Why can't I just get up early, shower and dress, eat, walk the dog, and go?
June 21, 2012 10:49 AM   Subscribe

How can I train myself to get into work by 9AM when nobody but me seems to care at all what time I come in?

Evening person here. I hate mornings like Garfield hates Mondays. I'm also a big procrastinator, moreso than most people, and anyway I find it hard to power through an unpleasant task without some kind of external stimulus prodding me along. Getting up and out of the house in the morning is such a task, and it's causing me no end of frustration.

I have a job I like where I set my own hours, and that's great. I have work to do, and I'm expected to just come in and do it in whatever time works best for me. Nobody has complained that I'm not getting my work done -- my supervisors are supportive and empowering and seem very happy with my performance.

I, however, am not happy with my performance. I want to be spending more time at work and I want to get there earlier in the morning. The experience I am getting is very valuable to me, I can really use the extra hours, and I enjoy my work and find it much more fulfilling than procrastinating for three hours in the morning about getting up and out the door. I would not be lacking for things to do, either.

I don't know why I can't seem to manage this. I wake up as late as 9:30, have a long breakfast on my computer or with a book, shower, maybe read some more, get dressed, make lunch, procrastinate about random unimportant things, pack my bag, putt around the house a bit straightening up things that could probably wait, walk the dog, water the plants... I probably have about a solid hour of work to do in the morning to get ready, but between oversleeping and procrastination I usually end up spending more like three not-very-pleasant hours doing things instead of just powering through and getting out the door. It's become a habit and a source of great frustration.

What can I do about this? How can I retrain myself? Just thinking hard about this is almost physically painful, and as much as I try to stay on track I find myself wandering off, sometimes accidentally and sometimes intentionally. I would feel much better about life in general if I could get this under control. Help!
posted by Scientist to Work & Money (59 answers total) 83 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Do you have a friend who works nearby or a coworker you could meet for coffee at a set time every morning?
posted by phunniemee at 10:53 AM on June 21, 2012

Response by poster: No, I'm afraid not. Creating some kind of scheduled commitment is an excellent suggestion though, I hadn't thought of that.
posted by Scientist at 10:58 AM on June 21, 2012

Shower at night, go to bed at the same time every night.
Have a really good coffee setup, just the way you like it, in your favorite mug, at work.
Move your morning ritual to the office and move the computer/book time to the evening.
posted by headnsouth at 10:58 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: How about setting alarms? Set an alarm at 8 to wake up, at 8:15 to finish your bathroom stuff, etc. Do everything possible the night before (lunch, breakfast, pack the bag, whatever else you need to). And also give yourself a bit of time to unwind in the mornings -- it makes my days much better.
posted by jeather at 10:59 AM on June 21, 2012

You are a scientist (I'm assuming) so you probably like numbers and tracking and stuff.

I have an Excel spreadsheet that I fill in every day. I formatted it so I can type in times (15:32 = 3:32pm) and put in formulas so I can keep track of hours including vacation, holiday and sick time. I'm a nerd like that.

But basically I use it to keep track of my hours. I try to get between 40 and 45 hours in a week (I'm salary) and can see if I've been slacking, which days I get in late, blah blah blah. Just raw numbers, really, but enough to see trends. And when you have to type in the actual time you get in in the morning, it kinda reinforces you to try to get there sooner. It does for me, anyway.

Similar to a food journal that subtly shames you for eating those 12 candy bars, a time journal/log might do the same thing.
posted by jillithd at 11:00 AM on June 21, 2012 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I used to not be a morning person, but I find that I wake up a lot earlier when I fall asleep earlier. Alas, no longer can I sleep till noon...

Step 1: Figure out what time you should be getting up in the morning to get everything done and get to work on time. Add 15-30 minutes. Assuming your commute is 30 minutes, lets say this is 7 am. How much sleep do you need to feel well rested? Assuming this is 8 hours, go to bed 9 hours before your wakeup time (to allow for going to bed late, not falling asleep immediately). That's 10 pm.

Step 2: Set out everything you need for the morning. Clothes, messenger bag, etc., before you go to bed.

