There’s always something to howl about

When Is It Best To Begin the Day’s Cat Skinnin’?

Regardless of what many of us prefer to believe, our day to day effectiveness has much to do with when our days begin and end. Yeah, yeah, I know, Captain Obvious etc. With one eight month exception, when it’s been my choice, I’ve not been an early riser. Ever notice that those who wake up later and stay up past midnight don’t pester the livin’ crap out of you about the merits of their choice? Don’t feel like gettin’ in a word edgewise for awhile? Ask anyone with a rooster fetish about the merits espoused by their dawn worshiping cult, and you may remain silent for the duration.

My theory has always been grounded in the empirical. As long as you’re not showin’ up for work late, then leavin’ early to make up for it, your 8-12 hours a day are still 8-12 hours a day. Kinda profound, don’t ya think? Still, the early morning crowers piously insist their hours are more productive than those beginning and ending later. They utter those words framed in a tone dripping with the unspoken accusation of ‘slacker’!

Is the listing you just took, or the loan you just closed worth any more or less based upon when you get up and go to bed? Apparently so to many.

I wanted to find out first hand. If one of our country’s most respected forefathers gave the idea legs enough to last for over a couple centuries, what was the harm?

Made a deal with myself to rise at 6 AM for the entire month of November. It’s been an eye opener, as I’ve learned Ben Franklin was full of what comes out of the south end of a northbound bull. Well, maybe not totally. I am gettin’ more done by 9 due to all the obvious reasons provided by being up and more or less not comatose before the #$%&^in’ sun is up. My waking hours haven’t really changed much though, which is counterintuitive to what all the lying bastards have been tellin’ us for centuries.

My kingdom for somebody to rationally explain the difference between rising at 8:30 AM and hittin’ the hay at 12:30 AM-ish, or 6 AM and going to bed at 10-something PM. I figure I’m gaining at most an hour a day, sometimes less if my workload or workout conquered me instead of, well, you get it. I’m only bitchin’ now cuz I’m still adjusting to it, and am tired of being tired. I’m almost surely gonna extend the experiment to the end of the year to be fair. Would love to hear your take on this — with one exception. PULLLEASE don’t come at me with the whole kumbaya chapter and verse about being one with God or the universe in the morning. I’m a preacher’s kid — got that one covered.

I will tell ya one thing. That first cuppa coffee with just-ground beans is better at 6 than 2-3 hours later. I’ll be damned if I know why though.


19 Comments so far

  1. Jerry Robertson November 30th, 2009 4:47 pm

    I too am one of the later rising of the fold. My wife says I am a recovering work-aholic but perhaps I have fallen off the wagon with my 12 hour days.

    I agree that my natural bent is to work until 12 or 1am and sleep 7-8 hours and do it again. For me it is the natural thing to do. I don’t think I get more or less done and in fact have started breaking my day in two to compensate. I go and workout about 3pm a couple of times a week and once my early rising wife goes to bed I get back to work about 8pm for a few hours. It is quieter in my house at that time of day and I work on those things that don’t require much human interaction (listing entry, note writing, blog articles, etc.)

    As to the coffee thing, I suspect it seems to taste better because you need it more to overcome the shock to your system of rising at an un-godly hour. Coffee is to the body what the Word of God is to the soul.

    Just make sure you get enough of both and you’ll be fine. 🙂


  2. Teri Lussier November 30th, 2009 5:19 pm

    I don’t think it’s so much the time of day, Jeff, as our own unique productivity rhythms.

    As a youth, my husband spent years and years running an early morning paper route that required him to wake up around 3 or 4 a.m. and get on his bike for an hour and deliver papers. Then a cat nap, breakfast, and off to school. To this day, he literally jumps out of bed and is ready to go. Drives me nuts. 😉

    My natural rhythm prefers an hour or two of quiet upon rising- doesn’t matter what time of the day, just leave me to my own thoughts. Make no mistake, I wake up ready to work, I’m very productive first thing in the morning, but it’s solid brain work, don’t talk to me. I really have no desire to be social at all for a few hours.

    However, having kids in the house, I’ve learned the only way to get that much-needed quiet time is to wake up before them, which means about 6. I like it only because it’s MY time, otherwise, I’m with you.

