However, if you don't have an equivalent amount of discipline on at night to get enough rest, you will quickly burn yourself out. I did this routine for a lot of the second half of 2011, and since I'm a night owl by nature (going to bed at 12 midnight is 'earlyish' for me), the lack of sleep quickly caught up with me. My project was actually getting some traction though, so I basically spent about four months in a sleep-deprived haze and consuming about 400 mg of caffeine a day just to function.
So I guess what I'm trying to say is, if you're like me and you go to bed at 1AM, wake up at 9AM, and go into work at 10AM (a very common engineer schedule), then it's not just a case of setting of your alarm clock but really adjusting your lifestyle so you're not fundamentally sleep-depriving yourself.
A lot of this also depends on age, I suspect... I used to be a 1AM-type person in my 20s but as I've grown older, I find I naturally wake up at 7 AM or so anyway. By 11pm or so, I'm geting pretty useless. My sense is this happens to lots of folks as they get into their mid-30s, even if they don't have kids.
Is there evidence for this? I've heard it's true, and it seems to be from my personal experience, but I've never seen any kind of a study of it.
Studies [edit: PDFs]:
It adjusts the color temperature of your monitor as the sun goes down. As the sun sets, your monitor becomes more red/pink. It takes a little while to get used to it, but I absolutely cannot stand normal monitors at night time now. When I occasionally disable F.lux to watch a movie at night, I'm blinded by the bright blue glow.
You can use either lamp oil or kerosene in most of them, the lamp oil doesn't stink as bad (and if you get the "ultra pure" oil, there is hardly any smell at all). Also, last time I had a power outage I was able to keep the flame lit (on a pilot light height) through the night with hardly any oil used (and it made a nice night light -- don't know how safe it is though).
Anecdotally, when I initially switched to using f.lux on my desktop (reduces blue light levels at night) it's become a lot easier to drift off despite sitting in front of the screen until ~15 mins before bed.
If I take a melatonin I get the benefit of becoming inept at writing code by 10 and will be sound asleep before 11 and ready to wake up hours before I have to start my day.
I can definitely attest to the fact that my periods of greatest productivity tend to come in spurts as the book talks about (sprints of say 90 or so minutes of highly concentrated work) as opposed to being the result of long slogs of say 10 hours of coding, which tends to produce volumes of code, but not necessarily my best code.
Good book so far (http://www.amazon.com/Way-Were-Working-Isnt-Performance/dp/1...).
I consider myself night owl too, nowadays I fall asleep at around 1am. But I used to work in construction, getting up at 5:30am every day and just after couple weeks of this routine, I would fall asleep at 10:00pm - 10:30pm, usually while watching TV :)
My pre-army reserves carried me through the first 3 months, and then I would just uncontrollably crash for 20-30 minutes at lunch time. My eyesight deteriorated significantly (much improved after I started getting some sleep again, thankfully, but not as good as it used to be, unfortunately) and I'm sure my body was otherwise harmed, although I did have more waking hours than at any other time I can remember.
This is why you were able to fall asleep! If I get up early (~6am) in the morning, my body just doesn't seem to care -- I won't fall asleep (or even feel truly tired) until about 2am.
Unless I actually do something physically taxing during the day.
So although my sleep time was the same (I was still going to bed and waking up at the same time as before), by taking out my gym routine, I was actually feeling more tired, down and otherwise less alert. So I've been playing with alternating work/gym during the weekday mornings.
I've been living on the 1am to 6:30 express(o) train for the last 5 years, holding down a job too.
It can be done, but you have to let yourself give-in sometimes.
I hit a wall every three months or so and have one day where I crash at about 7:30 pm sleeping the whole night through. That's enough to recharge my batteries.
Did I mention I'm no spring chicken either...
As someone who cut sleep for years (6 hours was normal in twenties and much of thirties), I can attest that at some point, it becomes difficult to operate on less sleep. If all of your coping strategies involve putting in more time (essentially at the expense of sleep), when you can no longer cut the sleep, you may be in a bind when that is no longer the corner that can be cut. Though not always, that point in time often coincides with when your parental commitments are at their peek as well, and as a parent, you probably shouldn't cut that corner. So what then...
