Surprise, surprise: Going to bed earlier makes getting up early easier

Last week, I wrote about how I’m tackling my most difficult habit, going to bed on time.

For the past 10 days or so, I’ve been trying to stick to my 22:00 (10pm) bedtime, and I’m happy to report that it’s been working well! I can’t say that I’ve been in bed by 22:00 every day, but I’ve been in bed by 22:15 or so, which is pretty close.

The key really has been to wake up William from his nap at 14:30 (sometimes he wakes up by himself beforehand, of course), so he can go to bed by 20:30 at night. Then, I have enough time to do all my evening things before 22:00.

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My most difficult habit: bedtime

Every year, the arrival of September makes me want to get into a rhythm. Yes, even I go a little crazy in the summer and abandon routine–can you imagine?! But once the autumn comes, I get truly excited by the idea of establishing a routine.

I am going to try something new for the next couple of weeks/months. I will focus on a habit for 14 days in my own life and try to really do well with it. So in one blog post, I will share what I’m working on and how I approach it. In the following blog post, I will report how I’m doing with it.

First up is the habit I struggle with the most: going to sleep.

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My Evening Routine (Including the Dance Party)

Last week, I posted about my morning routine and how it’s very practical and a little bit fun.

My evening routine is similar: it’s quite practical but also allows time for some relaxing and reflection.

Dinner time!

In my mind, the evening starts when we have dinner. I may have been working during the day or running around doing stuff, but around 17:00 or 17:30 I begin to wind down. If William’s been in daycare, I pick him up around 17:00. We get home, play for a bit, and then I warm up our dinner. William usually gets quite impatient at this point, trying to climb into his chair and protesting the lack of food. When the food is warm, we sit down to eat, which is usually around 18:00.

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My Morning Routine (Including the Family Cuddle)

I love morning and evening routines! I love the idea of starting the day and ending it in a special way.

I’d love to have an elaborate morning routine where I move my body, meditate, and journal, but it simply isn’t realistic right now. I usually sleep until William (my son) wakes up, and I value my sleep too much to wake up earlier than that.

Waking up + Family cuddle time!

Usually, I wake up when I hear William’s happy noises. He wakes up cheerful most of the time and makes sounds that are a bit like birds chirping. He only remains cheerful for a few minutes, however, so it’s not like I have forever. Therefore, once he’s awake, I get up, go to the bathroom, and drink a big glass with electrolytes (this helps me rehydrate; I feel light-headed in the morning, so the electrolytes help me feel better).

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My Monthly Review took me 12 minutes

When I talk about my Review System to others, people often ask, “Doesn’t it all take too long?”

In fact, it doesn’t. Setting up a new system for the first time may be an investment of time, but maintaining it is quick.

This morning, I did my Monthly Review for May. I timed myself, and it took me 12 minutes. Literally! I almost felt disappointed there was nothing more to do. I love the Monthly Review, and when the time comes for it (once a month, duh!), I want to savor it and enjoy it. But after 12 minutes, it was done.

What is the Monthly Review?

Ah, I’m so glad you asked. The Monthly Review is a periodic review of the past month and a preview of the upcoming month. I like to do this towards the end of each month. Here, I’ll be describing the Monthly Review for the end of May 2021.

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Identify the problem!

Is there a habit you just can’t seem to make stick? Or is there a task you just don’t tackle no matter what? It may be time to identify the problem!

When you’re struggling with a habit or a project, there is usually a very specific reason holding you back. You may try all kinds of approaches, but until you identify the concrete issue, you’re unlikely to resolve it.

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Try this: Make a possibilities list

Do you hate to-do lists? Do you feel suffocated by deadlines? Try this instead.

Different things work for different people. Over the past two weeks, I’ve been suggesting different strategies that may work for you. If the traditional strategies such as to-do lists, schedules, deadlines, and accountability buddies don’t work for you, then this may be just the right thing for you!

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Try this: External Accountability

In this series of blog posts, I’d like to invite you to figure out what works for you. The idea is to try different approaches and find what resonates the most with you.

This week’s suggestion is to use external accountability. This is when someone is waiting for you or relying on you to do something.

For some people, this is truly key: in order for them to do something, they must have external accountability. In Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies framework, these are the Obligers; namely, people who meet external expectations but resist internal ones. (You can take the free quiz here in order to determine your tendency.)

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Find what works for you! Try this: Daily intention-and-implementation setting

I get a slight gagging feeling when I read about “add these 5 habits to your morning routine to become extremely productive.” These may be great habits, but they’re not all necessities for everyone. In fact, in my workshop on priorities & productivity, I emphasize that different things work for different people. The best thing we can do is to try out different ideas, figure out what works for us, and implement that consistently.

There’s no point in trying to change ourselves. You may think that getting up early is a great idea, but if you’re an evening person, that may not be the best approach for you. Or you may think that it’s great to be able to follow your own to-do list, but if external accountability is what you need, you’d be wasting precious time trying to change yourself instead of doing what works for you.

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