The Wall Street Journal reports on the latest fad: Getting up at 4AM – not because you have to, but because you want to.
When I commuted to NYC from Convent Station, NJ (no, I have never lived in a convent; Convent Station, between Morristown and Madison, is named after the convent of the Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth and the train station was built during the 1870s to serve the Academy of Saint Elizabeth, now a College), I used to get up at 5:30AM.
I was in bed by 9PM. Then on Saturdays I slept until 10AM. Not being a real-early morning person, the sleep deficit seemed to accrue faster than if I slept from 11PM to 7AM.
I had a long commute, but would get to work at least an hour before official opening time, and was able to have a full breakfast, get a lot of work done, and tend to priorities before the normal interruptions of the day started.
The 4AM crowd, however, seem rather more intense – some recommend sleeping in your gym clothes.
The key to enjoying the early morning quiet time, however, is not sleeping in your gym clothes and rushing off to the gym before the crack of dawn; Rather, the key is being able to have a block of uninterrupted time with no outside distractions, where you can focus on the day’s priorities.
This means you are unplugged (no phone calls, texts, Facebook or other social media), are not available for interruptions, and, in my case, are not listening to music, the TV. You are exclusively paying attention to the task at hand.
If the only way you can do so is at 4AM, all the more power to you.
However, in my case, I’ve found that – especially when my son was a baby – dedicating an uninterrupted twenty-minute block of time (a “unit”) during the day to a single, focused task was more effective than any other time management technique I tried. With a little practice, you can even estimate (“this will take three units”) how long it will take to get things done.
And you’re not sleeping in your gym clothes.
Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S, and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s Blog.