Something like the Pomodoro method helped me alot.
Or just be really rich.
Recently I've discovered that this mindset has been detrimental.
Sometimes hard work is supposed to be hard. If you rely on passion or some sort of intrinsic motivation, then as soon as you come to a task you don't want to do (i.e. the 90% of any project that doesn't involve coding) procrastination sets in. I worked mornings non-stop on my little side project for around 6 months last year and slowed right down as soon as all the 'fun' stuff was over.
Accepting that the work is sometimes going to suck is a) more realistic and b) more empowering. If you get used to short focused bursts of work you don't feel like doing, then there is quite literally nothing you can't achieve if you put your mind to it.
Then I realized that as an athlete I never would have wondered why it hurt when I got cramps late in a game. I never wondered why my body complained about running the last mile or completing the last rep in training. I never had any self-doubt because I got bored practicing a skill hundreds of times to unlearn a bad habit. Those things are not inconsistent or contradictory to the joy and satisfaction of being an athlete.
Thinking about that helps me a lot when the problem I'm working on is causing me only frustration instead of immediate gratification.
It's true that there's a variable amount of sucky work that comes up.
Over the years, I've discovered that some of the hardest but most rewarding kinds of work revolve around figuring out what causes sucky work and making that stuff disappear.
Many times, this is addressing deep, systematic problems inside an organization. These are often technical, but sometimes they're not.
Sometimes, though, it just comes down to coming up with cute hacks to automate paperwork and communication. And that kind of work of work is rewarding too, especially as you get more and more people to use your automation.
You're making a good point, _if_ we're talking about doing business in these hours (like trying to progress on your own little startup idea). If you just want to meddle with a small project, experiment with this $randomNewTech or improve your code for the fun of it, then this attitude of 'It should be fun' seems perfectly alright.
As an example I'm currently trying to deep-dive on Natural Language Processing. I'm a middling programmer but quite useless at Maths, so I know my weak points are going to be the stats used in NLP.
In this, I've picked up the most highly recommended university level NLP text I could find I'm putting in a couple of hours a week studying it. After about thirty minutes in, I begin losing focus and it starts becoming really easy to think of distractions or reasons why I shouldn't be doing it.
It's at times like that when it helps to realize that no, I should be doing this, I don't need to take a break, I should just power through. I'm not necessarily enjoying everything I do in these sessions, and it's definitely hard work in unfamiliar territory.
I've found that concentration is like a muscle, the more you train it, the harder and longer you can maintain it without taking a break. For me, expecting the work to be fun sets me up to give in as soon as I start losing focus.
Interestingly, after going at work 100% for hours at a time, I actually feel way better than I do than after a half-arsed attempt at productivity. Usually I've created or learned something, and I don't have that guilty feeling that I could have got more done today.
The bottom line is you have to find what is sustainable in the long run. Regardless of how early or late you wake up the key is coming up with a consistant schedule that maximizes your productivity. Only you can figure out what the schedule is. It's certainly great to try new things and see what ends up working for you. Good luck.
You can't do this if you're not willing to go to bed early and eat well, too, though. And if you're still drinking alcohol during the week ... well, you have too much free time :-) I find a heavy workout at lunch time keeps me going after lunch.
What amazed me most about the OP was he updates his todos ... while watching TV? And squeezes his reading time for that? How do you find time to cook healthy food? See friends? Spend quality time with the girlfriend? Watching TV isn't inherently bad, but if you're doing it regularly, you've got waaay too much free time.
That is why so many sleep scientists suggest naps is because they have proven that naps are beneficial to mental fatigue.
Also, this infographic about naps is great: http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/naps/
So, I listened to them, and for 9 months I consumed no stimulants at all. After 9 months of this experiment, I was -- and I know the story isn't supposed to work this way, but it did -- consistently groggier and crankier than I had ever been before. So I went back to caffeine and have had no second thoughts about it since.
Go see an endocrinologist, stat! Your quality of life, and even longevity, could be at serious peril.
