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What time should I get up for work?

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Getting out of bed can be tough sometimes and getting up to go to work can be even tougher. So, is there a better time to get up and go? Are some times of the day better than others for getting up? The answer is obviously yes, the trick is establishing what better is.

The start of your day can have a massive impact on how well the rest of your day goes. And unless you are in that type of mood where you just don’t care about anything, you want to start your day well, and you want it to keep getting better and better. It can be tricky figuring out what time you should get up to get the best out of yourself and make the most of your day. Here is a list of some things to keep in mind when trying to decide what time you should get up for work.

What job do you do?
Are you self-employed or do you work for a company?
Do you work a regular shift pattern?
Do you work nights?
How far do you have to travel to work?
Do you have other responsibilities when you get up?
Do you have a routine or make it up as you go?
Get good at improvisation
Measure it, calculate it
Feel it
State of Flow
Go to bed at a reasonable time
How to decide?

What job do you do?

If you are a milkman compared to a nightclub doorman, there is some very basic logic that you can apply to figure out what time you should get up for work. But other than the time of day your shift starts is there anything else you should consider with respect to the job you do?

Can you get away with rolling out of bed and dragging yourself to work? Or is your job that demanding that you must be fresh and alert ready to go? We all want to perform well at work, but there is a distinct difference between being a street cleaner and a heart surgeon and what you can get away with in terms of mistakes.

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Are you self-employed or do you work for a company?

If you are your own boss, how good is your self-discipline? Maybe you aren’t getting the clients you need, or you are falling behind on jobs, and never quite staying on top of your workload because you don’t get up at a suitable time?

Understandably, you could spend all of your day and night worrying and not getting a proper rest. You need to find a way to focus that allows you to address the problems you have in your work, or at home. But getting a good sleep is a great start. So have a rest and get up when you feel like you have had enough rest. It’s almost pointless trying to solve problem when you don’t have the energy or focus to do it.

Alternatively, if you work for a company your week probably have more structure to it; because you will have set hours that you work. So, you don’t have to concern yourself as much with structuring your day. It’s already done for you. All you need to do is get up and be there.

Do you work a regular shift pattern?

You might be employed by someone, but do you work a regular pattern? If you do, what is it? Is it the same time every day? Do you work the morning shift, midday, evening, or night shift? Most people have some sort of pattern, if you do then this can make planning your time much easier.

If you don’t work a pattern then you are going to need something extra special to figure out what to do. But there are a few skills and techniques that you can work on to make this easier. We’ll explore those later on in the article.

Do you work nights?

If it’s a regular arrangement that you work nights, then at least you have some consistency. But working nights isn’t always that plain and simple. It can be quite an isolating experience. Sleeping in the day can be tough. So, make sure you have some good blackout curtains or blinds. Otherwise you won’t even be able to get to sleep that easily, let alone concern yourself with what the best time to get up is!

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How far do you have to travel to work?

This is typically one of the biggest factors in deciding what time you should get up. Obviously you need to get up so that you have enough time to get to work. If it causes that much of an issue, can you relocate?

Read the article, How far is too far to commute? here.

Do you have other responsibilities when you get up?

Walking the dog. Feeding the cat. Getting the kids up. Putting out the lady next door’s bins. Who knows?! But you could have some other responsibilities in the morning that mean you have to get up at a certain time. It all adds up. You need to factor it in to your day.

Do you have a routine or make it up as you go?

This is almost like a trick question, but it genuinely has some significance. If you have a routine then you can get good at it. You can practise and master it. Then you can save yourself more time because you can get things done quicker. So, if you know, because you are good at your routine, that you can get ready to leave the house for work in 15 minutes, then you can get up with that in mind.

But the reality is, everything you do everyday you make up as you go. It just seems like when you have a routine that you don’t have to make it up as you go; because you are so invested and immersed in the sequence or method.

The real goal is learning how to respond positively and purposely to any setback. Because what are you going to do on the days when your routine doesn’t go to plan? Because one day, your toilet is going to leak, or your going to smash a plate when making breakfast, or the dog is going to throw up on the living room carpet.

At some point something you didn’t foresee happening is going to happen. And then you are going to have to deal with it. So yeah, routines are great. But being able to improvise is much better. Being able to improvise is where true ability lies.