Step 3: Impose a self-enforced "punishment" for not getting to work by 9 am. This could be something like go to bed half an hour earlier, you're not allowed to read your book with breakfast the next morning... Preferably something that will help you get to work on time the next day.

Step 4: Set obnoxious alarms on the other side of the room from you. I have a clock with 2 alarms on it, so I set the first one for radio, and the other goes off 15 minutes later on the horrible alarm beeping. If I get out of bed and turn it off in time, I don't have to suffer that. I also have a cell phone alarm I use when it's really urgent.
posted by DoubleLune at 11:01 AM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

I really suck at this too. Lately I have been thinking that since I get all my shit done in the evenings and usually go straight to bed, I am using my mornings to relax the way other people use their evenings to relax. I am going to starting owning this and going to the fucking beach in the mornings instead of pretending I'm going to be productive, because why not.

Other than that, the only time I manage this realistically is when someone other than me cares if I'm in the office. You could set up a daily 9:30 meeting with a colleague, or something.
posted by PercussivePaul at 11:02 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Start taking B-6, B-12 and D-3 if you don't already. Mornings were torture for me until I started taking vitamins regularly, and while I'll never be someone excited about the morning, it's a lot more tolerable.
posted by griphus at 11:02 AM on June 21, 2012 [4 favorites]

I have a similar problem, and my solution is rather simple: I have an alarm app on my phone that sets off an alarm for five minutes before I need to leave the house if I want to get to work on time. This gives me enough time to stop what I'm doing, get my shoes on, grab my bag, and head out the door.

I also use this method to tell me when to get out of the shower.
posted by gregoryg at 11:02 AM on June 21, 2012 [4 favorites]

Hi, I am a huge procrastinator. When I don't have a schedule, I do the exact same thing - 20 minutes of 'getting ready' can take 3 hours.

When I do have an external schedule (like I have to be at my desk by 8:30), one trick that has worked is to pare back my getting ready time to have less time than I need. So if I think it takes an hour to get ready I only give myself 45 minutes. I know this seems counter-intuitive but it totally works - I don't have time to sit down and dawdle, and if I don't start dawdling I can't keep dawdling.

Think of your 9 am start time as a real deadline. Buy an alarm without a snooze or disable the one you have so you can't sleep to 9:30. Only give yourself 30 minutes to get ready, so if you have a 30 minute commute set your alarm for 8. Think of a really motivating reward (for me, an extra cup of coffee) that you don't get if you get in late.
posted by muddgirl at 11:03 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Same here. Except my 9AM got moved to 6AM recently, and I'm dying.

But either way, 9AM was my last job's arrival time too, and I'm a tardy person in general. I figured out to the minute how long it takes me to get to work if all the lights are against me (16 minutes). I rounded up 4 minutes to get 20 minutes. I had an alarm on my phone that goes off at 8:20, and another at 8:30. 8:30 means finish getting my shoes on, brush teeth, get out the door.

Waking up, though, is a problem (now more than ever). I have multiple alarms, some of which refuse to snooze. I basically have a radio come on, and then 5 minutes later, alarm 1. Alarm 2 is at the 10 minute mark after the radio, and alarm 3 is about 2 minutes after that. If I failed to disable alarm 1 correctly, it'll go off 10 minutes after the first, so about 15 after the radio.

The hard part is meeting that bedtime, because bedtime these days is 9-effing-PM, while all my friends are out at bar trivia. 1) cut the caffeine 2 hours earlier. 2) set an alarm at 8:50PM to remind me that 10 minutes is all the TV/email/BF3 I have left. At 8:50 I get up, plug in my phones and other gadgets for their nightly charge, and then hit the sheets. I'm always more tired than I would've guessed at the 8:50 mark. The problem is when I stupidly push past the 9PM sleepies and get the second wind. How I love the second wind-- 2 more hours of some good TV or a movie! And pay for it in the morning.

Scientist, I absolutely and unequivocally sympathize, believe me. If you can get up in time to arrive at work on time, you can use your guilty feelings to get yourself moving (at a suitable pace-- let's not break any records) in the morning. If you sleep past work, you should be kicking your own ass about it. I hate being a grown-up as much as the next guy, but without a girlfriend, kids, or pets to be responsible for in the morning, I've got to be the nag for myself.
posted by Sunburnt at 11:04 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

I wake up as late as 9:30,

Are you staying up till all hours? Do you just hit snooze over and over?

