I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and reading about productivity and working practices for a project I’m involved with. (It’s a cool, interesting project. I’m looking forwards to sharing more with you about it in due course.) The one thing I’ve become horribly conscious of is the role sleep plays in our productivity cycles.
This morning, I feel good. I love my daughter dearly, but she’s not what you’d call a sleeper, and she gave us a hard time this weekend. But last night, she slept for nine and a half hours solid. I’m sat on a train to London, having had over six hours unbroken sleep for the first time since I was in Paris in early December. I’m getting lots done – including this blog post – while watching the snow flurry outside the train. It sure beats the “try and claw some sleep back” feeling I often have. I acknowledge, though, that this morning is an exception. Until Hazel consistently goes through the night, I have to work within the confines of constant slight sleep deprivation. I can’t just muddle through – I have to make hard decisions.
In fact, I’m having to upend my life. I’ve always been a night owl, doing my best work late at night. Every time I’ve tried to do tha recently, I’ve been too damn tired. On the other hand, mornings are little pods of productivity for me, especially if I need to get an extended piece of writing done. In my 40s, I’m finally being forced to study, analyse and optimise my working methods – because there’s no way I’ll keep this hugely enjoyable freelance consultancy career going unless I do.
And you know what? It may have started as a necessity, but this process has becone a pleasure. Making decisions about what tools I use when, how I spend my limited time to best effect, and creating a structure around my life is curiously liberating.