A Work-Life-Balance hack that changed my life — part 1
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As someone who always struggled with getting up in the morning and is still struggling with discipline THIS stepped up my game!
Don’t we all know this scenario? Trying to fall asleep, because we have to get back up in the morning to go to our 9–5's?
If you are anything like me by the time you’ll go to bed, probably already later than is good for you, you’ll find yourself worrying you might not hear the alarm the next morning. This in turn doesn’t really help you fall asleep at all! And the later it gets, the more your worries rise, the less probable it is that you fall asleep and the more it becomes almost unavoidable that you oversleep.
You don’t realise that you then did fall asleep. The next thing you remember is that your alarm didn’t ring at all. It really did, but you didn’t hear it and if you’re lucky enough you have like ten minutes left until you have to leave your flat just so that you barely make it in time, in a massive hurry, to work. And that’s just the best case scenario.
I can’t count how many mornings like that I’ve had. During school time, in my twenties when I didn’t “work” but followed my dreams not so much, but whenever I had a job there the same. And since my early 30’s when I actually started to work full-time.
I started working at a factory after a failed attempt to work at my best friends dad retail-company. This factory job should become the first job I’ve ever done where I would work for the same company for approx. 5 years, after my previous record has been 6 months.
I worked in shifts, 6 days early (6am-2pm), 6 days late (2pm-10pm) and nightshift (10pm-6am). After that I’d have a week off, at least that was the plan. In the beginning, when I was a temp I spent more off-weeks in the factory than outside of it. But the problems I mentioned above stayed the same. Too often did I come too close to oversleeping, while that literally meant that I basically started out each day in dread and terror. While I was capable of reducing the actual amount of times I really came too late to work to a minimum, a personal best for me, still: that’s just no way to live!
At some point I thought about different possibilities how to go about my days. This “going to sleep before work”-thing just didn’t work for me. So I tried “going to sleep after work”. I basically stood up whenever I felt ready, spend my day before work with whatever I would do, probably nothing really productive, then go to work and after that I’d go to sleep.
The benefit was at least I didn’t face the danger of oversleeping. And I got to work without the stresses I’ve faced previously. But, as you can surely imagine, I wouldn’t be at work for long before I’ve become tired for the first time. There’s something cruel about a scenario where you usually would sit in front of your PC in the evening, getting tired slowly over hours but actually having that happen while you are at work, a hard, physical job in that as well (that factory thing really was no joke). The last hours of the day turned into some form of torture where at times it took me every single amount of willpower I’ve had to take a shower after work before going home and falling into bed basically broken. But I got up in the “morning”, so it should be worth it, right?
Well, it wasn’t. I switched being tired and stressed before work with being basically unconscious and destroyed afterwards.
Then I thought about something seemingly so unusual that I haven’t met a single person up to this day that 1. does it themselves and 2. even understands why I do it without me elaborating on it quite extensively. I’d say it’s kind of a Yin-Yang-approach. The “glory middle”, literally in the balance of both options.
Let’s set the premise: a day has 24 hours!
I started my day with getting up 4-5 hrs before work. In the context of an early shift that would mean I wanted to get up between 1–2am. On account of me trying to become a better, more productive me I wanted to get used to using that time productively, but that’s a story for another time. Let’s just stick to the basics here, alright?
4–5 hours meant I had enough time to get ready for work, have my coffee, prepare food for work (I was on intermittent fasting) and I got to work in time AND awake. That was my first take-away from this. I got at time awake in a manner that I think I’ve never experienced before. And I had my shit in order!
Work usually took 10 hours of the day. I left 40 minutes before and came back home 45–60 minutes after work. And with my break-time regiment, where I’d have my lunch-break 6 hours after I started working this time of regenerating turned into a little “stamp off” that got me the juice I need for the last 1 1/2 hours to literally fly away in the most cases.
I always rather took my lunch-break as late as possible but with this approach it fit perfectly. Usually I’d eat besides my machines, so my lunch-break was more of break-break. And as I went so late for it almost no one was there to converse with. So I started using that time to get outside and meditate, do some breathe work or just relax and listen to spotify. It literally was like a little window of time that I spent off work.
After work it was showering, going back home, making dinner. And I still had 4 hours left. Oh yeah, I didn’t mention: in the process I wanted to reduce my sleeping habits to 6 hours, because 8 hours literally seem like just a waste of time especially as before it was rarely 8 hours anyway.
When I was getting up before work it either were less than that or much more (damn you snooze-button) and when I went to sleep after work it was more often that I just slept 10–12 hours. And having that much of a timespan before work, even if I didn’t get up after 6 hours, I’d still have hours left before work. Even if I completely overslept and got up after 9 hours f. e. At least I never faced any danger to oversleep that hard that I would come late to work
That was the basic structure but I think the largest advantage I found in this principle showed itself a while after I established it, because it changed my perspective. Usually when I had to work, this day was basically that: a workday! My life became work, I got up for work and nothing else really seemed to play any measurable role in those days. It was work, period.
When I got up in advance to that degree and had some spare time left after work, when work didn’t play a role in why I got up and why I went to bed, work all of sudden kind of lost its impact on my experience of any given day.
I stood up for me, to do some stuff for me and then I got to bed so I could get up the next morning for me as well!
Work turned into a side-gig so to speak, still a very important one, the one that financed my lifestyle but reduced from being this overreaching totalitarian which defines my days down to something more like a regular appointment. And I can’t stress enough (ironically) how that changed my overall experience.
When before the topic of any given day was “WORK”, where “ME” played a side-character it turned around completely. “ME” became the topic of each day, what I did for “ME” rather than what I did for “WORK” which had been downgraded to the side-character now. Work became much easier, much more effortless and lost some of its dreadful pressure that I myself put on it. And it set up the stage for a string of self development achievements that wouldn’t have been possible any other way for me.
I know that this structure won’t be applicable to many. I had (and still have) the “advantage” of being single, unbound. I have no children that I have to get up for, I have no girlfriend I want to spend time with or wife beside which I get to sleep. I’ve never met a single person who thought my concept, my way of life wasn’t ridiculous. And still, it’s the most beneficial way I never read about to go about your day and it’s something that I’d urge you to try if you face similar struggles than I did or just want to try to gain a new perspective on daily life and work as well. As soon as I put myself in the centre of my experience work didn’t loose any importance. I didn’t slack off at work because my focus became me. Work benefitted from it, because I was as fit as I could be there, I was in a better mood during the whole day and I think its partially because I didn’t let “WORK” define “ME” anymore, but “ME” started to define “WORK”!
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Anyways, thanks for making it this far, have a beautiful day, where ever you are.