How to Get Up REALLY Early for Me Time

how to get up really early2017 Update: We still stand by this advice on how to get up REALLY early — but you may also want to check out our most recent discussion on whether readers take time for themselves in the morning — or if they just get up and go to work.

There was an interesting article in Forbes the other week about how power women wake up early, and commenters seemed interested in talking about it more, so I thought we should explore in an open thread. How early do you get up? What do you do with the time? Any tips that make it easier to get up then? For those of you who don’t rise that early, do you have another special time of the day?

For my $.02: I was always a night owl when I was younger. Term papers and graduation speeches alike got written in the hours between 12 and 3. I realized this was a problem sometime around high school when, reading a college admissions essay I had thought brilliant the night before, I realized a good two sentences were devoted to “finding a piece of licorice on the floor.” And not even in a metaphor way, just a “Kat had a dream while typing” way. Still, the habit perpetuated until after law school, I think. By then — working crazy long hours — I realized that my best time truly was first thing upon waking. So I started getting up earlier.

I also realized a funny thing: that the time was truly mine when I got up earlier. I wasn’t rushing out the door to get to work. I had time (and energy) for a workout. Then I truly got greedy and realized I could get the ME stuff done then — the stuff I’d always wanted to do but never had the chance to. I attempted to finish NaNoWriMo in the hours between 4:30-6:30 one November. I read books I had meant to read in college but never gotten around to — thinky books that won National Book Awards, and not just the latest brain candy. I started this blog. (In fact, most of the longer posts for the first six months of this blog were written primarily in those morning hours.) Occasionally, I would even use this “super Kat” time for good and do work work (usually when I was up against a deadline and needed super focus to get it done.) I love these hours — time to myself, and time to be proactive rather than react to the day.

All that said — I’ll admit it’s really hard to get up, especially when it’s dark outside. I’ve found that it’s helpful to set the coffee the night before, and also to put my workout clothes in the bathroom so it doesn’t take too much effort to change into them.  I also tell myself, “If something is important to you there will be time in your schedule for it somewhere, and now is that time.”

Readers, how about you? Do you rise and shine early — and do you use it for “me” time or productive work time?how to get up really early for me time - great for working women lawyers and other power women!

Original photo credit (2011): Sunrise, originally uploaded to Flickr by killthebird. Updated pictures via Stencil.

Power women get up early--or so they say. But how do you train yourself to get up REALLY early? And what do you do with the time? Great discussion and advice for women lawyers (especially in BigLaw) and other power women who work late nights.


  1. I am in awe of people who do this although I am not sure I would ever want to.

    Thread jack: What is everyone wearing to holiday parties this year? I am going to some events this weekend and have no idea what to wear. Saturday we’re going to be making the rounds to a few parties, dress code is not quite cocktail but festive. None of them will be official work events but I imagine that I will see colleagues at some of the events since we are in similar circles so I don’t want to be totally bare. Any advice?

    • I splurged this year for fabulous party-only clothes including the 100 dollar 5 inch shiny platform pumps. It felt great not to be sensible for once in my life! I am forever buying clothes that can double. Party clothes that I can wear “out for a nice dinner” and work clothes that I can wear to church or school functions, or work clothes that double as run around the weekend clothes. Cannot wear this outfit for anything but nighttime party!

  2. Reposting since I used the dreaded c-cktail word and my first comment is stuck in moderation.

    I am in awe of people who do this although I am not sure I would ever want to.

    Thread jack: What is everyone wearing to holiday parties this year?

    I am going to some events this weekend and have no idea what to wear. Saturday we’re going to be making the rounds to a few parties, dress code is not quite c-cktail but festive. None of them will be official work events but I imagine that I will see colleagues at some of the events since we are in similar circles so I don’t want to be totally bare. Any advice?

    • I was thinking about getting this dress, but in navy, from anthro but worry that its too young looking. I am tall so it hits me about three inches above the knee (not as high as where it hits the model.) I would wear it with black tights and black booties.

      • Gorgeous – especially if you add some winter sparkle with silver or green jewelry – an opera-length necklace (to cut up the pattern) and a c_cktail ring, perhaps?

      • I think the dress is cute. And appropriate for a holiday party. Last year, I wore a velvet shift dress with poofy sleeves to our holiday party in that same brown and it worked out great. The anthro dress in navy would be awesome, rock it.

        • A velvet shift dress sounds perfect for holiday parties!

          Thanks for the vote of confidence about this dress.

      • i wore this to a holiday party with co-workers. great price on it too.

      • On a related topic, I’m having a hard time styling my navy dress. Black tights/shoes? Can’t go bare-legged.

        • I’ve come around to black and navy as a combo, and think that it looks best when it looks intentional, and adding black accessories (belt, jewelry, etc.) helps in my cases.

        • Anonymous :

          Gray tights? Silver shoes?

        • I really like navy and black together as long as it looks intentional.

        • Black + navy can definitely work. I’m really digging grey + navy this year, so I would vote grey tights and grey booties.

      • I would wear it with a skinny belt at the waist seam, maybe silver or black patent leather, and big statement earrings.

    • I’m gonna wear a black jersey dress with a teal, white and gray floral-ish pattern. Matching teal scarf and black pants. Cardigan if chilly. Our office party is during working hours.

    • I wear a skirt and blouse, with heels and a variety of plain stocking or textured tights. I’ve had several day-to-night days this holiday season, so I try to wear something suitable for the office, but also nice enough to run directly to dinner…

  3. I’m also a fan of the very early morning when I need to do “thinking work” (especially complicated drafting) outside business hours. If something needs to get done before 9am the next day and my choice is either working from 8-10pm on it or from 4:30-6:30am, I will always pick 4:30-6:30 — especially because even if I did work from 8-10, I’d need to re-check my work in the morning anyway. I also like feeling like I still had some “me time” at the end of the day — even though that’s stolen from sleeping the next morning, I feel much more like a human if I have time to eat dinner with hubby and cuddle up for some TV.

    Plus, I find that keeping my bedtime relatively consistent throughout the week (around 10, 11 on weekends) I get much better sleep rather than trying to keep my wakeup time consistent.

    Threadjack: Decided that I will be getting an iPad for Christmas. Questions for fellow users in deciding which to purchase:
    1. How much storage do you really need? (i.e., will I regret getting the smallest storage volume?) I guess this depends on whether iCloud will sync to non-Mac computers; if it does, I don’t plan on storing much media actually on it.
    2. Do you use the 3G enough to make the extra money worth it? (I have a walking commute for now, so this would mainly come into play when traveling for me).

    • FWIW – here are all the times you might want that 3G:
      – waiting in doctor’s offices and other waiting rooms
      – waiting for friends at cafes/restaurants without wifi
      – riding in cars and looking up maps/restaurants/etc
      – riding in trains, buses, etc
      – when your home internet connection craps out.

      It’s expensive though. Depends on how much you want your iPad to be available for you, and how good you’ll be about downloading what you need when you’re within wifi range.

    • I just got an ipad. For the first few months, I lived without the 3G, but decided to get it for $15/mo this month. If you go over, AT&T charges you another $15/mo. They also have a $25/mo plan. I have a few friends who have that one and say they have never gone over.

    • Just an FYI, the iPad3 is expected to come out in Feb-April next year, don’t know if that affects your decision.

    • Georgiana Starlington :

      Yes for the 3G. There are plenty of times you’ll want to use it when you don’t have access to WiFi.
      But go with the smallest size. Cloud storage is great (including iTunes Match). I had a long talk with the guy at my Apple store before buying mine – he said he’d never sold a 64GB iPad and had sold only a couple of 32GBs. I have 9000 songs on my iTunes but I store less than a quarter of that on any of my devices, and I don’t see the need to keep a bunch of pictures on my iPad either.

      • Agreed on the small size, I got bigger because I use it to manage pdfs but I use such a fraction of that space. Unless you’re downloading tons of movies, you’ll be fine.

    • I have iPad2 WiFi only with 32 GB of storage. Probably could have gotten away with only 16 GB but I purchased pre-iCloud.

      I don’t need 3G – I have an iPhone (and a BlackBerry – one for work, one for play) for when that it’s necessary to have an Internet connection. Why pay for two sets of data? And really, I think there are times when you need a break from the gadgets. I can think of very few iPad apps that need the Internet to run – Words with Friends comes to mind readily. Otherwise, not necessary, IMO.

      • This. for on the go access I use my iphone. The Ipad is more of a “get there and get on the wi-fi” gadget.

    • Anonymous :

      You can always buy the one with 3G capability, but then not initially purchase the 3G plan and just see if you need it. You’ll spend the extra $100ish bucks up front, but then you’ll always have the option of having/not having the 3G service later on.

    • Do you have an Android phone? If so, you can generate a wifi hotspot when you need internet, and then connect the iPad to it.

    • thanks for all the responses, ladies! I think I will go with the 16 GB. Interesting thought to buy the 3G and see if I’d want it… off to consider that (I don’t have a phone that can serve as a hotspot).

      • You also might think about getting a refurbished one. I got a first generation refurbished one from for like $399.

        They didn’t have the wifi-only option, but I ended up getting 3G later anyway. I know there are differences between first generation and ipad2, but I researched them, and decided I could live without them. (Really, camera improvements? Not necessary for me at all.)

    • flalawyer :

      Depending on where you practice law/do business, 3G is helpful because you can’t always rely on places to have WiFi. For example, there are many courthouses in my area that don’t have WiFi yet but I want to use my ipad in hearings/court so I would be SOL without 3G. Like others said, it’s a “use it when you need it” plan so it’s better just to buy the one with capability.

    • Okay early risers, you wake up around 4am. What time do you go to sleep at night? I tried getting up early to beat traffic, but was exhausted in the evenings, which is when I have time to spend with family and friends.

  4. I’ve always been a night owl and am pretty sure that won’t ever change (though I can force myself out of bed when life requires)… I do my best work between 11pm-4am. I also find that time to be “me time” since most are crashed by 12 and nothing good is on tv, leaving me no excuse not to be productive. I find that the day has clarified my thoughts and prepared me to focus and that I get a better night’s sleep after I’ve completed the work, drifting off after being super productive.

    I read once that there may be a correlation between time you were born and when you’re most productive. I was born just before 6pm. Not sure if anyone else is a morning person/born in the morning or night person/born in the evening, but it’d be interesting to know!

    • PS, any NYC folk who are free tonight, I’m co-running a benefit and would love to have you attend for FREE! Just use my name at the door (Kryss) Details are:

      Hope to see you!

