Recently, a good friend and regular collaborator Tweeted something that got me thinking. His declaration was that he was doing the 6am challenge. He'd read an article somewhere that suggested that humans are programmed to do certain things and act in certain ways. Society dictates that we eat three square meals a day. That we sleep for eight hours a night. That we must follow certain social conventions that are deemed normal. So my friend decided that he was going to get up at 6am every day so he could be more productive with his time.
After processing what a 6am start would feel like I decided to give it a go myself. I've recently had a baby (I actually got my wife to do it for me) so my sleep patterns were a little sporadic. My son had settled into a nice routine which meant I'd go to him around 7:45am (on a good day). I just thought of the potential of getting an hour or more work in before the morning chaos began.
I was smart about it. I didn't want to get into anything too heavy at that time in the morning. I used it to follow interesting people on Twitter. I used it to proof my blog posts. I used it to update my film festival spreadsheets. I used it to do all the little annoying admin type jobs that used to clutter my usual morning routines. A big reason I made a conscious decision to not get into anything too big at that stage of the morning was mainly down to my son. I said 7:45am was a good day. I found when I started and tried to take on a bigger more involved task that I would become frustrated if he woke up at 6:45am instead. The jobs I was doing first thing in the morning were ones that could easily be dropped in an instant.
After a month of doing this routine I discovered the following:
1) I wasn't tired in the morning. Getting out of bed was actually quite easy once my body adapted. I found that I was waking up even before my alarm went off.
2) When my official work day actually started at 9ish I was ready to go. I could get cracking on my list of important jobs like drafting the scripts, storyboarding or editing my work.
3) My social media professional network was growing. I was having more interactions on Twitter with potential collaborators because I had time to follow people, plan my tweets and engage in interesting conversations.
4) I felt tired and accomplished at the end of each day. I felt that I had packed enough into my schedule so that I felt I have achieved something. Of course there is always a list that rolls over to the next day but that's always going to be the case.
In conclusion I'd say that early mornings have worked well for me. Maybe that doesn't suit you but it's important to carve some time out in your day to be productive. That might be in a lunch hour. It might be in an evening? It might even be throughout the night. When you're an indie filmmaker you have to try and make extra time somewhere because there are hundreds if not thousands of other filmmakers going for that pot of money, trying to write that killer script and going that extra mile to get their films made.