This is because, historically, our main predators were nocturnal, while we hunted almost exclusively in the two twilights (we have substantially better twilight vision than virtually any animal). So when the wolves came at 3 AM we'd be at our most energetic and when it's relatively safe (3 PM in daylight year round), we'd be taking a ciesta.
If your body is off hormonally, grogginess throughout the day is a primary sign. When my body was substantially off from ages 18-24, I actually became completely nocturnal, just because 12-5 AM were the only times I felt anywhere near energetic.
(I've always wondered why waking up at 6 AM was so much easier than waking up at 8 AM. It was baffling.)
But I agree with your premise that maximum productivity is achieved when one finds his/her best schedule and sticks to it.
I'd say the big advantage of 5am is that nobody's there to bother you, but you could probably pull off the same 2 hours of personal work / day if you were to work after 6pm.
To think he did this in the 1700s. So far ahead of his time.
You could solve the girlfriend + music issue with a nice set of closed-stage headphones. I love my AKGs. But I'd actually A/B test with and without headphones - without the distraction of office noise, no headphones/music might actually be helping you focus as well. I find that even with a solid, no-thought, tried and true playlist of entirely ambient (or even classical) music, I still find music causing my mind to wander from time to time.
I might have to try to sell the girlfriend on this idea soon.
The one thing I've added is a nice room air filter and run it on low. The quiet white noise from the fan provides a smooth background.
My inspiration was Gene Wolfe, who wrote _The Book of the New Sun_ in the wee hours, and held down a day job as a technical magazine editor. [I'm not claiming my code is anywhere near as great as the wonderful writing that Wolfe did, but the early hours are definitely some of my most creative time]
A few rules I have:
- No email. This just starts the whole stress machine going. I'd rather not have /any/ human contact, and if something's fallen off and broken in the last eight hours, it can wait another two or three.
- No Reddit or other black-hole-of-surfing sites (though I do check HN -- this may change if HN becomes too Reddit-like).
- Coffee is ready to go (set up the prior evening).
Wow. That's really interesting. I was actually going to give this a try because of Robert Pirsig, who wrote Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Here's how he did it:
In a 1974 interview with National Public Radio, Pirsig stated that the book took him four years to write. During two of these years, Pirsig continued working at his job of writing computer manuals. This caused him to fall into an unorthodox schedule, waking up very early and writing Zen from 2 a.m. until 6 a.m., then eating and going to his day job. 
Funny he also writes technical literature (computer manuals versus technical magazine editor).
> the early hours are definitely some of my most creative time
This is something I've noticed too. When writing (usually essays, but sometimes code), I'm almost always more productive very late night/early morning. I don't know of any reasons (other than the obvious: you're not being distracted), nor do I know of any studies. Are there any out there?
I had to be up before 6am anyway to get in before the markets opened. We could leave shortly after the markets closed though so I did most of my work time in the evenings from 6pm to 10pm, sometimes later. And then on the weekends (probably another 12 to 20 hours).
I think the important points are:
1. Enjoy the work. If you do then you don't feel like it is work, rather a hobby.
2. Make the most of your 'day job' time. I would squeeze in gym whenever things were quiet. I would answer emails on the toilet. I would read the Financial Times and then sneak in Tech Crunch (I was trading TMT so I argued it was important to view trends).
3. Stay disciplined. A lot of the time I would get excited and stay up later. Rolling out of bed at 5:30am to get into work after being up since 1am does not feel great. You can do it once during a week, but twice and you really do become a zombie for the rest of the week until you get the time back.
I did this for two years until I managed to get some funding to take it full time. It was super tough, especially for my girlfriend. But I loved it because I believed we were building a project that would change the world. Whenever I felt down I just watched SJ's Standford speech and it would pick me up.
"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle."
In order to make getting up at 5 livable, we're asleep by 10pm. We were both night people once upon a time, but I really don't feel like I miss it.
The reason why surgery is scheduled so early in the morning is
because you will need to have an empty stomach for about 6-8 hours
before your procedure. This ensures that your stomach is empty of
any contents for general anesthesia. This way, if you get nauseated
after surgery, you can try to throw up, but nothing will come out.
