Don’t do this at home

Not that it matters, but today is the 401st day that I’ve got up to work at 5am. Now, possibly that seems normal to you, possibly it seems a lie-in but I can’t find a way to say it to you without a suggestion of a boast. Yet, I do it from a certain necessity, I vehemently don’t want you to do it, and anyway I’m rubbish at it.

The plan was that on a regular working week I would start at 5am. There had to be exceptions: if I had a speaking engagement late that night then forget 5am, my voice wouldn’t be working right. Similarly, if I had one the night before then forget 5am, I may not have wound down enough to sleep before 4am. Then a distressing number of times I’ve been ill with colds, I booked a holiday once. And there was an interlude where I’d done all the projects I had on my plate and I found myself up at 5am reading Facebook. Nuts to 5am for a while there.

I said this was the plan but I didn’t say when I planned it. All the reasons for getting up at 5am – the phone doesn’t ring for a good five hours, emails don’t come in for a while either and also I just unfortunately write better – came together for me on the night of Tuesday, 1 January 2013 and I started the next morning.

I know what you’re thinking. Wednesday, 2 January 2013 was 1,171 days ago and of course you’re right. But remember, this was about a pattern for the week’s work so that date is just 836 weekdays ago. That’s better.

It’s still rubbish: out of 836 days that I could’ve got up at 5am, I’ve done so 401 times. That’s about 50% If you’re being generous. I can tell you that there has never been a single day when I decided at 5am that I wasn’t getting up. There have been a few where I decided at 3am, but that’s still fine. If I mentally book a lie-in ahead of time, that’s in the rules.

Still, 50% is not brilliant. I’m driven to tell you that even on half the plan, it’s worked out for me enough that I feel I’ve little choice but to continue. Since Wednesday, 2 January 2013, I’ve had two short stories published, I’ve performed three, produced four events, written eight non-fiction books, produced 30 podcast radio shows, run 288 workshops or presentations and written something in the order of 3,000 articles.

All rubbish, obviously.

Logically, I would surely have done at least some of that even if I didn’t get up early. But no, I don’t think so. As well as writing better and writing faster in the horrible early hours, there’s a psychological benefit to it. I sit here screaming and wanting my pillow but also I get imbued with a sense of I’m up now and it was bloody hard so I’d better well get on with it, then.

Also, consider this a tip from the wounded: Apple Watch is a godsend. It silently tickles my wrist at 5am and I can’t ignore it but I’m the only person it disturbs.

Well, you’re looking pretty disturbed at me right now. And you’re also wondering what time I go to bed. After 400 goes at this, I am hopeful that tonight I’ll finally figure out a decent time to go to bed. Because yes, I struggle with this and there are times when I slump over the keyszzzzzzdjkjzfddwefd0493redsx.