In my last weekend update, I told you I was going to try to establish a schedule of waking up at 5am during the work week so that I have more time to spend on my writing, particularly my blog. In this post, I’ll show you how that went. So grab your cup of coffee—I’m drinking tea because I had way too much coffee this week—and journey with me back in time.
Week of Monday, August 29, through Friday, September 2
Day 1: Morning
Today started out promising. I went to bed Sunday 20 minutes early at 9:40pm, and didn’t have any trouble falling asleep because, despite not doing much on Sunday, I was really tired. Unfortunately, I didn’t stay asleep. You see, I have this really annoying habit of drinking the recommended daily intake of water right before bedtime, which results in…well, you can pretty much guess. Anyway, by the time 5am rolled around, I was finally starting to drift back to sleep after my fourth bathroom trip, so I did not want to get up. I hit snooze, and when the alarm rang the second time, I turned it off and slept an hour until I had to use the bathroom again. By the time I was up and ready to start my day, it was already 7AM. Biscuits!
(Sidenote: I watched this adorable video of baby screaming “Biscuits!” in frustration because his dad wouldn’t tell him his real name. I’ve been saying it ever since.)
So I decided to take a morning stroll first, since the sun was up by then. A sweaty forty minutes later, I had maybe half an hour to write before it was time to get ready for work. And for the first time in two weeks, I was completely blank. But I was prepared for this! I’ve scheduled my posts a week out just for moments like this. I just hope it doesn’t last long or that my inner writer isn’t angry with me for trying to control her. You gave me no choice, Sis. Did you forget we nearly starved last Thursday?
Day 1: Evening
I stopped drinking water at 3pm to test a theory my mom had—that if you finish your water intake by 3pm, you should have a dry night—but I must confess I did feel a bit parched by 8. I probably should’ve taken a few sips of water then (but not a giant glass). I’ll remember that for next time. Also, I forgot the US Open started today! And of course the most interesting matches were at night, starting with Serena! I probably still could’ve made it to bed by 10. I’m not a stranger to falling asleep with the TV on.
I ate dinner on time (just after 6:30), but I forgot I was supposed to cook a pot of bean and vegetable soup for lunch this week. Although I wouldn’t need the soup for lunch until Wednesday, I knew I wouldn’t have time to cook it Tuesday night (my typical dinner schedule, thanks to Hello Fresh, is cook two servings and eat the second serving for dinner the following day. I cooked two servings on Sunday, ate the leftovers for dinner on Monday, so Tuesday was a cook day, and I was not cooking two meals on Tuesday), so if I didn’t make the soup tonight, I wouldn’t have lunch for Wednesday. To avoid a repeat of last week’s hunger pains, I started a pot of soup at 8:22pm. Yep, definitely didn’t make it bed by 10.
Lessons Learned from Day 1
Finish your recommended water intake by 3pm, but don’t dehydrate yourself if you’re feeling thirsty later in the evening. A small glass with dinner should be enough to quench your thirst but not too much that you’re running to the bathroom all night. Also, DID YOU FORGET YOU HAVE A CROCKPOT??? Next time you realize you still have to make a pot of soup after 8pm, just throw everything in the crockpot, set it to low, and go to bed!
Day 2: Morning
It was after 11pm when I finally went to bed Day 1. I set my alarm for an hour later so I could still get the appropriate amount of sleep. When I woke up to use the bathroom, I was perturbed, because I really thought the 3pm stop would work. But then I checked my phone. 5:56am. It did work! That was just my body’s natural alarm clock waking me up four minutes early.
I did not feel tired this morning like I did Monday, but I decided to skip my morning stroll since I took a rather long one on Monday. I spent the first hour and a half catching up on blogs I follow: hunting for new writing challenge prompts, bookmarking blog posts I plan to write commentary on in a future post, and liking those that I want to revisit to comment on (when I can think of something to say). I spent the next hour writing and editing new posts for this blog. Thank goodness I wasn’t blank today!
