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My low-paying, early-morning, exertion-requiring job (medium.com)
285 points by markhall on Apr 4, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 150 comments

"Optimizing for 6 hours of sleep"

"every day, getting out of bed is one of the hardest things I do"

"Every night, when I crawl into bed, I’m exhausted by all I’ve done that day."

Your body may be telling you that you need seven hours of sleep. Or eight.

How would your life change if you went to sleep an hour earlier, but you woke up feeling good?

I've actually experimented a fair amount with my sleeping patterns. For the most part, I find that when I wake up in the morning, I feel tired no matter what (up until around ~10 hours of sleep). What I've also found, however, is that this tiredness usually doesn't translate to how I feel for the rest of the day — I feel good all day no matter whether I get 6 or 8 hours.

Stop drinking coffee. About 7 years ago I cut out all caffeine and I've found myself being less tired and more alert in the morning. Granted there are days where I don't want to drag myself out of bed mainly when I know I need sleep, but I no longer feel like a zombie until coffee in the mornings.

I actually only drink ~2 cups of coffee a week (one of which I'm just finishing right now at Awaken :).

If I had access to free coffee every morning I would grab 2 cups every morning. :-)

I do get what you're doing here. By making an external commitment to people, you simultaneously get up on time to meet your commitment, feel better about meeting it, and get a little exercise. And $35 a week can pay for a round trip ticket to Hawaii at the end of the year.

Maybe the quality of your sleep is the issue?

EDIT: OK, a lot of people talking about that below.

I felt the same way until I was diagnosed with sleep apnea, even though I don't have any of the usual symptoms such as snoring, obesity, etc.

I was diagnosed with sleep apnea during college, while I was my fittest. Running every day, lifting weights, etc. I felt great, besides the fact that I couldn't get myself out of bed.

I still haven't started using a CPAP machine, as I have developed other coping methods (sleeping on one side helps dramatically). I have considered doing another sleep study though, to get some more information and start with a CPAP machine for backup.

I suggest you might want to study up the long term detrimental effects of sleep apnea. I had no idea.

How was the diagnosis made? Did you have to sleep in a clinic, or at home wearing some analyzer machine?

In the US, diagnosis is made in a one-night sleep clinic with an EKG and an adjustable CPAP. If you do this, make sure to tell the technician that if you register apneation, you would like a CPAP titration calibration done immediately. This saves you (a) another bad night's sleep in the clinic and (b) insurance hassles.

Then you go back to your doctor, discuss your need for a CPAP or APAP machine right now, and possible longer-term treatments.

Depending on insurance specifics, it may be much cheaper to buy a CPAP from an online source than via a full-service insurance-covered medical equipment company. Saving 50-75% is not unusual.

I had a sleep study done. Initially, it was done as response to high concentration of hemoglobin and low testosterone. I had been really tired for so long I didn't even realize how bad it was until I had my first night of sleep using a CPAP. The only way I could cope would be to drink caffeine continuously at work just to be able to focus, even sitting while at work was too much, I just wanted to lay down.

For diagnosis you need to go to a hospital that does sleep studies. They will hook you up with a sleep apnea machine and sensors and they will monitor your sleep overnight.

I was diagnosed with sleep apnea at around 20, which is rare for a young, healthy person. In my case I think it's just genetic because my dad has it. But I figured out something was wrong because I would sleep 10-12 hours and still wake up feeling exhausted. I wore the CPAP machine for a few years and that helped, but now I don't think I need it anymore. I sleep about 7 hours without it and feel fine.

After I got married, and my wife observed my sleep apnea, I did a sleep study. My apnea was infrequent/mild enough that the doctor considered CPAP unnecessarily invasive/expensive.

She told me to take a sock, put a tennis ball in it, safety pin it to the back of a t-shirt, and sleep in that.

Does that just stop you from moving onto your back while you sleep or is there some other goal?

