Why you must get up early even as a WFH employee

TelecommutingTime ManagementWork From HomeWorking Remotely

The other week I was answering some very fair questions from my parents about how my work from home job actually works (“But Janie what do you do all day?”) Since it’s often helpful for people to understand another person’s experience by considering their own reality, at one point my mom began to talk me through her own daily routine. She started and really focused on her morning. She gets up pretty early, pours a cup of coffee (side note: she and my dad have this adorable/practical rule that whoever gets up first makes the first pot of coffee and whoever gets up second makes the bed), walks outside to get the paper then spends 10 minutes reading The Star Ledger (#jersey) at the kitchen table. She noted that she always does a biiiiiig stretch on the patio outside (which I can actually visualize her doing), which may seem like a trivial part of her morning but is actually really important to her. It’s part of how she greets and begins her day: regardless of whether it’s 80 degrees or 20 degrees she does this and it has become part of her ritual.

I’ve always believed that mornings set the tone for the day. And rituals set the tone of our mornings. I studied Anthropology in college and rituals are proven to be vital parts of our lives and cultures. They create comfort and routine and contribute to us feeling like ourselves. A morning ritual can be just as important as a family ritual like hanging Christmas stockings together during the holidays in that if you don’t do it you can feel off.

When you are a remote employee and don’t have children or pets to care for, or a partner getting up early to begin his or her day, it can be incredibly difficult to get up early. If I don’t have a meeting until 9:30 that I don’t have to actively participate in it can be appealing to lay half asleep in bed until 7:30, 8, or even 8:30. But what that does that get me? A little more non-restful sleep. And more importantly it takes time away from my own time.

I don’t have complex AM routines. Sometimes I workout but more times than not I let myself wake up leisurely: I make coffee, open the front door to see what the weather is like, sometimes I make a big breakfast but a lot of times I sit down and turn on the news or draft a blog post while having my morning coffee. Since I am so acutely aware of ensuring my 9-5 work-time is dedicated to work this is some of the only time really set aside for me when I’m motivated and ready to take on the day. I really like to enjoy it because it’s allllll mine. Only after easing myself into my day with my rituals do I feel ready to tackle what’s ahead.

When you head into an office you might have anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours of time to yourself as you get ready and commute. Yes many people have to get kids ready and drop them off; but hopefully they carve out a a small moment to themselves, even if it’s a slow deep breath before leaving their car or getting off the train. As a remote employee it’s critical to give yourself even this time for a deep breath before you start your day.

What’s your morning ritual? Do you need to get your gym-time in? Read or watch the news? Share below!

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  • Jane – I love this post because it applies to a regular 9-5, working from home, AND grad school! During my third year of law school, both this semester and last semester, I didn’t have class until 9:50 Monday-Wednesday. That meant I needed to leave my apartment by 9:10 to get to school, park, and get settled in class — but I was still finding myself rolling out of bed and into school and drinking my coffee during class instead of really being awake and attentive by the time class started. Then, after class, I always had other obligations – work, externship, homework, applying for jobs, etc., and on top of all that, I still wanted to spend time with my friends. I never really took any time to pull myself together or have a moment to myself, even though with a light 3L class schedule, I had what appeared to be a lot of “free time”. Even when i tried to work out in the morning, 80% of the time I would decide the extra hour or so of sleep was more necessary. After a month or so of that lifestyle and realizing I was spinning my wheels and going crazy, I joined Orange Theory Fitness and made a commitment to myself to sign up for a 7am class on the days that i didnt have class for school until 9:50. (Note: Orange Theory charges you for the class even if you don’t show up — so deciding to sleep that extra hour wasn’t an option on a law student budget!!) By making this commitment, I was finished working out by 8am, and had time to shower, get ready, and sit and enjoy my coffee while watching the Today Show (and the first 10 minutes of Kelly and Michael!) every morning before my daily obligations really started. Though all of this might not be fully doable in the real world, it made a huge difference in my focus, productivity, and overall happiness during my last year of law school.

    • I’m so glad you found this relate-able as a student and found a way to design a schedule that worked for you this past year! I completely agree that whether it’s school, work, or any other life stage having meaningful routines help us use our energy and time best.

      Thanks for reading and for comment numero uno and congratulations with being done with 3L! 😀

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