Isn’t it funny how sometimes you consciously start doing one thing only to find two or three subconscious things happen at the same time?
I decided that after having let them slip over the last few weeks, from starting them way back last yr, it was time to pick my good habits up again.
One of them was to get a proper evening routine by going to sleep at a reasonable time and the other was to get back my early morning routine (because I love early mornings), which I’d seriously hammered since my evening routine got shot.
So about a month ago, over a weekend when I knew the weather was going to be top notch and not wanting to waste a minute of it, I prepared a Friday evening routine and enabled it (just like something out of X-Men). I was in bed by 9pm.
I was in bed that early for two reasons:
- I needed to get back into reading
- I wanted to be awake at 5am
Obviously I couldn’t make myself sleep so early but the habit of routine meant I needed to show my body and mind that it was time to relax and unwind while letting go of all the day’s thoughts (and ideas) before turning the light off.
The only way to do this, and something I’ve been very lax of late, was to switch my smart phone off.
If ever anything has not only infiltrated but ruined a nights sleep it’s my smart phone. It started with just and odd tweet and ended up with me spending a good couple of hours tweeting, watching You Tube and playing games on the damn thing – every single evening.
By the time I had finished doing all that it wasn’t unusual for me to switch the light off at midnight and still have a mind bursting full of ideas and thoughts! The phone is now turned off at 8pm every single night.
Saturday morning I was awake and up at 5am, and the same went for Sunday. The routine had begun.
You wouldn’t think having an extra two/three hours in the morning would make that much difference but it sure did. I managed to pack in a day’s work before 9am.
Most importantly the new routine has enabled me to get in nearly two hours or writing time, early morning walks, time spent in the garden, jogging, washing and cleaning the house, and time spent relaxing and reading.
By 9pm the following night I was more than ready for bed!
Discovering old loves
As the weekend flowed into the following week my 5am alarm slightly faltered a couple of days but I got back into it again by the weekend. The routine is sticking and more importantly – it’s working and a month on it’s still working!
I wanted to finish my evening routine with reading however I haven’t been able to get into any novels from the usual list at the moment. I was halfway through one and although it’s a good read, it wasn’t all that exciting. Then I thought, why am I only reading non-fiction books? We have shelves and shelves of books that are just sitting there. Why am I not reaching for those? So I did and I fell in love with books all over again.
Confession: I never used to read that many novels. At the library I’d always get armfuls of books on insects or mountains or guides to America but as I got older it just became the norm (and easier to carry) to head to the fiction sections.
From our shelves I picked up one of my favourite books – The First Time Naturalist by Nick Baker. How exciting it was to read about habitats, birds and wildlife. The pictures brought back memories of collecting caterpillars and moths, hedgehogs and slugs as a child. How had I forgotten about all this?
As I read through the book my enthusiasm just grew and I realised I needed to re-connect with nature. In my garden, as one habitat, but out there – in the woods, at the sea, in the fields nearby this is where I needed to be, and not just to walk through them, as I do usually with Mouse in tow, but to really explore them again, as I did yrs ago.
It’s easy to just take the local area for granted but now when I’m out and about I actively look at the habitat around me, even if it’s in the centre of town. I’m not just looking at the pigeons, I’m looking at the weeds growing in the cracks, or the swans on the river. I’m also trying to get out into the local habitats (I’m lucky I have two on my doorstep – coast and countryside) at least once a week. It’s great. I feel like I’ve woken up.
Approaching nature as a desk jockey
I’ve drawn a list up (I like lists a lot!), with all the birds, insects, mammals and flowers I’d like to be able to track down and photograph in their respective habitats. I figured it might be the best way to go about this, rather than just spending all day at a river or in a corn field not knowing what it is I’m looking at (although that can be just as much fun).
I have no idea if the list will be achievable or indeed if I’ll even find those on the list but it’s exciting to find out.
Starting back my routines have really opened up my world again without even looking for it.
Who said routine had to be boring?
Have you got a morning or evening routine? Let me know I’d love to hear about it.
Hi Sophie and thanks for sharing. I think I have to resume my routine as well. I’m behind in many things such as exercising (or just walking) and reading. I also love gardening and have been trying to grow vegetables for two years now. I don’t have a problem with the phone, but with Internet: it is just too attractive to browse and read thousands of articles (and blogs) and they are all interesting! As I use Facebook to keep myself updated with the organizations and projects I follow, this can be really time and energy consuming…
I’ll try to method and see if it would work for me. My problem is that I already go to bed at 9:30, but don’t sleep till 10:30 or 11:00 (because I read). I may have to be more selective with the projects I get into…
Thanks for stopping by the blog, nice to have a new reader:-)
I agree, the internet is too easy to browse around, and tends to lead you from one exciting place to another constantly onwards without realising what the time is or ever having read the one thing you logged in for in the first place!
My method works for me, but I can’t imagine it would work for anyone else. Just because we all live so differently. Early risers are very often made, rather than awaking as part of a natural wake up time. It might be that in actual fact you’re more of a night time person. It’s really just whenever you get that all important quiet time. For me it’s the morning, and like you reading in the evening. 🙂
Perhaps this is not true but Sophie, you have discipline. The sleep thing. I struggle with that too. Not because I am distracted necessarily but because I really don’t want the next miserable day to begin so soon. If I go to bed at 9pm, next thing I know it will be morning time and the days routine of getting ready for work will be upon me – and so much stuff I enjoy will be left for another day; another short window. (I read back over my words and realise I am not in a very healthy place at all, regarding work.)
I too love mornings – as much as I love sleep-ins, in fact. But struggle with them due to late nights. If I were in a position to make the choice to stay in bed or get up early, I know I would make the most of that freedom. However, my glum outlook on what _is_ often gets in the way.
Hi Pavel, thanks for reading the post.
You’ve kinda highlighted a couple of things in your response there – work being one and late nights being the other.
Let me say it’s very hard to get into a routine if work or anything else is constantly adding pressure to your life. There are bigger things that sometimes have to be dealt with before a routine can be established.
It might sound like I have discipline but this is not the case. In fact a few studies have shown that discipline is a myth that can never be achieved. It’s more a case of creating a habit you can stick to and I’m no where near perfect at being able to get up at the same time every day. I just do it as often as I can and if I fail well then so be it, I’ll pick it up again tomorrow. 🙂
In my (very humble) experience late nights are often the result of a bad day…it takes such a long time to wind down that by 11pm you’re just feeling ‘alive’ again before realising you need to get some sleep ready to fight another day.
However if you genuinely want to enjoy an early morning then it has to start the night before. I am quite jealous of people that can survive on 5hrs of sleep a night but this is not something I can do, nor should we. Sleep and relaxation are as important as exercise and eating right.
Let me know how you get on. If you ever need an encorouging word – get in touch 🙂