      • Accountress :

        Not in NYC, but I love Anthony Rapp and I think the event sounds awesome!

        • We often sell signed items from him, feel free to let me know if you’re interested in supporting our non-profit (Royal Family Productions), feel free to email me at kryss at royalfamilyproductions dot org

    • I was born at 10:30ish am and am a morning person. In college I would prefer to wake up early to finish things/cram. I get to work about 7/7:30am now, so I don’t wake up extra early for me time in the morning, but it’s nice having the free time in the evening.

    • Born between 5 and 6pm, most def. not a morning person. I find that I accomplish most between 10am-3pm and then again from 8-wee hours of the morning.

    • Born at 4 PM on the East Coast. Grew up (starting in middle school) on the West Coast and still live here. I remember being a night person in HS, and frequently not getting enough sleep and having to race to school in the morning. Then in college I gravitated toward afternoon/evening classes and had a three-year relationship with a guy who worked retail, so he wasn’t getting up early either. Now I’m 40 and absolutely a morning person. Between work and immediate family and extended family, all the “noise” in my life happens during the midday and evening. I’ve come to love the early morning peace and quiet, especially at work before all the drama people come in.

    • I was born at 6pm at night, and I’m a morning person. Not an early-early morning person (I’m not sure I could ever get up before 5am, and 6am is ideal wake up time for me). I’ve always been an early to bed, early to rise person, at least as long as I can remember.

    • Born at 2:17pm and I still suffer from the afternoon/after lunch slump.

    • I was born at 9:00 p.m., and have always been a night person. In fact, I’ve just recently made my peace with it and stopped beating myself up over the fact that I just can’t get up easily in the morning. The only time I readily woke up early for an extended period of time was when my daughter was a baby and toddler — during that period, I was waking up between 4:00 and 6:00 a.m. routinely, and actually thought that I had somehow “outgrown” sleeping in and had become a morning person! Alas, once my daughter got older and stopped waking up early, so did I.

    • Born at 5:52 pm and such a night owl. My best work time is 9pm-1am or so, once the little ones go to bed. Usually, I can then sleep in til 8am and still get to work by 9:15 or so, so it doesn’t necessarily take away from sleep. I find it hard to be productive right when I get to the office – I end up getting coffee, readings news, etc. It’s easier to get started later because I have to as the emails and calls start coming in. I have always been a night owl – I find for major drafting or other tasks that require focus, I like the uninterrupted time once the emails stop coming in. How tired I am on a given day seems to have a lot more to do with what time I get up than when I go to bed. I have a really hard time on days when I have an early flight and then have to go have a full day of work or meetings.

  5. Up at 5 most days, as I can get a couple of hours of work in before getting my kids up and taking them to school. It’s remarkably peaceful, productive time for me. When I’m ahead with work, I use that time to run on the treadmill or outdoors during decent weather. If I’m pressed for time I can still usually fit in 10 or 20 minutes of yoga, which helps keep me sane and healthy.

    The downside: I’m asleep by 10pm.

    • Anonymous :

      This is the schedule I want (minus kids, none yet), but have a hard time getting started on. I would love to get up early to work out, but the BF is usually still in bed, which makes it harder for me to get up. Then of course we end up sleeping later and then I don’t want to get up early again in the morning. /argh

    • This has been my schedule for the past few weeks, too. It seems to be working out for me. So far I’ve been cleaning the house and doing work during those hours; am going to try adding exercise in the next few days.

    • Anonabus (allergies) :

      This is my schedule except I leave at 5 to go to the gym. Once I get back there is no going back to sleep and whether I go to work early, or come home and go in at the usual time, those are always my most productive weekday hours.

      But yeah at 10:30 p.m., I feel like I have been up all night.

  6. After 11 p.m. or so, it becomes wayyy harder for me to concentrate on whatever I’m doing (still in school, so usually reading for class or writing papers). I’ve learned I’m much more efficient if I just go to bed then and set an alarm for extra early in the morning. Not only will I have a much more pending deadline that keeps me motivated, but my mind is much less prone to wander first thing in the morning. I don’t ever get up early to do “me” things, though, just work. I figure that the “me” thing I want to do anyway is sleep a little longer.

    By the way, this is why I hate when any type of assignment is due at midnight (currently, law review edits). I know the person receiving it won’t look at it until 8 a.m. anyway, but it needs a before midnight timestamp on it. I’d much rather go to bed at 10 and wake up at 6 than try to slog through another 2 hours in the evening.

  7. I am trying to transition to an earlier schedule for a little more “me” time, but I am a serious night owl and am having trouble with it. I can’t convince my body to wind down and get tired before midnight or 1 (no matter how exhausted I may feel during the day), so instead of shifting to a sane 10pm-5am sleep schedule, I just end up at a 1am-6am and tired.

    • Amelia Bedelia :

      this is EXACTLY my problem, R. I really, really, really want to be up at 6am to enjoy exercise and breakfast before work. Also, a little me time might be good! I canNOT get my body clock to do this. I make it about a week of 1am or 2(!)am to 6.30ish before I just completely crash and sleep until 10am. And that week of the less sleep I am less than brilliant at work. I have even tried taking sleeping pills for a week to see if that would work. I just ended up addicted to the sleeping pills!
      I would love clues on how to “reset” my body clock without being a zombie for 2-3 weeks . . .

      • I hear you. My ideal 8 hours of sleep would be 2:30 am to 10:30 am. Going to bed at midnight or 1 still feels like going to bed “early” even though I have been doing it (or trying) for a long time.

        • Business, not Law :

          Just wanted to chime in and say that I am the exact same way. 11:00 or midnight feels early to me and I feel like it’s also the only time I have peace and quiet (work emails have stopped, dogs are asleep, DH is asleep). My husband cannot understand why I stay up so late especially when I wake up exhausted (often am in the office before 7am) but otherwise I would feel like I have no alone time!

        • This! If I could sleep from 2:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. routinely, I would be truly happy!

      • Amelia, I feel the same way that you do. I’d love to reset my body clock. Apparently, some of us have 25 hour body clocks, so it just keeps pushing us to later and later nights and resists the change to being a “morning” person.

        I’ve read that the way to do this would be to stay up later and later in a succession of nights. This would best be done on vacation, as it would put you into a day/night reversal situation for a while. For example the first night you’d stay up to 1am, then 3am, then 5am, until you eventually went to bed at 7 or 8pm. Then the trick would be to continue going to bed early forever. But then what happens when one has an event that ends at midnight?

        If anyone else has ideas, I’d love to hear them too. I’m very productive at night but have trouble with creative things, like writing, that I would like to do before work. And working out in the morning is better for me too.

    • I’m another night owl living in a world favoring early risers. I currently leave my house at 6:45 am every morning, to beat the traffic for my 1+ hr commute, and it is hell. I am dead tired most of the time, but I can’t get my ass in bed before midnight most nights. I wake up at 6am (after 20 min of snooze button). I’m perpetually sleep deprived. One Saturday when I didn’t set my alarm, I slept from 1 am until 2 pm the next afternoon. Slept through 3 phone calls. I think that’s my body’s way of saying I have got to get more sleep.

      • I get all militant about this. Morningness and Eveningness is genetic and follows the normal distribution curve. If you’re at the extreme, there’s very little you can do to shift. Certainly, I’ve never managed it and I’ve tried everything that the sleep clinic recommends. But morning people make a moral issue out of it and sneer and refuse to not have meetings at breakfast. Breakfast! Ick. Whose digestive system is awake by then?

        Live with how you’re built is my advice. Also morning people stop picking on us. It’s not acceptable to make fun of people’s physical build ever.

        • Also, this:

        • I totally agree. I wish that it were possible (based on court schedule and traffic) get in later. It’s a biological characteristic, not something easy to change at all- and you can force yourself into the morning person mold, but you will never perform at the same level you could if you worked with your natural schedule. I’ve read other studies that show this too. And don’t get me started on public schools forcing kids/teenagers to start school at 7:30am. I used to have to be at the bus stop at 6:30am. Unreal. If they had started school at a reasonable hour, I would have performed a million times better and actually not hated school my entire life. Instead, I slept through most of my morning classes, started drinking coffee at age 15, and had so many tardies in high school that I had like 5 detentions.

          At least we will be able to move closer to my job next year, and that will give me a good hour of extra sleep per day.

          So jealous of my mom, who wakes up energized and ready to go at 5:30 am, no alarm necessary.

          • hmm, this may be why I did A LOT better in high school than college (lots of later classes, did lots of work late at night bc I had no other choice) or law school (night student). My brother (not a morning person) did terrible in high school but really well in college.

            Also, I generally do pretty well on standardized test, but didn’t do as well on the real LSAT as my practice LSAT’s, prob because the LSAT started at noon!

  8. Diana Barry :

    I used to get up ridiculously early – 445 am – in order to get to the gym at 530 am and to the office at 630 am. Then I would leave the office at 5 pm and go to yoga (yes, I was crazy) and fall into bed around 930.

    Now I go to bed at 930 or so and get up at 615 or so – generally as late as I can get away with. Pregnancy makes me more tired. The hardest thing is having to be “on” right away in the morning – my 4yo wakes me up by coming into the room and standing 3 inches away from my face and saying “hi, mama!” all chipper. LOL.

    I think that I am still working off sleep debt from the first 2 kids. I will probably be tired until the youngest turns 3!

    • Anonymous :

      Have you taught your 4yo to read a clock? My kiddo had a digital clock at that age and was under strict instructions not to get up until 7 am. She sometimes played quietly in her room instead of “sleeping,” but we pretended not to see.

      BTW, I was not pregnant at that time – you need your sleep even more!

      • maine susan :

        I did this too. Worked like a charm. You can get up but can’t leave your room til 7,

      • Diana Barry :

        That is a good idea. We have no clocks anywhere (except on the alarms/the kitchen), but I should get her one.

        Her 2yo brother often wakes up earlier than she does, though!

        • I don’t have kids but my friends with them swear by a clock that serves as a night light for little ones that aren’t old enough to tell time. It’s one color during the night and it changes color when it’s their time to get up. So, for example, if the light is blue, it’s still quiet time and mom and dad are still sleeping so they have to either go back to sleep or play in their room. But, if the light is green, they can go wake up their mom and dad or siblings.

          • Oh wow, we could really use something like that. Do you happen to know if this is what they have?

