Learning to be an Early Bird

Illustration by SML, age 6+

I’ve basically been a night owl since I was a teenager.

Years of habit had been hard to change. But change we must. The main reason being my kids are both in school this year. And school just happens to start at 7.30am making me having to wake up by 6 am to ensure they’ll both get to school on time (most days). I recall that being late to school as a young child to be a very traumatic experience.

Anyways, I have always been intrigued by the tons of praise lavished at the practice of waking up early each day.

Early birds…

  • Have increased productivity
  • Are better at making decisions, planning and setting goals
  • Get an amazing start to the day
  • Tend to be healthier

Thus, I’ve been ‘practicing’ waking up early. People tell me that it takes at least 30 days for a habit to develop and take root in our lives. So for the past year I have been working on this new early to rise lifestyle. To problem solve this and to assist in implementation of actionable, I’ve used a simplified version of the 6 Sigma Methodology accomplish this goal.

  1. Define: To learn about waking up early and consistently wake up at 6am in 90 days time.
  2. Measure: Record for the next 21 days sleep and wake pattern. Having an activity tracker that records my sleep patter definitely helps.
  3. Analyze: My regular natural wake up time is 9am but used to go to bed very late. I noted that I needed to sleep earlier in order to have a better quality sleep. Average hours of sleep that I need was about 6 hours per day. Lifestyle changes required.
  4. Improve: For 30 days, I did my best to wake up 5 mins earlier every day. My activity tracker recorded the data. I don’t beat myself up if I didn’t manage to. But I just kept on trying. I’ve noted that one must have a reason or purpose that was powerful enough to wake up early. If nothing to do, will fall back to sleep. Mine was that I wanted to make sure my kids get to school on time. I also wanted to make them breakfast and bento boxes so they get to feel a little of my love when they’re at school.
  5. Control: After the initial 1st month, I’ve managed to somewhat maintain waking up at around 6am for the next 60 days.

I’m now working on waking up even earlier at 5.30am instead. I’m hoping to have those 30 mins to plan my life and update my journal before the day’s routines were to start. I want to think about how I could plan my days so that they’d be more that just another rat race day.

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