Dan Hough

Expecting the Unexpected in your Personal Schedule

Published 03 July 2012 in London, UK

One of the things I struggle with most of the time is finding the time to do all of the things I want to do. The Nagging Voices of Success seem to be everpresent, and no matter how hard I try to rearrange my time or combine my acitivities, it’s impossible to have the perfect schedule.

Let’s say you wake up in the morning and get your act together, then decide that after the working day is done, you’re going to buckle down and read that book you’ve been eyeing on your shelf, or go to the gym and train for that all-important run, or get the latest version of your app finished and out the door. You don’t tell this to anyone, why would you? So halfway through the day when your buddy sends you the inevitable “beer after work?” email, the only person you’re going to let down is yourself if you skip the gym.

Unexpected Invitations often come along though don’t they? Why are you even making these plans with yourself if you don’t actually care enough to stick to them? Maybe you’re lacking the willpower to say “no” to those Unexpected Invitations, or maybe you really would just rather do something else. That’s a problem perhaps you need to address.

There’s fact I like to consider when I make plans which involve only me, though, which is: most people are not awake very early in the day.

So, as an alternative to making after-work plans for yourself: just wake up earlier. A lot of people I know don’t even consider this possibility. Their sleep is the most important thing in the world, even if they don’t need any extra. They say “oh, I’m not a morning person.” They might be right, because they’ve probably always viewed the morning as the time when their working day begins, and they probably aren’t looking forward to it. Is that the case for you?

If so, it’s probably your routine, and that’s why you hate the morning. When you’ve woken up, had a shower, brushed your teeth and eaten your breakfast (not necessarily in that order), it’s time to go to work. No time to do the things that you want to do, only what your boss wants you to do. Wow, that’s an interesting realisation. Why should the first thing you do be for somebody else? It’s your morning, do your thing. Read that book you’ve been meaning to finish, or go for a quick jog, or maybe write a bit of code for that app you’ve been working on but lacking time for. This is crucial.

At this point you might say: “But Dan, the thing I’ve not had time for is sleep! That’s what I want to do!” If that’s true, and you really haven’t had enough time to sleep because of all the extra stuff you’ve been doing, then you probably should sleep.

But if it’s not, and you’re just dreading getting up because of work (really, think about this) then this advice applies to you. You might think this is stupid, but give it a go. Change your routine. It won’t be easy, but just try it for a week and see if you notice a change.

Once you’ve started getting up early you may soon feel yourself feeling more awake on your way to work. You’ve already awoken your body with something you find physically or mentally stimulating. Then you might start looking forward to getting up, and you might get up earlier. Awesome! You might look in the mirror in the morning and say “who is this morning person standing in front of me?”

Obviously, this might mean going to bed a little bit earlier, but you might not need to - give it a try and see how well you do. That extra half hour might be tough at first, but it might mean more energy and productivity in the long run.

I’m not saying that this will work for everybody, but this is what I’ve found to work for me. I’m usually at my most productive on any average working day, in the morning, and when I’ve accomplished something in the morning, I’m sharper, chirpier and more productive during the day.

Heckle me on Twitter @basicallydan.