When All Else Fails… Wake Up At 4:30am

posted by Andrea | 04/12/2012

Most of you know that I am a HUGE advocate for getting enough sleep. I know for a fact that Dave and I are so much more productive if we regularly get a good night of sleep… not to mention the health benefits of getting enough sleep. For as long as I can remember, I’ve needed a lot of sleep — which is just one more reason motherhood is so rough on me. I never even had a curfew in high school because my parents knew I would be home in order to go to bed on time (yes, true story!)

However, I’m also big on productivity and “getting stuff done”… so with a new baby who rarely takes naps during the day, I’m often forced to use the time when she’s sleeping at night to get stuff done.

Since I’m most definitely a morning person and basically can’t do any quality/focused work after 10:00pm, I’ve started going to bed around 10:00pm (or earlier) ONE night a week… and then getting up around 4:30am the following morning.

That still give me about 6 hours of sleep {with one baby feeding in there} PLUS, I get at least 3 hours of totally uninterrupted time to work and be productive before Nora wakes up in the morning.

Even though I’m a morning person, I definitely couldn’t wake up at 4:30 every day {nor would I recommend you do this either}, but I can handle doing it ONE day a week. And while it’s difficult to actually get my butt out of bed, it’s worth it for the amount of stuff I can accomplish in such a short period of time.

Obviously, I have to do activities that are quiet so I don’t wake others… but I’m always amazed at how much I can accomplish during MY hours!

  • draft, write, and edit blog posts
  • edit photos / work on digital photo albums
  • respond to emails and clean out my Inbox
  • Virtual Assistant work
  • laundry
  • sweep/dust
  • pick up the house
  • cook/bake/prepare food
  • clip coupons
  • make my grocery list
  • create our weekly meal plan

I’m trying (really hard) to be more productive after Nora goes to bed (usually around 8:30 or 9:00 pm), but I can still do almost twice as much per hour when I work in the morning. So until Nora starts taking naps… I’ll continue to wake up really early ONE morning each week.

I’ve decided that one night of less sleep is worth it to have a full block of uninterrupted time… and it’s the best solution I have at this point! 

Of course, if you are a night person, you could try doing the opposite and stay up until 2:00 or 3:00 am one night a week to get stuff done then. Or if you work better in the afternoon, you could consider hiring help for 2-4 hours one day a week.

Also, this idea would work well even if you don’t have children, but frequently get distracted throughout the day. I can almost guarantee you won’t have visitors, telemarketers, or many other distractions at 4:30 am :)

Do you know when you’re most productive? How do you utilize that time?

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24 comments

  1. Marie

    04/12/2012

    I’m definitely a morning person as well which is why I think it’s so hard for me to get housework and school work done after I get off of work at 4pm. When I try to sit down and do homework around seven, I’m so easily distracted and it takes me two hours to accomplish what I could’ve done in an hour if I could work on homework at 7am Instead. On the weekends I’m usually the first one up in the morning and between the hours of 730am and 10 when my husband gets up, I can get so much accomplished before he even gets out of bed. I think that’s probably why I naturally wake up so much earlier than him on the weekends because although I would love to sleep in too, I know if I wake up late, my day is blown because I won’t have the ambition to do anything.

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  2. Tammy

    04/12/2012

    I went the opposite from you and worked evening/nights (medical transcription) when my kids were younger and still home since I’m a night owl. I use to come alive about 8 pm. I also homeschooled all 4 of my kids so it allowed me the daytime hours to focus on schooling and sports with them. I was able to be highly productive as well. The only problem was people didn’t understand that I slept until nearly noon most days and would call and wake me up or schedule things so I’d miss my sleep. My kids were also night owls like me so it wasn’t unusual for them to decide to do they next day’s work at midnight so they could sleep in later the next day. I ended up using my breaks when I was uploading and downloading files to explain school work. It worked for us but many people thought our schedule was a bit odd. The funny thing is I really miss it now the kids are gone.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Hey, whatever works Tammy!
    If you’re a night person, more power to you!! For me, the thought of trying to anything productive at midnight is just craziness :)

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  3. Tammy Skipper (@Tammy_Skipper)

    04/12/2012

    I have known many moms who woke up an hour earlier each weekday to do this but I like the idea of one really early morning per week. I’m like you, I need the uninterrupted time more than I need lots of little pockets of time. I’d say you’re working smart and finding what works best for you, things I wish I’d done a LOT earlier in parenting. By the way, this is a great tip for homeschooling moms too who feel they don’t have uninterrupted time either!

