Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Morning Person Project

chicago skyline at dawn
Originally uploaded by lusia bee
I am embarking on a project.

Maybe best explained as "an experiment" called The Morning Person Project. You see, I am not naturally a morning person. I do not spring fully formed from the head of Zeus, arrows drawn on the day. I rarely sleep past 8:30 but, traveling mornings barred, it's tough for me to mobilize in the AM.

But I've noticed for awhile that a lot of the most successful people I know are true morning people. My dad, for instance, has gotten up pre-dawn my entire life. By the time I tripped over the breakfast table, he'd organized his thoughts, read the news and gotten a jump on the day's communication. The head of my company even named his blog after this same tendency. The list goes on. They are at their most creative, most clear-headed in the early.

Now, circadian rhythms being what they are, I have figured out that I currently have three push points throughout the day. These are natural energy bursts and they seem to be when I am most productive. The first is around 9:30 in the morning, the second at 2 in the afternoon, the third at 6 in the evening. This leads to me working a bit later because I need the quiet time in the office to hear above the dull roar of my own internal conversations for writing and/or bigger strategy.

But what if there was a fourth? A fourth time for me to find peaceful productivity. Perhaps lose a pound or two in the process. That would be worth the experiment, I think. Two years ago I saw a trainer at 6am 3-4 times a week for two months. While the trainer part isn't in the cards now, it was interesting enough to merit movement and I found that I was in the office earlier and my "push periods" self-adjusted. I could meditate quietly while working out, come home, shower, check my feeds while my hair dried and then head to the office without any added doddering around due to delayed alertness.

Eventually I fell back into a later set of habits (sadly one that involved less sweat) but I look back at that and remember that it was fun. Fun to be awake first. Fun to have started with something so holistically good for me rather than something that just tasted good or sounded good.

I'm not foolish enough to think that I'll stop relishing the slow meandering mornings and quiet curled up nights but I think it's okay for me to look into other sources of joy lit up by fresh morning light. I had a great weekend with my mom in town, she being the eternal motivator, and I think I've thought about it enough.

My proposal? I have a gym that is less than 2 minutes walking from Wicked Park. I will tweet every morning when I get up early enough to go and would be happy to see I have morning company. I know it's not a lot but it's a start. I've set out workout ensembles for the week. Experiment begins tomorrow. Fingers crossed that I don't blow up the lab.

Any natural risers out there? Care to share your secrets?

I put together a new workout playlist in the comments over at NOLA 2010 so check that out if you too could use the motivation.


Shelley said...

I'll join you! I've been trying to get myself out of my non-exercising rut. I've also been feeling too lethargic and am pretty sure that has to do with the lack of excise.

I'm already a morning person and I like having my time to get ready in the morning. This will have me up at an ungodly hour but I think it's the way to go since I usually like to just relax when I come home from work.

I'll start Tuesday bc Monday is part of my actual weekend.

Good luck with this experiment!

Ben said...

I use to be a happy-go-lucky morning person until I met latt├ęs. Then I became a only happy-go-lucky immediately after consuming caffeine person.

Slimbo said...

Great playlist!

If I thought I could put myself to bed before midnight every night, I'd try the morning person thing too. As it stands, I'm still of the four-year-old mentality of staying up as long as possible. Also, I've found that when I work out in the morning, I am completely shot by 3PM. I need to try something, because working evenings are far too common and unpredictable to plan a real workout schedule.

Maybe I'll give it the old college try with you. A birthday resolution?

Kristen said...

I love this idea, because I think I have a very similar daily rhythm. But man, do I LOVE when I actually do get up early and get a jump on the day, whether that involves an early workout or just getting a jump on my workload.

I might not be up AS early as you each day, but I've been trying not to adjust to the time change, meaning that 6:30 is the new 7:30 for me. I'll tweet ya when I'm up, for sure!

erin said...

morning person through and through. totally support this! just know that i am not usually tweeting until post-am workout. generally half asleep until the first few sun salutations in my 6am yoga.

Doniree said...

I'm kind of inspired by this. I used to make it a point to get up early enough for coffee and breakfast at home, maybe even the front page of the paper or a few minutes with personal emails, etc. Now, I'm always about three minutes behind and I hate that feeling. I'm with you - maybe I'll try this tomorrow morning and get to yoga class early!

GreenSug said...

You can do it!! I was that crazy girl in college that was always up before 7:30 and now, my job requires me to be in the office by 6:30 so a 5:30 AM alarm means getting to sleep in a bit. >>>>can you say morning person?

Figure out what's daunting about the mornings-- is it picking out what to wear? Making coffee? Tasks for the day ahead? Especially in the winter I like to make coffee the night before to motivate myself. Join my club, but try not to be too ashamed when at 9:30 pm on Friday you're absolutely dead tired and falling alseep at a bar. Yep, it's happened to me...

nicoleantoinette said...

I've never been a morning person, and it has just gotten worse with my ridiculous insomnia lately. I'm headed to my parents' house in AZ today, for two weeks of rest and rejuvenation and getting back on schedule, so I will definitely work on joining you. Woo!

TKTC said...

Shelley- You kinda just hit it on the head. I've been lethargic but for small bursts and I think this is a good solution.