By nature, I'm a night owl. But I've habituated myself over the years to getting up early (5:30), and I'm out of the house by 7:15. I do not snooze: when the alarm goes off, my feet hit the floor.

"Just do it" is not the most helpful advice, I know, but that's really what it requires. If you find yourself dithering over email or mefi or whatever in the morning, don't tell yourself "one more minute, and I'll go." Stand up. Right now. Put your shoes on and go.

If you're not getting enough sleep, that's really the first thing to address.
posted by rtha at 11:05 AM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I set an alarm in the evening. For me, it's usually around 9:30. This is my alarm to remind me to get my shit together for tomorrow morning before I go to bed: make lunch, pack my bag, etc.

I find it a lot easier to wake up in the morning when I know all I have to do is jump in the shower, throw on my shoes, and stumble to the bus stop.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 11:06 AM on June 21, 2012 [11 favorites]

As an inveterate procrastinator myself, I suggest you approach this from the other direction. Why aren't you enthusiatic about just heading out the door to work? The stuff you do after you wake up at 9:30 suggests a more complex internal conflict than sleep scheduling.
posted by Estragon at 11:08 AM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have this problem in varying degrees, and I've latched onto calling the behavior "getting stuck" (terminology I got from my sister-in-law). It applies specifically to that puttering-around part - there's a million things I start to do around the house in the morning rather than leaving, for no justifiable reason. So when it happens, I say out loud to myself: "You are getting stuck. Start moving!" I don't catch myself every time, but it does help me hold myself accountable for the habit.

I set alarms, too. Calling out 5 minute increments seems insane, but then again, apparently I will otherwise spend 20 minutes doing something pretty meaningless rather than walking out the door.
posted by juliplease at 11:14 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is going to sound counterproductive, but sleep longer. I have this exact same problem (minus the higher-ups not caring), and I've found that when I try to set my alarm earlier in order to add time for procrastination, procrastination tends to take as much time as it damn well wants to, and I end up out the door at the same time if not later.

If the scheduled-obligation route works for you, schedule doctor's appointments or other errands before work.

And there's always the cheat method of setting your clocks 5/10/15/um, 30 minutes ahead (not that anybody has ever done that, certainly not me), which works best if you do it and forget you've done it.
posted by dekathelon at 11:14 AM on June 21, 2012

If you can set your own hours, and you're a morning person, why not simply come to work later?

I know you like putting in a good full day, but there's no reason why that full day can't start at 10 if that's easier for you. You'll just stay later.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:17 AM on June 21, 2012

Best answer: Like headnsouth said, you have make it really, really easy to wake up and out the door. (I am also a naturally-night person who when teaching, had to get to work at 6:45 am...OUCH.) Bathing, making my lunch, pre-assembling breakfast, loading the coffee pot/setting out my travel mug, packing my bag, and putting out my clothes before sleep made it much, much easier to force myself out of bed. Do NOT let yourself go online before you leave the house (or at least, I couldn't because instant time suck). Bring breakfast with you and let yourself have your coffee & breakfast at your desk (or break area or wherever): this this your fun morning Internet time, and it only lasts as long as your breakfast does. Then you get to work.
posted by smirkette at 11:25 AM on June 21, 2012

If you can set your own hours, and you're a morning person, why not simply come to work later?

Unfortunately in my experience all this approach does is push back the pencil-sharpening. If you are habitually 30 minutes late then you will still be 30 minutes late no matter what the official start time is. The schedule isn't the problem, the habits are.

I like gregoryg's idea of an alarm set for 5 minutes before you need to be out the door, and no regrets, coyote's idea of a nighttime alarm for getting stuff ready the night before.
posted by headnsouth at 11:40 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

All I can say is get a coffee maker or electric kettle, the older the better in this case, and an electrical timer to run it. Prep it and set it for the time you need to be out of bed and moving around by the next morning. The simple fear of burning your house down by not dealing with/checking on the coffee/tea maker is your motivator to get out of bed. After that I can't help you. Maybe something as simple as trying a project whereby you take a picture of yourself or a landscape outside at the same time of day, plus or minus 3-5 minutes, every day for 20 days. If you miss it, you have to start over. If you make it, you get a reward.