            I have been an early riser my whole life. However, after meeting my husband, I’ve definitely adapted to his schedule of staying up later and sleeping in. After reading the Forbes article, I feel like I should rethink getting up early. However, with a 2 year old and a 3 month old I pretty much try to sleep whenever I can. But is sure would be nice to have some me time every morning and at some point I do need to start working out again!

          • a passion for fashion :

            this. the one referenced isnt the one we have, but it looks kind of similar. its awesome.

        • Anonymous :

          Hi – me again (digital-clock-suggester). I think my kiddo was about 2 when we taught her. We taped over the minutes so only the hour was showing and then drew a 7 on a piece of paper we propped up next to the clock. We told her to wait until the numbers matched. (We also had another piece of paper with a 3 for the end of nap.) Good luck!

      • MissJackson :


        I wish my dog could tell time. On the other hand, do you know how empty the grocery store is at 8am on a Sunday?

      • a passion for fashion :

        we do the same thing, except started doing it was he was 2, with a clock that is color coded. its blue at night and turns yellow during the day. he cant come up until its yellow. (it also has red for timeouts and some other stuff too)

  9. A different kinda motivation to wake up – to fit my morning prayer in before sunrise. Since the sun rises around 7am lately, I try to remember that I really have no excuse not to fit them in, just wake up 10-15 min earlier. Taking those 5 min for myself not running around like a headless chicken really feels good.

    • Ha! If you lived here, you could fit it in any time before about 11am this time of year…

      • That is seriously awesome. I remember reading that Alaska doesn’t even get all the prayer times every single day (Muslim prayer times are set by the time of day/sun’s position).

        • Anoneroneous :

          I never even thought of that! I’m curious and I hope you don’t mind me asking… In that instance do those living in areas with very little sun during winter do the “missed” prayers anyway or since it’s determind by the sun, do they just “skip” those?

          • Muslims living in areas that don’t experience “typical” sunlight patterns, i.e., very close to the poles, are to take the prayer times of the closest city that *do* have all five prayer times. In the summertime in Alaska, I believe they don’t have a true nighttime (the sun doesn’t fully set), so they have to follow Vancouver’s prayer timetables (or whatever city is closer). And what Alaskan said about the winter (below) – since there’s never a true “noon”, the noon prayer time would also have to be guesstimated/borrowed from another city.

            (In case you’re curious, our prayer times are before sunrise, right after the noontime, late afternoon, right after sunset, and the first third of the night.)

        • L from Oz :

          Sun came up at 8:45 here today, and went down at 4:15-ish. Sometimes I wonder why I left Australia…

        • I’m not Muslim, but I’d believe that. In the winter, the sun doesn’t rise very high off the horizon.

          In the summer, the sun goes like three-quarters of the way around the sky. So maybe you’d get more prayer times in the summer?

  10. I’d be willing to bet that the “power women” in the Forbes article have an overall lower sleep requirement (closer to 7h than 9, maybe even less), which lets them get up early while not needing to go to bed at 8. Once my rolling average falls below 7 1/2 hours, I’m pretty well useless until I catch up.

    I’m already up at 5:30 every morning so that I can get my daughter and myself ready to be out the door by 7 (to be at work by 7:45, which is technically late according to our official office hours). I love taking an extra hour in the morning for a workout, but find that if I do that even twice in a week, I fall behind too quickly and hit zombie status (shouldn’t be driving, shouldn’t do any knife-wielding during dinner prep, can’t trust my own judgment at work, etc.).

    I had a roommate in university who could only sleep 3-4 hours a night (and was well rested after that). I am still insanely jealous.

    • Totally agree. I need about 7-8 hours nightly as well, and there is no equation that allows me to take care of my family (kids go to sleep at 10) and get up early in the morning. Actually, some of my “power friends” seem to operate on 5-6 hours of sleep consistently, whereas I also hit zombie status when I don’t get my full nights sleep.

    • Georgiana Starlington :

      This. I’m constantly baffled when I read articles about “power players” of both genders who seem to function on 4-6 hours of sleep per night. Without my 8 hours, I struggle – my concentration is terrible, my motivation to exercise is hard to find, and I just tend to be a sluggish, unproductive person generally. I long ago accepted that I don’t have this particular superpower, and that going to bed at 11 and waking up at 7 will just have to do.

    • I sat on a plane next to a power player once. (A man). He talked about his schedule. I don’t remember what it was, but I remember it being insane. He also “warned” me that he wasn’t doing it to be rude, but he always falls asleep when the plane takes off. I was thinking, “gee, surely it couldn’t be because he’s always running on a massive sleep deficit that he falls asleep instantly when he stops moving/thinking.” So maybe the power players need just as much sleep as the rest of us but are somehow able to run on adrenaline indefinitely. Not exactly how I’d like to live my life.

      • Left coaster :

        Totally agree with this. I’m very skeptical of anyone who says they only need 4-5 hours of sleep a night. I used to work for someone who made precisely this claim (also a man, and an attorney). He routinely bragged about how he could fit so much into his day because he only needed to sleep from 12:30 a.m. until 5 a.m. every night. However, he used to fall asleep in meetings routinely, and got sick more than anyone I know. Definitely seemed like he was ignoring his body’s signs to get more sleep.

        • Agreed. I don’t really believe that anyone can function on less than 6-7 hours per night on a regular basis. (Despite what all the business/success books say.)

          Sure, I can do 4 hours when I’m in trial, but thank goodness trials don’t last forever. On the third day I need about 3x my normal dose of coffee.

      • Consulting :

        I don’t know that this is true…I have always been a person who needs less sleep. 5 hours is plenty for me…I can even handle 4 hours for a few days before I feel sleep-deprived. Since having my children, there have been times when I feel like I got negative sleep.

        I know people who swear they “need” 12 hours. I don’t think they’re lying…some people need 5, some need 8, some need 12. I’m sure it would be better for my body in the long run if I got more sleep.

    • Anonymous :

      I’ve noticed that recent U.S. presidents, CEOs and heads of major businesses, and law firm managing partners all run off of 4-5 hours of sleep. The law firm partners that I’ve known who can do this are alert whenever I see them and don’t ever appear to be sleep-deprived. In fact, they are still more productive than the rest of us at our best and most well-rested. I think this has to do with nature in addition to discipline. I know plenty of other disciplined and efficient (and highly productive) people who can’t get away with less than 8 hours of sleep regularly. And then I know a lot of people who manage to get a lot of things “done”, but in a sloppy manner.

      • I go to a school where sleep deprivation is part of the school culture (“Sleep is for the weak.” is on the back of our class sweatshirts) and my regular night of sleep is about six hours, which is pretty average. If I get less than that for more than three days in a row, I start to get a sore throat and feel it. However, I totally agree that it’s a nature thing. I have friends that can stay awake for 48 hours straight and be reasonably functional, if sloppy. A lot of it is adrenaline, in my opinion, because if you actually have enough going on that you need to be awake for that long, it’s hard to shut off enough to sleep. Coffee also helps.

      • Consulting :

        Yes, at a point you get sloppy if you don’t sleep! Prior to having kids, 5 hours was definitely my normal sleep range. I went through some rough patches with my little ones where I never really hit REM sleep…the biggest change for me was that my ability to proof-read went straight to H&*%. The content of my writing didn’t really suffer, but the details did…so I needed to get some help. I’m not calling myself a power player – but isn’t this part of being a power player? Who cares if the power player who only sleeps 4 hours can’t catch typos, if what they write is brilliant/effective/powerful?

    • My advisor was another one of those people who functions well on only 4 hours of sleep, but I need a full eight. Any less than six hours and I feel useless for most of the day. I can only imagine how much more work I’d get done with an extra few hours of the day, but alas, I don’t see it happening for me.

    • MissJackson :

      I do think that different people need different amounts of sleep.

      Honestly, I’m at my best with 9 hours of sleep per night (yes, 9). I can function with 8, but anything less than 7 starts to be a big problem for me very quickly. When I get into the 5 hour per night range, I’m a complete zombie the following day. There are tons of folks at my firm who don’t ever get more than 6 hours, and if I told them that I routinely get 9 (in bed by 10, up at 7), they’d probably think I was lazy.

      The end result is that I am neither a morning person nor a night owl. I’d rather sleep through both, thank you. (If I have to choose, I’d rather get up early than stay up late.)

      • Research, Not Law :

        This is me!

        I am at my prime with 9 hours, although I’ve had to get by on 8 hours since marrying a night owl and having kids. My ideal sleep time is from 10 pm – 7 am or 11 pm – 8 am.

        If I need to squeeze in extra work, I prefer to do it in the morning. Not 4 am, but maybe 6 or 7 am. I’m brain-dead in the evenings and nights. I’ve worked then, but only when absolutely necessary to meet an unusually short deadline.

        It varies so much from person to person. I marvel at the people who can get by (or even feel great!) with 5 hours of sleep. It would be great.

      • I also need 9. It stinks.

        • L from Oz :

          Me too. Neither night owl nor early bed, just a bog-standard, in bed by 11-12, up at 7-8. (I have a certain flexibility in my schedule.) I can get up at 6am if I’ve had an early night, and I can manage on seven hours sleep now and then if I have to, but I need eight at a minimum on a regular basis or I’m a zombie. It’s annoying because a lot of my hobbies have meetings/rehearsals/whatever from 8-10pm, and I can’t always do fun things because I can’t cope with the lack of sleep regularly. Eek! I’d love to be able to manage with even six hours!

        • me too!

      • I need 9 to 10 hours of sleep. The NY Times just did an article about “long sleepers” and it describes me to a T. I have never pulled an all-nighter in my life, even while earning an Ivy league engineering degree and doing graduate work at Stanford. When you need as much sleep as I do, you learn time management at a very, very young age.

        On the plus side, when I’m up in the morning, I’m up. I work on an IT team in a disaster relief organization. Our group is tasked with setting up all the technology infrastructure overnight so that the entire relief operation can be up and running within 24 hours. I can’t work until 3am like most of the team, but I volunteer to be the one there at 6am when our customers arrive, bright and chipper and ready to tackle customer service issues.

        Most techies are night owls and willingly work a late late shift, but dread being articulate in the morning. I’m the go-to gal for that role.

      • This is me, too. I am definitely at my best if I regularly get 9 hours per night. More often, though, I get 7.5 hours, which is decent — I can function! I’ve learned over the years that I must have a 1.5-hour sleep cycle; if I’m woken up by something in the middle of that, I’m a zombie. I can do a 6-hour night and function the next day (because it’s a multiple of 1.5) but I can’t do that more than one night in a row. It’s probably for the best that I don’t have kids . . . .

