EDIT: I just tried it. Unable to check a clock, I felt a real urgency to get things done. Very interesting idea.
My wakeup time is determined by a wriggly 2 year old alarm clock that comes in to the bedroom at roughly the same time every morning (~7am) shouting "WAKE UP MUMMY AND DADDY! WHERE'S MY MILK?" (we're working on the pleasantries). Last night my sleep time was determined by same said wriggly 2 year old alarm clock who has a horrible cough/cold combo disrupting her sleep (and ours) throughout most of the night.
I have to leave the office at a certain time in order to pick her up from nursery, no chance of running late or getting someone else to do it. That hard cut-off to the end of my working day is very motivating as I know I don't have any buffer to stay a bit later to finish off something I'd said I'd do by the end of the day.
I got in to the office this morning and within 2 minutes I was programming away where I'd left off the night before. The commute in (cycling usually, train sometimes) is where I do the majority of thinking and planning for the day ahead.
There's very little email where I work and I keep my distractions in check with willpower and Leechblock (not got long left to post this).
I definitely believe that I'm more productive in these 8 hours a day (9 if you include commuting) than I was in the days where I'd be 'working' for 12-14 hours.
1. There's my hour a day exercise too.
1. Habits have a trigger and a reward and you'll get nowhere unless you work within this fact.
Yesterday I had some success, I was trying to fix a dumb programming mistake and getting frustrated. Normally that would trigger my usual behaviour of running off to /r/funny or HN to get my little reward of amusement/knowledge. This time however I was mindful of the loop and said to myself that my reward would be the feeling of fixing it and having the tests pass. It worked. I got my head down, fixed the bug, and felt good about myself.
2. People who successfully adhere to a habit change routine, visualize and practice how to deal with "inflection points" upfront. Inflection points here are those tough spots where you are more vulnerable to regressing to your previous behaviour.
I've been having a bit of trouble lately sticking to my habit of getting up at 5am to work on my own stuff (open source and writing a book). Last night I thought about my alarm going off, feeling the cold outside the duvet and having an overwhelming desire to roll over and go back to sleep and visualized myself just getting straight out of bed. Sure enough, this morning my alarm went off and I was out of bed before I was even fully awake.
I think it's going well, however here I am procrastinating by writing a big post on HN, so YMMV :-)
At the moment I've gone through my morning websites, consumed everything I need to, replied to emails I need to, and now this is my second visit to HN ... so it times to make my work environment a clean slate, eliminate all distractions, and focus for a little while... perhaps I'm not awake enough for the focus required though either... |)