With no stomach contents, you will not accidentally swallow stuff into
your windpipe, or lungs.
Second, they don't start operating at 5. They actually couldn't--the non-M.D. staff (nurses and techs) work on "normal" shifts, so there's only a minimal overnight crew (present to handle emergencies that cannot wait until morning) at that time. Surgeries actually start around 7:30-8:00 typically, but the team needs to round on the patients under their care and discuss what's slated for the day before they go into the OR. Since that takes a couple hours, they start at 5.
My 2 cents:
Make sure you have something good (preferably healthy) to eat readily available when you get up. It should be something that does not require more than 10 min of preparation. Otherwise things tend to get a bit boring.
If you happen to wake before sunrise. Take mini walk in you garden or backyard and catch those 10 - 15 minutes of sunrise. It will absolutely super charge you for rest of the day.
EDIT: Let's admit that we all have a small nest at home specifically for work or related activities. Move this nest out of your bedroom. Keep your laptops, iPads, PCs or any such devices out of your bedroom. Switch off your phones during nights and do not switch them back on until after your morning sessions.
(PS. My uncle is a neurologist and he tells me that for people who work during day and rest during nights, certain hormones are secreted in the mornings that help us in staying fresh and awake. The catch is that they are only secreted if you wake before or around sun rise time.)
I suppose I understand what you're trying to say, but the idea of watching a Pacific Coast sunrise from Califonia (while not in an airplane or other fast-moving vehicle) breaks my mind a little. But your comment also made me realize I'd lived within a half hour drive of the Pacific Ocean for most of my life yet have no clear idea what a beach sunrise would be like. I need to add that to a list.
It is looking like I might become a 6AM coder soon. Seeing that my day starts at 8AM.
I had thought about getting up this early, but I just didn't think I could make it through the day with my semi-low energy levels.
However, I am thinking if I get up at 6AM, I can nap when my son naps for 30-40. As I read another post on HN that it actually is great to take these short duration naps.
Send me an email or some contact info for you (my email is in my profile). I was randomly looking at some of your comment / post history on YC and we are in a somewhat similar situation. I'd like to help you. :)
If anyone's interested in helping out (I'd say we're most in need of someone with good web design skills, though will update later once we've fleshed it out some), feel free to contact me at [my HN user name] at gmail
EDIT: An iphone app that let's people call and text each other as their profile name (anonymously) would probably lower the barrier to sign up for something like this.
Kanban is a process where you divide your work into stories, and place them on a visual board. You pull stories across the board into different columns as the story progresses. Typical columns are "ready to pull" (first column, this story is ready to begin work), "in progress", "in test", "complete". The idea is to focus on getting cards across the entire board, and having few cards in flight at a time. This is generally believed to increase productivity by avoiding the urge to multitask too much. It can also reveal bottlenecks in your team's process and generally is good at visualizing how your team gets things done. Which can be eye opening.
Since I'm all by myself, my kanban board is really just a fancy todo list. I am using http://www.agilezen.com for my board. Trello is a more well known app along these lines, but purists disagree that Trello truly accomplishes Kanban because it's missing a few key Kanban concepts (whether that really matters is up for debate).
Have a look over at JoelOnSoftware (?? Or was it the Fog Creek Site?)
They have a free online version of something similar that they are trying to hit the big time with. I forget what it is called though.
Here is the Wikipedia article talking about Kanban as an agile process: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kanban_(development)
It takes me a few hours every Sunday and Friday to get in the mood of 'this project is going to kick ass'.
Just seems like a weird reason to not release code you intended to be open source.
How about waking up early to exercise?
Truthfully, I do run on Thursday mornings instead of code because that day I have lunch commitments (I run at lunch the rest of the week). I plan to try mixing in more morning running with the coding, see how that changes things too.
the days i do this (as opposed to the couple days per week i sleep in later to take my son to school) i'm far more productive and content than the other days.
i sleep in on the weekends, but never sleep more than 7.5 or 8 hours anymore. i can wake at 5am without an alarm, though i usually set it as a backup. but i'm almost always awake at 4:57 anyway, so i get up.
