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The 4 AM project


Like all of us, my life is full. To find time for myself - for exercise, creative work, friendships and relaxing - I have to be flexible with how I fit those things in and then plan ahead. When we recently entered the second week straight of Cedric sleeping through the night I realized that with a full night of sleep I might be able to find a little more time in my week.

Enter the 4 AM project. I had the idea that if I can get myself up at 4 AM one or two mornings a week I can work for an hour and a half before I'd usually be getting up to shower and get the boys ready. That is potentially an extra three house of creative work time a week! It might even be a way that I can resume work on the e-course I want to create for working moms. 

Although I'm disciplined I'm not a robot and before I started the 4 AM project I knew I would need to make getting up in the chilly darkness as enticing as possible. And so each night before a 4 AM alarm I take time to ensure I will have the following immediately upon waking:

+ Caffeine. I get coffee ready to brew and set my clean Hydroflask coffee mug next to the coffee pot.

+ Comfort. I lay my soft robe on a chair near our bed and set my cozy slippers next to the bed. 

+ A tidy and inviting work space. This includes clearing my office desk and setting out my computer, power cord and a candle and lighter. The small ritual of lighting a candle makes the work session feel intentional and cozy.

I've been able to get up and work at 4 AM a few times over the past two weeks. Initially, I always want to go back to sleep. But if I can sit up and get my feet in my slippers, pull on my robe and shuffle out to hit "start" on the coffee pot - I'm golden.

In the office I turn on my desk lamp, light my candle and turn on the computer. Soon I return to the kitchen to fill my Hydroflask with hot coffee and when I sit down I'm ready to write. I've been surprised at what can come from an hour and a half of focused writing.

On the very first morning I was attempting to get up at 4 AM my alarm went off and it felt painful. I thought, "This was a really dumb idea." But then Chris reached out his hand to find mine and he said with a squeeze, "You can do it. I've already set the coffee."

And then I knew I could do it!

Chris definitely would have been justified to feel a bit grumpy since my alarm also roused him from sleep. But instead he encouraged me in my crazy idea to get up at a ridiculous hour. Every time I think of Chris telling me, "You can do it," I just smile and feel so much gratitude. Thanks, husband!

In addition to finding time for creative work at 4 AM I'm also finding time to exercise in the early morning. One or two mornings a week I'm going to 5 AM Orange Theory classes. I'm an early bird at heart, clearly, although 4 AM is redefining early for me. Making use of the quiet dark morning hours when few people are awake has always been my favorite way to start the day and how perfect to have them back to myself during the Year of Kelsey.