Two Sundays ago I found myself going to bed ridiculously early because 1) I dragged myself through a long, hot day and 2) I had a pre-work appointment with a client at the Young Human Factory.
“I’d hate to get up this early every morning,” the client said. However, I noticed my colleagues already at work: the same ones who seldom linger after it. They’re morning people.
I used to be a morning person. In fact, I had to agree not to sing or whistle in the morning when I roomed with the lovely-but-deadly-before-noon M’e. My college schedule began early and almost all my college-era jobs had me climbing out of bed in the wee hours.
That changed after college because, in general, employers ask you to stay late, not come in early. My previous employer was notorious for roping singletons into extra hours at the last minute; the married-with-kid managers were notorious for it. Gradually I grew into a evening person.**
A fake morning person.
You see, I’m still a morning person. My commute is only a mile, but I get up at least two hours before work. Why? I spend the time on housework.
In the pre-dawn hours, I vacuum, do laundry, put away dishes, et al. In fact, I set an alarm so that I don’t become so engrossed in home projects (like stripping wallpaper) that I run late for work!
What would happen if I spent those hours at work? I decided to start work earlier at least a few days, just to see if it was beneficial. Oh, yes! Let me count the ways:
- The printer is all mine!
- There are no outer distractions.
- There are no inner distractions as when after-work ideas easily come to mind.
- There is a beneficent cycle – the opposite of a “vicious cycle” – in which I set up my work for the next day and thus arrive ready to work.
The fourth is particularly impressive. My typical workday ends with me scrambling to finish paperwork so that I can beat the after-work rush to (insert name of store or municipal office). Eight times out of ten, I give up trying to leave. I’d rather get work done than tote it home with me. And sometimes while I was scrambling, someone walked in on me and was oh-so-pleasantly-surprised because “You’re still here! I have a question.” (And judging from the nature of the conversations that ensue “I have a question” translates to “I have time to kill and game apps are beginning to bore me, so entertain me a bit until my evening engagement, will you?”)
But by working early and leaving shortly after quitting time, I avoid the rush and the time-wasting. I’ve spent more time with friends and family in the last two weeks than I did in the prior two months.
** A work-late culture wasn’t entirely bad. I started taking Wayne State’s evening classes but, as I neared completion of its program, the requirements could only be fulfilled with day classes. I easily talked my bosses into letting me reported to work at noon and making me the go-to person for field offices in later time zones.