        Oh, and I was born at 6:45 pm — and I’m much more of a night owl. Always have been — high school, college and law school. On the other hand, I do feel my best when I exercise first thing in the morning, so I was at my healthiest and felt best when I was clerking, and slept from 11:30 pm to 7:00 am every day, woke up without an alarm, and went running for an hour in the am before getting to work at 9:00. I really should try to get back to that kind of schedule, because it feels good; for now I’m still clutching jealously to my “me time” between 11:00 pm and 1 or 2 am, though.

  11. Anonymous :

    As an attorney who’s also a mom, I find it’s best for me to arrive at the office earlier than my colleagues (8:30, immediately after dropping off my kiddo to kindergarten). But I worry that by leaving earlier than everyone else, it looks like I’m not doing my part. Of course, I stay late when I have a deadline, and I sometimes bring work home with me, or come in on weekends, so it’s not like I’m actually working less, but I did read something recently where researchers found that later-arriving-and-later-leaving employees were believed to be harder working, simply because they continued to work when their colleagues and bosses headed home.

    I wonder if working mothers are disadvantaged by their earlier schedules, as opposed to their male colleagues who are less likely to be in charge of drop-off and pick-up from school/ daycare. Thoughts?

    • Diana Barry :

      Probably. However, if you frequently send emails to others at strange hours (super early in the morning, or at night after you log in from home), that effect can be mitigated.

      I used to get in very early and made sure to walk around every 1/2 hr or so so the partners would *see* that I had been in for a while before they got in.

    • i hope that’s not true, as someone who comes in early and leaves early (better for my commute, my family, my health, and a lot of other things) … I guess my reassuring thought is that the most senior people in my office also operate that way. Largely because they, too, commute from further away and have family and other obligations at night. We’re all online constantly anyway, so it’s not as if we’re not available once we leave the building.

      In my office it’s mainly the 20-somethings who come in at 10 and stay late. We’re in NYC, so these are also the people who can go straight from work to a bar/restaurant and (I speculate) sleep in later in the AM.

    • Working mom here with a late schedule — I drop off kids in the am, arriving to work late, then work late and my husband relieves the nanny. People do think I’m a much harder worker. OK, I do work hard … but I think the staying late every night thing adds more weight than it should.

      That said, the coming in later every morning piece is starting to become a problem. :-(

    • Anonymous :

      I know who works early in my office because their emails are always time stamped at ridiculous hours (4am, 5am, even 6am seems early). Same goes for my colleagues who work late and send out email at 10pm, 11pm, or 1am. And those who have babies are sending emails at all hours!

      I think if you work early and leave early, your colleagues who have half a brain, pay attention, or are evaluating your work, know that you hold this schedule. The only people who see you leave early and conclude that your work less are either brainless, don’t work or communicate with you, or not that important.

      • anonymous :

        Or they are your managing partner. I was let go from a firm for keeping this exact schedule. I was coming into the office between 6am and 7am and leaving around 5pm. Granted, I would often eat lunch at my desk, but I was one of the highest billers, almost always exceeding 200 hours per month. Our east coast clients loved me, because they could call me first thing and I was always in the office, and our engineers/architect clients loved me because we could talk before they had to head out to the field.

        Part of the reason why I was told I was let go (I have suspicions it had a lot to do with the economy, and this was just a convenient excuse) was because it was demoralizing to the other attorneys and secretaries who had to stay until 6pm or 7pm to get their work done. My response was, well, they aren’t rolling in until 9am…and YOU headhunted ME and agreed to the early schedule when you hired me…and I made your firm over $1 million last year so who the heck cares between which hours I did it…

        Sometimes the corporate/legal world is just a little twisted.

    • Anonymous :

      I am a morning person too with similar concerns. I find I am WAY more productive in the morning before other people arrive in the office/distracting e-mails start arriving/etc. However, most people don’t start arriving until 9:00 when I have been there since 7:00 or earlier. This means I’m usually ready to leave earlier but am worried that people will see my office empty and assume I’m slacking.

      As a new attorney, I had a couple more senior associates simply tell me to change my schedule and arrive later so that staying later wouldn’t be a problem. I hate to do this because that would mean I wouldn’t get to spend evenings with my husband and would feel like I’m wasting my most productive hours. I’ve also had people suggest that I be sure to send e-mails so people know I am there earlier; however, this has also led to many comments from co-workers along the lines of “WHAT were you doing e-mailing that early?” I’m interested in hearing from others with similar habits–what solutions have you found?

      • As a night owl, my solution to sending oddly timed emails is to email them to myself, and then send the emails to the intended recipients around 9:30 a.m. the next day. Maybe you could do the same with emails that you write early? Then you can still work when you’re moreproductive, but send materials to others when they appear to be more receptive.

        • FYI, most email programs have an add-on that allows you to schedule emails to go out after a delay.

          • Sydney Bristow :

            Do you know if there is a way to do this using the Mail program on a Mac (or just within gmail)? I’ve never been able to figure it out

      • But on second thought, if the idea is to show people that you’re there early (and thus working hard even if you don’t stay late), maybe the perfect time to send is about half an hour before people arrive. So, it’s clear that you’re hard at work early, but not so early that they’re astounded. At any rate – sounds like you have the preferred schedule for success!

      • TheOtherCoast :

        A trusted partner/friend once told me to try to send my emails during normal business hours, no matter when I drafted them, unless it really required an immediate response. Otherwise, it just looked like I was trying to impress someone with my crazy schedule or was not considerate of others’ free/family time, knowing that they would be checking email in case something really needed done. So I draft at all hours, then save as draft and send them all at once at 9 a.m. or so, which I can do from my BB. Before I started this practice, I did once get a response to something I sent on a Sunday evening that said unless this affected the outcome of the football game we would talk about it the next day . . .

        • I hear the challenge, but it seems silly to have to do this. I work in a global environment so emails are always coming in from all over (except blissful Friday nights for some reason, quiet around the world!) and people just don’t expect you to respond on the weekend, unless it’s urgent. You work when you can, people who give you a hard time can get over it. Also after I am traveling, or bosses for that matter, we catch up on emails over a weekend or late one night, then send out a batch of emails all at once. People know it doesn’t mean ‘write me back on these 8 issues at midnight.’

      • Anonymous :

        Email might indicate you’re tuned in, but with iphones and blackberries, it hardly indicates you’re in the office or are working-working. Also, it’s possible to set your email to send the message at a later time (I have a friend who writes emails in the wee hours and has them sent in the 7-8 am range), so I don’t see how that advice really gets you anywhere, except perhaps with older partners/ colleagues who aren’t tech-savvy.

    • I think it really depends on what kind of person your boss is and what their schedule is like. If s/he is an in-early person too, then you get that extra face time with them, they “understand” your schedule better, etc. If s/he is an in-late person, then they may tend to underestimate how hard you are working. I tend to work later in the day but my boss gets in early so I feel that I suffer from this disconnect.

    • I’m a working mom with a later schedule (9:30 ish to 6 ish) and I used to worry about the same, but at this point I’m confident people know me by the reputation of my quality work. Anyone who has reason to correspond with me knows that I answer immediately, from home or from the office.

      The only people I’ve ever noticed giving me the stink-eye for coming in late are clerical people who are required to be here at 8:30, and, well, they can just get over it.

  12. Love this thread topic – I was one of the original commenters who wanted to see this discussion happen, so I’ll be watching closely.

    Apologies for the early threadjack. I’m really struggling right now with making (and sticking by) my own choices. For example, I’m a Cdn law student who wants to travel this summer, but when I hear of others getting work experience instead, it makes me doubt my choice.

    I really, really, really don’t want to work. I’ve talked to older students and recruiters who say that the 1L summer doesn’t really matter in terms of experience (the market for lawyers is v. different here) and that it’s really the 2L summer that they look at. But I can’t stop second-guessing myself, even though the prospect of travel makes me incredibly excited and happy – I know that it’s what I really want to do, but I can’t seem to stand by my choice yet, if that makes any sense.

    I don’t even know what I’m asking, exactly, but any advice would be appreciated.

    • I don’t think that the 1L summer matters in terms of substantive experience in the US market either, but I do think it matters that you have a job. “I decided to travel instead” wouldn’t sit well when your interviewer for the 2L summer position asks you what you did the previous summer. Either they’ll assume you were not hired by anyone (bad) or that you decided you didn’t want to work that summer (hey – so why did you go to law school, exactly)?

    • I don’t know… I’m not sure traveling is a great idea in this economy. You want your resume to be the best possible resume it can be.

      But maybe the economy is better in Canada? Or you will be applying to jobs where they would value travel experience rather than work experience?

      I would save your travel for after the Bar Exam… or after whatever other big (articling?) accomplishment Canadians have (if you don’t have the Bar Exam).

    • Can you do a summer abroad? My law school had loads of summer abroad options where you could e.g., go to Spain but take a 5 week course in the mornings. It could be a middle ground?

      Otherwise, if it really doesn’t matter in Canada (that is totally not true in the US, esp. in today’s market), I say go for it. You’re going to be stuck at a desk for years to come, take this time to do something fun and carefree for a few months (trust me, month or two month long vacations will not come along any time soon once you start working).

    • Anonymous :

      How long is your summer break? Maybe you could work for 8ish weeks and travel for the rest? I agree that what you do during your 1L summer isn’t incredibly important (since at least in the US you’re not qualified to do much substantive legal work anyway), but unfortunately I think people hiring 2L interns expect you to have the 1L internship on your resume.

      Other options I can think of: interning at your place of travel? Postponing your internship to the first semester of 2L year? A lot of (US) gov’t and non-profits can be flexible with this. I had friends who took classes during 1L summer and interned during their 2L year. The goal is just to have something on your resume when you apply for 2L summer positions to show it’s not your first law school internship.

      I say if you can swing it, you should. Once you finish law school a 3-month break in the prettiest time of year will be hard to come by. I’m sure you won’t regret it. It may be hard to find a job initially, but honestly it will be hard to do that regardless.

    • I will say, in the U.S., I think that would be a bad idea but it’s entirely possible the Canadian legal market is different enough that it isn’t and you’d have to get local advice on that one. In the U.S., if I was looking at two 2L’s resumes and one traveled and the other had done some kind of legal work, paid or unpaid, the other would definitely have the edge. It might be mitigated by several things:

      1) If the traveler had worked for part of the summer, I doubt I’d look too carefully at the dates.

      2) If the traveler had done research for a student note or article while abroad, I’d probably be impressed (assuming they had actually followed up on starting to get said note/article written).

