Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Plan

I need a plan.  Clearly, I need a plan.  As a general rule, there is just too much to do in my life, so the thing that ends up taking the hit is sleep, which is pretty stupid, as that slows down everything else.

For a time (perhaps one might say, an extended time), I allowed myself to stop exercising in the mornings in order to get an extra 45 minutes of sleep when I really needed it.  Result:  went to bed even later; no exercise; still exhausted at work.

Then I thought I'd order myself to be in bed by midnight.  This simply failed on a regular basis.

I may have figured out what the problem is.  The problem is that I keep doing stuff at night, which gets me all wound up, so I have to take a few hours to unwind, and then I don't get to sleep until after 1:00.  

So the key isn't my waking up time, or my bedtime, but my stop-doing-stuff-and-start-unwinding time.

On Sunday, I decided to set that at 8:00 p.m.  It worked!  In bed by something amazing (like 11:30) and bright and chipper at work the next day.

On Monday, there was a bit of a delay (neighbors came over around 9:00 to discuss the shared hedge), and there appeared to be a corresponding delay in the schedule (bed closer to midnight), but it was still largely acceptable.  Lesson learned:  8:00 does appear to be the key time for me to put everything down.

Tuesday night was an abject failure, although there was also a lesson to be learned here.  Which is:  reading a book does not, in fact, count as unwinding.  (What does, apparently, is watching TV, petting the cat, or playing Fruit Ninja.  Not Angry Birds.  I get pretty wound up playing Angry Birds.)  Tuesday was pretty much doomed to failure since I ended up staying at the office reading my book (not work!  just reading!) and didn't leave until 7:30.  And I had to stop at the grocery store on the way home.  So, I mean, no way could I start unwinding at 8:00 -- I wasn't even home until just this side of 9:00.  And then I finished the book.  Started cooking dinner at 10:30.  I tried my best to keep the post-dinner unwinding to a minimum, but didn't get to bed until 1:30.  

So, I'm trying again tonight (started writing this entry at 7:30 and hope to get it posted, and some stuff taken care of in the kitchen, by 8:00).  Even though yesterday was a failure, I am encouraged by early results.  I think that if I actually manage to stop doing anything that requires actual thought by 8:00, I'll be able to fall into bed by 11:00 regularly.  Do that enough, and maybe I'll work off enough sleep debt so that when the alarm goes off at 7:30, I'll actually get up and exercise rather than hit "snooze" for the next hour.

I foresee two potential long-term problems with the plan:  (1)  I sometimes do shit on weekday evenings.  Plays and Dodger games (and reviewing the plays) and stuff like that.  I'm hoping that if I get really used to the earlier bedtime, I can cut back on the unwinding on special occasions, but we'll have to see how it goes.  (2)  If I stick to this, and don't do anything after 8:00, it's going to push a lot of mundane stuff (laundry, bills, etc.) into the weekends.  The possible solution here is the hope that if I really make the early bedtime work, I can fit in exercise before work in the mornings and still get to the office earlier than I do now -- enabling me to get home earlier and have more than a half hour between hitting the door and the magic time.  

I'm pleased, though, that I seemed to have discovered the first thing that needs to change in order for everything else to fall into place.  The Unwinding Hour.

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