A few weeks ago someone asked me how I have a full time job and a baby and get stuff done on this project. There's no big secret other than being very deliberate about how I spend my time.
I've talked before about how I do most of my side project work in the morning. But it wasn't always that way.
In college I was a night owl. Trips to Whataburger at 3am were not unusual. My normal schedule was to sleep until noon and run across the street to Taco Bell for "breakfast." Also, once I had three big projects due and stayed up for 70 hours and actually experienced mild hallucinations. My friend Gary noticed something was wrong and pulled me out of the computer science basement dungeon, drove me to Chik-fila™ and force fed me Chik-n-Minis™ until I became lucid again. Huh, I guess a lot of my college stories involve fast food. I miss that metabolism. What a beautiful and innocent time.
When I moved to New York in 2010 I was part of a Meetup called NY Night Owls. It was coworking at night in Chinatown at the New Work City space, an OG of NYC coworking where I was a member. Side note: it needs to be pointed out that the photo from that article in the Times includes Kelly Sutton (who went on to found Layervault), and Jon Wegener and Benny Wong (who went on to found Timehop).
When I was separated from my wife for six months in 2015, I started waking up early and heading to a coffee shop where I'd read and write before I'd hop on the train to the office. It started as an accident, but it felt incredible to be productive before the day really got started. I wrote more about that over here a while ago, but here's what I said:
If I stayed up a little too late the night before, it was nearly impossible to pull myself out of bed early — a natural fail-safe for getting enough rest. Also, I was forced to make progress in the hours between my first sip of coffee and heading off to work on time, so there was a natural deadline built in. I got in the habit of mentally blocking off tasks in two-hour chunks. Often the very last thing I would do before closing my laptop was to write a quick synopsis of what I had worked on that morning, any new thoughts that had come up, and exactly what I needed to do next. The following morning I could pick up right where I left off. By accomplishing something first-thing, the stakes were lower for the rest of the day.
The morning thing worked really well for me for a while. I thought maybe I'd go the rest of my life on mornings—until recently. Stephanie went back to work, which means I'm responsible for our adorable baby Cecilia from whenever she wakes up until the nanny gets here at nine. Each morning a countdown clock starts in my head. Granted, it's a countdown to a cute bomb of gummy smiles and baby talk, but not much gets done once the little princess awakes from her slumber.
The last couple of weeks I've been trying to get a groove going in the morning and ending up frustrated. What worked so well for a few years isn't going to work anymore. I have to change, and change is hard.
I get home from work around six. Cecilia goes to bed reliably around seven. These night hours are the most consistent chunk of focus time I'm going to get. I guess I have to gently nudge my circadian rhythms a bit.
Today I chugged a 12oz Red Bull Sugar Free™ when I got home from work.
It's 1am now. 😳