Side note:
Set up mini-alarms. Awake by 7:30, showered by 8, out the door by 8:30. Again, this required simplifying my routine considerably; I actually wrote it out so that each step would have an alarm

Assuming this is referring to actual noise-making alarms: This, while effective, will make the person who shares the house/bed with you very, very grouchy. Trust me, I know.
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:43 AM on June 21, 2012

Well, if the OP has a housemate, I find that having them look at me with shock and disapproval while they say, "You're still here?!?!?" works wonders for getting me out the door.

Doesn't help the self-esteem issues behind my procrastination...
posted by muddgirl at 11:50 AM on June 21, 2012

Do you need someone to care? You said, nobody but me seems to care at all what time I come in. Tell your supervisors this is a goal for you, and ask them to call you at your desk at 10am to see if you've arrived.

Or ask a friend or family member to do it. Tell them it's important to you that somebody care. Tell them you need the external prodding.

Up to you whether you'd rather be punished for failing (buying them lunch, as suggested above) or rewarded for succeeding (a gold star on a calendar, or whatever).
posted by dywypi at 11:51 AM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

Accountability. You need to set up some sort of system or protocol where you are accountable to what time you arrive at work. Make the consequences sharp to make them stick.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:53 AM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Gotta go to bed earlier. That is the only thing that works for me. Also, maybe get a grab-and-go breakfast and take it to work? And do the other chores in the evening.
posted by mlle valentine at 12:00 PM on June 21, 2012

I'd be surprised if you procrastinate more than most, but I do know how it feels to feel that way. The secret is that a lot of people are procrastinate. A lot. That's why anti-procrastinating software is a thing, but that's only helpful if your main problem is computer/internet based and you can actually be motivated by that kind of self-shaming. That doesn't work for me.

It seems pretty clear that this is not about having enough time in the morning. You have more than enough. Possibly too much time.

I'm going through this process now, and I think your term "retrain" is the right way to approach it. It might help to think about what works for you when you're actually getting things done and try to apply it to your pre-work routine. Do you like to work quickly in concentrated bursts? Give yourself a time limit for getting out the door once you're up. Do you work best with immediate feedback? Find someone to make you accountable for getting to your office at a certain time. Whatever works for you at your best, should work for you in your weaker areas as well.

It really is about breaking and making habits and it does take practice.
posted by Eumachia L F at 12:01 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: There is a lot of very, very solid advice here. Rest assured that I will be reading through it in detail and implementing many of the suggestions given. Please keep providing suggestions, I need all the help I can get! When I have the time and have put together a plan for what I'm going to do, I'll follow up here and mark as Best all the answers that provided direct contribution to that plan.
posted by Scientist at 12:22 PM on June 21, 2012

One thing that helped me get better at this when I was younger was having a couple of stints where I had to be at work (and on time) at what were for me painfully early times - 7 or 7:30. These were temp or summer jobs and not a schedule that I would have ever wanted permanently, but they did demonstrate to me that it was a doable thing, if painful, and to realize that starting work at 9 or 9:30 is kind of luxurious really.

Maybe you could create a temporary commitment that makes you get up early in the morning? A class at the gym or something? If you could demonstrate to yourself that you can get up even earlier than necessary maybe it would help move the goalposts. Or you could temporarily commit to something that makes you leave work right at 5 in the afternoons so that you have to get in by 9 to get your hours in.
posted by yarrow at 12:46 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Have you considered going to the gym in the morning? Signing up for a morning Pilates class might be the kick in in the pants you need.
posted by workerant at 12:46 PM on June 21, 2012

Damn! ^ yarrow, it's pistols at dawn!
posted by workerant at 12:46 PM on June 21, 2012

Nthing the "make an appointment" trick. I have a toolbox meeting with my production line at 6 am, every day. It's only about 5-10 min, so if I'm late, I miss it completely. Then, I not only feel bad about setting a bad example, the workers also give me shit about it (in a good-natured way, but it's good motivation).

