Are You on Someone Else’s Time?
It’s 1:00 in the morning and I’m up writing. I have an early flight, so on days like this, I simply get up a few hours before the the time I'd normally need to.
I’ve tried to write the night before but my head is never clear enough. My friends laugh and say that in the morning I’m a genius but at night I can’t find my way home. There’s a lot of truth in jest.
I learned a long time ago that my most creative hours are early in the morning. Most folks are not aware of the fact that we all have a time frame within which we are most productive. They simply go through life adjusting to the time frame of others, never knowing why they are always short on time.
I was raised by a woman who was raised on a farm so in the Berry house we kept farm hours; early to bed and early to rise. Even when I wanted to sleep in like other kids my own body clock wouldn’t allow it. Then when I went to college and was on my own, I decided that I was going to sleep as late as I wanted to but that never worked out. By 9 at night when all of my friends were “studying” I’d find myself dragging and in need of sleep then I’d pop up at 3 looking for someone to talk to.
Then one day I read that for many people the most productive hours were early in the morning. I knew that this felt true for me too so I tested the notion and was rewarded with the biggest high that life had to offer. My mind literally buzzed with activity and thought.
I started getting up early each day and then I’d hang out until around 7 at night. People would ask me if I ever studied because they never saw me doing it. I’d be playing racquetball, pool or table tennis. I became so good at all three that no one wanted to play me. (At least that’s how I remember it.) Concerned friends began to take bets on when I’d be kicked out of school.
What they didn’t know was that after each class I’d review my notes making sure that I could understand them. I’d see professors during office hours to discuss any concept I had difficulty with or just to learn what they knew. Most students never take advantage of these one-on-ones with professors but among the faculty I was known for doing so. I had made it to the land of college and I was going to get all the learning I could.
Around 7 at night I’d review my notes from the day and read upcoming chapters for the next. I fell asleep by 9 and then I’d get up again at 4 or 5 to do my assignments. A week before an exam I was more than ready but I knew I needed to review so I studied with my friend Freddie. Freddie was majoring in mechanical engineering and I was studying sociology. The fields are as far apart as you can get. With the music of Keith Jarrett or Chick Corea in the background we’d quietly study for a few hours and then we’d quiz one another.
“What are you learning?” I’d ask. Freddie would have to teach me what he knew and then I’d tell him what I had learned. When we could understand each other’s field, we knew we had the concepts down.
In the gap between learning and knowing is your ability to teach what you’ve learned to someone else.
This wonderful pattern of going to bed at night and getting up really early to learn and create enabled me to understand the time frame that works best for me.
Most folks simply wait for Leno or Letterman to tell them that it’s time for bed but when you know your best hours and work within them you are much more effective.
· What time works for you?
· When do you go to bed and how much sleep do you get?
· Are you on someone else’s time?
· How can you make the most of the time you have?
· Tonight, make a note of when you begin to feel sleepy. Try going to bed then and then note when you wake up.
Time waits for no one, but when you understand your best times, you’ll find that you have all the time you need.
Be you, well, be in your time.
Bertice Berry, PhD.