I’m currently on “workation” – doing some slow travel in Europe while working full-time remotely.
Being in Europe means I am six hours ahead of my clients, so I am able to get a head start on my day compared to my usual working hours.
To make managing the time zone differences easier, I have set all my clocks to Eastern Standard Time. When I wake up at 11am, it’s actually 5am Toronto time. Thus, I’ve “hacked” waking up early, and with none of the groggy and dark early mornings to content with.
I’ve always wondered what life would be like if I were the uber-productive type that goes to bed at 9pm and wakes up at 5am every day. Even though I’m not technically waking up at 5am local time, it still feels like I am.
So what are the results? Am I more productive? Is this the sacred ground we dream about, reserved exclusively for the authentic, overachieving type-A’s? I’m not so sure.
On the one hand, it’s great having all of this time in the morning to ease into my day. I spend longer at the gym (I’m on a routine now), and when I don’t go to the gym, I can go to the market for fresh groceries, or walk around the new streets where I’m staying (currently, I’m in Valencia, Spain).
Here’s a tweet after one of my morning walkabouts in Spain:
— Kevin C. Whelan (@kevincwhelan) June 15, 2017
On the other hand, I now tend to work almost right up until I fall asleep. It seems like I have simply shifted when I have my free time.
The mornings are usually my most productive times of the day. When I lived in Toronto, I would either wake up and go to the gym for 20-30 minutes, then begin work, or I would make a coffee, work for a few hours, then hit the gym, then resume my day.
Overall, the main benefit to waking up at “5am” is that I have much more time to spend on my workouts and I am much more rested when I wake up. I don’t need an alarm clock – I sleep until I am fully rested.
I also don’t feel rushed in the mornings, but I do have the background sense in my mind that 9am will come around soon and people will start sending me emails. It’s a low-level stress that can’t be avoided.
The downside to this new routine is that by the end of the working day, I am fairly tired (mentally) but have little time to unwind. I used to like spending a few hours at the end of my day simply relaxing and watching Netflix or reading something on my Kindle.
Now it feels like it’s all work until bed time. I’ll do a little bit of reading before nodding off to sleep. Sometimes I’ll watch something for a while first, depending on my workload.
The verdict is out on this one – I don’t know whether I am more or less productive. I can’t help but feel like there’s some degree of hype associated with waking up at 5am, especially for the “average person”.
I get why Tim Cook might do it. As Apple’s CEO, I imagine the early hours are the only time he gets to himself. Preparing himself mentally for what I can only guess are long, arduous days is probably essential.
I also understand why people who work in an office all day might want to wake up at 5am, since they don’t have the flexibility in the day to exercise or do other personal activities.
But for me? I like having freedom over my day, waking up at a reasonable time, and having some time to unwind in the evening.
I’ll keep the schedule while I am here, but I’d be curious to know what works for you.
Drop me a line in the comments or tweet to me.