Day 2: Evening
When I was younger, I always wanted to be a teacher. Then I met the little monsters known as children and quickly said never mind! Of course, that teaching spirit still lives in me, which is probably why I’m a trainer in my current job. However, just like the writer in me, the teacher in me has a tendency to get carried away when she receives a blast of inspiration, which results in me working well past clock-out time to put together training materials, organize meeting agendas, and write everything down so I don’t forget (because I’m so forgetful). Some days I’m still on the computer well past 9pm. Breaking free from work is a lot harder to do since working from home. And I’m not getting paid overtime to do it—or even being asked to do it—I do it because I enjoy that part of my job. Still, I have to admit, it does disrupt home life. Fortunately, I caught myself before getting too wrapped up in what I was working on at the end of the day. It still resulted in me eating dinner a little later than I wanted (but still before 8). And thanks to tennis (you know I had to watch my Rafa), it was around 11 when I finally went to bed, so I knew Day 3 was going to have a late start.
Lessons Learned from Day 2
Don’t beat yourself up about going to bed late. This is what trial and error is for. Yes, you could’ve ended the workday earlier, but at least you still ate dinner by 8. Yes, you could’ve put that soup in the crockpot, but at least you made sure to stick to your plan to cook it on Monday and now your lunch for the week is made, and that should more important after what happened last week. Also, you still had a productive morning despite the late start. I count that as a win! Now, let’s try to work out tomorrow.
Day 3: Morning
Today, I woke up at around 6:30 and lay in bed for about 45 mins. I started my day with a morning stroll, which was quite peaceful. I love that I live near a walking trail. It’s about a mile around a lake, and if I’m out early enough, I may catch some of the wildlife, such as ducks, rabbits. I haven’t seen deer yet, but I know they’re around.
Then my morning was almost derailed when I checked my mail and found a rather large bill that I was not expecting to pay. The American health care system, I tell you, it is a BUSINESS!
But after crying for about 20 minutes, I sat down in front of my computer and willed myself to write a new story for a future blog post, join a writing challenge I hadn’t participated in in quite some time, and revisit an old work in progress that I have neglected for far too long.
Day 3: Evening
Nothing much to report here. I clocked out on time. I ate dinner on time. I went to bed on time, after a really intense Serena match. Gosh, I hope she wins her 24th major at this year’s US Open before she retires, but even if she doesn’t, she’s still the GREATEST OF ALL TIME!
Lessons Learned from Day 3
Sometimes you gotta count your wins. I could’ve let that unexpected bill completely ruin my day. I didn’t, and I was still productive. I call that progress!
Day 4: Morning
It’s a new morning, and I woke up at 4:45am!!! Did I feel tired? Actually, no. Did I want to lie in bed a little longer and wait for my alarm. Yes, and I did, and I stayed in bed a little longer after my alarm and caught up on blog posts in the Reader. But I eventually got up, and it was still dark outside. Yay!
Today, I went straight to writing. No workout today. I think I like my pattern of alternating workout days anyway. Because it was the first of the month, I decided to check my blog stats, just out of curiosity. Would you believe it? I reached over 1,000 views in August! Now, I know to you, that probably isn’t a lot, but for me, this is such a huge accomplishment because my blog has not seen more than a couple hundred a month since my impromptu drop-offs began around mid-2018. The fact that people clicked on my blog over 1,000 times since I started posting again in the last 2 weeks of August means the world to me, and it’s so encouraging. So if you dropped by, left a like or a comment, or decided to subscribe, I just want to say, whole-heartedly, thank you! I hope you stick around, and as you’ve seen in this post, I’m really making an effort to be more consistent and disciplined in my writing. It’s all for you!
(Sidenote: Now I can brag to those rude family members who say, “Does anyone even read your blog?” Does anyone look at something you did a thousand times??)
This morning was extremely productive! First, I’d like to thank Julie at Eat, Play, Live for suggesting I make a schedule of everything I need to do to give me a reason for why I’m waking up so early. I’ve made similar checklists at work, and it’s helped me tremendously to stay on task. I don’t know why it never occurred to me that I could do that in my writing life too. So before bed, I wrote down everything I wanted to do this morning. And I finished all but one! I even had time to cook breakfast, which I often skip. The only reason why I didn’t finish my whole list was because I wanted to catch up on the latest MasterChef episode on Hulu. Old habits die hard.
Day 4: Evening
Tonight was more tennis! The Williams Sisters in doubles and Rafa right after. I was a happy camper! Of course, Serena and Venus lost, and I fell asleep on Rafa, but I did wake up at 5am the next morning!
