August 30, 2006

On starting early.

You wake up and look at the clock and see it's really early. What's the earliest you're willing to interpret as time to get up as opposed to feeling that you really must get back to sleep? Maybe you factor in how long you've just slept. It seems to make sense to say if I've slept at least 5 hours, no time is too early. But, personally, I'd always drawn a line at 4 a.m. Today, though, I got up at 3. That seemed ridiculous, but I was utterly awake. It annoyed me at first, because I had one key project I needed to finish today, and I was afraid of hitting the wall. As it turned out, I was focusing really clearly on the project in those pre-dawn hours, made a breakthrough I couldn't even think of yesterday, and got the whole thing done by 7 a.m.

So that just goes to show... something... But what?

That found time is especially productive? That the pre-dawn hours have some magic? That a whole day can be cleared for some use other than the one you had planned if you only get up earlier? That ambiguities between day and night should be resolved in favor of day?

Or are you thinking how you hate morning people?

The accomplished task was finishing the syllabus for my Religion and the Constitution class, which begins next Tuesday. Yes, we do start late here. Labor Day weekend is big in Wisconsin, which, you may not know, regards itself as a resort state. But the students are already coming back for the pre-semester activities. Yesterday was the first day that the law school was full of students again, which really is a very nice feeling. Another thing that makes me feel great every fall is the UW Marching Band practicing off in the distance, which I can hear from my house. Not at the moment, however, of course. It's still early.

Small additional task done: culling the blogroll. I took some defunct blogs off the list. Some of these were among my very favorite blogs, but I don't want to send readers over to inactive blogs. Don't take it personally! Let me know if you gear up again.

22 comments:

Concerned Lumberjack said...

But aren't you going to feel sleepy this afternoon?

That may be OK in your business, but it sure doesn't work in mine.

Icepick said...

So that just goes to show... something... But what?

Perhaps it shows that your sub-conscious had been working on the problem, had reached a solution, and decided to push it into your conscious mind right now.

Icepick said...

Great, now I'm going to have that damn song in my head all day, which wouldn't be so bad if we weren't meeting with some VPs today to explain to them why they are wrong. How am I supposed to keep a straight face now?

Ron said...

When that has happened to me, I often do as you just did. But sometimes, once I finish the task I needed to do, I'll get sleepy again especially if it's still dark when I finish. One of the best things is when you then wake up 'for real' you get a delightful surprise in seeing the completed task, which you 'forgot' you did!

"Elves! They paid all my bills!" Hopefully with their money...

Simon said...

My son just started middle school last week, which means that for the first time, he's catching the bus. And we're right on the edge of the catchment area, so the bus picks him up EARLY - 7am. Neither my wife nor I are morning people, and we both would prefer to roll out of bed ten minutes before we have to leave - but now we're having to be up and moving by 6:30 at the latest to make sure the kid gets out the door. My point is that I am very much contemplating lately how very much I "hate morning people." ;)

Re the blogroll, perhaps I can be brazenly cheeky and bleg a link to Stubborn Facts?

AJ Lynch said...

It may show "you so crazy" sometimes. It also shows you are a bit of a procastinator but you're still capable of massive amounts of output and quality work when required.

Have you found that ability waning a bit? I have since I turned 50 and I think one factor is I now view working all-night as a "been there done that thing".

Fritz said...

Ann,
Please give us a pdf of your syllabus. I for one, love de Tocqueville's take on religion in America, "they have religious Liberty", "it is part of the public square."

Ann Althouse said...

I have never pulled an all-nighter in my life. Once, in law school, on a take home exam, which was my last exam, I stayed up until 3 to finish it. Nothing else even comes close. It is easier for me to feel good on less sleep as I get older. I think that's common. Some young people stay up late or all night on sheer will, but I was more in touch with my feelings. When I felt tired, I didn't distract myself and deny it. I yielded.

Simon said...

Ann,
Speaking of religion and the Constitution, there is a new book by Jon Meacham called "American Gospel" which explores the religious landscape of the founding generation. It has irritated liberals and conservatives in equal measure, and is obviously of direct relevance to this course, so it might be right up your street.

dix said...

