I forget exactly when I started waking up at 9 AM every day (even on weekends). I think it was about fifteen months ago, when I stopped drinking coffee. I realized that even with my self-employed schedule, I was going to need to wake up in the morning at least one day a week (for social engagements, if nothing else), and that without coffee there was no way I could continue to do my usual thing of sleeping until noon on most days and then powering through whatever mornings I needed to.
And waking up at 9 was pretty good. It was wonderful to have a firm sense of how much time I was going to have each day. It’s difficult to plan out your days if the start date moves around depending on whenever you decide to get up. However, 9 AM was kind of too late. It was hard to fall asleep at night, and the sun often woke me up too early.
In the months before I started school, I decided to pre-emptively begin waking up at 7 AM (every day, even on the weekends), so that I’d be able to handle the possibility of teaching a 9 AM class. As it turned out, that was pretty prescient. I was assigned a 9 AM class (and I’ll be teaching one next semester as well). But it’s been pretty great. 7 AM is perfect. There’s an hour to lounge around in my underwear and answer my email and reject stories and drink tea. And my body seems to feel like seven is an adequate time. I do frequently wake up at around 5 AM with a need to go to the bathroom, but that means that I’m usually able to get in another sleep cycle between 5 AM and 7 AM. I’m usually lying awake in bed for a few moments by the time my alarm goes off, but I rarely feel shortchanged.
Furthermore, after I’ve experienced considerably less insomnia now that I’ve moved my bedtime to around midnight. I usually manage to fall asleep in what feels like less than half an hour. Then, my noon to 2 PM nap takes care of the rest of my sleep needs.
Sleep is really what you need in order to start locking down a schedule. Now that I know when and how I’ll be sleeping, I’ve finally started to fall into a routine. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I do my writing post-nap, from about 2 PM to 4 PM. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I do it pre-nap, from about 8 AM to 11 AM. And then I let the rest of the pieces fall where they will. The day is actually quite conveniently ordered in terms of my priorities. I do my writing during my first free moments of the day. Then I do a little socializing in the evening (or at least, try to). After that, I try to take a walk around campus in order to hit my ten thousand steps for the day (yes, I carry a pedometer…it is super nerdy). Finally, I come home and do some reading. I aim for about two hours, but sometimes it’s closer to 1. And, finally, I prep my class and do whatever needs to be done for Spanish.
Over the course of the year, I’m going to try to stretch my writing time from 2 hours a day to somewhere closer to 3, but I’m not too dissatisfied with what I have right now. Of course, I definitely feel a certain amount of constraint. There’s a limited amount that I can do. Already I’m seeing the ways in which I can’t put as much time into certain projects as I’d want to, but in some ways I really enjoy the sense of control that comes from knowing about how much I’m going to be able to accomplish in any given week.