Maybe you can start your own version, where you check in with your boss every morning, and go through yesterday's events/what's planned for today, questions, etc.
posted by Fig at 1:02 PM on June 21, 2012

I am terrible at waking up too and have read all the advice given above many times before. The only original advice I've come across recently is to "practice waking up" as described here. I may have found that link in a previous AskMe thread but I'm not sure.

Anyway, I liked the focus on training yourself to react to the alarm irrespective of time of day. I haven't tried this method but if I were going to do something, I'd try this.
posted by mullacc at 1:08 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

There's a lot of good advice here, but what's resonating with me is "external trigger" - whether it's an alarm, or set your computer to call you, or something. I was struck by your statement that you're spending three "not very enjoyable hours" futzing around. I'd challenge you to really think about that - you're plainly enjoying what you're doing, you're just not enjoying the feeling after the fact of having dicked around for all that time, instead of being at your desk. Whatever you're doing in the mornings is working for you, on some level, or you wouldn't be doing it at all. Figuring out what that is might be key.
posted by ersatzkat at 1:16 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sign up for morning exercise classes at an expensive, but excellent, gym. The cost may motivate you to go, and the exercise will get your body moving and more alert and ready for the day. To make it even easier, choose a gym/yoga studio/whatever close to your workplace. Then you're already there!

This worked for me, and had the side benefit of helping me keep my medium sized stomach rather than my larger one.
posted by bluefly at 1:24 PM on June 21, 2012

Go in five minutes earlier every day.
posted by tel3path at 1:27 PM on June 21, 2012

Best answer: a psychiatrist once told me that exercise outdoors first thing in the morning had been shown to help ADHD. (looking at studies i can find that morning exercise and outdoor time have both been shown to help. i'm not sure if a study looked at both or if he was combining the advice.) perhaps doing this would help you with your procrastination in general. AND, if you can find an outdoor exercise buddy to meet you at a certain morning time, after which you head right to work, you kill two birds with one stone.

for a running buddy, check bulletin boards at running/sports stores for folks ISO buddies or morning group runs. (also check with your facebook friends. once i started running i was amazed to realize how many people i knew who also ran). or look around, especially in summer, for an outdoor bootcamp-type class. meetup might be a good place to poke around for this.
posted by nevers at 1:34 PM on June 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Oddly enough, what more or less cured my chronic lateness what when someone told me it was incredibly rude and selfish.

Set that alarm! Make sure snooze is disabled, even if you have to get one of those ones that can shake the bed. Preparing as much as possible the night before always helps.

For me, its get up, turn alarm off (its across the room for a reason) I know I have X minutes to get X Y and Z done. I do them. I shower, which says to me that my day has started and its time to go. I put on clothes. I go!

Good luck.
posted by Jacen at 2:11 PM on June 21, 2012 [3 favorites]

If making an appointment or some sort of obligation in the morning doesn't work for you, you could try making it in the evening. Like, if you have to be at the gym at 5, then you have to leave work at 4:30, so you'll have to get there earlier to get everything done.
posted by that's how you get ants at 3:26 PM on June 21, 2012

I find setting my alarm for the exact same time every morning helps with the getting up part. I once even got to the point where I would wake a few seconds before the alarm went off.
posted by piyushnz at 3:37 PM on June 21, 2012

Set meetings for the morning. If you don't have anything you can move to 9:00, make something up, some new effort, and make it a team or initiative that you are running, so you get the credit or blame for it. Everyone on the daily meeting list is optional but you, so the pressure is on you to be there just in case they show. Invite big cheeses who will know you are snoozing if you aren't there.

And admit to anyone who asks that you are doing this in part to get your ass out of bed and get things done before lunch. It's a good thing to do: you are making yourself more productive.
posted by pracowity at 4:01 PM on June 21, 2012

Best answer: Do you wake up feeling refreshed after having adequate (for most people that is 7 to 9 hours) of sleep? Not necessarily bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, but at least rested? Or do you take a long time to get going because you wake up groggy, unrefreshed, or feeling as if you've been hit by a truck, and it takes that long to shake off the morning fog?

