Yes my day starts at 3:30am Monday through Friday. This is the same guy that used to play Madden until 4 am and sleep until noon daily.
This is my schedule during the week:
Wake up at 3:30,
Take the dog out,
Mess around on the internet (fantasy football takes up most of this time right now) until 4:15,
Kiss my wife and head to the gym at 4:30.
Workout from 5 to 6:30
Shower, get dress and be at work for 7:30.
Work until 4
Get home around 5 (depending on traffic)
Work/research until 8.
Put the dog to bed
Read or watch TV until 9-9:30
Rinse, lather, repeat.
Now why did I just run down my incredibly boring week for you? Simply to show that this is my habit for the week. I’ve created it this way to be as productive as I can with the little time I have. I hit fitness, pleasure and necessity every day. Thankfully for me, fitness and pleasure are one in the same.
I cannot begin to describe to you how much I would love to come home after work and play video games or watch mindless TV until I go to bed. So why don’t I? The feeling of being unproductive kills me more than my laziness.
Sundays are the days I give myself to be lazy. I’ll prep my meals for the week in the morning, maybe do a little work and hit the couch for 12:30. I’ll make sure my fantasy team is set and I won’t move from in front of the TV unless I’m hungry or I need to pee until the 1 o’clock game is done. After that I start to get antsy. The feeling of unproductivity kicks in and I need to do something.
For the longest time I couldn’t get out of my own way. The feeling of unproductivity would hit me and rather than doing something productive, I would sit in front of the TV and continue to lose motivation and get depressed. This is the cycle that most of my weekends would follow. This went on for longer than I care to admit.
So when it came time to have my back surgery and being stuck at home for almost a month I decided to not fall into the same trap. So I decided to set some “rules” up for myself to keep me from getting depressed. Here are some of my “rules” I had for myself everyday:
Take the dog for a walk
Read a book
Learn (or attempt) computer programming (long time goal. Turns out Mark Zuckerberg makes it look a lot cooler than it actually is.)
No TV until the wife comes home (~4:30)
These little things were all that I needed to keep my sanity and to keep my wife from killing me. When I got back to work after a month everyone would ask me “Feels good to be back right?” And my answer was always “No, I had way too much fun at home.” If I ever become rich and famous this will be the turning point in my life.
For the first time in my life I wasn’t caught up in the day-to-day of work or school. I had time to focus on what I wanted to accomplish, with obvious physical limitations.
I’m sure there are people like me who have a hard time getting out of their own way.
Here are some things I used:
You have to prioritize things you want to get done early in the day. Life has a funny way of taking over as the day progresses. Kids and work are crazy and have unpredictable hours. Don’t let them push off things you want to do.
I started going to the gym in the morning because my work schedule was crazy. I would work 12-14 hour days and have no ambition to go workout after. So the one variable I had control over, going to the gym, switched from after work to before work. Simple as it was, complete game changer for me. I have a feeling of accomplishment everyday.
Start your day with something you love that is also productive.
Working out is that for me. If the zombie apocalypse over takes the world that day at least I got my workout in. This will also serve as motivation to help you get out of bed in the morning. Find something you love to do, but never have time. Reading, working out whatever it is, as long as it is something you love or at least like and it’s is productive in some way.
This should serve as a constant for you. We all have stressful weeks and this should serve as your point of reference in your world of craziness.
Learn your triggers
Learn what triggers you start to feel depressed or when you feel unproductive. Write down everything you did until the time you felt depressed. Also note when you feel good and have a sense of accomplishment. Patterns will become evident. Avoid bad triggers, enhance good triggers. TV was my trigger. I made a rule for myself, if it’s first air of something I really like then I will make time to watch it. I stay away from re-runs and shows I could care less about. They don’t deserve my time.
Escape couch velocity
In physics there is a term called escape velocity, which describes the velocity needed to escape the earth’s atmosphere. The couch, much like the earth, has a gravitation force pulling you towards it. Don’t believe me? Try getting off the couch after you have been sitting there for a while. The easiest way to deal with it is to realize it does exist and not get sucked in (skip TV). This is the biggest cause of all my unproductivity problems.
As you can see I’m also a fan of getting up early. There is nothing (in my opinion) more calming than going outside at 3:30 in the morning. Just the moon, stars and the occasional nocturnal animal. No cars, no planes, no people asking for things. Just silence and nature. It’s beautiful.
I realize not everyone is a morning person. So here are two ways to experience this calmness by waking up early:
Wake up 15 minutes earlier
Every week wake up 15 minutes earlier until you hit the time you ultimately want to wake up. Say 7 am is your normal time you want to wake up and you want to get up at 6. Week one get up at 6:45, then week 2 6:30, week 3 6:15. After a month you will be able to get up at 6 no problem. 15 minutes isn’t critical to your sleep cycle so the incremental earlier wake time won’t affect you that much. This does take a while to get where you want to go, but for some people it’s necessary.
Just wake up
I’m more partial to this approach. It’s more balls-to-the-wall but you can get where you need to be faster for 2-3 days of “discomfort”. If you want to get up at 6 then get up at 6. You will be tired the first day or so but your body will adjust to sleeping earlier. That is why they have coffee. When the alarm goes off tell yourself you have to do this and just get up. This is where doing something you love first thing helps. For those of you who were around in the early 90’s there was a Dunkin Donuts commercial with a guy named “Fred the baker.” Watch the commercial, if he can make the doughnuts twice a day, everyday then why can’t get my ass up. Quit being soft and get your ass up.
Incorporating these items into my life has helped me out a lot especially learning my triggers and prioritizing the gym first thing in the morning. I can control when I get up and that is the only limiting factor in front of me getting to the gym.
I hope you got something out of this and can incorporate it into your life.
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