Forget Mornings; Evenings Are Where It's At

I’m frequently finding articles in my social feeds about how getting up early in the morning is the ultimate way to get a head start on the day. Many of these articles are based on the daily routines of some very successful people.

It makes sense; you get a couple of extra hours to focus on deep work.

If you read enough of these articles you’d be forgiven for thinking that these successful people don’t have partners or children. They get up at 5 am and get on with it before leaving for the office or continue working from home and finishing their workday early afternoon.

This sounds ideal and if it works for you, then great.

However, it doesn’t work for me. I tried getting up at 5 am for a week. It took a lot of strength to force myself to get out of the comfort of a warm bed and go into my cold, creaky office. I say ‘office’, it’s actually the spare bedroom between our room and my son’s.

After a week of doing this I discovered a few effects:

No matter how quietly I moved, I still woke my wife at 5 am. Even with a wristband alarm on vibrate. I also woke my son on two occasions. The throughput was minimal. My wife works full time. My son is six years old (and does nine and a half hours at school each day).

Being woken an hour and a half before they needed to didn’t go down well.

I also found that I wasn’t getting as much done as planned. I have a side project that I want to make some progress on, but it just wasn’t happening. By the time I’d got into the flow and actually started getting somewhere I’d have to stop and get on with the rest of the day.

It. Just. Wasn’t. Working.

So I thought about this and realised that with the same approach and discipline I could get more time in the evenings.

So, my (current) daily routine now looks like this:

06:30 - 08:00 Wake/shower/dressed, get son ready for school, quick coffee and breakfast, then take son to pre-school breakfast club
08:00 - 17:00 Full-time work
17:00 - 20:30 Collect son from after-school club, dinner, housework, family time, son to bed/story
20:30 - 23:30 My Project Time.
23:30 - 00:00 Wind down. Turn off computer and phone, listen to music, wash and go to bed.
00:00 - 06:30 Sleep

I’ve been following this routine for a couple of weeks now and I’m getting far more done on my side project. It leaves me with a positive feeling each night.

I have used an app to measure my sleep and six and a half hours works well for me. I’m not feeling tired during the day at all.

My ‘wind down’ period is crucial to a good nights sleep. I listen to the same piece of music as sleep trigger (‘Chill Out’ by The KLF) so that my brain knows that sleep follows the music.

I would like to experiment with this routine some more and try to fit some exercise in. I have an hour lunch break at work and there is some basic gym equipment. There’s no excuse for me not exercising.

Photo credit: Lee Campbell on Unsplash