Because if it's the latter - you wake up unrefreshed, and your morning routine is lengthy because you feel like you're shuffling through syrup - you might want to consider a sleep test just in case poor sleep is the issue.

Either way, I find that the snooze button is the kiss of death. I never ever allow myself to use it. I make a vow that once the alarm glows (I use a sunrise alarm, which you might want to consider) it's time for feet on the floor and and arms in the bathrobe sleeves, and straight to the kitchen to brew my morning tea. Lingering in bed riding the snooze alarm is tempting (especially when it's cold) but it is absolutely the kiss of death for getting going in the AM.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 5:22 PM on June 21, 2012

Yeah, I never, ever use the snooze button. I have an alarm that gradually gets louder, so I wake up rather gradually in kind (meaning I'm less likely to hit the snooze or turn it off and fall back to sleep right away). If I do end up wanting to sleep in, I set the alarm forward manually (again, it takes a modicum of consciousness so I don't 'sleep through it'.
posted by muddgirl at 5:26 PM on June 21, 2012

There are a lot of online communities of work-at-home folks out there so maybe join one and then you would have internet friends to check in with in the morning. Since this question has 32 favorites already, I am guessing you are not the only person with this issue! Please follow up and tell us what works. I need to figure this out too.
posted by selfmedicating at 6:33 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Someone above mentioned: Impose a self-enforced "punishment" for not getting to work by 9 am. One good way to do this is to pledge a donation to a charity that you really really hate.
posted by CathyG at 7:19 PM on June 21, 2012

I have a pretty minimal morning routine (I shower at night, and I have a very small non-sit-down breakfast), but still I have tended to get to work quite late. It was a problem for me for years.

Then, a month ago, I went to Europe for 10 days. When I got back, the jet lag had reset my body clock. The first day that I went back to work I got there 2 hours earlier than usual! I decided to try to hold on to this. I set my alarms earlier. Now I find myself spontaneously waking up at the new, earlier time. It's been 3 weeks and it seems (knock on wood) like the new wakeup time is locked in.

I think it probably helped that my trip was during the summer, and I was in northern Europe (Berlin and Amsterdam) where the days are even longer than they are where I live in the States (New York).
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 7:39 PM on June 21, 2012

Response by poster: OK, so here's what I've decided to do.

Mainly I have decided to set a few different alarms. I've got the get-out-of-bed alarm set to a realistic 7:30 instead of a foolishly optimistic 8:00. It is followed up by a 7:50 "get out of the shower and put some clothes on" alarm. There is also a 10:00PM "get ready for bed" alarm and a 10:30 "get in bed" alarm. I've already broken my rules on those last two because I didn't even get off of work (on the other side of town) until 10:30 tonight, but I'll be sticking to them whenever possible. I'll be going to bed right after I post this. All the alarms have the snooze disabled, and I'll be setting up the phone on the other side of the bedroom from me rather than right by the bed.

I've also decided to front-load my mornings so that I can get the crappy stuff that I tend to procrastinate out of the way first, and then move on to more pleasant things. So I'm going to get up and shower immediately, get dressed, walk the dog/water the plants, and only then will I allow myself to sit down and eat breakfast/have some coffee, which is my favorite part of the morning and the part that I tend to stretch out the most. I will not spend tomorrow morning on MetaFilter, despite my compulsive desire to check and see how/if people have been posting more responses in this question. I need to be out of the house at 8:30.

I've also prepared for the morning as much as possible. Lunch is packed, clothes are set out for tomorrow. Breakfast has been selected and coffee is cold-brewing in the fridge. My bag is packed. All I have to do is get up, shower, dress, walk the dog/water the plants, and eat. Then I'm ready to go, and I'll go.

Once I get to work tomorrow, if I get there on time, I'll reward myself by making myself another cup of coffee and checking MetaFilter during the five or so minutes that it's brewing.

I'll also follow up tomorrow morning to tell y'all if the plan worked. Assuming it does, I'll continue with the plan and I'll follow up again over the next few weekdays and every week thereafter until this thread closes. You all are now my accountibilibuddies! I will pretend that you are all avidly reading this thread every week to receive my fascinating updates on whether or not I've been able to get myself to work on time. You can help me pretend by maybe checking it every once in a great while if you feel like it, or at least not scoffing and telling me that you're ignoring me.