At what point in life does your first thought upon seeing "4 AM" transition from 'that's very late' to 'that's very early'?

SteveR said...

Dix, yeah the old comment, "I'm now getting up when I used to go to bed."

My schedule during the week is more or less locked in between 5:50am and about 9pm. I am better at getting up earlier than I used to be but that doesn't equate to productivity. With three school aged kids at home, I sleep when I can, e.g 4am

Goesh said...

- we are but amassed memories, plotting courses of action on dead thoughts, so I completely still the mind for a few minutes in the early time, focusing only on the fresh air, when weather permits, as it enters and leaves the nostrils, preparing for the arrival of good and bad ghosts of deeds done to set the course for the day, stifling the urge to roll naked in the cold dew of the grass in my back yard...the sun brings fiction, I make the facts

steve said...

There must be something in the air. I got up at 4 to work on a rush rush project, finished it by 7:30, and was fat and happy in the Coney booth with a ham and cheese omelette by 8. These found morning hours were indeed productive.

Now I feel beleaguered and ready for a nap. I don't think I'm going to "find" many hours this afternoon.

Still using the McConnell text?

Tibore said...

"Or are you thinking how you hate morning people?"

After remembering this post? Hell yeah! Especially the overly cheerful, yellow, stalking types.

JorgXMcKie said...

I've always said, "If I see the sunrise, I want it to be because I've been up all night, not because I'm getting up early." I'm just not a morning person. I can and have gotten up routinely at 4:30AM for months on end, but I never, ever liked it even one little bit.

Having said that, I don't mind morning people if they just shut the heck up where I'm sleeping.

OTOH, I feel like I'm most productive when writing around 2AM. Don't really know why, I'm just really, really ready to write then, and it seems to work. I have, on occasion awoken very early with a piece all but written in my mind.

I think icepick's got something. Sometimes, when you've been thinking carefully about a subject, your subconscious just decides you're ready. I say, give in and do it.

I've never needed much sleep, and it bugs my wife who is a morning person who needs about 9 hours a night. Other than that, we mesh pretty well. (Well, she's Felix and I'm Oscar squared, but you know . . .)

Ann Althouse said...

I'm using the new edition of McConnell, which you can buy here. If you're reading it on your own, it's best to go in the order presented. I have a completely different order, which is what I finally worked out this morning.

amba said...

The pre-dawn hours have some magic. Maybe it's because they're uncrowded, so there's more time to go around, not so many people and events and demands competing for it. Maybe it's the quality of the light, which creeps up on you just like an idea dawning. Maybe it's because if you weren't working you'd be dreaming.

I am a night person, but when I'm working on a sustained project the only way I can make progress is to get up and make use of those early hours.

Wickedpinto said...

Some people prefer fixed schedules of arbitrary hours. I'm more of an event guy, if that event is a fixed schedule, then so be it.

Apparently, you were concerned about a particular task/event, and in your semi conscious moments were focusing on it, making it next to impossible for you to sleep any more than the minimal amount so that you can focus on the task at hand.

Back when I would have open ended tasks assigned to me, I wouldn't adhere to a fixed schedule, and leave it till tomorrow. I would pound at it until I got it right, then I would sleep until the next event.

thats what I take from it. The task was important, so you unintentionaly forced yourself to face the event that you had been concerned about.

Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JazzBass said...

i've always done my best work in the wee quiet hours. if you wake up and you're wide awake, why not get out of bed and do the off put task? then again, a deadline does inspire.

Tugty said...

For me, what works about tackling something in the early morning is that you have both undisturbed time to focus (the quiet everyone is mentioning) plus a disconnect from the routine of your day which allows you to step back and sometimes see a bigger picture.

Being heavily involved in the corporate world of agendas, commutes and balancing kids, family, etc., it is a little like that refreshing feeling when you were a student in college and could deal with some concept competely de novo, free of all the petty annoyances that life as a teacher, corporate stooge (me) or normal adult-type being is subjected to.

It's a time for higher orders of thought and seldom available when there is email to answer, phones ringing, etc. It's a time for synthesis.

bob said...

There must have been something in the blogosphere regarding "getting up early":

http://acknak.blogspot.com/2006/08/early-before-anyone-wakes-up.html