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes Tammy — doing it just ONE morning a week is very do-able for me b/c I know it’s just that one day and I can “sleep in” a bit more on the other days. Sometimes, I almost look forward to waking up early because I know how much I’ll be able to accomplish! Yes, I’m a sick woman :)

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  4. Amy

    04/12/2012

    If you ever figure out that nap thing….pleeeease let me know. My baby girl is one week younger than Nora. She does nap sometimes but it’s definitely not a guarantee. Lately she’s up a lot at night too (every 1 1/2 hours) so I’m pretty tired round the clock. I know I could do the “cry it out” method…but I feel like she’s a bit too young for that. Maybe when she’s older……
    It’s just amazing what I can get done in an hour these days if I’m lucky enough to get that blissful hour :) I love reading your blog, successes, and struggles. ( on my iPhone while I’m breastfeeding :) ….it’s the only chance I get!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Will do Amy — and the last 2 weeks, Nora has been waking up all the time during the night as well (she used to only wake up once). Maybe they are in a “growth spurt” time again!

    And I’m not very good with the “cry it out” thing either. When she wakes up, she’s hungry — REALLY hungry — so I can’t not feed her!

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  5. Organize 365

    04/12/2012

    I love it! I too am more productive in the morning.

    I have found that if I can get a 20 minute nap between 2 and 4 I can work one hour later at night.

    My natural energy runs out around 7 or 8, but with a nap I can “thnk” until 9 or 10!

    :)
    Lisa

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  6. BethA

    04/12/2012

    Kuddos to you for being able to get up so early AND be productive! I joke with my sister because we have decided we both need more sleep than the average person. I would like to go to bed early and sleep late! I seem to hit my stride mid-day. I get a lot done in the 10 am to 2 pm stretch. I usually work while I eat lunch because I am in a groove and don’t want to stop and take the time to eat – but I’m hungry!

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  7. Anabela

    04/12/2012

    Hi!

    First of all congratulations for your site, it’s has great tips and I love it.

    I’m a morning person too and I’m thinking of implementing that strategy too because I can distract very easily (I’m doing it right now!), so it can be a really good thing.

    Greetings,
    Anabela

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  8. Cheyenne

    04/12/2012

    I’m a barista, so I often START work at 4:30am. Even on my days off, its natural for me to pop outta bed bright and early and start my day. Before you get jealous at my innate morning-person-ness, know that I do awful (grumpy, irritable, unfocused) after 7pm. I actually told my husband the other day “I’m going to start not doing anything after 6pm. Not even clean up dinner dishes.” He couldnt care less! Ha! He’d rather have a messy house and a happy wife, I guess. Here’s to early morning productivity and an early bedtime!!

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  9. Thrifty Military Mommy

    04/12/2012

    I’m totally the opposite. I cannot get up that early so I just work into the night instead. Interesting how we’re all so different, huh? Great problem solving, though!

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  10. Patty@homemakersdaily.com

    04/12/2012

    I’m a DAYTIME person! I don’t really hit my stride until about 10:00 in the morning and then I’m done at about 8:00 or 8:30 p.m. I’ve been having trouble getting that uninterrupted block of time you mentioned so I decided to get up early. It didn’t work well for me. I struggle with insomnia so my best sleeping is between 5:00 and 8:00 a.m. Giving that up made for a very grouchy girl!

    Staying up late doesn’t work well either because my husband likes me to go to bed the same time he does, about 10:30. So I’m working on other strategies for carving out a block of time. I’m determined to do it so I’ll let you know what I come up with.

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  11. Karla

    04/12/2012

    Hi Andrea,

    About Nora’s sleeping. I have 3 kids and had the same problem (up a lot at night, hardly napping) with the first two. The problem was that they didn’t know how to fall asleep on their own. They only fell asleep if I nursed them, rocked them, or in the car. At four months I “sleep trained” each of them and it was a miracle! (This is the earliest age all the experts say you can do it.) Babies (everyone actually) have sleep cycles and naturally rouse every 45 mins-1hr. If your baby doesn’t know how to soothe themselves back to sleep, they will fully wake themselves up and cry. After the sleep training, they each started taking longer and longer naps and I actually got them on a schedule! I could just put them in their beds and say good night and they would fall asleep on their own. They didn’t stop waking up at night at this point, but much less frequently and I would just feed them quickly and put them back to bed awake. The book I used was How to Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems by Richard Ferber. Just thought I’d share. Imagine how much more you could get done if she could start taking 2 nice long naps a day!
    Karla

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  12. Debra Kapellakis

    04/12/2012

    I like your idea, I wish I would have thought of it when my little ones were babies. Thank you for sharing.