      3) I wouldn’t be concerned if the traveler had taken a class or volunteered at some kind of organization while abroad.

      That said, given that I’m at a mid-size firm that practices a certain kind of law, someone who had relevant experience during their first summer would win every time. But again, the Canadian market (or the big firm market) might be completely different.

    • clueless summer associate :

      Also a Canadian law student here (3L). I would say travelling this summer would be a poor decision. Personally, I was lucky and got a substantive government law job 1L summer by virtue of luck more than anything, and I’m convinced (although can’t substantiate) that helped me a lot during 2L interviews. It was at the very least something to talk about during OCIs, I got an amazing reference letter out of it that almost all of my interviewers mentioned and I actually learned a LOT about how to be a lawyer (wrote real memos, researched, attended a lot of court – things that became a bonus for my 2L job). But as I said, I was very lucky. That’s not to say that I think this job would’ve done anything for me if I didn’t hit the B plus grades requirement for OCIs, but it was definitely a huge added bonus. I got an OCI job, so I can’t speak to anything after that, but I’d imagine my 1L job would’ve been even more helpful if I was stuck looking for a 2L summer job post-OCIs. I could have gone back to that same job if nothing else panned out, it would’ve helped me with contacts and networking, etc.

      I generally echo the sentiment you’ve heard that 1L summer doesn’t substantively matter, and a lot of people don’t get real law jobs, and that’s totally fine. In my class, some got substantive law jobs, many went back to previous jobs (non-law government, for example) and many did programs with the school (legal clinics, international volunteering, etc.) If you look for a job, and don’t find anything…then yes, maybe travel would be a good option (better than working at McDo kind of thing). You can always spin it for OCIs. But I would recommend you look into your school’s options for international volunteering type jobs. Many send 1Ls to Africa, South-east Asia to do volunteer legal work there. That would be an excellent way to gain some skills as well as travel. I know any Canadian law student can go on the Queen’s castle program – that would be a great way to travel while also doing some credits, so you can take less of a course load next year.

      In short: there are a lot of fun, non-traditional options out there for 1Ls, probably by virtue of the fact that most don’t get substantive law jobs, and you should reallllllllly look into those before saying you’re going to just travel.

      • Just wondering, how did you get your government law job by virtue of luck? Well, of course, luck, but grades? Networking?
        Thanks :)

    • Equity's Darling :

      Canadian articling student here:
      I think 1L summer is only important if you’re going to a firm (because then you’re locked in for an article), otherwise, do what you want. I volunteered with a community legal organization, and I don’t think it made a difference one way or another. Honestly, 2L summer is way more important (way way more important), and really, the vast majority of people don’t get articles until 2L summer.

      If I were you, and travel was an option, I’d go. The economy in Canada for lawyers is so very different than the US, honestly (bearing in mind that I’m living in Alberta, where the economy generally is quite good). The firms don’t think “oh, what’s wrong with you that you couldn’t find a job”, because 1L positions are pretty scarce, and firms know that. I know several people that travelled during 1L summer, and they’re all articling now.

      As long as you get good grades and can hold it together in an interview, you’ll get an article.

      • This is consistent with most of the advice that I’ve received – namely, that since there are only 25 POSITIONS total in the major city in my province, and that there are 3000 first-year law students who may apply… that it’s a really, really long shot to a first-year firm job.

        Okay, that’s good to hear! Thank you :-) If you have any other articling/etc advice I’d love to chat via email.

      • as an attorney who gets only 10 days off per year, and checks blackberry during those, no offense but just don’t have much empathy for this choice. yep, somewhat bitter though I love my job- the working world doesn’t involve summers off. on the one hand, perhaps enjoy it now. on the other hand, you’d better have a good job plan in place some other way or you may have a lot more ‘time off.’

    • Also in Canada. I advised you before that you should travel, and now that I know you are Canadian, I advise it again, x2. The Canadian legal employment market for students runs differently than the US market and taking a legal job after your 1L year is absolutely not required (and seen as highly unusual and honestly, a bit odd). Please take the summer to travel. It is not like you won’t have anything to talk about in your interview. Interviewers only get nervous if you bum around at home and completely waste your time. If you can tell them where you did, what you learned, how you grew as a result of your travels, no-one can tell you that is wasted time. Go for it.

      • Sorry, that was kind of an amalgam of “where you went, what you did”…..

      • Thanks Nonny, I appreciate it! Maybe I should have put an initial disclaimer in my post that I was only asking for advice relevant to the Cdn legal market. I really appreciate the advice.

        • I initally missed that you were specifically asking about the Canadian legal market. “Cdn” is not an abbreviation we have in the US – my advice is to always spell out the whole word instead of using abbreviations. “Canada” is much more likely to catch my eye than “Cdn.”

          • Equity's Darling :

            This is sort of irritating.

            Just because you don’t know the reasonable short form of Cdn, doesn’t mean we need to spell out Canada.

            The Canadians happily sit here and read threads with a variety of US based abbreviations. The internet does not revolve around the abbreviations that the US knows or doesn’t know.

          • Thank you, ED! Seconded.

          • Makeup Junkie :

            ?? I’ve never seen ‘Cdn’ as an abbreviation but it did seem rather obvious to me.
            I second the recommendation for a summer abroad program if obe is available. I had a wonderful time.

          • Being irritated by American provincialism is sort of a Canadian pastime, isn’t it? Y’all should be used to it by now ;-)

          • I got that it was Canadian and tried to qualify my answer accordingly (on the chance it was still useful), but it seems worth noting: you can use acronyms that other people won’t necessarily know to specify relevancy, but then you probably shouldn’t be annoyed that they don’t understand that you didn’t want them to weigh in.

    • Travel 100%. It’s the 2L summer that matters- most people I know didn’t have substantive law summers after 1L (including me). That being said, make sure you are taking part in activities/extracurriculars during your 1L year so that you have law “stuff” to put on your resume for OCI’s.

      Like other people mentioned, summer abroad through your law school is a good way to do it, if you have that option- several of my friends did and absolutely loved it.

      Canadian First year “Big Law” associate (pretty fresh out of the summer and articling process)

      • viclawstudent :

        Canadian 2L here who knows a number of people who travelled during the 1L summer and were very successful in the 2L OCIs. If you had something legal-related lined up and were trying to decide between that and the travelling, I might have different advice, but if it’s between travel and a non-legal job, I think that the travel can give you way more to talk about the OCIs and make you stand out. I took a year off during undergrad to travel overseas and it came up just as much in OCIs as did my 1L summer work (research assistant with a law prof).

        I do have a caveat, however: if you’ve NEVER worked before – ie you came to law school straight from undergrad and didn’t have to work or for whatever reason didn’t work during those summers – it may be necessary for you to put something on your resume that shows you can do a job. If that’s not a concern, then forget about it.

        Oh, one further caveat: if you’re thinking about clerkships as an option, the research assistantships are invaluable in providing a reference who can talk about your research and writing skills. 1L summer jobs aren’t limited to firm positions, so don’t think it’s that or nothing.

      • Cdn (tee hee) lawyer here, husband is a partner at a downtown Toronto firm and we agree: go travel if that’s what you want to do. We’ve both done the hiring process, and he is chair of his firm’s student’s committee, so this comes with experience. No one at our firm, or any other firm that I know would look badly on someone who went to travel summer after 1L – in fact, we’d be impressed.

        • Agree – travel! People above have already articulated the risks, but you won’t have this choice again so take advantage of the available time.

  13. 4:30am for “ME” time?! Too damn early for this chick. LOL.

    • Serious. My definition of “me” time at 4:30 a.m. is rolling over for another few hours of glorious sleep.

    • I’m with you. And, how do people who get up at 4:30 am have a social life? Seriously, if you need to be in bed by by 9:30 to get up at 4:30, when do you see friends for dinner/drinks/movie/shopping during the week?

      • I don’t. But my “end time” of leaving work is unpredictable enough that my early-ish (10pm) bedtime is most certainly not the but-for cause of my quiet weeknight schedule.

      • Simple – I don’t. My weeknights are for family, not socializing (but then again, I’m a parent, so my priorities have shifted). Early bedtime is also a nice excuse to keep weekend social activities to where I like them (dinner/drinks/games night/afternoon picnic rather than clubbing or other loud & late venues).

  14. Anonymous :

    I have a terrible time getting to bed early and rising early. I love my evening downtime. But I do my very best when I am on that schedule (e.g., sleep 10pm – 5am). In my late 30s, I simply cannot do an all-nighter anymore.
    In particular, I am best at writing (usually legal writing) if I review my research and think about the arguments the night before, then get up early and start writing. My brain organizes my thoughts during sleep, so I am far more efficient at writing when I wake up. Indeed, for this reason, all of my best ideas/clearest arguments/most eloquent speeches have been, essentially, written in the shower. I have also found it easiest to stick to an exercise routine when my workouts occur before 7 am. I’ve very rarely been asked to get to work before 7 am, but I am constantly expected to stay late.

    • Anonymous :

      You made a very good point. The earliest I’ve ever been asked to go to work was at 7 am, and that was because we had to drive an hour in traffic.

    • Business, not Law :

      Very interesting! My company is a huge fan of the 7am meeting (and earlier) which means getting here around 6:15 or 6:30 depending on how much responsibility you have for the meeting (i.e. getting presentation set up, etc) since our assistants are not expected to come in for those early meetings. The bummer is that it’s also not part of office culture to leave early when you’ve had an early day so it can be kind of a grind when you have a lot of those days in a row (my entire week last week consisted of 6:15-6:30am arrivals and given that I am an extreme night owl who was going to bed between 12-1 every night, I’m pretty sure I was operating on adrenaline by Friday afternoon)

  15. Threadjack: I worked several summers ago for a small-medium firm (40-50 lawyers) (my 1L year). We loved it, hit it off, they invited me back for 2L year. For reasons not related to them (my mother was really ill and had to go to the hospital ~3x/week and I had to be physically close to her that summer, and we discussed and they seems really awesome and supportive of it) I couldn’t work there my 2L summer. In 3L year, I contacted them about coming back but with my interest in clerkships, and they seemed really enthusiastic about me clerking for a year or two first, then an open door to return (and yes, this was post economic collapse). I let them know I had received a clerkship – again, really enthusiastic.

