2013-01-21: The Early Bird Special Schedule

The source for this post is online at 2013-01-21-schedule.scrbl.

Categories: Efficiency Family

I’ve recently started having a new schedule that optimizes a lot of different things in my life. In this post, I describe the schedule and how I implemented it.


As long as I can remember, I’ve been an early-riser. I remember waking up hours before I needed to in elementary school so I could watch cartoons before school. When I was doing my undergrad degree, I preferred to take as many early classes as possible. When I was in grad school, I tried to be in my office reliably at 9am. Throughout this whole time, I tried to sleep from 10pm to 6am.

When I started professing, I continued that tradition and tried to be in around 9am, as well. However, since I was walking, it would take about 45 minutes to get in, so sometimes I would arrive around 9:15am, since I would typically leave at 8:30am. I would work for about three hours, then have lunch (normally about 40 minutes), then work for another three hours, before walking home around 4pm, so I would arrive back at my house at 5pm for dinner with my family. All together, I worked about six hours a day (a little more usually though, but rarely more than seven hours).

This was a fine schedule, but during the Christmas break, I was thinking about how the majority of my free time was when my kids were asleep. I was "free" between 6am and 8:30am (although really I was working out, reading my scriptures before leaving, etc) and then at night from 5pm to 10pm. Of these seven-ish hours, my kids were only awake for about two of them: 7am to 8am and 5pm to 6:30pm. The first hour didn’t really count though, because I was busy getting ready for work and they were busy waking up. The second hour wasn’t significant either because we had dinner and then we were putting them to bed. (I’d like to note, however, that I had a lot of time to devote to the kids on the weekend.)

In the middle of the break I decided to try something new: I would wake up at 4am and go immediately to work, so I’d arrive around 5am. Rather than walking, I would run, so I could cut down on my travel time (and improve my fitness) a bit. I would then work for about seven hours and run back home for lunch around noon. After that, I’d shower and be with my kids the rest of the day. After they went to bed at 6:30pm-ish, I’d have time for myself (and my wife) until about 8:45pm, when I got ready to go to sleep by 9pm.

This new schedule has the following features:
  • I sleep for 1 hour less. I don’t think this is a major problem or difference, because I wasn’t reliably going to bed at 10pm anyways.

  • I work for almost the exact same amount of time, but lean towards my previous maximum. In addition, I don’t break for lunch, so I work more contiguously. (Lest you be worried for my students, I still give very liberal office hours: 7am to noon, every day.)

  • I work during the morning when there are very few interruptions or distractions.

  • I run more and feel much more fit. I used to run on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for about 3 miles, but now I run every day (except the weekend) for 2.6 miles twice.

  • I spent almost six hours of quality time with my kids. Occasionally they take naps or have other activities, so that time can be own free time.

  • I still have two hours of totally free time for movies, etc in the evening with my wife.

  • My wife is happier too, because she goes to bed at the same time as me, but can sleep in later and enjoy more sleep than she used to. But still, she can wake up before the kids and get herself ready for the day.

This has been an amazing and life-changing innovation in our family. It’s great.

I used a few pieces of technology to help me in this change:

I started with this new schedule almost a month ago and I don’t see any reason I won’t do it for a very long time. It’s been a great blessing and I highly recommend it.