I can’t remember a time when I was not a night owl, even as a kid and then as a teenager I had trouble to fall asleep at night. Like many people, immediately after lying down to my bed, all the thoughts of the world were coming to my mind to make sure I would not fall asleep…
It got worse when I was at the university because I had an excuse, we had a ton of different projects we had to finish overnight. It is hard to get up in the morning when you finished working at 4am, but when you work during the night, when the entire city is asleep, it’s kind of mesmerizing, there is a weird feeling as is you were smarter or something like that, and I still love this feeling.
When I started to work as a freelancer after I graduated in 2016, I was very often home alone, which meant I could work at anytime I wanted. Back then, a regular day of work for me was starting at 11:30am to finish at 3:am, I was sleeping in my office for a few hours and another day would start. I liked living like this, but there was a major drawback: Whenever I needed to call one of my partners or customers, everyone was available during the morning only, while I was asleep, but nobody was available at night, that’s the first time I realized I would need to learn how to get up early.
I kept living like this for 6 months or so and then I got hired by a startup where I worked as a freelancer before. We had office hours, 9:30am to 6:30pm, it took me a few days be able to get up at 9am again, but it was painful. Even if everybody was very satisfied by my work, I was frustrated to be fully operational and motivated only after 10am, I was working slowly in the morning, getting easily distracted by small things.
Between 2016 and 2018, I had different positions in different companies, and from April 2018, I started to work remotely for a startup based in another city. The thing is that finding the motivation and having the self-discipline to get up early even if it is not mandatory was way more difficult. I started to get up at 9:30am to start working at 9:31…
But one day…
In October 2018 I decided to do the «Inktober» challenge.
What is the Inktober challenge?
Inktober is a challenge which consists of drawing something everyday, only made of paper and ink, and posting it on the internet during the month of October. It’s only for yourself, there is no competition, but it’s really motivating as you see the progress you do, and the most important, you learn much self-discipline.
In 2018 I was really into drawing, so I really wanted to try this challenge I had never done before.
The problem was that I didn’t have enough time during my day to do it, between my full-time job, my startup and my family, the only way I had to make it happen, was to get up earlier than usual, everyday (including saturday and sunday) for 1 complete month. I estimated that I needed to get up 2 hours earlier, meaning getting up at 7:00am and starting to draw right away to produce complete piece everyday.
This was exactly the kind of challenge I needed
I won’t lie, it was hard, not only because I was getting up earlier than usual, but anyone who has done the Inktober challenge will tell you that it is a real commitment and that producing one complete drawing per day is exhausting.
By the end of October it was getting harder to find the inspiration for the drawings BUT it was easier to get up in the morning ! And guess what… I was falling asleep really easily at night, which never happened to me ever before.
At the end of the challenge, it was a big relief, I succeeded and I was happy to think about the possibility to sleep until 9am in the morning again! And guess what, the next day, I got up at 7am, for no particular reason, and the day after, even during the week-end!
Now I feel great about it, I feel like I can do anything during these 2 extra hours I got, everyday, for the rest of my life, which is a pretty big deal for me as a former night owl.
PS: I know many people get up at 5 in the morning and have no problem with that and I admire you, but anyway I hope that this story can eventually help a fellow night owl who is looking for a way to change his/her sleeping habits.
PPS: Inktober is a challenge for people who like to draw, but there are many other challenges like NaNoWriMo during November for people who like to write and I’m sure you can find one you’ll like! Or create one!