I could motivate myself to get up if I were working on my own projects. I'll have to try this.
If I woke up at 5am, I would bHORNe consHORNtaHORNntly distrubeHORNNNNNNNNd.
Agreed, noise pollution is horrific. I don't have a problem at all with new york's latest "fine for honking" tariff: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/25/nyc-taxi-drivers-to...
There is just something about an 18 wheeler's honk that is next to impossible to cancel out, unfortunately. It literally rumbles the ground beneath my feet.
I'm a modern day Beethoven.
Thanks for sharing. I did the same for several months, I would call each session a mini iteration. And I kept a kanban board on my moleskine...which is imperative. I had times where other things would take precedence and I would stay away from my project for several days but due to my physical kanban I could easily pick up where i left off.
What I did different is this: at each iteration i would set a goal that I new I could accomplish within the mini-iteration (1-2 hours, sometimes a little more). Then at the end I would check off my accomplishments and would quickly "trim my backlog" and create a list of "NEXT:" for the next time. Then the next time I sat down I would review this list and adjust it as necessary and begin.
I found that have a physical notebook was beneficial because at the first sign of discouragement I could easily look back and see where I was just a few weeks ago or a few months ago. And nothing feels better than marking something complete. My lists are segmented by each iteration by day and have three categories: DONE, TODO, NEXT. it worked great for me.
Though I never delivered my product it was a great talking tool at an interview that led me to a job with a 30% pay increase. And I'm ok with this.
First, I am 42, married with 1 kid, so that may explain some of it. ;)
1) Coffee maker on autobrew, but not immediately upon waking. Give yourself and your stomach time to wake up.
2) Eat and/or drink something easy upon waking. I go for the MixOne protein shakes, or OJ.
3) A clear goal of what to accomplish that morning.
4) Get enough sleep or you will burn out and have to stop for a time period of recovery. I go to sleep or rather, my body & mind collapse, at 9PM. Asleep by 9:30. I am able to get 7-8 hours of sleep every night. More than plenty.
5) Don't use anything with a screen (except maybe an e-ink Kindle) before bed. Reading helps me to get right to sleep.
Due to having a kid in preschool, I generally am limited to 1-1.5 hours in the morning. Which is just enough time to do one task and very little else, hence the need to focus on something.
On the other hand, I do get up just as early on the weekends, and it's probably my most productive time of the entire week, up until my kids get up.
So you spend 15 hours a week, or 70 hours a month commuting?
Maybe you should move closer to work? Or work from home a few days a week if your job allows. I have a 5 minutes each way commute. I don't understand the voluntary 1.5 hour commute.
I'm at the office by 0700 and I leave sometime after 1700. My work situation deviates significantly from a programmer's "standard" in a lot of respects, unfortunately. I do get paid for overtime at least, but I'm beginning to question whether it's worth it.
I'd be living in SJ, but I just bought a house out here so there's some legwork to be done.
- Hang w/family from the time I got home until their bedtime, roughly 9:30 PM.
- 2 hours of work, then 30-45 min of useless TV (Family Guy or TAR)
- About 5 hours of sleep
- Another 2 hours of work before hopping on the train
Somehow I kept this up for over a year, though it has to be said that I curtailed the workload to just 2 hours a day (and a bit more sleep) over the weekend to spend more time w/the family.
I think that's the only real guidance here - as long as you can budget adequate time to recharge the batteries, then you can keep this up for the long haul. For me, hanging with the family kept me fresh, kept me sane.
You put your best and most creative energy into your own project.
Instead of whatever you have left in the tank after a long day of work and then doing home stuff and then finally settling in.
Getting out of bed isn't a problem when I'm so excited to work on something and I know what exactly I need to do -- I make a list before I go to bed.
Lack of distraction plus a full head of steam and energy is a great combination.
I try to do this as much as possible because it's so rewarding. Breaking the cycle with a late night or the weekend seems to be my main obstacle, I'm thinking of waking early 7 days a week and becoming like my old man, lol.