Hopefully I'll be able to retrain myself over the next couple of months. I didn't mention it in the original question but I have a great opportunity to do some self-work right now because my fiance is off on an internship and I have the house to myself, which means that I can really look at the ways that I sort of sabotage or maybe just don't quite shine as well as I should, and make adjustments without driving anyone else crazy. (Setting four alarms a day would not be OK if Darcy were home, she'd go nuts.) Hopefully by the time my S.O. gets home, the conditioning will have set in and I won't need to be quite so strict in order to maintain my new, better habits.

Thanks very very much for all your excellent advice. I've marked a few answers as Best. I'll let you all know how it goes and if I make any changes. The idea of having some time-sensitive commitment is a great one but I couldn't easily come up with something I could impose on myself so I've got it shelved for now. If my current scheme doesn't work I may try that next.
posted by Scientist at 10:01 PM on June 21, 2012

Response by poster: Oh, and I really wish I had the time/money to get a sleep test done because I suspect I have trouble breathing when I'm asleep. I wish my health insurance covered that kind of thing.
posted by Scientist at 10:05 PM on June 21, 2012

Are you typically several hours late to meetings? When you make a plan to see a movie do you get there at the end credits?

If your typical wake-up time is 9 to 9:30 then you are pretty regular. It is just a matter of switching that schedule back a couple of hours. If you still have a job that you can get tasks done then it shouldn't be a stretch to set the task of getting to work at 9am sharp every day. It has nothing to do with procrastination and everything to with staying focused on the singular mission of getting to point A at X o'clock.
posted by JJ86 at 5:44 AM on June 22, 2012

Universities do sleep studied pretty regularly, and they will pay you for the privilege.
posted by griphus at 6:10 AM on June 22, 2012

accountibilibuddies, what a great word! Consider this thread monitored, and consider yourself nagged (I am a mom, it's what I do).

So you posted last night at midnight and presumably were up for a while after that. That's ok for a 7:30 wake up on Friday morning, but not really sustainable week in and week out. How often do you stay at work so late? (That's a 12-hour day even with a late start!) Will 10:30 lights-out every weeknight really be doable?
posted by headnsouth at 6:39 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I made it! First one in the lab. Sitting here in the best chair, with coffee in my favorite mug, my own music on the stereo, only half the lights on, everything peaceful and quiet. And I'll be able to get in eight hours before I have to go to my other job for six. Thanks, MetaFilter!

I was actually about five minutes late, due to my bike ride taking 40 minutes rather than 30. I'll be sure to make the necessary adjustments in the future, but I'm counting this a success. Now I just have to keep doing it until it feels normal.

Oh, and yeah, I definitely should've slept more last night. Fridays are going to be hard because I work at my cigar store job until 10:30 and then have to bike across the city, so I'm not really ever home until 11. And I still want to get to work for 9 because I have to be back at the cigar store at 6 the next day. So I'm probably just going to miss an hour or two of sleep on Thursday nights, but once a week isn't a big deal. It won't be an issue the rest of the week, I'll just make up the missing hours when I sleep in tomorrow morning.

Thanks again, everyone! I'll let you know how it goes from here!

I stole "accountibilibuddies" from that South Park episode where Butters has to go to a conservative-Christian camp to cure him of his bisexuality, so beware of using it around people who might get that reference.
posted by Scientist at 7:14 AM on June 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

Yay, great job Scientist! I'll be watching this thread with interest because I too have similar issues.
posted by yawper at 8:49 AM on June 22, 2012

Response by poster: Day 2 is a success. Circumstances beyond my control (working late at the cigar factory) made it impossible for me to go to bed on time again, so I pushed everything back an hour and started my routine at 8:30. Still, I made it through everything in good time and got myself to work by 9:45, 15 minutes ahead of schedule. (I cheated and drove my car, but even on my bike I'd have been on time.) Tomorrow I'll go back to a 7:30 wakeup but I'll still be in late as I have to go down to the courthouse and talk to the constable about a claim they're trying to serve on my behalf, so my goal for tomorrow is simply to be out of the house by 8:30. I'll post an update tomorrow.
posted by Scientist at 7:59 AM on June 25, 2012


I have the same problem, but alot of it is to do with the snooze button on my alarm.