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  13. Laurel

    04/12/2012

    I, like you can get tons done in the early morning and as it gets closer to 5:00 pm my accomplishments start to dwindle. I used to do the same thing-get up way earlier than my kids so I could get something done. I found the sense of accomplishment often offset the tiredness. I did it for more than one day a week though and looking back, may have done it too frequently because by the end of the week, I was dragging! Have you tried feeding Nora less and less in the middle of the night? All 4 of our kids slept through the night very early and I attribute it to them being big, tubby kids when they were born (they’re skinny things now) :) I remember when I was dealing with one of them getting up in the night after they had been sleeping through, I think when they get sick and wake up in the night, they have to relearn the sleeping through the night thing. Anyway, I remember each night nursing him/her (whichever one of my children it was) for fewer minutes each night in the night. I would rock a little and let them get back to sleep. It seemed to work. They quickly got back to not depending on that night feeding for nourishment and got what they needed during the day. I didn’t worry about starving them because until they about 2 yrs, they were all at least in the 90th percentile for weight so I don’t think that’s really an issue. Sounds like you’re rolling with the punches, as they say!

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  14. Kelekona

    04/12/2012

    My sleep cycle goes wonky at times, but when I naturally wake up at stupid-o-clock, I find that I still don’t want to start my day until the sun has cleared the horizon and any other obstructions. Waking up at the first lightening of the sky would actually be perfect.

    I have most of the normal day for whatever, and what’s really annoying is that I’m most inclined towards making dinner at noon. (Actually useful for recipes that start off hot and benefit from spending four hours on low with the occasional stir.)

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  15. Danita

    04/12/2012

    Ha Ha Ha!!! I just did this last night and this AM! Although it looked more like late night and Early Morning – I had so many things swirling around in my head that needed done (which also took some creative thinking) so I knew I might as well just get out of bed and do it while the inspiration was hitting! I work way better in the “off” hours whether Am or PM…….with three kiddos it seems like between 8am – 8pm I get nothing done!
    Thanks for sharing, gives me the motivation to do this “on purpose” a little more often.

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  16. jerilyn

    04/12/2012

    I’m the same way! right now my 3rd baby is 6 weeks old so I don’t get up at the same time every morning… but if he is up 4:30 or earlier I go back to bed. If he is up at 5 or later I get up and stay up. I hate waking up when my older children get up- it feels unplanned and rushed, the whole day is thrown off and I lose my 2 hours of calmness and productivity. During this season, having that morning time is especially important because this is my first baby that has the evening “witching hour” and wants to cluster feed all evening- definitely cannot get anything done. I actually look forward to that 5-7am block of time :)

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  17. sarah

    04/12/2012

    When my kids were babies that early morning time was essential for me to get stuff done. Now that they are older and are in school and preschool there are different windows of time. I still however like getting up a chunk of time before the kids if life is super hectic or when they are out of school.
    Not for nothing, I also found when I was and am for that matter able to have that productive time early in the day I can feel like my head is on straight for the rest of the day and I’m not chasing my tail all day long. The end of the day tends to come to an early end but thats ok too.
    Happy early mornings!
    :)

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  18. Carola

    04/12/2012

    It’s a great idea if you have the self-control to keep it to one day a week. When we adopted a sibling group of 3 children I found I wasn’t getting anyting accomplished. One night a week soon mushroomed into an everynight a week habit as I enjoyed the silence and productive time alone. Two years later my body crashed violently and it took me 10+ years to recover. Now I chose to lower my standard and live a more positive, realistic life.

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  19. Joel Zaslofsky - Enlightened Resource Management

    04/12/2012

    Hi Andrea,

    I’m a new guy around here but I really like what I’m seeing. The design is awesome, the organization of the site is, dare I say, fantastic, and the content really seems groovy. I think I’ll be coming back for more! Consider me your newest RSS subscriber and someone who will be checking in as I seek to grow my personal finance and organization site in the coming months and years.

    Keep it up!

    [Reply]

  20. Time & technology | Smart Living Blog

    04/17/2012

    [...] So, after you’ve gotten a full night of deep, refreshing sleep, are you ready to get up at 4:30 a.m. to tackle your day? Thanks to a baby and a busy career, Andrea Dekker says she’s making a 4:30 commitment one day a week to get a jump on her to-do list. With three extra hours while everyone else is still in bed, she says she’s amazed at all the things she can accomplish. (Simple Organized Living) [...]

  21. 10 Tips For Working From Home | Skipper Clan

    04/17/2012

    [...] of your top three motivators. Work at night if it means you can attend a child’s school play. Get up early one day a week so you can enjoy your infant. Take sick days when you or your children need to, just as you would with another job. Work more [...]

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