My alarm went off this morning at 3:45 AM. I didn't hit snooze. I got out of bed and was in the shower two minutes later. I made the bed, double-checked the drawers, and completed my perimeter check of the bedroom and bathroom. I was in my coat and boots and standing at the front door by 4:17.
This has nothing to do with "being a morning person" or "being used to it." In fact, I seriously considered staying up all night rather than having to wake myself up.
I did it for money.
I needed to get to the airport. I'm flying on reward miles, and the 5:50 AM flight was A QUARTER the price in points of all the later flights. I calculated when I would have to wake up, and asked myself, Can I wake up in the middle of the night for two hundred dollars? That question answers itself.
Everyone wakes up early for money, though, when you think about it.
You know who woke up before me? The Lyft driver. The airport security guards. The ticket agents. The pilots. The flight attendants. The baggage handlers. The TSA agents, alas. The cooks at all the restaurants that were already open for business. The hundreds of other passengers, including an extremely fuzzy puppy. I'm exhausted, sure, but I have no more cause for complaint about it than anyone else. All of us, shampoo-scented, trying to smile and stay out of each other's way as we go about our business.
I got up and ran my morning routine with military precision because I had that vision of the nice green Benjamins in mind. Also, I did not want the consequences of being late and missing my ride. I've been flying for 35 years and never missed a flight yet. See, though? This is just a family vacation for me. Most people who are getting up for work have a lot more on the line than a couple hundred bucks, and the drawback of being late could be getting fired. Logically, the motivation of someone who is preparing for an ordinary workday should be much stronger than mine today.
What I did to get ready to catch a cab 35 minutes after waking up was to use systems. I had my suitcase packed and waiting by the front door before I went to bed. I had my clothes laid out. I had all but two of my charging cables wound up and zipped in. All I had to do was to shower, get dressed, spend 45 seconds making the bed, and carry my shower kit downstairs. I knew how long I would need because I like to play games with the stopwatch on my phone. Normally, it takes me 40 minutes to get ready, but I knew I wouldn't be eating breakfast before I left. I could trust that when I went to sleep, all was in order, and I'd be okay as long as I didn't fall asleep in the shower.
Sleep deprivation hurts. I look ten years older than I did yesterday. I feel like my bones are grinding together and that I left my eyeballs in a casino overnight. I slept for about five hours. It has not escaped me that I used to go to work like this most days of the week. I wonder why I ever did that to myself. Once you start sleeping eight or nine hours a night, anything less feels like self-harm. Why on earth would anyone voluntarily stay up late, knowing how awful the next morning will feel? It's like walking around slapping yourself.
Mornings are common disasters. So many people, especially people with young kids, get up and trudge into a storm of chaos. There may be tears before 8 AM. Hit snooze one too many times. Run out of something important like cereal or toilet paper. Can't find a shoe. Permission slips need signing. Homework isn't done. It's like a full day's work before the workday, with the weight of all the errands and chores hanging over your head the minute you get home. Honestly, solitary confinement sounds like a vacation compared to a morning like that. Why do we do it to ourselves?
All it really takes is about 15 minutes before bed. Check the weather report and lay out something you'll be excited to wear. Get everyone's bags ready. Write out a to-do list and shopping list. Boom, done.
A peaceful morning routine is a gift. It's a gift to yourself and to everyone around you. A streamlined morning is what billionaires and celebrities do every day. You know, what would you do if you won a million dollars? Waking up to an alarm, exhausted, and trying to rush out the door for a commute would NOT be on that list. Everyone gets the same 24 hours a day. We try to make the day longer by cutting off one end and tying it on the other. If I stay up late, I can pretend I'm getting an extra hour, two hours, three hours to myself. My private time. My high quality leisure. We forget that we're stealing it from Future Self. We don't realize that it's a false choice. We can set up an easier morning and still do whatever else it is that we do late at night. All it takes is a little self-compassion and a reminder that we are, in fact, getting paid for this.
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I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.