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Morning routines

Emerging from a five-week long period of 100% business, I have now entered a much more peaceful part of this semester. That doesn’t mean that I’m not studying or that I have nothing to do (nothing could be further from the truth), but it means that I am, once again, in control of my time and how I spend it.

I’ve learnt before (from several experiments with sleeping, routines and productivity) that going up at the same time everyday (including weekends) is the best thing since sliced bread. It takes roughly two weeks to adjust to a specific time and during this period, it’s really hard, but after that, getting up in the morning ceases to be a problem. The body knows when the alarm is going to sound and waking up becomes as natural as falling asleep when tired. Provided that I go to bed at a reasonable time, that is.

So, what I’ve been doing now for a while is going up at 6:10 every morning. That might sound ridiculously early, but that was how early I had to go up in order to catch the bus and go to Norrköping for my teacher training. Now that I no longer have to go there, I’ve decided to keep the time anyway. Why? Because sometimes I got up at 6:10 even though I could have slept to, say, 7:00, and when I had that extra fifty minutes, I found that I could get an incredible amount of things done. I also like the feeling of being up early, which is weird because I’ve really never thought so before.

Having at least three hours extra in the morning begs the question what to do with the extra time. Thus, I’ve begun to structure the first part of the day, simply because it’s easy to lose momentum otherwise. I’m never too strict with my routine, I do what I feel like, but this is what it generally looks like:

  • 6:10: Alarm sounds, Taiwanese web radio starts playing, I get up
  • 6:10-7:00: Vocabulary work in Anki (including adding new words and drilling deeper into the meaning of old ones)
  • 7:00-8:00: Internet round (mostly related to Hacking Chinese, but also e-mail, social media, newspapers, etc.)
  • 8:00-9:00: Some kind of physical activity (handstand, walking, jogging, unicycling) plus stretching plus shower
  • 9:00: Breakfast

I’m still experimenting with moving things around and playing with the times. For instance, in the beginning, I thought that fifty minutes would be way too long to focus on vocabulary, but if I’m not tired (i.e. if I go to bed around midnight), I can usually keep going with Anki for at least an hour, sometimes even more. Basically, it becomes a matter of doing that until I feel that efficiency is starting to diminish, then it’s time to do something else.

After I’ve checked what’s going on outside my apartment (read: the internet), I sometimes start feeling sleepy. This is when going outside is a good idea. Having finished off with some stretching and a shower, I usually feel quite ravenous. What about after breakfast? That depends on too many factors to even start talking about, but usually try to focus on studying things I should be studying according to the courses I’m taking (none of which is directly related to studying Chinese).

I like this routine simply because it allows me to get a ton of things done immediately and usually before I would otherwise have got out of bed. Even if I don’t touch Anki for the rest of the day, I’m still okay because I’ve usually reduced all queues to zero anyway. Also, I’ve done at least one of the two physical things I try to do everyday (stretching and handstand).

Still, none of these things can be considered to be the main advantage. The reason I’m doing this is because it feels great. Having a shower and then breakfast after this kind of start  is a real treat. It sets the mood for the rest of the day and the positive effects last much longer than the morning routine itself.

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