I'm picking that it cushions the blow when his wife kicks him. On a related note, I had a friend who resorted to using duct tape over his partners mouth. Other than being rather brutal and terrifying to see in half light it worked wonders I'm told - better than the prescription tongue depressor thing.

Just stops me from moving onto my back while I sleep.

It depends. For many cases, an at-home analyzer will be sufficient.

But a lot of times you'll get scheduled for a clinic anyway...

What was the solution and before vs after difference?

The first night of using a CPAP machine, I woke up in about 4 hours and felt like Superman. I am not exaggerating. I suspect I gained 20 or so IQ points.

After about a month, I merely felt normal, averaging about 7 hours of sleep a night.

I've been trying for ages to sort out a good sleeping pattern that'll have me up and running in the morning. Weirdly enough, the best one I got was:

- wake up after ~6.5 hrs of sleep, use the bathroom, grab something quick to eat and drink a pint of water

- go to sleep again and wake up after ~7.5 hours

- rejoice

It's a hard one to do, and sometimes I can't fall back asleep after the first waking up, but when it works I feel pretty amazing.

Don't ask how I discovered this, I'm not sure myself.

To clarify, do you sleep for another 7.5 hours after the wakeup, or just one hour to bring the 6.5 to 7.5?

Oops - one extra hour. A 14-hour-long daily sleep does sound appealing in a way, though.

Do you have a sunrise simulation alarm clock? Buying a Lumie was probably the best thing I've done to make myself feel awake. Also, put an alarm clock on the opposite side of the room and leave a piece of fruit by the bed to eat in the mornings. It works wonders.

I actually haven't, I should look into that.

when i sleep more i actually get up feeling more tired. in fact it feels as if my mind was wrestling all the while and has been active for quite some time.

Excellent idea, excellent article!

A couple of years ago I was driving back to my office and a difficult programming problem which I had been avoiding. It was early fall and the weather was beautiful. On the way, I passed a field of Chile peppers and a crew was gathering to pick. It looked like so much fun to be out picking chile peppers in the sunshine instead of sitting in front of a screen in my dark office. So, on a whim, I stopped and asked the boss if I could get a job picking peppers for the day. He almost fell over in surprise but said yes, I could on Saturday which was the next day.

So, early the next morning I got up all excited and went out to the field. One of the underbosses gave me a bucket and explained in broken English how the system worked. I was paid 55 cents for each bucket of peppers and I was to leave no peppers unpicked. Ok, no problem. I was assigned a row and off I went. After about half an hour I realized my error of judgement. It was really hard work and not nearly as romantic as it looked. To make matters worse, everyone was way ahead of me and had to keep coming over to my row to help me stay up.

But I wasn't about to quit and get laughed at. So I stuck the day out and make like $40. I then went home and slept for a day and a half and could barely walk. I don't know what the point is. But this was a good article. More people should do stuff like this.

No point needed, that was a fun read:)

I've taken two separate part-time jobs while working full time elsewhere.

The first one was while I was working for the federal government. I commuted one hour each way and after spending two years in a mid-sized bedroom community I still had no friends where I lived. I got a job at a local coffee shop filling in where needed which was usually either opening up from 6 to 8A.M. or closing up from 6-10P.M.

I immediately got to know a lot of locals from the college students and young people who worked alongside me to the professionals who came in earl to the stay-at-home moms and dads that came in mid-afternoon.

I learned how to make a great espresso made some spending money and a bunch of friends. It was a great experience.

The second job was while working remotely as a developer in a tiny rural town. I took a job as a fitness instructor at a local studio and, again, met a lot of people I wouldn't have otherwise and got to make a real personal impact on many people's lives helping them get fit and stay healthy.

The author does a great job summarizing the benefits of this kind of job. There's so much more than money that can add tremendous value to your life.

I used to landscape professionally. Which - in my case - is a fancy way of saying I cut grass, dug ditches, raked leaves and spread mulch. I picked up some useful knowledge along the way.

