Getting out of bed in the morning is by far the greatest challenge of my day. For this reason, I set my digital alarm radio for six o'clock in the morning. I also set all five alarms on my phone at five minute intervals between six and six-twenty in the morning, as well an analog bedside alarm for six-twenty-five. At six-thirty the real alarm goes off. An application on my phone called Alarmy makes me complete four math problems as it annoyingly beeps at me. Math has always been my worst subject in school, so it is fair punishment for me if I do not get out of bed and disable it beforehand. By waking up at six in the morning I have evaded a dreadful math lesson as well as given myself enough time to enjoy a cup of tea and review my planner before I get ready for the day. These are the days that I am most productive, comparative to the days I wake up just twenty minutes before I am to be somewhere.
A common misconception about establishing a routine is that it eliminates all spontaneity from one's life. The way of the world is not so kind to mold itself from your rigid plans. A good routine is malleable enough to allow for the handlebars of your bicycle to break off on the way to class, as well as the salvation of a really nice dumpster couch because your usual route from work was under construction. Though there are appointments in my planner that are rigid, such as work or school, I make sure to keep necessary personal tasks more flexible. Gym, tan, and laundry day does not need to take place every Sunday, nor do the three tasks need to be completed on the same day. Certain tasks will have higher priority over others, and these task should be the first to schedule. Free time is the most important of the daily personal tasks and is not reserved solely for the end of the day. A three hour lunch date with yourself could be the exact rejuvenating experience you need to power through the rest of your scheduled activities. Remember that free time, like any other appointment, has time parameters.
When I first began committing to a routine every day, I found it difficult and tedious to always be aware of the clock. Yet, in doing so I became aware of how much time on average I could allot myself for each activity. It also introduced me to the concept of downtime, a time that has no prescribed activity or appointment. By my definition it is different from free time, though it can become free time, or extra travel or study time. If I am at home I use my downtime to clean.
Between 11 and 12 at night, just before bed, I set up the next day's insurance coverage. This includes but is not limited to setting out clothes, locating my car keys, and organizing my book bag so that in case of some wicked fate I sleep through all eight alarms, I can still have a quick start the next day. The earlier I get to bed, the more time I'll have to sleep. These morning and nightly routines are paramount in creating a foundation for my daily productivity. Becoming the master of my own environment requires self discipline and constant practice, but at the end of the day I am rewarded with a feeling of accomplishment.