A few months ago I read an article about adding a reward into your morning routine so that work isn’t the only thing you wake up for. It’d likely involve waking up earlier, of course, but the idea is that the benefit of a better morning is worth going to bed earlier or getting a little bit less sleep.
I tried waking up earlier to exercise last spring. Exercise isn’t exactly a “reward” in the traditional sense, but I did enjoy the feeling of having done something good for myself, especially so early in the day. Unfortunately I didn’t stick with it, mostly because I never made it a habit. I’d do it one day but not the next, and some weeks not at all.
When I returned to Qatar in September I decided to make waking up earlier a daily habit, and instead of exercising I decided to work on programming. It’s a habit I’ve been keeping up every weekday for the past five months. Here’s what it looks like:
- 4:00 a.m. Wake up, shower, get dressed
- 4:15 a.m. Make tea, set up computer and other materials
- 4:20 a.m. Begin programming
- 5:00 a.m. Finish programming and continue with normal routine
I’m now able to carve out an extra 200 minutes of learning every week (which has worked out to an additional 70+ hours over the past five months). It’s not a ton of time, but it’s had a clear impact on my learning, especially because the habit guarantees that I never go longer than a weekend without working on programming.