Thing is, no matter how much satisfaction I get from a problem solved, elegant or just effective code written, etc - it isn't quite the same thing as when I could look back at a yard/park/complex etc at the end of the day and say "Yep, that looks good. I did that." Something that not only I could appreciate, but everyone driving by would notice on some level.

I'd not want to go back to that full-time. Intellectually my work now is far more satisfying (mentally designing algorithms while walking behind a bobcat tends to result in both poor algorithms and a poorly cut lawn). And it's easy to forget the long days, paychecks at the mercy of the weather, being constantly sore and always finding dirt and the damndest of places...

But I am thinking about finding some part-time work in landscaping this year for just that reason. I enjoyed it, I was reasonably good at it, and it felt good to be doing. With my hands.

I had a similar experience with painting walls.

Another landscaper here. It's something I really enjoy but wouldn't want to do full-time again. Working hard in the dirt keeps you grounded, and it's nice to socialize with your co-workers while pulling weeds. Hmm, maybe I should join a gardening co-op.

I find that I miss data centre work I used to do for a mid-sized hosting company for precisely this reason. I miss doing stuff with my hands. Racking and unracking servers, network equipment and similar is cathartic in a way that is hard to express.

I loved cutting grass but don't have a yard anymore as I live in an apt :(

My side-business gives me similar satisfaction: Making things.

This story hilariously epitomizes the gulf that lies between the tech scene and the rest of the population. For you a low paying job is a hobby to keep you in check, I'm sure only so long that it doesn't impede your "real job". For most, these jobs are an important source of income. Doesn't it strike you as slightly obnoxious to take such a job away from someone who needs it? I can see this story ending up in Mike Judge's "Silicon Valley". Here's a better "hack": hire smart people away from low paying jobs for your startup, pay them more, and go for a bike ride in the morning.

I've thought about this a lot before, and there definitely is some merit to it.

I worked retail as a teenager, and the managers would give more hours to an older employee because she needed them (I was told this explicitly). I was fine with it at the time, because yeah, I was still mostly living on my parents' dime. Working in a corporate setting now, if I was told someone else at my company was getting a big raise only because they just had another kid or bought a new house, and not due to the quality of his or her work, I'm not sure how I would feel. I guess it just breaks down to whether you think like a capitalist or a communist.

YEAH to staying forever young and being white, male and without kids! No, honestly we don't have enough context. Maybe there simply wasn't anybody around willing to do the job before and if somebody would need it like in your example then maybe startup guy would "get fired"? Who knows? Context.

That's a bit different, also, have you considered that the other people were more experienced and better qualified so the manager used the age and need as an excuse to spare your feelings/morale?

That's entirely possible, but the discussion I was hoping to have was about need determining pay and/or opportunities.

There is no winning against this flawed argument.

* If OP doesn't do this, then he's a spoiled and far-removed brat who has no idea what it's like to be a real person working a normal job.

* If OP takes on a small and humbling side job, then he's obnoxious and selfish for taking away this job from someone who needs it.

* If OP volunteers for this job, then he's self-righteous and still selfish for taking away someone's job just so he can feel good and wake up early. Doesn't he know some people have no choice but to wake up at 5am and work all day to feed their family?!

* ...

Comments here seem to be missing the larger point; that being surrounded by tech all the time can be a disorienting experience.

Really, this issue isn't specific only to tech circles. You can get used to your own surroundings in any job and forget that a wider world exists.

It is extremely important to stay grounded so that you don't lose touch with the world around you. I think this guy's approach is admirable, though perhaps he should be getting more sleep.

Stepping away from the computer and doing something totally different can be a really energizing experience.

Having a hobby that is not associated with tech is the most typical route people take, but getting paid to do something different is a great idea.