    Fast forward – I’m in the second year of my 2-year clerkship. I called the hiring partner about 6 weeks ago, left a message. Didn’t hear anything back. I called again about 2 weeks ago and left a more detailed message on my desire to return. Still, I haven’t heard anything back. Always in the past they’ve gotten back to me within a day or two, at the most. And – the hiring partner’s voicemail has been updated (I’ve actually called 6 times but only left two messages) with the current day each time I call.

    What’s going on? What did I do wrong? Do I send an email? Do I call someone else? I really, really didn’t see this coming – we’ve always spoken on very open terms and nothing like this has happened before.

    • Gourmet Chef :

      I would walk into the office wearing an interview suit, resume in hand, saying “I really loved working here as an intern and I want to talk about opportunities for a full time position. My clerkship is ending, and I found it be valuable/relevant experience for X/Y/Z reasons. Is there a time that works to talk about my future at this firm?” I think in terms of your expectations, there is no offer on the table at this point so it’s premature to assume it’s a done deal. You should also start looking elsewhere.

    • AnonInfinity :

      I would send an updated resume and a cover letter via email to the hiring partner. You may not have done anything wrong. It’s possible that Hiring Partner is really busy right now and forgot to return your call. It’s possible that they don’t have enough work to hire someone else right now. You never know.

      Definitely start applying other places, too.

      If you’ve never read the website Ask A Manager, it’s got lots of really great advice for questions like this.

  16. I can barely force myself awake at 7. Often I snooze till 7 30. I take about an hour to an hour and a half to get ready b/c I do need that “me” time to just sit with my coffee and watch TV or skim the paper. I then rush to work and almost never get there on time (by the time I make it in, it’s usually btwn 9 15 and 9 30). I am definitely not a “morning” person (and I, too, was born in the morning, so go fig).

    I truly would like to get to work earlier and wake up earlier, and sometimes I do for short bursts when need requires, but ultimately I just cannot go to bed early and so it doesn’t work. I think the biggest problem, for me, is that as much as I know I would benefit from waking up early (I could go to the gym, I could get more work done, I could come home earlier and to a made bed…), I just feel kind of lame going to bed before midnight. I know it’s not right, but that’s just what it is for me (and I don’t judge others, just myself, so don’t fret, earlybirds). I think my parents were both late night people, and I never had a bed time as a child, so to impose one now just seems counter intuitive. And, yes, I know how silly that sounds now that I’ve written it….

    • This for me also. I think being raised in a household of night owls made a big difference. I still sleep in until at least noon on weekends, assuming I have no other commitments that morning.

    • Same here, really. Born at 10:30 a.m., total night owl (in fact, left to my own devices – no work or other particular schedule imposed – I’m up until 2 a.m. and sleep until 11). Generally, I’m up until midnight each night, and since I need 8 hours of sleep (really, ideally, I could use even more), I’m up at 8ish and have to have a few minutes to lie in bed, waking up while reading the news and checking my bb. Then, I have a mad-efficient getting-ready routine that gets me in 9:30ish. But my most productive hours are from about 4-8pm. I’ve found that killing myself to get in early just doesn’t do much for me, productivity-wise, and really just means I’ll be groggy and tired mid-afternoon. So, I get in later and stay later. I truly wish I were a morning person, the world seems to be set up for morning people.

  17. I can’t imagine regularly getting up at 4:00 am. The fact that this is what’s necessary for a professional person to squeeze out an hour or two of “me time” says a lot about the insane demands we’re all subject to these days. I don’t think our society has always been like this. My grandparents (professional people) pursued serious hobbies in their (comparatively ample) spare time — gardening, woodworking, building model trains. Who in anyone’s life today has time to build model trains????

    • Sometimes, when I feel like commenting on Corporette, I feel like such a weirdo but eh: I’m a pretty busy person but I bought this model kit of a mosque on my trip and every day, I sit down for about a half hour or so and build this little model. It’s the most frustrating and enjoyable thing ever. I actually look foward to going home and building a minaret every day. I think I may have rediscovered a hobby =).

      • Ru, you sound awesome. Seriously.

      • Always a NYer :

        That sounds like so much fun =) I remember looking forward to doing jigsaw puzzles with my mom back during elementary and junior high school. Now I just look forward to finishing a scarf I started knitting the summer before my freshman year of college. Btw, I graduated last year =/

      • I had a depo where my client was testifying to his hobbies and he included paint by number. So I bought one. Halfway done.

      • I make quilts… really badly.

        Seriously, I keep giving them to family members, who tell me they think they are wonderful.

        They are actually fairly ugly. I don’t blame my sister-in-law for never wrapping my nephew in the one I gave to them.

        I don’t care. I love making them. Quilting is like art combined with engineering.

    • another anon :

      Well, people back then also didn’t watch as much TV, and there was no internet (and no corporette)….stopping all TV and all non-work internet usage would probably free up a ton of time for me, but I have a hard time even cutting back.

  18. Very happy to read this today, as am frustrated with myself for setting out workout clothes, planning to get up early this morning and, again (as usually happens), did not. (Now, granted, it was dark and cold and my children did come in my bed at 6 a.m. for a snuggle and I chose this snuggle time over a frigid run.) That being said, as much as I’d like to wake early, I have such a hard time going to bed at 9 p.m. or whatever. By the time I’m home from work, kids are fed, bathed, read to, dinner is eaten, and some work emails answered, it’s 9 p.m., and I’ve had no time for me. So I stay up until 11 p.m. This is very much NOT productive time (usually I’m just watching TV), and I suppose what you are all arguing is that I could make that “me” time productive by getting up earlier. But should it be? Do I need to be productive? I struggle with this, as do we all obviously — there are only so many hours, etc. etc. So once again, tonight, I’ll lay out those workout clothes, tell myself I’ll get to bed early, and see what happens… I still have hope that I can change!
    Along those lines, though: did those of you who can do this do really proactive things to create the habit? Any tips?

    • KE, I have a hard time working out in the a.m. as well (especially when it’s cold and dark out). Have you ever tried to do so at lunchtime? Granted, my goal to do so today was thwarted when I realized I did not have a sweatshirt or jacket in my gym bag – just a tee-shirt. Agh.

    • Can you work out or run after 9pm? You can still get an half hour to an hour of TV time in before bed, go to bed at 11, and then not worry about waking up early to run. I’m just not a TV person at all, and as I said before I’m a morning person. The few times I do work out after dinner/late in evening it does not effect me falling asleep or anything.

      I typically wake up at 6:30 to get to work at 7 or 7:30. I usually leave work at 4:30, but sometimes as late as 8. Aside from occasional happy hours or other social outings, I don’t have much “me” or “fun” time on weekdays except for maybe half an hour of reading or TV before bed. After work its gym, errands, grocery shopping, cleaning, cooking, laundry, applying to jobs, etc. I’m used to being so busy during the week because I worked full time and went to law school at night. But by not relaxing much after work and keeping busy on weekday evenings, it frees up more time on the weekends for all day outings.

    • My gym has those personal tvs on every treadmill/elliptical/etc. I “earn” my tv time some weeks by not allowing myself to watch a show I enjoy unless I’m doing so at the gym. On off/lazy days I also tell myself that instead of laying on the couch watching tv I could be exercising in the same amount of time – I’ll even promise myself an ‘easy’ walk as long as I’m laying on the couch. That will usually do it.
      I know this sounds totally lazy but its the only thing that guilts me into getting to the gym some days. Can you get a stepper or some other device that lets you work out at home in front of the tv?

    • This is not a criticism but a fact I’ve learned over the past year. If you have time to watch tv, you have time to work out. If you have time to read, you have time to work out. Life is about choices and this is one of them. You can choose to watch tv, or you can choose to do something else with that time. It is your choice and no one else’s.

      Once I realized I was choosing to watch tv over working out, it became a lot easier to work out. Working out is pretty simple – you either do it or you don’t do it. If you don’t do it, recognize you chose that. If you are ok with that, no one else really cares whether or not you worked out.

      • well sometimes you really are physically tired and watching tv is all capable of.. yes i know exercise can energize you etc but sometimes it’s honestly all i can do:)

  19. I used to be a serious night owl (and had a job for a few years that was 4 p.m. – midnight – which was perfect for me then), and then I got a job where I had to be in at 6 a.m. That was a ROUGH transition, and I never really got used to being professional and alert and in the office at 6. (after a year I was able to shift my schedule to normal working hours).

    But, the tips I learned working early morning hours have stuck with me. Namely, no caffeine after about 2 p.m., ever, even if I was working late. I found that it really affected my ability to go to sleep at night, even if it was only one soda at 3 p.m. or so. And, to help me get up in the morning, I would drink about 24 ounces of water before bed – my bladder would help wake me up in the morning.

    Now I try to get to the gym by 6:15 a.m. or so a few times a week. It’s still a struggle to get out of bed, but I would rather have the evenings free to see friends and have “me time.”

    • I tried drinking water before bed, and it worked like a charm.

      I’d previously gone back to bed after a 5:30am bathroom break. Not today. Thanks for the new technique!

  20. North Shore :

    I’m not a morning person at all. If I have briefs or motions to write, I do it between 9:00 p.m. (when kids go to bed) until 1:00 a.m. or so. That’s the time my brain is flowing and everything comes together. Nobody emailing me, nobody calling me, kids asleep, husband out of the way, and I can concentrate and get it all done. I telecommute, so I’m lucky to be able to work on my own schedule this way.

  21. I wonder if the most high-functioning men also get up at 4am for some ‘me time.’ It sounds like the women who do this are bearing the burden for getting their kids together in the morning, while hubby gets to sleep in.

    Just a thought.

    • AnonInfinity :

      Not a scientific study by any means, but a lot of the men in my office seem to get up at 4:45-5 and get to work around 7-7:30. I get up at 4:45 so I can exercise before work (what I consider my “me time” and catch up on blogs before I start working), and I don’t have children.

      I don’t know that I’ve ever heard any man say the phrase “me time,” but I do think a lot of men get up early for the same reasons Kat and others have mentioned.

    • Anonymous :

      Men I work with get up around 5 am to exercise and read the paper before work. Then again, I work with a bunch of fitness nuts, most with grown children who don’t live at home. The one with young children has a wife with a part-time job. The key is to get a wife! (I once told my parents that and they were horrified. They think I should be able to do it all…and well!)

      • Amelia Bedelia :

        or get a husband with a flex schedule that will take on the cooking and housework and errand running. that’s what I did!

        • Research, Not Law :


          In all seriousness, every professional should have a stay-at-home spouse! It doesn’t have to be the woman, but wow, does it make a difference. The recession reducing my husband’s time has been a blessing in disguise.

