I was thinking about my average weekday lately, in ideal form. It would look like this.
Wakeup – 5:00 AM. Early enough to wake up, move around, wash your teeth, without racing against the clock. Also, early enough to open your eyes to darkness and wake up with the sun.
Notice, too, that as long as it’s dark out, it’s easy to add more sleep, if you want it. I can never sleep in when the sun is streaming through the blinders, but at this hour, I can choose to snooze on.
Avoid the rush.
Remember that ‘late’ and ‘early’ are relative terms. Whenever you habitually wake up, that’s early for you.
The animal kingdom wakes up at 6AM. By 6:30, you can hear the birds chirping and everything moving around.
On this schedule, 8 AM is actually fairly late, despite our office hours. 3PM is over halfway through, so you don’t have to feel bad about feeling tired at 4 PM.
Meditation – 5:15 AM – 10 minutes. Short, functional. Enough to take the edge off the morning, nothing more.
Run – 5:30 AM – 1 hour. You’ll get to catch some of the sun’s effect, brightening the sky. However, you won’t get real sun, or sun damage.
Alternatively, lift weights. Take it easy; your muscles are still stiff.
The timing is important because you’ll get your pick-me-up when you need it, in the morning; conversely, you’ll get ‘pushed down’ into sleep at the other end of your waking period, at night.
The later you do this, the more that adrenaline rush will keep you up, and interfere with sleep. Since it also means your muscles won’t have time to relax and stretch out, you should be gentle, at the same time.
This way matches up with your circadian rhythms.
Shower/breakfast – 6:30-7:30. Cold shower. Oatmeal with fruit, some salad. No coffee; it’s fine for the body to wake up slowly, now that you’ve given it some runway by starting the day early.
Work – 8-5. Sketch out in your mind a powerful, productive day.
Somewhere in here, journal the events of the day before. This helps to ground that emotional energy, and clear your mind.
I’m noticing too that, unless you record the events of the previous day in a concerted, what-happened-exactly way, important information is lost. During the act of recollection, you’ll pull up crucial details that conscious review brings back to your attention.
Your diary is a way of extracting the full value of your experience, by ‘mining’ it and picking out the jewels. In fact, without that deliberate act of recollection, of writing down, I’d say that over half of the value of most experience is lost to memory. It makes a vast difference, like a memory super-supplement. So do it, quickly and without fuss.
At lunch, eat complex carbs, so they’re digested slowly. Brown rice + fish for maximum health.
Also, look at the sun when you leave, because it’s glorious. Appreciate it.
Artist’s rendering, not to scale.
Relaxation – 6-9. I try to minimize non-productive computer use, and anything electronic. I also try to go gradually into the dark with one or two soft lights, instead of leaving the daylight-simulating kind blazing.
Bed – 9 PM. Your eyes open to the light. When that goes out, you do, too.