I'm glad you appreciate the value of a healthy, balanced lifestyle. But reading this, it's easy to see why people post "Die Techie Scum" stickers around SF. You've taken a job that someone else could actually use to help pay rent and have turned it into a hobby. If I did this job for a living I would be furious at the arrogance of someone treating as an exercise in "Feeling Good". Get some perspective.

How far does this go?

Is it wrong of me to mow my own yard? Is it wrong of me to not eat out every day? Is it wrong of me to check the selection at the local Goodwill before buying clothes new? Is it wrong of me to not donate what I earn above the median to charity (or alternately, to not spend that amount on buying frivolous-to-me low-skill things)?

That's a difficult but worthwhile topic to discuss as we need to be mindful of those kinds of disconnects as privileged tech workers. Would it still be un-ethical if there'd be no one willing to do it? Can we ever know?

Except that in his real job, he creates jobs. So if by taking a low paying, high exertion job, his burnout rate is lowered or his stress level is lower which allows him to expand his company and hire more people, the world is largely a better place. This isn't a zero sum game. Yes, if he didn't take this job, someone else probably would but there is other context and other considerations to keep in mind.

That argument falls flat on its face when you consider that this is an industry that destroys a lot more jobs than it creates. You think companies that employ 10 people and then sell for millions of dollars are creating jobs? Where do you think that money comes from? Tech startups have hollowed out thousands of middle class jobs and all the money that pours into them is at the expense of investment in other industries that truly create jobs. I'm not saying that's a good or a bad thing, it's just capitalism. But you can't use job creation as a defense

He could always wake up and bike while leaving this position open for someone else.

Wait... you're saying he's arrogant because he's taken a job that he enjoys primarily because of the humbling perspective it offers?

You don't see how that's kind of insulting?

"Doing this lowly job [that you've done for years] has really given me a greater understanding for all the little people [like you]"

I thought the same thing at first, but then realized IT'S A FREE MARKET.

For every job out there, there are [x] people more qualified and more desperate for it.

The OP is saying something equivalent to "I snort less coke now, because I've also started drinking and smoking pot, and having a commitment to meet the pot dealer each morning helps me wake up" but translated to workaholic lingo.

When the only way for you to disconnect from the work environment and get in contact with the bigger outer world is to get another job and connect to another work environment, something is definitely wrong with you! When you need commitments to other people, like a morning job, to wake up, you have an even bigger problem.

People need to learn to self-motivate and expand their world outside of work!

A few summers ago I lived in Seattle but worked in Bremerton, which is over an hour away by ferry. To reach on time I had to take the earliest ferry possible; at 6-something AM. If I missed that ferry, the next one wasn't until 1.5 hours later, which would make me very late.

Almost every day--like clockwork--I got up slightly late, threw on some clothes, and went out with my bike. Half-asleep, cold, and worried about missing the ferry, I pedaled my heart out through Seattle's hilly downtown streets and past morning-rush buses.

It sounds miserable. But y'know what... By the time I reached the ferry--usually with only a few minutes to spare--I felt awake, full of energy, and ready to take on the day. As someone who's usually slow and tired in the mornings, this was an immensely refreshing feeling.

(To say nothing of the commute back, biking up a series of brutal, steep-grade hills...)

Neat to see Bremerton mentioned here on HN!

While I never lived there myself, back when my parents were newlyweds my dad transferred when he was working (for NASSCO I think) up to Washington and my parents lived there for about 5 years and my dad worked as a welder in the shipyards (my two older sisters were born there before my parents moved back down to Southern California...my mom couldn't take the cold :-).

Very neat. I was there for the shipyards, too.

Wouldn't you end up being all sweaty by time you got to the ferry?

The hills were all downhill on the way to work, so it wasn't as much of a workout as the return home.

When I first read this headline I just assumed he'd had a child.

Low paying: check

Early morning: check

Exertion requiring: check

Not that it's not extremely worth it of course.

I also had the same thought but not that he had a child, but rather those with children don't have this problem.

Each one of his "issues" for me, are helped by kids.

