Wednesday, May 27, 2009

TimeShifting: Sleep Less, Rock More, Fire Everything and Be Everywhere

What if I showed you how I got 10 more hours a week than you? Or what if I could show you how to get 10 more hours out of your week? And how about if I then told you that these 10 hours were going to be ultra-productive and uninterrupted? What would an extra 10 hours a week, focused on your prime target, be worth? $1,000? Or $100 per week. Just $10 per hour for each hour I'm going to put back into your hands. That sounds fair. Or...

Heck, why don't I just tell you about it.

[Here's the part where I was working on charts, graphs and time lines to "show" my plan. But it really isn't a plan and it's too flexible and simple to require a visual. Maybe later, cause I love visuals.]

The concept I have come to call TimeShifting. And it's as simple as staying up late and waking up early. With the added bonus of a "nap" if it becomes available.

So in comparing my pattern to that of a sleepy person here is how it stacks up.

Traditional family rises at 7:00 for showing, dressing food, school prep and exit. By getting up as soon as the early alarm goes off, say 5:45. I pick up a great "getting ready for the day" hour before anyone else has risen. And that's after I've put the coffee on and a few of the dishes in the dishwasher.

Kids gone at 8:15 then typical work sessions revolve around lunch and the return of kids in the afternoon. Say 8:15 to 3:15 minus an hour for lunch. [It's easy to skip or squeeze lunch, but it's better for the shift if you go ahead and take the hour to relax and eat slowly. And without notes or reading. Simply eat and let your mind wander. Do capture those idea and notes in your GTD system, but no real "working" if you can help it. Sometimes deadlines and meetings will push you off the lunch plan, but it's best if you DO take a break.]

Then kids and family obligations run from 3:15 - 9:15 depending of if you have childcare help or not. If you do have support, the work session can extend on to 5:30 - 6:00. Then it's dinner, homework, play, wrestling, music, bath, school work prep for tomorrow, play, brush teeth, reading and bed. And with a cooperative house like ours, that really does take our combined efforts to run smoothly.

The half hour of quiet time. We have added a 30 minute break in the evening routine, before bed, that gets everyone in their rooms for time alone. This serves to settle the wrestling energies down and allow the kids to spend some time doing whatever they love doing for a bit before bed. It also gives my wife and I some time to check in on our schedules, on tasks we still need to complete for the family or for work. And this is the time where we negotiate the final "hand off" to bed.

And here is where the gold of my program begins. From 9:30 - 1:30 I can literally snag a 4-hour uninterrupted work session. I'm not saying I use the entire time every night. But I have this confidence at getting my work and "creative work" done during this time. And this opening in time gives me a lot more mental flexibility going into the chores and interruptions of the day's natural rhythm. If I know that I can grab back this time I usually don't sweat the small stuff.

And since I like to work in quiet or loud volume music, my noise-canceling headphones become a sanctuary.

That's it.

Grab an extra hour in the early morning to kick off the day, organize and perhaps put the days' blog post up. And if you have the additional assurance/option of that uber-long work session in the evening, many of the "gitterdun" stresses of the work process get much less stressful.

A close friend said to me once in reference to all the business ideas I was trying to interest him in joining me on, "There's no hurry. There is plenty of time."

I am coming to understand how to make this true in my life.

OH, YEAH, SLEEEEEEP. So if you are up until 1:30am. And restart at 5:45am you are getting 4:15 of sleep and that's not really enough for a sustained period of time. So I shoot for 5 - 6 hours of sleep. And sometimes I will use the 3:30 - 5:30 time to nap or refuel, depending on the status of our childcare or the location of the children (my Mom's or friend's houses).

Anyway, I imagine myself getting 1 - 3 more hours a day of focused time. Over the course of a week. Or even more so on the weekend, when I try and keep the same awakening time and I can easily pick up another 4 hours of quiet time. I add these times up in my mind and extend my life by the accumulation of days I am creating. But I know that's fantasy. Now I gotta go get the kids up and start breakfast. It's 7:15 and I'm already 15 minutes behind.

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A few famous TimeShifters: Buckminster Fuller, Isaac Asimov, Thomas Edison.

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