      • phillygirlruns :

        i have said so many times that what i really need is “a wife.” and i don’t even have kids – just relatively well-behaved dogs. i’ve settled for a once-a-month cleaning service (which i will never admit to my family that i have – i did not grow up in a world where this happened and suspect i would be judged heartily for paying someone else to do my chores).

    • My dad (now semi retired solo practitioner) was always up before my mom for his “me” time/legal writing/paperwork time. Aside from time you were born, I wonder if being a morning bird/night owl is genetic, or observed/environmental trait?

      Both my dad and I need prob 7 hours of sleep daily. I can function for a day or so on 4-6 hours but can’t sustain it. I’m pretty type A though, so I can fit a lot in my day but just going going going all day long and still get a proper amount of sleep. I think Anna Wintour wakes up 5 or 6am, and is always in bed by about 10pm. And you won’t find her sitting around watching TV I’m sure. Her day’s are tennis, work, required outing as I remember from a book a read.

      I think my dad goes to bed 8:30-9 and wakes up 5:30-6. Obviously there are variants, and I remember his always taking naps before him and my mom went out, or before other late outings.

    • Amelia Bedelia :

      the high-powered men at my work all get up early to exercise or “get a jump” on the day. I routinely get emails at 6.30 or 7am from these partners.
      Sometimes I think we are reading too much into this gender-bias. Kat herself established this “me time” 4.30am rule well before she was even married, let alone had kids. can’t blame the husband and children for that one.

    • Research, Not Law :

      I know lots of men who get up early to exercise for two hours before work, to pick up their kids after school, or just because it’s comfortable for their daily rhythm. I once had a male roommate who did it just to have ample grooming time.

      And FWIW, my husband gets our daughter up and out the door in the mornings. LOL, although he’s not up a 4 am. Like me, he prefers to spend his “me time” asleep ;)

    • I don’t have kids or a husband and I get up at 4 a lot of days to run. Don’t make everything about gender…

    • My dad gets up at 3 or 4am every day to have time to himself because it’s when he’s most productive. He goes to bed around 9pm. My mom has never been a morning person and always slept much later. When we were young my dad got us ready for school, breakfast, etc.; my mom handled dinner. I don’t think it’s gender-specific at all.

      I wish I could be more of a morning person. I did it for about 5 months straight this year, during the spring/summer: went to bed around 11am and woke up at 6:00am to head to the gym. I think it helped that it was light and warm out. I LOVED having my mornings, even though I have never been a “morning person” by nature. I knew I would be so much happier if I worked out, so that was my motivation to get out of bed. I thought it was a permanent change. But then work got busier, I ended up having a few weeks of leaving the office at midnight, and I got on a later schedule. Trying very hard to switch back, but it’s much harder now that it’s dark and freezing in the morning.

  22. I could never imagine waking up at 4 am either (maybe staying up until 4am, but not waking up!)…until my teenage daughter became a competitive swimmer. Then, it was 4 am 3x per week so that she could be at practice at 4:45. What was really insane, was waiting in the parking lot for the Y to open (at 5 am) so that I could get a workout in before picking her up and taking her to school. Now, she is old enough to drive herself. And…I wake up at 4 to make sure her alarm goes off and don’t fall back to sleep until she texts me when she gets to practice. Oh well. As I tell my younger colleagues who are just starting families, “sleep is overrated”!

    • the zinger :

      As one of those former Olympic hopefuls, let me tell you:

      That over-training and messed up sleep cycle will mess her up for life.

  23. momentsofabsurdity :

    Can any ‘Rettes make recommendations for websites or articles where I can get the boiled-into-five-seconds download on student loans?

    Background – I was accepted to an MBA program in my senior year of undergrad and deferred for a couple of years. I was in the extremely fortunate position not to have any loans from undergraduate and have never been in any significant debt. I am now a year and a half into my work at a startup and while the experience has been invaluable (I’m doing plenty of things that I am NOT qualified to do less than two years out of undergrad!) the pay has been far from ideal and I have minimal savings to put towards the MBA. I expect it to be financed primarily with loans and institutional grants, and know that what little savings I have will be a drop in the bucket.

    I expect to get the financial aid paperwork, etc, in the start of the new year, but want to start becoming financially literate over the holidays so I can best evaluate the package. My parents are in the (lucky) position of being able to help if the terms for student loans offered are untenable (but it would be a loan, not a gift, and would be expected to be repaid, with interest), but I would prefer not to put them in this situation as they are approaching retirement (though if the school determines an EFC for me that’s not possible for me to reach, my parents might be able to help me out there). I basically need a website which just throws the down and dirty about financing graduate education – things like- federal vs private loans? I know that I’ll be entitled to a Stafford/Federal Direct Loan, and theoretically, Grad Plus loans which could cover the entire cost of attendance, but I assume it will be a mix of private and federal loans and much will depend on the package that I’m offered. Ideal interest rates? Fixed vs variable (do they even have variable student loan interest rates?)? What kind of loan term should I look at? etc etc so that when I get the package from the school, I have an idea of what is reasonable and what is not.

    Maybe this is all a little too far in advance to be thinking this, but having never been in debt before, it’s scaring me a little and I want to understand as much about it as I can!

  24. I am NOT a morning person at all. I typically get to work around 9:30 am, leave work at 7:30 pm and then work at home if I need to (I’m in Big Law). On the days that I do get up early I love it, but it’s a struggle for me to get up. My goal is to go to bed at 11 pm, wake up at 7 am and then work out. That happens every once in a while. My current schedule is more like go to bed around 12:30 am, wake up at 8 am, get to work at 9:30 am.

  25. I am all over this thread, but anyway, another perk of getting in early and leaving early is that you can fit in a hair cut, oil change, post office trip during normal business hours on a weekday evening, rather that having to fit that into your weekend too.

  26. When I was single, and living in the city (read: short walk to work), I loved getting up “early” — my favorite was signing up for a 6 a.m. bootcamp class 4 days/week that still had me home in time for a shower and leisurely breakfast before walking to the office.

    Now that I’m married, and living in the suburbs, that same “early” time is when I have to get up if I want to eat a quick breakfast at home instead of in the car, never mind working out. And it means I generally need to go to bed a bit earlier than my night-owl husband (who has a nice, short commute). I theoretically could go to bed earlier in order to get up earlier and squeeze in a workout or me time, but that would mean seeing even less of my husband, especially during busy seasons when he’s not getting home until after 9 p.m. most nights. Not gonna happen.

  27. Anonymous :

    Has anyone tried the Zeo sleep monitor? You wear it like a headband and it monitors your sleep cycle. It wakes you up at the optimal time in your sleep cycle. It may be that you can sleep for 4/5 hours and wake up rested if you wake up at the right moment in your cycle. Similarly, it may be you sleep 7/8 hours and wake up tired if you wake up at the wrong moment. I haven’t made the investment, but curious if anyone has else tried it.

    • There’s an iphone app called sleep cycle that does the same ( Don’t know if there is an android version.

      It works Ok for me, but probably because I use it as a part of my “routine” 7/8 hour sleep. I’ve never tried it for a short (4/5 hour) sleep and would be wary of using it under such conditions b/c my iphone is not as loud as my alarm clock (and I would probably sleep right through).

    • My husband was just talking about an Android app (I think it’s free) that you can download. You have to sleep with your phone on your bed so it can evaluate body movement, but it generally tries to do the same thing. My husband said that the two times he’s tested it that it seems generally accurate.

      • Any chance you have the name of the app? I would love to try something like this!

        • It’s called “sleep as an droid”. It’s free for two weeks and then I think it’s somewhere around $1.75. But it’s great!

    • I have a Zeo, but find that sometimes its accuracy is a bit off in terms of identifying which part of my sleep cycle I’m in, so its identification of transition points can be a bit off, so I limit the function to “up to 15 minutes before set alarm time”.

      I’ve had terrible insomnia my entire life (at least since 1st grade, and my parents say longer), and I’ve found that the tracking tools have been really helpful in narrowing down what’s actually happening during my sleep, and what affects my sleep quality and restedness. Once I’m at a point where I can do something about my sleep I’ll be bringing some charts in to my doctor to discuss treatment options (I’m currently pregnant; no sense in bringing it up until the kid is sleeping through the night). I’ve been treated for insomnia before with limited success, but that was based on annual visits to a sleep clinic, so the data (while more elaborate) was pretty limited and couldn’t show any trends – I’m hoping that knowing the trends can help narrow down a more effective treatment method.

  28. I feel like such an odd-ball. I’m definitely not a night owl since I’m ready for bed by 10 every night. But I don’t think I’m a morning person either. I’m at my best between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. I don’t get up earlier than 7 , though I wish I could to carve out that extra me time. Still even on the days I do get up before mr gov anon, I find I don’t get much done. He’s so sensitive to noise that it bothers him if I walk from living room to kitchen to pour coffee. I can’t imagine trying to get housework done or typing done. And as he’s a true stay up until 4 a.m. and sleep until noon night owl, I usually feel that the best part of the day/weekend has slipped away before I can even think of starting on my projects.

    • If you are an oddball, gov anon, so am I! I always feel so left out when I read articles geared towards the night owls and the larks (I think that is what morning people are typically called), full of helpful tips about how each type can maximize productivity. What about someone who needs 8-9 hours of sleep each night, who has never and could never pull an all-nighter, and for whom waking up early (let’s say before 7:00) is virtually guaranteed to induce a migraine headache – even if she tries to go to bed early the night before to compensate?

  29. My commute to work is about an hour, and I have to be to the office by 7:30. It takes me about an hour to get ready, have breakfast, pack lunch, etc. so I have to get up at 5:30 in order to be on time. I’m not normally a morning person, but after being at my job for a little over a year I’ve started transitioning to a morning person. For me, I did a couple of things to get my ‘me’ time in.

    First, I turned my commute (both ways) into ‘me’ time. In the morning I listen to my favorite radio show and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. I live in a very rural area so I usually get to watch the sun rise over the mountains, depending on what time of year it is, which makes for a wonderful morning. For my afternoon commute, which is 4:30 to 5:30, I usually make my ‘family catch-up’ phone calls. (I know, I know!! I could be practicing safter driving – my husband tells me regularly!) I like to call my sister, parents, brother…whoever, and spend some time catching up.

    Second, I pack my gym bag in my car at all times and have a membership at a gym that’s on my way home. That way, I can stop without having to go out of my way, and my gym clothes are always with me. I can usually manage to get a 45 minute workout in and still make it home by about 6:30.