They "help" me get up early, they keep me grounded and my tech-world concerns mean nothing to them.

This. I thought exactly the same.

Being woken up at 7am and getting that daily dose of smiles is exactly the same if not better!

Or adopted a dog!

Don't ever get a dog.

Seems like this guy has a good thing going. Lots of people pay for a gym and workout every morning before they go work. This guy is basically doing the same thing but he is getting paid for it.

If a bike ride could replace your gym membership then you are not making very good use of the gym.

With that said, there are so many people that pay for gym membership and barely go; at least this forces him to get some exercise.

I can say from experience that most people don't get very good value out of expensive gym memberships. Me included most of the time.

Comparing a proper gym workout with some mundane cycling is like saying driving a high class Porsche is the same as driving a middle class Volkswagen

"Mundane" cycling daily is all that it takes to get the majority of health benefits. No reason to downplay what he's doing.

Cycling is actually not that healthy. Repetitive short movements shorten your muscles, which causes all kinds of problems.

>> Cycling is actually not that healthy.

As someone who works out regularly but never cycles, this seems difficult to believe. Surely the cardiovascular benefits outweigh any negatives from "muscle shortening" (first I've heard of this) compared to no activity.

Unless your point is "some types of exercise are better than cycling" in which case, sure.

Accuracy is so important in HN :)

Fact - cycling creates short leg muscles, hamstrings in particular. For those of us who have tight hamstrings, which is most males (according to my subjective, biased observations), this is not good. Creates back problems later on.

I agree that some cycling is better than no activity. But I would say that going to a hooker every night is also better for you health wise than staying in and watching tv, as long as you wear at least 2 condoms.

As someone who has put in tens of thousands of km's on bicycles over the years, I'm wondering when these alleged downsides are supposed to kick in. According to my own subjective, self-observations, it has done nothing but good for me.

In exactly 137 days.

Since we're nitpicking - wearing two condoms is a terrible idea. The friction will break them.

Precisely the type of backwards-ass opinion based upon flawed anecdotal evidence I love to see!

Keep it up champ!

A list of health benefits of cycling, including peer-reviewed publications that the references come from. http://www.cyclehelmets.org/1015.html

Cycling is health in so far as it is more exercise and fresh air than a majority of the population gets ever. Cycling too much has its side effect as does just about everything in life.

Right, but in other activities if you practice safely and under professional supervision you can usually minimize the risk. Here the movement is short and repetitive which in turn builds short muscles. It's a "feature", not a corner case "bug".

I'm 100% sure you don't know what you're talking about. Please provide sources for your statement and prove me wrong.

If you asked nicer I would have googled it for you, but you can do that yourself.

Googling for cycling short muscles turned up nothing relevant on the first page, for me.

Majority of health benefits? It is a midly stressing cardio vascular activity and given the circumstances (delivery) it is probably nothing better than jumping up a few times and letting gravity get hold of you.

I am not saying it is worthless but some people praise this as the second coming of Sparta its legion training sets.

This speaks so much to how the dot-com boom has changed and how young adults are re-re-re-experiencing it.

A complete full circle to the point now where to gain an authentic real world experience means to step outside of the echo chamber to do real work just to feel something real.

When they spoke of hipsters in 2001 this... this is it.

I don't think this is surprising at all. You're brought up through primary/secondary education where there is a very definite requirement of when and where to be. College hits and that requirement is softened, and procrastination works out a-okay for all sorts of people. Finally, you land a tech job with flex hours and where remote is okay - suddenly you have to exercise self control in a manner that hasn't ever mattered before.

While it seems to me that the 'ideal' (hugely qualified and highly subjective, that word) answer is to practice that self-control (and with that, go through the ups and downs of succeeding and failing at exercising it), the solution that Jesse has found is effective and doesn't have too much overhead. I like it.

i am a walking testimony of a case where the much professed "ideal" solution never worked out.