Will work/job suffer? Our work/job often needs our attention to detail more than our best and most creative effort every day.
I find it difficult to get to sleep often lying awake for up to 5 hours before falling asleep. As I am a freelancer I then tend to make up for it by sleeping in late (as I don't have a job to go to).
I have recently been following a schedule of sleeping 2 nights and then staying up 1 night. This night without sleep I use for work and it also helps fix my problem of getting to sleep for the next 2 nights. I find that I am extremely productive working through the night and gain in productivity by falling asleep more quickly and getting up earlier the other 2 days.
My experience was that it isn't sustainable, the day after you stay up all night just gets worse and worse the longer you are on that schedule. After a short time, for me, that day was so unproductive that it more than destroyed any gains made in those extra hours or the encouraging "reset" to my ability to sleep at regular hours.
I have to admit that the early night and long sleep after that day was the best sleep I could get at the time.
The rest of it was pretty shitty, I slept like a dead person and woke groggy. Good sleep habits and a regular schedule have a domino effect, improving all sorts of stuff, definitely worth trying to stay off that sleep 2, stay up for 1 cycle in my experience.
- Managing the sleep schedule. (Getting to bed to get up early)
- Managing the work schedule. (Kanban system)
I have no idea what his product is, but it's hard to imagine that he won't be successful over the long term with habits like this.
I agree the few times I've been up early to code (even to catch up on some work) its been good, felt like I got extra hours to the day (well, I guess I did!) even before I officially started.
I think then after 5pm going to the gym or relaxing can be a good choice because I've already done my 2 hours on my side project.
It does get exhausting doing extra work after 5pm (after you've taken a break, eaten, done other things etc) so I like the idea of doing it early.
I may wake up even earlier to get to gym in the morning, as I liked that too.
I definitely waste several hours at night just messing around, avoiding going to sleep, which would be better spent being asleep so I can get up early.
I've done this for the last four years and it really works well for me. It gives me the option to work on my personnel projects on my off day (Friday for me). It also forces you to wake up early and the morning always seems productive. The best part is you can be flexible with that time, like on some weeks maybe you take a long trip or family/friend time.
It won't make the day longer. Each hour you wake up earlier you will also probably go to sleep earlier. Of course you could also sleep less, but also in that case IMHO it doesn't make a large difference whether you add those extra hours to your night or to your morning.
Some might argue, that morning hours are more productive. But for me that is only true if I have slept well and long enough and it also implies that whatever you do in the evening will suffer by starting your day earlier.
All of that aside, the bigger problem is that other things pop up during the course of the day to steal your energy and time. If you have something scheduled at the beginning of the day, they can't eat away at it. If you schedule it anywhere later in the day, it becomes the "stub" for whatever else happened that day.
One of the pieces of advice they give folks who want to save more money is to "pay themselves first" - save some money from your paycheck _before_ allocating to other things you want to spend on, especially anything discretionary. This is the opposite of what we normally do, which is "save" whatever is left over after our spending. I think folks who set up a morning routine for work or gym are basically paying themselves first in terms of time commitment.
After working 9 hours at a full time job, a 45 minute commute home, helping make dinner for the family, cleaning up, playing with the kids, getting them cleaned up for bed, reading with them, putting them to bed, cleaning up the house a little bit, its 9pm.
All I wanted to do is spend a little quiet time with my wife, any motivation to work on personal projects, which may have been fairly strong during the drive home, is now gone, and all I really want to do is spend quiet time with my wife before we had to go to sleep.
So, it had nothing to do with making the day longer, and it had everything to do with the reality that by the time I actually got to the point where I could work on something, it was the least important thing in my life.
I'm a bit more tired in the evenings and go to bed a bit earlier than I used to, but seeing as how I would just waste time in the evenings playing Jetpack Joyride, it's a very good trade to make.
I bought a coffee machine that has coffee waiting for me at 5am, and I also use the Sleep Cycle app which at the very least provides a placebo for making me wake up more alert. ;)
The one problem is crowding--if there are too many people, you might not get a seat or otherwise be uncomfortable. I avoid this problem by travelling at off-peak times, but this may not be an option. You should try it out and see how it goes.
