A Year of Good Habits: Get Up at 5am

My family has launched a three-year endeavor to double our net worth and become location independent. This is the first year of our plan. This year, in an effort to help myself develop good habits to keep us saving and investing, and generally developing efficient uses of our money, time, and energy, I’ve taken on one habit for each month of the year (if you want to read them all, starting from January, click here).

A Year of Good Habits: Get Up at 5am---www.thethreeyearexperiment.com

I’m down to the final two months, and two habits, of the year. Some have been successful, some have been abysmal failures; all have taught me something about myself. I learned that making your bed everyday really is a key ingredient to starting the day successfully. I also learned that writing down the top three things I’m going to tackle in a day doesn’t work for me–I tend to plan and think along weekly, rather than daily, lines.

So what habits should I undertake for November and December? Sometimes, getting back to the basics is key, and for November, I decided to resurrect a key habit that brings contentment and completion to my days.

The ThreeYears are reacquainting ourselves with electricity after not having any for several days. A wind storm took out the power for most of the residents in our town, and crews from Maine and Massachusetts usually deployed to help us out during power outages were busy getting lines up in their states.

Two short days without power revealed to me that without electricity, I can’t think. I was so absorbed in figuring out how and what to make for dinner (ramen on a camp stove) and how to shower (thank you neighbors with a generator) that I couldn’t plan for the week or really think about anything other than our immediate needs. Also, it showed me that without lights, our family goes to bed easily and early. The boys went upstairs with a candle and a flashlight, and read for about fifteen minutes before both falling asleep hard. They usually read for over an hour and do everything they can to delay bedtime. Mr. ThreeYear and I did the same. I think our circadian rhythms must be affected by the lights in our house, making it harder to go to sleep at night.

I learned that I really like electricity for everything but evening lights. I could live with candles in the evening. Anyway, I am infinitely grateful for the linemen and other crews that worked around the clock to restore our power.

Candlelight coffee--www.thethreeyearexperiment.com
I woke up to candlelight (and camper stove coffee, percolated by an open window to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning) when we lost electricity after a fierce wind storm last week.

Our power was restored the night of Halloween, a few hours after we’d gotten back from our town-wide trick-or-treating fest. November, then, has been a month with electricity. It’s also led me to think about dreams, goals, plans for next year. We have two months left of 2017! That’s two months to embrace two more habits that can help me on our journey towards location independence. I’ve thought about what can help me the most–the one thing I can embrace to make life go more smoothly–and I think it’s something that I used to do very well but have slipped on lately.

During the month of November, I’m going to get up at 5am every day. That means I’ll need to go to bed at 9pm each night (9! So early!) to get enough sleep. If I don’t get eight hours of sleep, I don’t function. But it’s hard to go to bed so early, for reasons I just alluded to earlier in this post. However, Mr. ThreeYear’s been getting up earlier to go to the gym, which means he’s been falling asleep earlier, so that will help.

Why will getting up at 5am make the difference? There are a bunch of other habits I considered–going to the library regularly, tidying the house in the morning–but I realized that not getting up earlier has been setting a bad tone for the day. Punching my “snooze” button multiple times and groggily dragging myself from bed at 6am or so means I haven’t had as much time to write on the blog, I’ve gotten the kids up later so we’ve been rushing, and I don’t have as much time to think and prepare for the day. Waking up at 5am will give me time to write, drink coffee, check emails, make sure I have everything I need for my teaching day, help the boys with last minute homework, and yes, even tidy the house. An hour and a half of writing and quiet time, though, is the real gift of a 5am wake up. I’ve realized, over the years, that I although I’m very extroverted, I need a certain amount of time alone to think, process, and plan. I’m someone who lives in my head a lot, and if I don’t have time to sit quietly with my thoughts, I have a head full of mush.

I’m the person who is responsible for about 95% of the kid stuff in the family–homework, lunches, after school activities, meetings with teachers, advocating for my child with an IEP to make sure he’s not being inundated with homework, doctors’ appointments, orthodontist appointments, playdates, sports. Mr. ThreeYear does most of the cleaning and laundry, but honestly, I have the biggest mental load of the family, by far. (If you’re with me here, read this article with its awesome comic on moms and mental load). On top of the kid stuff, I have jobs at two different schools and six ELL students and counting, two of whom are newcomers. So my mind can’t be mush.

Managing all this creativity and craziness (times two) is a lot easier with a couple of hours to myself in the mornings. 

Ok, so how do I manage to listen to my alarm and get myself out of bed at 5am, at least for the next month?

Going to bed on time is key (in fact, one of the reasons I’ve slowly stopped getting up “on time” at 5am is because I’m worried I’m not getting enough sleep). I’m going to put books away, so I won’t be tempted to stay up late and read. I’ll plug in my alarm just outside my bedroom, so I have to get up to turn it off (obviously, I’ve used these tricks before). But keeping bedtime predictable and boring definitely helps, as our foray into electricity-free evenings reminded me.

And putting this goal out here on the blog means I’ll need to be accountable, so that helps, too.

I’ll report on how things have gone next month, in my very last habit (and quarterly report!) of the year.

What’s new for you this month? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!! 

Author: Laurie

Hi. I'm Laurie, and my family and I have set out to double our net worth and move abroad in the next three years. Join us on our journey!

2 thoughts on “A Year of Good Habits: Get Up at 5am”

  1. I’m tempted to join you… but I think I need to learn to get up at 6 am consistently first! 😉 I find the mornings I do wake up earlier end up making all the difference in my day and I am happier and more productive overall.

    1. I will say, two days in, that it’s been hard!! Going to sleep on time is the hardest part for me. But it’s been sooo nice to have time, and be un-rushed!!

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