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22nd October
2010
written by Randy

Every day, millions of Americans — probably hundreds of millions — start their day wrong. The first thing they hear is an irritating noise buzzing and beeping and rousing them from their rest before it’s done.

Imagine that. The first thing that happens to you every morning is one you don’t like. It’s a negative experience that we have to work hard to overcome in our morning… and many never succeed at that.

That alarm sets the pattern for how your day is going to go. You wake up frustrated. You wake up without enough sleep. You wake up with an irritating noise in your ears. You wake up on someone else’s schedule, reminded that your life is not your own. You wake up a slave.

This week, like the Greek army burning their ships, I threw out my alarm clock with the trash. And Monday, I start working at a new company. So without a safety net, I’m counting on waking up on time, naturally, without an alarm, for the first day at a new job!

I’ve wrestled with the idea of an alarm clock for several years. For the majority of the last decade, I’ve worked as a contractor, so I have full time work that ends after a set period of time. And between contracts I have “vacation”, such as right now.

Between contracts, one thing I’ve noticed right away was that I stopped using my alarm clock and started waking up when I was “done sleeping”. This doesn’t mean I layed in bed all day like a lazy fool; it just means that when I woke up naturally, that’s when I got up.

In recent years, I’ve managed to not use the alarm for long periods of time, even when I was working. I’ve found that if I get to sleep at a reasonable time, I will wake up at a reasonable time. I’ve also learned that my activity level and diet affect that greatly — working out will help me get to sleep, drinking a lot of coffee will keep me up all night, etc.

Still, even though I’ve found success waking up for work without the clock, I’ve still had periods where I started staying up later and later, and had to start using the alarm. It’s been like a safety net.

But this week I threw it out, and I’m not going back.

The difference is commitment. Without that clock there, I have no backup plan. It becomes necessary for me to be responsible about when I sleep, when I wake up, what I eat, what I do during the day.

Life is better without the alarm

Once you declare your independence from the alarm clock, the world looks different. You wake up when you’re done sleeping… not tired, not irritated, like a human instead of a slave.

Without the alarm, your morning belongs to you. You aren’t faced with an immediate reminder of someone else’s schedule or their plans for you.

Each new day is yours to conquer, instead of being a challenge to survive.

Moreover, without that clock there, you don’t know what time it is when you woke up, until you actually get up and go look. Whether you woke up early or woke up late, there is no longer that panicked sense of realizing the fact. You simply wake up and start your day.

Sure, you have to be more responsible. Without the clock to wake you, the responsibility to get to sleep on time is yours and yours alone. But that is a good thing!

When you know you have to wake up and be at work, you are less likely to give in to the temptation to stay out all night at the bar, or to stay up all night playing video games, or watching tv.

When you know you have to be asleep by a certain time in order to wake up, you stop drinking so many caffeinated drinks, because you know that they’ll keep you up all night.

When you know you need to have a regular sleep schedule for things to work, there is more incentive to get out and be active… to exercise, to work out, to go to the gym or go for a walk or go for a swim. You need your body to get tired so you can fall asleep when you go to bed.

Being without an alarm clock is freedom from the things you hate, and it’s responsibility to yourself. And that’s why I’ve decided to toss mine in the trash. From this point on, I am going to take responsibility for waking up happy, and never again be a slave to a clock.

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