move on to my plan to solve it. I work from home which is a luxury most people don’t have, and many would like to have. Undoubtedly it has its perks; however, it also has its downsides. My typical plan for a weekday is outlined below.

  • Wake at 07:30
  • Turn on the computer, work from 07:40 – 08:30
  • Breakfast at 08:30
  • Work 09:00 – 13:30 (with a few small breaks, tea, meditation etc.)
  • Lunch 13:30 – 14:00
  • Work 14:00 – 16:00

That is a very rough outline of how my day should look (minus the tedious stuff, everyone brushes their teeth right?). Obviously things happen in the day to disrupt the plans which are out of my control; however, most of the deviation from the plan comes from within. Below is the reality of my typical day.

  • Wake between 07:30 and 07:50
  • Turn on the computer, work until 08:30
  • Lie back down for a while, end up sleeping until 10:30 – 11:00
  • Breakfast 11:30 ish.
  • Work 12:00 – 13:30
  • Lunch 13:30 – 14:00
  • Work 14:00 – 15:00
  • Xbox 15:00 – 16:30

As you can see, the reality of my day is quite different from the plan I usually have for the day. I attribute this to a few things. Firstly, my workspace is in my bedroom, hence the going back to sleep. Secondly, after going back to sleep and waking up much later than planned I feel like a good part of my day has been wasted (which it has). This tends to have a knock-on effect resulting in less work and more gaming being done. Due to my need to be near the computer throughout the day, I struggle to find an appropriate time to work out or go for a run. When I do find the time it’s usually because my day is going well and I can leave the computer alone for 30 – 40 minutes.

The Domino Effect

 

As you can see, once the initial plan for the day falls apart, my day tends to follow suit. Most of my problems arise on the days where I go back to bed after initially getting up and doing some work, so in order to fix these problems, I must fix the root cause which is going back to bed in the first place. Moving my workspace isn’t an option, so the temptation to go back to bed will always be there seeing as the bed is so close to the computer!

In order to improve my productivity and my day overall, I need to take a leaf out of Tim Ferriss’ book and knock down the lead domino (if you are interested in Tim talking about this, check out the podcast here).

My start time for working is non-negotiable; I have to be at the computer between 07:30 and 08:00 at the latest.  What can I do to ensure I don’t go back to bed after the first hour of my workday is done?

The Plan

 

Rather than trying to exercise more willpower and discipline, I plan on changing my routine in order to feel less temptation to go back to bed. When is the temptation to go back to bed the strongest? When you are first awake. In order to combat this, I plan on starting my day earlier. I mentioned above that I frequently miss physical exercise so I will take this opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.

My local gym opens at 06:00, perfect for somebody who wants to be at the computer for 07:30. My theory is that after a workout and after being up for 2 to 3 hours, the temptation to return to bed will be greatly diminished. Not only will I have an extra couple of hours in the morning due to waking up earlier, I will also (hopefully) have a few extra hours that are usually spent in bad after I initially get up. My revised plan will be thus.

  • Wake at 05:30
  • Breakfast at 05:35
  • Gym at 06:00
  • Work 07:30 – 08:30
  • Snack/Break 08:30 – 09:00
  • Work 09:00 – 13:30
  • Lunch 13:30 – 14:00
  • Work 14:00 – 16:00

As you can see the basic structure of the plan is similar to my initial plan with the addition of a workout in the mornings. I will have to adjust my night time routine in order to facilitate the earlier mornings, however, my main concern at the moment is sorting out the morning. If I can stick to the plan and wake at 05:30 every morning, getting to sleep earlier shouldn’t be a problem. For those of you interested, I do not plan on lifting weights every morning in the gym. I find that 3-4 gym sessions a week are ideal for me, so the other mornings will be spent in the pool/sauna. The main goal of this change is to stop myself from going back to bed; the additional exercise is just a secondary benefit.

Sticking to the Plan

 

As we all know, formulating a plan is the easy part. Actually carrying it out is difficult. Having the willpower to wake at 05:30 every morning isn’t easy, in order for me to make this plan work I will need to turn the 05:30 starts from a chore into a habit. Habits are much easier to maintain than strict discipline. Do you remember how much of a chore brushing your teeth was when you were a child? It’s second nature to you now (I hope!). To see a great way to quickly implement new habits, check out The Game of Life post.

My first early morning will be tomorrow, Tuesday 07/08/2017. Usually, I would start on a Monday, but seeing as it is a public holiday in Ireland I’m cutting myself some slack. In order for you to see my progress or lack thereof, I will post an update in two weeks outlining any successes or failures I have. I will be pleasantly surprised if I manage to stick to the plan, only time will tell.

Be sure to check in on the blog in the coming weeks to see how I’m progressing with my morning struggle, with any luck I’ll have turned the bad habits into good ones!