My mom has a newspaper delivery route that she doesn't need. She uses it for exercise and spends the money she earns on her YMCA membership, which she also uses for exercise...

She was selected as Carrier of the Month one time and was asked to answer the following questions so that she could be profiled in the paper:

What do you want to be when you get older?

What to you use the money for that you earn delivering the newspaper?

What are your favourite hobbies?

What is your favourite subject at school?

I only remember her answer to the first question, "wiser."

I recently picked up a consulting job with a company in a completely different time zone from my own.

I have to wake up at 4am and I'm done for the day at noon. It's been a week so far and I'm loving it!

I wake up, put on some Nujabes[1] and make myself a cup of coffee. Then get to work (I work from home). It's magnificent! By the time I have to pick up my son from school at noon, I'm done for the day with the entire afternoon free to me.

I'm going to have trouble switching back to a regular 9-to-5. Waking up early is almost pure pro's and minimal con's.

[1] - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTH7XefE85A

This is an amazing idea. I had a similar experience working cashier at a food co-op that I realized was operating in an alley beside my new apartment. Working on cash duty for 2 hours a week is one thing, but I think the most mind-blowing idea came from being a regular shopper when not on-shift. I'm a pretty friendly and respectful guy, and I like to think I treat everyone fairly and equitably, but... this job made me realize that something was amiss. When the people stocking your shelves and charging your credit card might just as easily be a professor or small business owner, a tiny behavioural toggle flips in your brain. And I found that disconcerting. I realized that maybe I hadn't been giving the other people in my community the mindshare they deserved, if that makes sense.

Or maybe, in a funny way, a member-owned co-op is a lot like open source, more than anything else. People who are there, are there because they choose to be. Maybe that's the most important thing that informs the different sort of interaction. We assume unhealthy things about people who do not choose to be serving us.

Or maybe that's not the take-home. I'm still thinking on it :)

Wow, haven't read the article yet, but that's one beautiful 522 error page Cloudflare are displaying now.

I really like this - keeping perspective is something I feel a lot of people in the tech industry has lost after (partly) lucking into a great career.

I've been considering doing something similar, so this is quite inspiring. Thanks for writing this!

I have to say that this is not unrelated to the post earlier this week about startup culture in Oakland. This post and the author of it reflects, to me, the vibe of the east bay.

LOVE this idea. A great way to get exercise and force yourself to step outside our little startup/tech bubble to experience more of the "real world".

In the REAL real world, the bagel place has a guy with a truck who drives around delivering bagels.

Bicycle courier/delivery is very common in many parts of the world.

Thats a wonderful idea. Two great points that resonated with me: 1. Having a commitment that forces you out of bed. 2. Involving yourself in something that's not your regular normal "world" can be so refreshing.

I would like to try this at some point. But I don't how I would start finding a job like that without contacts. Any insight on that from the OP would be great.

I was just sitting in the coffee shop (Awaken) and saw a poster advertising the job. Shot them an email and signed up. I think I got really lucky, but I'm sure there are similar opportunities out there.

Awesome article!

Out of curiosity, how do you handle conflicts?

Like, say you have an important customer who wants to meet in the morning, or things have fallen behind and DEAR GOD I NEED THOSE HOURS TO MAKE IT WORK?

I'd assume lots of get-things-done-in-advance so things don't get to that stage, but if that fails and it becomes one-or-the-other, how do you handle it?

That doesn't really happen — I deliver before most everyone else is awake and I rarely have strict deadlines where adding an extra hour (most of which I would already have to do to get to work) would matter.

The couple times that I have had to back out, I either got my roommate (and co-founder) to take my spot or my employers have been understanding.

An interesting way to get some morning exercise to start your day.

I believe each person has to find what works for them in terms of getting a healthy amount of exercise. For some that involves a gym membership, fitness classes or team sports.

Myself, I mostly run and enjoy training for a marathon once or twice a year. I am thankful that I usually do not have to start work before 9 AM, which usually allows me to get a morning workout in without waking at a ridiculously early time.