    The catch to all this is that I MUST have at least 8 – 8 1/2 hours of sleep to function, so I need to be in bed by 9:00. I just got really good at time management. I run ALL errands on weekends so I never have to do ‘just this one quick thing that turns into hours of things’ on my way home. I make a meal plan on Sundays so I know exactly what I’m doing when I get home and I’m not staring at my pantry for half an hour. I’m pretty type A, but my effeciency allows me to get everything done during the day and still have time with my husband or for myself.

  30. I get up at 4 a.m. The trick that works for me is to put an alarm clock in the living room (my blackberry in my purse performs this function nicely) and put my workout clothes in the bathroom.

  31. Getting up early is critical if I want to be sure to have time to work 0ut – can’t count on time or energy at the end of the day.

    Critical to getting up early – an alarm clock that lights up. You can buy ones with actual lights built into them, or get ones into which your bedside lamp plugs in. They slowly “dim up” the light over a set period of time; I set mine to 15 minutes. Couldn’t get up at 5:00 am in the dark, but can with this light/alarm.

    • This works for me, too. I’m a snooze-button addict, and especially at this time of year, I’ll be hitting it for like an hour or more.

      But what has worked for me is the lamp on my bedside table. It has a high-wattage bulb. I turn it on the first time I hit the snooze button. Then I only hit it once or twice more, which works, because I have set the alarm 2-snoozes before I have to get up anyway.

  32. Liz (Europe) :

    Night owl with a need for 9 hours each day here, getting up at 6 in the morning to avoid traffic jams. To be honest, not a lot of time is left for anything. Luckily, I’m not raising offspring. I tend to go sporting after work.

    I’ll recommend the phillips wake-up light and good BRIGHT halogen desklights.

    • Liz (Europe) :

      9 hours of sleep, that is.

      • L from Oz :

        Is the wake-up light that good? I splurged on the Phillips light box recently (the big one, not the Go-Lite), and have been wondering whether the wake-up light would be a good addition. It’s a rather expensive collection of lighting, though!

  33. I wake up at 5:30 and spend about an hour getting ready and then get to work around 7am. I then leave early so that I can be home by the time my daughter gets off the school bus. My husband takes care of the mornings at home and works later. It is hard for me to get up early and I have been trying to get up at 5 and go for a short run…but that doesn’t always work out. I usually go to bed around 10 or 11. I like sleeping in but with three kids, including an infant those days are long gone, for now!

  34. I’ve used the “sunrise” alarm clock below since 1L year (just graduated this May) and am a huge fan.

    I always had a southeast facing room growing up and always just rose with the sun. My law school apartment faced east but straight into my neighbor’s window 10 feet away from mine and I never got any sunlight – I had a hard time waking up for 8am CrimLaw and bought this light. In the 4 years I’ve had it I’ve never had to change the lightbulb and their customer service is GREAT (moved and had no idea how to re-set the clock after plugging it in).

    You can set it to gradually get brighter culminating in your wakeup time – I usually wake up (naturally) a minute or two before the alarm is scheduled to go off and feel alert and awake rather than I’m fighting sleep. It’s a bit pricey but if you’re normally able to wake up with the sun but the winter is making it harder, I totally recommend it!

  35. I am completely and totally not a morning person. Even if I am up, no one dares speak to me. It takes me a good hour to become a normal person. Next to mornings, 3:30 in the afternoon is low energy crash time. I could fall asleep during an earthquake if I was sitting down. I have tried to be an early riser because I read about the benefits, but my mind is even less willing than my body which is saying something. Maybe I will put it in my new years resolution list again this year. Wish me luck!

  36. I get up between 4-5 most work days to run. Saturdays it may be 6. Its not easy, but I feel better after a good run.

    • Skirt Envy :

      Same here. Even though I don’t classify myself as a morning or night person (as long as I get 6.5ish hours sleep, I’m a generally amiable riser), runs certainly make everything better. My thoughts are more clear and I find myself solving work problems that were foggy the day before.

  37. Self-employed :

    I’ve always been more productive in the morning, and couldn’t study later than about 9:30 pm in law school or college.

    I usually fall asleep between 10:15-10:45 (I almost always turn on Daily Show before the interview, and am asleep before Colbert is over).

    I set my alarm for about 5:30 or 6:30, depending on when I need to be at work. I hit snooze a fair amount, and then am usually out of bed by 7. The best days are when I don’t have any morning meetings or court, and I can walk in at 10. That’s awesome, because I can spend the hours between 7 and 10 drinking coffee, reading the newspaper, checking emails, doing dishes, folding laundry, etc. Self-employment is nice.

  38. Sigh- I’ve been waiting for this thread forever and of course this is the day I had no computer access at work. Go figure.

    I get up at around 6 and make it to work at around 7-7:15. I am most productive before others get in and really like to have that quiet time to read my email and catch up on a few other things before it starts to get busy. I don’t think I need as much sleep as others. I can go to bed at 11 and still be fine the next day. I usually wake up right when I need to without an alarm. In the winter I do find it hard to stay up until 10, but if I go to bed before that I will end up waking up at 4:30 and having issues falling back to sleep.

  39. I’m at my sharpest first thing in the morning… which is why I prefer to work out in the afternoons. While lots of people swear by morning workouts, all they have ever done is make me feel like ish by 2 PM… and I’m so hyperactive that, regardless of what time I wake up, I am restless and antsy after sitting still for so many hours and feel like I HAVE to move around by 6 PM or so.

    In a perfect world, I would get in to the office at 7, work till 4, go to the gym, take a shower and a break and then work from home for a couple of hours. Am I the only person like this?

    • No, that’s me too, except reverse: I like to work (from home) from when I get up at 7:00 until 9 or so, then shower, make food, run errands, etc. until I make it to the office about 1:00. Then I’ll work until 7:30 or 8, go home and make dinner.

      Unfortunately I can only get away with this about once a week…

    • This is brilliant. I’ve never thought of going to the gym about 2pm, but it would totally work for me.

  40. hate the morning, no matter the time zone! need 8 hrs plus time to get shifted into the day. kind of sluggish mid-morning and afternoon too.. usually pretty awake evenings but not while pregnant now! so i guess i don’t have a perfectly productive time of day yet i get things done- more about the conditions in the moment. and i accept i’m not one of those lucky people who can do more on less sleep- a limitation to live with, is what it is. love to sleep, need it. in a work personality/icebreaker game once they asked “what’s your favorite place on earth, if you could be anywhere right now where?” i said my bed! Someone said you shouldn’t say that, people will think you are depressed. I’m not, I just like my safe, cozy restful bed:)

  41. I usually wake up at 5:30 AM. But It wasn’t so easy at the beginning I had very hard time to it.
    What I did was simply set 2 alarm clocks and put them far from my bed, this way I had no choise but to get up from bed and shut them.
    I think if you need to wake up early, you should try this. If it worked for me it must work for you. Cheers!

  42. I have no problem getting up for a morning workout, but then I find that I’m exhausted around 11:00am in the morning. Getting up early affects my productivity later in the day and that’s not really acceptable. I’ve started going to the gym directly from work on my way home and that seems to work a lot better.

  43. Kristen Reese :

    I too have found that waking up early is the “magic” time for me. With three young children who rise at 7AM, the hours between 4:30-6:30 are often the only moments I get to myself. Getting up that early is the only opportunity I have to commit to working out and doing something for me and only me. I continually say that nothing is getting in my way that early, except for myself. Glad to see others feel this way too.

    BTW – sometimes I sleep in my workout clothes so I just have to put on my shoes and leave :)

  44. 3 words: Sunrise Alarm Clock. My favorite is this one:
    It helps me wake up more naturally in the morning, and normally the gradual brightening of the room wakes me up before the annoying buzzer noise – much more pleasant! And it allows me to keep getting up at 5:30am even in the dark days of winter. I do this so that I can work out before I go to work…. though I’ve been fighting a sinus infection, so lately I’ve been skipping a lot of the workouts. Nonetheless, it helps me be more productive with my mornings. And I was NEVER a morning person before I got this alarm clock. I recommend it to everyone!!!

  45. This is very timely for me! I’ve recently figured out that I could put my 4:30 am insomnia to good use. If I got some good work in then, I’d be able to work out later in the day (even if I do crawl back under the covers for one more snuggle just before the alarm goes off)

  46. The only thing i was thinking about while reading this article is: how many hour does she sleep!? We read a lot of articles on sleep deprivision and the long terms effect of that. I personaly need my minimum 8 hours of sleep, if not i do not have as much energy and will eventually have a migraine if i continue. My body talks to me that way. Some of my friends get up really early to be super productive but they do not listen to their bodys. We live in a world were we have pressure of beeing super womans and sometimes it’s really hard to keep our balance in that. I feel guilty sometimes because i need to sleep so much and i compare myself to other super womans like some of you are but at the same time i say to myself: maybe i will live a longer and healthier life after all. My point is we need to remember to be carefull and take care of ourselves. We are not invincible. If it is SO hard to get up at 5h am maybe it’s because your body is talking to you and you NEED the sleep to recuperate. :) (sorry for my mistakes, i’m french)

    • Absolutely. I just read through the whole thread and am struck by the emphasis on alarm clocks. What seems particularly jarring to me is the clash between exercising (good for mind & body) and not getting enough sleep (not good for concentration or physical health). Short term a couple hours of being short on sleep can be ok, but over the long run it’s def not a good thing.

  47. Thank you for writing this. I also have a problem with waking up in the morning although I’ve experienced how good it is to wake up and finish all the task and the to-do lists on time especially when i am not juggling 100 things a minute.

    But still I have a problem waking up on my own ON TIME. I always need three different alarms, three different snoozes and occasionally the help of my mom or friend to get me out of bed… Recently I joined the work force in my country and right now i am trying to be as professional and efficient a i can… So what do i do to fix this?

    • Quds –
      If you can’t get to sleep earlier on your own (Google can help you find some common behavioural recommendations), it’s probably worth getting some outside help. See a doctor – your family doc may be able to help, but you may need to see a sleep specialist to rule out sleep apnea.

      If you have a smartphone, there are apps that will help you track your sleep cycle (better ones typically require external hardware – an armband or headband). That can help you understand if you’re waking up a lot at night, or if you’re not getting into deep sleep.

      Once you know what the problem is, you can make changes – either behavioural (for example, I can’t drink caffeine past noon or alcohol past 5 without affecting my sleep quality and quantity), or medicinal (with the guidance of a doc!).