Get good at improvisation

The main thing you have to do is get good at improvisation. Once you’ve done that, you can pretty much get away with going to bed at anytime and getting up at any time. Obviously, the general notion is that you aim to get 8 hours sleep a night. But that’s just a really basic generalisation. Sometimes people can function on much less sleep and sometimes they need more sleep. It’s all relative and specific to the individual.

So experiment with getting up at different times of day. To prove to yourself that you can do it. And experiment with going to bed at different times to prove yourself that you can do that too.

But be careful doing anything to the extreme. If you really want to do that consult a qualified health professional first.

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Measure it, calculate it

Now this might seem a little excessive, but if you really want to know what time to get up you can try actually calculating it. Time how long it takes you to do the things you need to when you get up and then add it all up. Trouble is when you start timing yourself you can become naturally a bit more self-competitive. So the time you do things in against the clock, isn’t necessarily the time that you would normally do things in when the pressure is off. But doing this will give you a more accurate idea, even if it is a little rough.

Here is a list of things you might do after getting up, in no particular order:

Go to the toilet – 5 mins
Breakfast – 5 mins
Wash and dry – 10 mins
Brush your teeth – 3 mins
Get dressed – 5 mins
Exercise – 20 mins
Stretching – 15 mins
Feed the pets – 5 mins
Take the dog for a walk – 20 mins
Get the kids up – 30 mins
Read a book or watch TV – 15 mins

Now, according to this list you need well over 2 hours in the morning to get everything done before you get up and go to work. Seems fairly reasonably. But we know that if you wanted to you can do it much quicker. And obviously, there are those days when it takes much longer.

Feel it

You need to be honest with yourself. You need to feel how tired you are and acknowledge that. If you are tired then go to sleep. That TV show, that night out, that dinner party or whatever it is can wait. You’re only going to regret it later.

It’s kind of like when you are hungry or thirsty. Those are signals that your body gives off when you are a little bit behind schedule. You’ve no real need to get hungry or thirsty if you are proactive. Feeling hungry and thirsty and basically reminders and alarm bells to tell you to eat and drink.

The same can be said about sleep. When you are yawning and have sleepy eyes, that is because you should have gone to sleep earlier. We are intelligent creatures, we know we need sleep. So factor it into your day. Don’t wait to feel tired to then decide to go to bed. Recognise what time it is and how much sleep you are likely to get and based on that decide if you are going to go to bed.

You don’t have to fall sleep straight away. Read a book. Listen to an audio book. Just enjoy chilling and relaxing in a nice comfy bed. You’ll thank yourself for it in the morning when you don’t have to drag yourself out of bed.

If you do all these things and are proactive about when you go to bed, then it won’t matter as much when you get up. The success lies in good planning. Which in reality probably lies about 3 to 4 days ago. Whatever you did then could still be the reason you are suffering now.

State of flow

Arguably, this is what you are aiming for, the ‘State of flow’. Where everything makes sense and you can just figure everything out. You know what you need to do in order to achieve what you want to achieve. Perhaps the most modern recognition of the term and concept was identified by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi. So there you go. You’ve got a name, you’ve got a concept. Do some research, check them out and see if they can benefit you.

Go to bed at a reasonable time

The real answer to, ‘What time you should get up?’ is actually found by answering the question, ‘What time should I go to bed?’.

And the answer to that is:

“Well it’s your life, so you can pretty much decide that for yourself.”

But remember, you will wake naturally when you’ve had enough sleep. We all often use alarms just to be on the safe side, just to make sure we get up on time and get ready for work. But constantly doing that is like punishment to your body and mind. If you can go to bed at a reasonable time then eventually your body will naturally figure out what time it is that you need to get up, and you’ll probably end up getting up before your alarm.

Consider switching your focus to figuring out what time you should go to bed. Focus on being proactive and laying good foundations. If you can do that, then you’ll have to worry less about figuring out the time you have to get up. You’ll be all rested and waking up on time will just happen anyway.

How to decide?

The decision of what time to get up is yours. But here are the key points:

  • Get a routine, measure it and calculate how long it takes.
  • Get good at improvisation.
  • Understand state of flow.
  • Feel it, feel how much energy you have and use it wisely.
  • Consider all the other main factors (Distance to travel, other responsibilties etc.).
  • Figure out what time to go to bed, as well as what time to get up.
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