A bit of a detour from technical content, but I think this affects many technical people.
This weekend I was reading some of Steve Pavlina’s ‘Personal Development for Smart People’ blog (not that I am a smart person ;-)). Of particular note was his ‘How to become an early riser’ post – apparently he gets a lot of hits on it, so I guess it strikes a cord with many people.
His recommendations are pretty straight forward, get up at a fixed time every day and go to sleep when you are tired. This is something that anyone can do if they want. In fact we all do it every day by getting up in time to arrive at work on time.
I think the reason his method is successful is because it is used by people who want to get up earlier. The very fact that you’re reading that post takes you at least 50% of the way to achieving it.
Anyway, in practice it sounds great – set a fixed time to get up and then be reactive at the other end of the day (i.e. vary the time you go to sleep), obviously over the first few days you’ll adjust your sleep time until you get to a sustainable balance. BUT BUT BUT I don’t think this works if you are a ‘midnight coder’
If you’re anything like me, this works some of the time, but is fundamentally flawed, in that I find it easy to get focus (into the zone) and when I’m there that’s it…
A trivial thing like needing sleep will not budge me, I’ll finish when I finish, when I’ve planned that project, written that document, coded this section, completed this test, finished designing this x, y or z.
The result of this is that I finish at 3:30am, it suddenly hits me that I am wasted, I go to sleep and the last think I want or need is to get up at 5am, no way! My snooze button is going to earn it’s money today. I am getting up at the last possible second (that still allows me to get to work on time).
The answer – I don’t really have one. The best I can come up with is a flexible day, sometimes I’ll need it to be 24 hours, sometimes 28 hours, sometimes more.
I need a good 8 hours of sleep, I need a good 8-11 hours at work, I need an evening with my better half and I need 0 – ∞ hours for my other stuff.
So, while I’m waiting for the rotational speed of the earth to slow by a variable amount (as chosen daily by my good self), I guess I just have to put up with choosing between being an early riser or doing stuff in the evenings – can’t have it both ways !!