It was incredibly productive. As the author say the cost of those two hours keep you focused (you know you are making that extra effort, so distraction isn't an option.)
There is one downside. I really need to be asleep by 9:30 (I actually wake up at 4:30). This is difficult to do when I meet up with friends. For example, this week I have two meetups planned - both of which will probably cause me to get home past 10:30 which means I am more likely lie in the next morning. ...and I agree with the OP - it is much easier to keep a schedule like this if you do it every day.
I found it to be highly beneficial for several reasons (some of which were mentioned in the blog post):
-since I am usually exhausted by the end of the day, I found the early time to be really conducive to clear thinking
-early part of the day is so quiet-- no interruptions
-I felt like I accomplished quite a bit even before arriving at work, so I somehow felt more productive even though I should have been more tired
I intentionally did not keep up the early time on the weekends and slept in-- btw, 8am felt like sleeping in :)
Since the class finished, I kept up the habit and wake up early to code or read.
I admit it isn't for everyone, but it is worth a try for anyone who wants to code after work but feels too tired or easily distracted.
That said, the particular issues I faced were external to my early-morning work strategy, and on a level playing field it is a wonderful way to do some of your best work.
I usually work from 11pm to 1am on personal projects.
This hasn’t been as unpleasant as I thought it would be and I’ve noticed that the morning session ‘feels’ like it is evening time. Several of my team mates have made the same comment.
I’m guessing this is due to an association in the brain (several years reinforcement) between the activity (football training) and the time of day.
Compare my current schedule, which has me going to bed around 2AM most nights—even if I go to bed at 5 AM on Friday, that's only 3 hours off from my usual schedule, so it's much easier to recover by Monday.
After I read it I tried it for a while, and it worked, I had to stop because then I was also a student and I was also working full time + I also had allocated gf time.
I will try it again, I hope I can get more things done in this way.
P.S. Thank you for/for posting the article!
I just arrive at work a half hour before I "should" be there. That's when I do a little code kata or read HN. Then I grab a coffee and it's work time. After work I go to the gym and coming home from that I find I have enough energy to put in another hour or two on my side projects.
However, having kids might change that and make 5am more sensible... you might at least get an hour before they're up and you have to get them ready for school.
I wrote about this on my blog "Daily Routine of a 4 Hour Programmer" http://www.jayonsoftware.com/home/2012/1/9/daily-routine-of-... if any one is interested.
Everything about the benefits is true, and since I'm not forcing myself to do it, I have almost none of the side-effects. The biggest problem with it is that it's incompatible dancing in clubs.
Otherwise it's going to be pretty damn lonely, since you'll be in bed by 10 pm when most socializing starts.
You can't go to the movies, go to a bar, go dancing, go on a date, or even watch a grown ups movie on tv.
For example, if I tried this, I would have to go to bed at around 7:30pm at night. For a number of reasons (including eating dinner at 6pm), this is completely infeasible. A shame too, since a few hours of uninterrupted time would be great.
Glad to see more early risers!
For me 1-2 hours of a fresh-brained morning work is much more productive than working whole night. I usually sleep between 11:30 and 06:30.
In general it depends on personality, some enjoy working at night and vice-versa.
Anybody know if a GPL versus "we own everything you do" situation has arisen yet in the courts?
I guess its high time to just make a start. Thank you for the blog.
I'd wake up a 3 am every morning (except Sunday) and write until about 6 am, which is when I got ready for my 7 am shift.
I agree with the author that being super-motivated was key and I had already invested several years research and writing the book. I was becoming worried the book would never get done.
I was also able to avoid cognitive burnout because my day job was at a metal foundry and consisted of mostly repetitive work.
One drawback was I was completely zonked by late afternoon, and had no social life, but I still tried to eek out something for the book before bed (which was sometime between 8-9 pm if I remember correctly).
Afterthought: I can't wake up so early now. Lack of sleep gives me a short temper. Something to consider.