Ben- Ready for the crazy? I'm trying to stick to 3-4 cups of coffee per week. My Brita is working overtime because I'm getting my wake-up from lots of ice water. Eeep.

Slimbo- That playlist is ALL YOU. I think I can trace back almost every track. Any additions? Also, we have morning person somewhere in our bloodlines and I'm tired of working late when I could be working early. I'm sure I'll fight the snooze button this afternoon but eventually a pattern will emerge, so long as I get to bed by 11-ish. Would love the fraternal company :)

Kristen- I think earlier is a good enough goal. Whatever extends the personal part of the day, you know? And I check Twitter between cardio and weights so I'm excited for some virtual morning company :)

Erin- Not only am I impressed by your morning mentality but by your consistent, longstanding yoga practice. Bikram in WP doesn't offer a 6am but I'd like to try to revamp my own practice to alternate workouts. Was there a 6am at Nature?

Doniree- I think Erin is on to something with morning yoga... it's not called a sun salutation for nothing. I feel you on the constant feeling of behind. That was a lot of what started the project to begin with.

GreenSug- I am an unreliable Friday bon vivant as it is...I don't know how you manage to do it as much as you do! I'm trying to stay away from the coffee but I think there's something to be said for preparing a treat ahead of time to be had in the morning. I do well with carrots at the end of sticks. This morning was Greek yogurt with fresh raspberries and cold lemon water.

NicoleAntoinette: I figured out a long time ago that you actually have your own time zone. It requires far less sleep than the average individual for triple the energy for new projects, hiking, flirtations. adventures and writing. I can keep up while I'm in your solar system but I think I'd need stem cells to actually accomplish what you do in a day.

Maris said...

I used to be SUCH a good morning gymmer. The spin classes that I like are all at 6:15 am and I agree, there is something so gratifying about being up while the streets are quiet and getting something productive accmomplished.

Olivia Leigh said...

I was just thinking today how much more productive I am when I wake up (naturally) at 7:30 and immediately start working, as opposed to waking up at 7:30, quasi-napping for 45 minutes, then piddling around on my boyfriend's computer until 9 when I would then leave to drive him to work, which has been a fairly recurring pattern over the past several months. I did the 7:30 a.m. thing today and I feel that I really do accomplish more with those two extra hours than I do in 4 normal hours. That said, I absolutely cannot STAND working out in the morning--never have, never will. Rather I like working out around noon or very late at night--like 9 or 10, both of which are really difficult times to work out (and the latter rather ill-advised). I think it's important to listen to what your body wants and try to work with that. I always found that when I was trying to drag myself out of bed at 5:45 to work out, it would give me a little energy boost in the a.m., but by noon it was blantantly clear that my body needed a little more slumber. :)

savings said...

I've just recently forced myself to become an early bird-I get up at 6, work out (I have an elliptical… because I simply will not go to the gym due to laziness), shower, fix lunch and then sit down for about 20 minutes with my tea and breakfast. It's actually really delightful… and while I think having to wake early is evil, I really like having those few moments to myself in the morning, so I force myself to do it.

TKTC said...

Maris: I'm hoping to figure this out in the next few weeks but as much as there was a time that I love spin, I don't think I'm capable of that intensity so early. You get mad props for that one.

Olivia: This would be one of those times when I get jealous of your non 9-5 (or 7) schedule. I know for a fact you log some long hours but you're able to skirt the rushes AND go with your own rhythms. My personal favorite time to work out is between noon and four. I'm an afternoon lover. However, I'm not planning on open afternoons anytime soon, hence the morning person project.

Savings: That extra 20 minutes is what I'm talking about. 20 quality minutes of exercised, clean and awake before beginning the commute. 20 minutes of NPR, a cup of something warm and yogurt with fruit. That is a great 20 minutes.

Amanda @ Cakes and Ale said...

I'm definitely an early riser... but sometimes I would kill for that late afternoon / early evening productive energy boost... sadly, it never seems to materialize!

Tankboy said...

This will shock you, but I am an early riser! Usually up between 5:30 and 6, I put around for a little, do a little writing, let the dog out, make some coffee, head to the gym, and the into work. What's odd is that I'm up early despite the handful of late nights each week. If I can do it so can you!

No real secret to it, I just sort of fell into it years ago. If I had to credit the routine to anything though, it'd be the habit I built off working out in the morning before work.

TKTC said...

Amanda- I think it is traditionally one or the other but I'm being militant about going to bed so I can maximize. We shall see.

Tank- I think I knew that via Twitter! Beyond the Sparks, I'm not entirely sure how you DJ all night THEN work out but it is impressive nonetheless. That morning is the kind of morning I'm looking for so hopefully I can fall into that routine as well...


I love pop psychology that flatters its readers:

"Kanazawa & Perina (2009) have suggested that “more intelligent individuals are more likely to be nocturnal than less intelligent individuals.” They base their theory on the evolutionary principle that adopting “evolutionarily novel values and preferences” is a characteristic of more intelligent people. For example, prior to major technological advances, it made sense to move about during the day when a person could be most effective. The authors contend that unique behaviors, like running around in the dark when everyone else had the good sense to be asleep, required a higher level of cognitive complexity. Bringing the question to the present day, the authors were able to identify correlations between intelligence and waking time, with higher intelligence associated with slightly later waking time."

Oh, and as for sweating, Google "P90X." It's deathly.