Best solution for me is to have such a repetitive mundane morning routine, that I don't even feel I'm awake until I'm already nearly at work. The secret of this is to not press snooze, soon as the alarm goes off:
• Turn off alarm, stand up out of bed. Don't dilly dally, this is the worst part
• Drag body into shower
• Brush teeth / put in contacts
• Check the weather for the day
• Get dressed, wallet-keys-phone-lighter all sitting in same spot every morning and goes into same pockets. Undershirt/dress shirt on cold days, golf shirt on hot days
• Shoes / jacket weather appropriate
• Grab "work bag" by door, if its gonna rain throw in the umbrella
• Mount bike and ride to work

I literally "snap out of it" as I'm riding my bike down the street, like "oh hey, I'm awake and going to work now." I've had to doublecheck to make sure I got my keys/wallet cuz I didnt remember putting them in my pocket, was still asleep and just going thru the motions at that time.

If I get up at the exact same time, go through the exact same steps, and the only variations are the weather-related ones I put there, I get to work at the exact same time every day. Now if I say "maybe I'll start coffee brewing before I shower" or "maybe I'll pack last nights leftovers for lunch" or "maybe I'll just check that ebay auction / email / facebook / etc" or anything else, I'm at least 30 minutes late.
posted by el_yucateco at 10:11 AM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Tomorrow I'll go back to a 7:30 wakeup but I'll still be in late as I have to go down to the courthouse and talk to the constable about a claim they're trying to serve on my behalf, so my goal for tomorrow is simply to be out of the house by 8:30.

OK but be on time the rest of the week!
posted by headnsouth at 10:35 AM on June 26, 2012

Response by poster: Worked 9 hours yesterday. Woke up at 7:30 this morning, made it out of the house by 8:30. Made it to work at 10:45 (earlier than expected). Will come in at 9 tomorrow.

Also I have started using breathe-right strips and phenylepherine drops at night and it seems a noticable difference in my sleep quality.

This morning I was actually awoken at 7:00 by a construction worker telling me I needed to move my car off the block so they could lay new tarmac. It was not my car, I already had moved it in anticipation of this. I had to go out back and tell my neighbor in the back house to move his car. Gah.

Anyway, so far everything is going great. This was never so much about being at work by 9 as it was about getting my ass out of the house in a timely fashion, and so far I've managed that three times in a row, which is pretty much a record. I'll be in at 9 tomorrow and Thursday. Might be able to sleep in on Friday (I am only authorized for 40 hours and Thursday I work night as well as day so if I can get up later I will) but will be out of the house within an hour of the first alarm regardless.

Thanks for following along!
posted by Scientist at 3:22 PM on June 26, 2012

Response by poster: Made it again, albeit barely because I decided to scoop out the cat's litter box this morning before I showered. It looks like I have to either stick exactly to the plan and never deviate even a little, or else get up a little bit earlier.
posted by Scientist at 7:10 AM on June 27, 2012

It looks like I have to either stick exactly to the plan and never deviate even a little, or else get up a little bit earlier.

There is no plan yet. You are still figuring out what works. Once you figure it out, yeah, the idea is to stick to it, getting up earlier to compensate if for some reason you have to deviate on rare occasion.
posted by headnsouth at 7:47 AM on June 27, 2012

I think one mental adjustment that might help is, well, you can't do everything. You can't work 13 hour days AND do hobbies or procrastinate AND keep your house spotless (or even straightened up). I wonder if some of your mental resistance to getting out of the house in the morning is, well, working 13 hour days just plain sucks? I'm happy for your recent success but I think you still need to deal with this issue to see a long-term stable schedule.
posted by muddgirl at 7:11 AM on June 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: In case anybody cares, everything has been going great! I'm not updating anymore because I was asked to get my own blog if I wanted to journal this stuff. I don't feel like doing that, so this'll be my last comment here. But just in case someone was wondering, everything seems to be going fine. Thanks everyone!
posted by Scientist at 6:21 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

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