I find this energizes me for the rest of day, provided I did not stay up past midnight the night before and also gives me some alone time to think about anything: Work, problems, or just plain day-dreaming.

Some people hate running for a variety of reasons and I can understand that. You're much less likely to stick with an exercise routine if it feels like yet another chore in life's long list of chores. Experiment and find some activity you can do regularly that offers more than just physical benefits.

> You're much less likely to stick with an exercise routine if it feels like yet another chore in life's long list of chores

I totally agree with you, it's absolutely a great thing if you can find an exercise method that you enjoy for more than its benefits. [I personally think bicycling is tons of fun, and wish I could bicycle-commute to work, but it depends a lot on the specific context of your job as to whether that's practical...]

However I do find that I've had pretty good success with simply being pig-headed: I just force myself to go to the gym, no matter how tired I am after a day's work, no matter how much I just want to grab a bite and veg out, no matter how nasty the weather.

It really helps that I know from long experience that I'll feel absolutely great after I'm done with a session, no matter how tired I was to begin with. It's like the "chore" aspect, while very palpable at the start, is merely an illusion that I have to will myself past...

[Or maybe I'm just nuts. :]

I used to work a part time job at a sandwich place to do something different every day, talk to people, joke with co-workers, and learn new things. All while being a software engineer (consultant). Taught me a lot of things and it was great just doing a job that only required me to put vegetables on a loaf of bread.

Sounds like the OP is happy with his schedule, which is great. However everyone needs different lengths of sleep for the body to process/release toxins. For me it's 8 hours at least to wake up feeling refreshed and not relying on coffee or other stimulants to go through the day. As for waking up feeling tired no matter when, the optimal timing for waking up matters and is at the end of a 90 minute sleep cycle (you need a few of those per night). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleep. You can also use iOS apps like "Sleep Cycle" to aid you in waking up at the right time - really made a difference for me. Waking up to a screaming alarm is probably the last thing you want.

Sounded good except for 'toxins' which I pretty much always see used as a pseudo science catch all. Do you have some cites for that being an actual process?

Yes, the word "toxins" has been almost completely co-opted by pseudo-science. But the poster may have been referring to a recent study which theorizes that one of the functions of sleep is to remove waste-products ("toxins") from the brain. HN discussion here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6567966

This reminds me in some ways of John Graves. He wrote novels, most famously Goodbye To A River, but for long periods of time, he would build stone walls and houses on his farm. The physicality seemed to allow his mind time to work on the novels. I find that gardening does the same for me and refreshes me for technical work.

People are commenting that this steals a job from someone more deserving but it's not a zero sum game. By keeping his sanity through his personal way of staying grounded, he can spend more energy on his startup which very will might result in more jobs being created. This increases the benefits to the world more than letting someone else deliver bagels.

Its a 2 mile bike ride from the look of things. I (and I'm sure others) ride to work in the morning and go at least 2 miles off the shortest route (perhaps, like me, to go on a trail). So the $35 and free coffee would be a bonus.

The harder something is to do the more justifications we come up with to justify what it is we are doing. Employees sometimes works harder when they are paid less. Don't fall into making this same mistake.

Great article. I've been thinking in this lately. We, which work on tech, spend all of our work time thinking in how to resolve a problem. It doesn't matter if it is backend or frontend, but we have to approach a problem and resolve it. I think I am a little tired of doing this all the time. Sometimes, I wonder how it would be to have a mechanical job where I have to think less and do much more, mainly physical tasks. Your experience seems a good example of this, and I think I am going to try if I find the time.

Yep, and those with mindless mechanical jobs often wish they could sit on their bums and think all day. A good balance is probably the right approach!

looks like there are some issues with cloudflare/your server


working on a fix, sorry! EDIT: fixed.

What was the problem?

I use WordPress with lots of caching and CloudFlare, but for some reason the caching wasn't working and I couldn't get it up. Had to move it to Medium and will fix the blog soon.

