More on the 5am thing

I’ve been doing this “get up at 5am and do stuff” thing for about a month now. Despite the relative quiet on my blog, I’ve been really productive. My goal was to start getting to the gym regularly and to spend more time drawing. I think it’s going well.

I’m still figuring out what kind of gym schedule I prefer. This week, I am trying Mon-Wed-Fri for the gym and using the extra time on Tuesday and Thursday to do whatever I feel like. Today, it’s writing this blog post. Sometimes I clean my office and sometimes I just sit and snuggle my cat. I always spend at least an hour working on art.

What’s great is that doing the creative work in the morning relieves the pressure of trying to cram it in after my day job, when my brain is fried and I just want to relax. I’ve been watching TV and playing video games with my wife, and even getting some reading in before I go to sleep most nights. We even go out to get coffee and write sometimes.

So, I’m still making adjustments and figuring things out, but overall I think this has been a good change for me.

5am Status Report

The 5am thing went well last week. I woke up and got out of bed at 5am Monday through Friday. The only morning I didn’t go to the gym was Friday because I hemmed and hawed about how cold it was. Friday was also the day I felt least energized, which I attribute to the lack of exercise.

I didn’t do a great job going to bed. I’ve found that I function best on 7-8 hours of sleep, which means being asleep at 9 or 10pm. That still sounds early to me, so I was shooting for 11 or 12pm most nights. The morning exercise was keeping me functional, but I slept in pretty late Saturday and today because I was so exhausted.

This isn’t about times, though — the point of getting up and exercising was to give myself structure and focus to work on stuff before my day job used up all my brain power. This has been awesome — during the work week, I worked on art projects every morning, and worked in a little bit of writing most of those days. After the day job wrapped up, I didn’t feel guilty if all my brain could handle was watching TV or playing video games before bed. Even then, I was watching TV with a sketchbook handy, and went on a writing date with my wife late in the week.

Tentatively, I want to keep this up. I got a lot done this week, and I finally reached a point where I don’t think everything I draw sucks. The early morning discomfort is worth the sense of accomplishment that comes with it.

5am: Day 1

I stayed up to watch the Super Bowl with my wife last night. After that, I had trouble falling asleep because my body was basically saying, “Dude, what are you doing? It’s not even midnight yet.”

5am arrived sooner than I would have liked.

Thankfully, my wife — who is awesome — had set the daylight alarm clock to go off at 5am, so when my tablet started playing music at me, the room was already bright.

My gym clothes were already laid out, so I got changed, ate a yogurt, and got to the gym a bit before 5:30. I worked out for an hour and was home by 6:30. After showering and eating a banana, I had my coffee ready to go by 7am — my regular wake up time.

I generally start work at 8am, so with an hour to play with, I decided to fire up Medibang Paint and create some art. It only took 30 seconds of staring at the blank canvas to understand that my brain is not quite ready for kicking ass this early, so instead of shooting for “art”, I just played around with the different brushes that the program offers, just to see what kinds of things they do.

The end result is basically a toddler’s fever dream:

I hope this isn't the one thing I do that survives the ages.

I hope this isn’t the one thing I do that survives the ages.

I feel good. I’m tired from not getting enough sleep, but I think that will work itself out over the next few days. I love that I’ve already exercised today. I’m going to need extra coffee, and I need to eat more food, but I’m glad I tried this.