Lessons Learned from Day 4
You’re starting to get the hang of this! Keep at it. Also, maybe cut down on your caffeine intake? You were a bit jittery when you went to bed tonight. Lastly, if you don’t get to everything you wanted to do in the morning, celebrate what you did accomplish and put what’s left on the checklist for tomorrow!
Today, all my trial and error came together, and I got a preview of what successful implementation looks like. I woke up at 5am. I wrote for two hours. I stopped to work out. I washed, got dressed, had breakfast, did a little more writing, and shifted to work.
Serena lost a tight three-setter. I can’t say I’m disappointed because she’s had a phenomenal career. I’ve been watching her all my life. She is the greatest as far as I’m concerned. And none of the men in the Big Three (Fed, Rafa, Djoker) can ever say they won a major while pregnant. And regarding Margaret Court’s most major titles of all time at 24, half of those were in the amateur era. So you tell me, who’s the best?
There’s a common saying that it takes 21 days to build a habit. I don’t know how true that is. And I’m not implying that I did it in five days, but I did wake up at 5am on Saturday morning without even trying, and since I was already up, I decided to go straight to my notebook and laptop. It’s too soon to say that I’ve trained my body to operate at this new schedule, because it will still depend on certain decisions I make, such as when to end work, how often I should drink water, when to cook dinner, and, most importantly, when to go to bed, but I’m optimistic for the weeks to come and for the stories that will follow.
Written for Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Natalie the Explorer.
11 thoughts on “#WeekendCoffeeShare: Finding a Writing Schedule that Works”
I struggle to get to bed on time, get up on time, and get busy writing instead of messing around. If I don’t write in the morning before work, I don’t write, yet I manage to fritter away so much time in the mornings. *sigh*
Congrats on the 1000 monthly blog views! I’ve never managed even half that, but then I usually post only once a week so I have time to work on my fiction.
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That’s me most days, haha! When I’m busy with something, my whole concept of time goes out the window, so I really have to make the effort to establish good habits, otherwise I’d be up all night writing and then barely functioning during the day.
I think consistency in a posting schedule is more important than frequency. That’s ultimately what’ll keep people coming back. And that’s what I struggle with the most. I post every day because I know it’s so easy for me to fall off, so I force myself to be consistent lol.
By the way, it looks like the link to your blog in your gravatar is broken.
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Thanks for letting me know about the broken link. Will fix.
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I was getting ready to switch gears to editing some work, not blog related, when your post title caught my eye. I do not have a set time or pattern for writing, it is a worthy goal though. Thank you for sharing the details and ups and downs of your regimen. I sure understand the waking up in the night thing, and balance thing. Thanks for sharing. Nice to meet you, Michele
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Thank you so much! I’m glad my journey could inspire you. Finding a schedule and sticking to it has been something I’ve been meaning to do for a while. I hope to work on perfecting it more so I can be more consistent and disciplined in my writing. Good luck to you in achieving your goals!
I have not published a book yet, a;though I am working on a book with a friend, that we hope we are close to a first full draft, with lots of editing and revisions as we go, fitting it in with life and our husbands’ health issues, and part time retirement. I have two signs on the wall in my writing room and craft room. One says “Write something every day” and the other one says “Book before Blog” because it is easier to write a blog post. Not sure either has helped but there are there and now that I am fu lly retired I am trying to take them both seriously. I can put more time into my blog now that I am retired and we are as close as we are with the draft of the book. I hope you will post more about your progress and what you are learning.
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Oooh, I like “Book before Blog.” That might be something I hang on my wall too, because I’m definitely guilty of putting more time into my blog than my book I’ve been trying to finish for years now. I’m hoping to find a balance. And yes, I will definitely be posting more updates!
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Well, I am glad I could offer something helpful too.:)
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This thing with habits is interesting! I think it’s different to different people, how long it takes to build a habit, but good habits is the foundation of anything we do to do it successfully, as I see it. I’m more motivated than ever to start building a routine that works this autumn, after being disorganised with most things for two years. How wonderful that your body is already adjusting after only 5 days!
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I was surprised by how quickly my body adjusted, but as you said building good habits is the foundation of success, so I hope I can continue to build on this routine because I think it’s helping me not only in writing but also in being more organized and less frazzled in life in general. Wishing you success too!