Are you a night owl who stays up after the household has gone to sleep? Or maybe are you an early bird who enjoys tiptoeing around as the rest of the family slumbers? Perhaps you experience “nocturnal awakenings,” where you are alert for an hour or more in the middle of the night? Regardless of the time of day, being awake while others are asleep can quite a productive habit. While the rest of the world is dreaming, you can use these hours to make your dreams come true… or maybe just to get some needed tasks completed.
The benefits of being alert when no one else is around include:
The phone isn’t ringing, the children aren’t fighting, no one is knocking at the door, and the leaf blower from your neighbor’s yard isn’t blaring isn’t blaring.
Typically, these are the only “interruption free” hours of the day, when no one is demanding anything from you or clamoring for your attention.
When the day is in full swing, everything is an “emergency,” drawing you away from things that are important to tackle those that are urgent. When you are the only one up, you can move at a pace that is comfortable to you.
Of course, it is tempting to spend these peaceful moments surfing the internet or watching TV, and there is nothing wrong with this. We all need time to relax. At the same time, since your body seems to like being awake at this time, you might consider using it to your best advantage.
When considering how to optimize your time, consider focusing on items that you struggle to accomplish during the flurry of the day. Some of these may be items from your “to do” list, while others may simply be pleasures that you cannot seem to enjoy when others are around.
Here are a few ideas of how to use these precious moments.
This time can be used to read magazines, books, or other texts for sheer pleasure, or you might find this is a great chance to focus on a contract that you must review in detail, schoolwork that requires focused attention, or paperwork you must read, complete, and/or schedule.
There is no better time to prepare for the upcoming day/week than the stillness before it begins. Always review the next 24 hours in detail (mentally walk through the day) and familiarize yourself with the 3-day horizon. If you see possible conflicts or time crunches, decide in advance how you will manage them.
Many writers find they are most productive in the wee hours when they can fully engage their minds. Writing and multitasking simply don’t play well together.
Have you ever heard someone say, “If I don’t exercise first thing in the morning, it never happens?” This may be a better choice for the early riser than the night owl but checking exercise off the list before the demands of the day start mounting can be the best way to ensure it doesn’t get forgotten.
Creative pursuits flourish when they are not bound by deadlines or disruptions. As much as we may wish, most people find it difficult to be “creative on demand.” Instead, we often have our best ideas when we are relaxed, when our brains are allowed to roam, reflect, and make connections between the disparate elements of our lives. During the pre-dawn or late-night hours, allow your mind to wander and let your creative juices flow.
Prayer & Meditation
When the day is in full swing, it can be difficult to pause and nurture the spirit. Good intentions often get shoved aside so we can face the loud, clanging gong of life’s stresses. Taking even a small portion of these quiet moments to reflect, meditate, pray, and breathe equips us to face whatever is waiting in the day ahead. It may also provide a needed pause for processing problems or challenges through which we may be walking.
This might not sound very glamorous, but there can be joy in checking items off your list, especially if it is a “treat” to work uninterrupted (I hear you parents of little ones!). Whether it is emptying the dishwasher before the kitchen is busy, running (and having the time to fold) a few loads of laundry, or sorting through accumulated paperwork, getting these tasks completed can make you feel in control and confident.
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If being awake while the world sleeps (whether by choice or necessity) is a part of your life rhythm, look at it is a blessing. These hours may turn out to be a highlight of your day.
Are you ever awake when those around you are asleep? How do you tend to use this time?