Tweaking my Daily Routine

Working from home for me has been an interesting test of some of my beliefs about how I like to get things done, how much of an introvert I am (very much), and what an optimal schedule stripped of things like a commute, errands and activities might look like. Obviously this won’t be “normal” forever, but I do believe there’s a strong possibility this carries for many months to come.

I’ve been coasting by so far on a fairly busy schedule with some structure, but I’m the sort of person who really thrives in a world that has as much clarity as possible. That’s only amplified when you have 2 school-age children and a puppy at home during the work day, only a few feet and one meltdown away from barging into your office at any moment.

I was thinking recently about how my daily routine has changed lately when I came across this post from Shawn Blanc about how he’s started getting up at 6am to write before starting his work day.

Michelle and I had been alternating days to wake up early with the kids and the dog, allowing the other person to sleep in. Sleeping in feels great, but it also has had a unfortunate but predictable side effect: I’ve been staying up later and later playing video games and generally screwing around. This has been fun – I’ve enjoyed playing with friends and having some decompression time at the end of the day. However, I’ve quickly gotten to the point where I’m heading to bed much later than I’d like. This means sleep-in days have helped me stay afloat at a minimum. Instead of getting ahead on my sleep, I’m running up a debt every night and barely paying it down a few days a week.

This also has the unfortunate side effect of making my days chaotic yet again. Because I need to sleep in to just feel refreshed, it means I have very little margin in my morning before meetings begin to do anything other than take a quick shower and head down to join a Zoom call. I didn’t like the way this made me feel, and decided I needed to evaluate how to leverage the benefits of staying at home better.

This week, I tried to make a small modification to my day, similar to what Shawn speaks about in his article. I’m now setting an alarm at 6:30 and getting up every day at that time. I’m able to read, write, and make coffee before the kids even wake up – starving for breakfast, video games, and whatever other chaos they can cause. I can ease into my workday as well – doing a daily review in Things, scanning Slack, Jira and my email before things really get going.

This small change has already made a huge difference in my mood as my days start out way less chaotic than they had previously. I never thought I’d enjoy working remotely but I’ve already decided that my next job, whenever that is, will need to be fully distributed. Going back to a commute, loud offices and those hectic mornings is going to be a rude awakening whenever “normal” happens again.

Ok, now what?

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