OK. I work for CloudFlare so let me know if you need some help.

that'd actually be awesome. your email isn't in your profile, could you shoot me one at mine?


Great article, short and to the point.

I think it says a lot about your character that you want to try to maintain being a real person rather than another startup founder with his head in the clouds.

As someone who would love to work from home / run a business again someday you've given me an idea on how to instill a little structure. I struggled with it when running my own company before.

You can implement structure in a much better fashion. This approach seems kind of silly to me. I'd rather have a gym/Yoga/sports session in the morning for physical activity - maybe a bootcamp that would be an incentive to get me out of the bed early.

Today I got out of bed at 3pm, I'm a student and know I can get away with working through the night instead.

I know that, like the article, if I have a reason to get up, it makes it so much easier for me!

Defiantly a tactic i'll employ if one of my ideas starts taking off!

I'd much rather do that than pay to join a gym. Feels more productive and helpful.

The accountability is key, too. Joining a gym you can go whenever you want -- which also means you can not go whenever you don't want. If people are relying on you for their morning bagels, you don't have an option, and removing the choice to opt-out can be crucial.

> which also means you can not go whenever you don't want.

So ... I still have to go?

His job would only help your cardio and leg muscles, for the most part. You could just go running or biking on your every morning and get the same effect. I'd save the gym membership for those looking to maximize gains elsewhere as well.

biking 1.6 miles isn't going to get anyone fit.

100% better than biking 0 miles.

Been waking up at 5 a.m. since my second child was born. Sleeping late isn't an option, and actually I've been loving it. Get stuff done, feel better, had to learn to go to bed early otherwise following day is complete crap.

Great idea. I'm working on a farm a few blocks away this summer (in Boulder).

Everyone needs 8 hours of sleep to be healthy. Being healthy is the most important thing in life, far, far above even #2 which is family. Startups, productivity are several notches below that.

Get 8 hours of sleep. No exceptions.

I like this story for a couple of reasons, it forces the wakeup (always good) but it also enforces regular exercise. I'm going to have to figure out how to do something similar.

I like this idea, but next time I move I'm going to try to make sure I'm a nice 30 min bike ride from work. Right now I'm 12 min away, which is too close and too easy.

I love this. Awesome. Just awesome. Seems like a great way to stay grounded and keep perspective (along with staying active and giving you structure). Keep it up.

Interesting "hack."

If this works for you, and makes you more effective for your company, awesome!

Have you given any thought to the long term effects of sleep will be for you?

I enjoy getting a bit of labouring done in the day. Especially if the computer has recently made me very angry.

so you spend ten minutes a day riding your bike, and you found a way to get paid to do it? anything else?

I mapped it. it's 2.4 miles. on a bike. in oakland. such exercise. many muscles. wow.

I've loved this read. Ever consider just delivering bagels all day long? :)

Wouldn't a gym membership do the same thing?

With the job he's obligated to get up and do the work. People are counting on the delivery, whereas nobody else suffers if he sleeps in and skips the gym. (Plus gym memberships cost money where this generates money.)

I could be mistaken, but I mapped the route and it looked like his job entails biking 1.6 miles. Big whoop.

I don't think he took up a biking hobby ... he took a very small part-time job for which he uses his bike. Big whoop indeed, you don't need to bike a marathon or work a double shift to impact your life.

...and if you actually read the article you'd see that the distance involved is completely inessential to his purpose. Also, you don't know him or how many bagels he's hauling around. I can guarantee you that I can find a balance between any given person and some number of bagels such that physical exertion happens in a "measly" 1.6 miles.

50 bagels. it's in the first sentence.

Somehow, I read this as "extortion-requiring", and it sounded a lot worse than it probably is.

how did you find such a job, and how can someone find a similar kind?

how is getting up early an achievement? I really don't get it.

Wonderful idea!

great and insightful article

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