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I’ve been experimenting with my Ideal Day. Specifically, I’ve been trying to get more sleep by sleeping in longer to see if I felt better. It hasn’t worked and I think it has to do with my chronotype… my natural sleep cycle.

My Morning Experiment

Daniel Pink describes the main chronotypes in his book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. I won’t go into too much detail other than to say it’s enlightening. NEVER have surgery in the afternoon!

The two main chronotypes are larks and owls. Larks have the most energy in the morning and owls later in the day.

I think I used to be an owl. I’d wake up late and go to bed later. I always worked best late into the night.

Then, kids and my business happened. I quickly found that if I wanted to start my day calmly, I needed to take advantage of the time available to me before everyone else woke up. That’s when I began developing my morning routine.

As my responsibilities have changed, I had begun to wonder if I could get more rest and increase my health if I slept in a bit. I shifted my wake time from an always hard 5am to “whenever I naturally woke up”. That ended up being sometime between 6:30 and 8 am.

That’s up to 3 hours of my day gone. But, I was getting sleep, right?

Wrong.

I began staying up later. I couldn’t get to sleep until sometimes 12 or 1am. I was still only getting six or seven hours of sleep but now I was getting less done.

I was not really accomplishing much in those late hours. I didn’t have energy or focus to work at night the way that I did when I was younger. I was wasting hours of time each evening and sleeping away my precious morning hours.

I’m not an owl. If I ever was, those days are gone. I’m a lark.

I know now by experimenting with my sleep schedule and my ideal day, waking up early is best for me.

I also learned that, no matter when I go to sleep, I naturally wake up after six to seven hours of rest.

That’s very reassuring because I always felt guilty for getting less… Like I was damaging myself in some way. Apparently, that’s just how I work.

My Current Ideal Day

This is the schedule I am now getting back into:

5-6am – wake, coffee, Define My Day, meditate, read/learn
6-7am – exercise
7-8am – shower, spend time with kids
8:30-12pm – Priority Time – I try to put all of my most important tasks here
12-1pm – lunch/learn
1pm-5ish – work, loose ends, to-do’s
6:30-7:30pm – dinner
7:30-9pm – family time
9-10pm – wind down/go to bed

My days don’t always follow this schedule. In fact, some weeks, most don’t. But I do know that when I follow it, I’m taking advantage of my chronotype by waking early and using the morning to get things done.

Experiment With Your Day

The Ideal Day is not meant to be a rigid schedule. It’s a framework to take advantage of your most productive times. Building routine helps everyone become more efficient. Building routine while taking advantage of our natural chronotype is dynamic.

As a lark, I have more focused energy in the morning. I only know that because I’ve tried different schedules. I recommend you do the same.