Time. Who cares?
My dad is smart. Growing up he always told me the secret to making a year longer. The unwritten key to fabricating time itself. He also told me the price.
But when you are in high school or pressing on through your early 20s why would you care about more time anyway? You’re flush with the stuff. The last thing you need are more hours to play video games while your homework sits on the desk, pleading with you to be responsible. Besides, the cost was not worth the benefit. It’s like having a dozen cookies and someone says, “Hey I’ll give you another cookie for $100.” Yeah, I’m good.
So what cost we are talking about here? What is the raw material required for creating time?
Well, it’s sleep.
“Aaaaaaaahahahaha! That’s hilarious. I’ll pass.”
— Twenty Year Old Ryan
My dad always said if you wake up an hour early five days a week you will add over a month and a half to your work year. It’s math.
5 hours extra hours a week x 52 weeks in a year = 260 hours
260 hours ÷ 40 hour work week = 6.5 extra work weeks a year(or over 1½ months)
12 months + 1½ extra months = 13½ work months
Wait, maybe I do care
As I now have slid both of my feet into my thirties, I’ve looked upon this simple math with more interest. Am I still young? Sure. Do I still have a bunch of time? Yes, though technically not as much.
I’ve found that instead of video games this time has filled up with adulthood. I’m married and have three kids, and another on the way. Full-time job, full-time parenting, full-time husbanding. Those three alone account for like 90% of my waking hours. Then add on top of that other commitments/responsibilities and the time I have for myself is hovering around a strong 1%. At least that’s what it feels like.
I’m not complaining, I’m evaluating. As a creative person the desire to make something is always anxiously pent-up inside a full schedule. For instance, I feel the most creative after the work day, mid-afternoon, but when I come home my kids want to see me, and I them. So I’ll wait till after they go to bed to work on stuff, but that is when my wife wants to see me, and I her—she is usually quite frantic to talk to someone above a kindergarten education, and when she can’t find anyone she talks to me. Usually by that late in the evening I’m too tired to be creative anyway, besides, our tv shows aren’t going to watch themselves. And this is what a empty square on my calendar looks like. Add in external commitments and the time for creativity upgrades to myth status.
So, in realizing that my days are at capacity I have returned to my dad’s wisdom. Could I wake up an hour early to work on what I want to work on? To make what I want to make. To be my own boss of a project that, because I’m choosing it, is naturally inspiring.
Yes, I can. And have. For over two months now.
Since the first week in October I’ve been doing this. I was already waking up for work kind of early. Implementing this new plan now had my alarm going off at 5:35am. That’s early. At least for me. The alarm on my phone is unaffectionately titled “Stupid Early”.
The first day my initial thought was that grogginess would trump creativity. Which didn’t seem to be the case. I think it’s because I was doing what I felt motivated for. I was surprised how easy it was to work in a quiet house while everyone else drifted away in blissful unconsciousness—obvious I know but it’s one of those things that really makes sense when you try it. Afterwards, while lathering shampoo in my hair before work, I discovered a profound sense of accomplishment. A mental pat-on-the-back for working on something, not out of an external demand, but because I wanted to. I smiled. Feeling that in some way, that morning, I beat the system.
So I kept doing it.
One of the results of this venture is this blog. I’ve also been working on a chapter book for my girls. All stuff that would have fallen into the I-should-do-that-someday category. Well, I’m finding that “someday” has been hiding this whole time in a little slice called early morning.
Very clever “someday”, but I’m on to you.
As I look to the future I see, the very real possibility, that life could keep going on with the I-should-do-that-someday’s stacking up. And before I know it, twenty years later, I’ll have a wonderful pile of intentions but will have made nothing that I wanted to. Lately I’ve been feeling a burn to not just be a consumer but a contributor as well. To not keep stuffing my face at the pot luck of creativity while showing up empty handed. This, I know for me, is a critical part in keeping me going these last couple of months. I’ve done the whole get-up-at-stupid-early-o-clock thing before, which after a few days of falling asleep upright I’d conclude the experiment by wiping the drool from my face, throwing my hands in the air, and grunting a dramatic forget this.
I’m over two months in and really enjoying it. Well at 5:35am I wouldn’t say I’m enjoying it per se. But it’s been very rewarding and I’m enjoying the crap out of that. So much that if I miss a day I’m sad. I feel like I missed an important opportunity.
It’s kind of addicting in fact. At the end of the hour I find myself wishing for more time and thinking about starting earlier even. I’m often going to bed excited to work on this or that in the morning. But you’re probably a morning person. Actually I’m not really. This hasn’t been easy. What I am is a creative person that needs time to create.
Am I saying that everyone should pull themselves out of undeniably beautiful sleep an hour early to pursue the creative endeavors that are burning on their hearts because they just can’t find the time in their full schedules to put in the work and bring an idea into existence?
Um…I’ll let you answer that.
I know there are people out there that always talk about writing a book, or making an album, or starting a business, or building an app. If your scenario is like mine I think we need to be honest and realize that we can’t keep crossing our fingers that our schedules will magically create space for this. We have to create that ourselves. The “someday” we are hoping for is actually an extra month and a half hiding right under our noses, at stupid-early o’clock.
What are the things you want to do, or create? And, more importantly, are you finding the time?