    But, I do have an issue with your assumption that we all need 8 hours of sleep. Who the hell needs 8 hours of sleep? 6 hours is just perfect.

  3. Lori SOLDano November 30th, 2009 5:22 pm

    Great read!
    Im not an early riser and I hate to turn the lights out at night and walk away from Twitter, Facebook etc for fear I might be missing something. When I’m in the swing and rising at 5:30 am,hitting the gym at 6 am walking out at 7 knowing my workout is done,I giggle under my breath as I watch others groggily walk through the doors and it makes me feel powerful.
    Showered and ready to start my work day I stroll through the doors at 7:30 am and get comments from all who drive past my office,(I drive an H2 so it’s impossible to go unnoticed) wow,”you must be busy”, “you’re really on top of things”.
    Sometimes people’s perception of what you are doing goes a long way to making them think you are qualified to be doing your job because you are working longer and earlier then anyone else.
    That being said, Im going to get back on track and visit my gym in the am as I have been missing in action for quite some time and poping into my office at 8:45 am doesn’t quite stirr up the same comments.

    Can’t wait for my early morning coffee!

  4. Ashlee November 30th, 2009 6:00 pm

    Great post! I def. dont rise with the chickens in the morning but I am still up pretty early to get things done before the phones start ringing about 8am. It is amazing the things I can get done before the phone cuts into my day!

  5. Tom Vanderwell November 30th, 2009 6:19 pm

    Hey Bawld Guy,

    I think a lot of it depends on whether you have kids at home or not. When they have school, I’m up and at them by 6, but running out of steam earlier at night. In the summer, I move that back by an hour or more and I’m just as, if not more, productive, but I don’t have to get kids out the door.

    In other words, it’s all relative….. Especially when your relatives can’t drive themselves to school and school starts at 7:45.


  6. Jeff Brown November 30th, 2009 6:47 pm

    Jerry — Coffee is to the body what the Word of God is to the soul.

    Starbucks is on line 2. 🙂

    In fact I do get both daily. Getting up to work almost all day, sleep, rinse and repeat? Your wife is right, you’re still a workaholic. 🙂

  7. Jeff Brown November 30th, 2009 7:07 pm

    Hey Teri — My stepmother was an early riser who was the friggin’ energizer bunny before her feet hit the ground every morning. Sounds like your husband has her beat hands down.

    I don’t think everyone needs eight hours sleep, not by a long shot. I’m convinced to this day my grandma, late in life, slept only as a courtesy to others. 🙂 I do fine with seven these days, sometimes less.

    I get the idea of ‘your time’. We take it where/when we can these days. We’re similar in that I can read, and drink coffee ’till about 8 or so.

  8. Jeff Brown November 30th, 2009 7:22 pm

    Lori — I’m seeing you arrive in your H2 as the sun hits the glass windows of your office. Sweet.

    I’ve always told clients calling me before 10 doesn’t cut it, unless there’s something on fire. Not being an early riser has had no affect whatsoever on how I’m perceived — at least by people whose opinion I value.

  9. Jeff Brown November 30th, 2009 7:27 pm

    Ashlee — I think Teri made a great point talking about body rhythms. Nobody’s ever asked a best selling author if they started writing their latest million seller at sunrise or sunset.

    It’s all about what works for you.

  10. Jeff Brown November 30th, 2009 7:32 pm

    Hey Tom — I remember young kids under foot in the morning. Enjoyed it in real time but wouldn’t ever volunteer to repeat it. I like how you adjust to the kids at home during summer. Although, since the time changes in spring, you lost that hour of sleep anyway. Another example of ‘life ain’t fair’.

    If I’m still always tired after a couple months of this, I’m goin’ back to bank hours. 🙂

  11. Barry Bevis December 1st, 2009 6:18 am

    I rarely leave the house before 10am…
    99% of calls before lunch are from vendors or friends heading into the office. They can wait till I’m ready.
    Clients start calling at lunch and dont stop till about 7pm.

    My morings are spend reading/planning and replying to emails… And having coffee!!

  12. Jeff Brown December 1st, 2009 7:41 am

    Hey Barry — Sounds like my previous daily schedule. It simply doesn’t matter when we work when it comes to production, generically speaking.

  13. Don Reedy December 1st, 2009 8:29 am


    Was contemplating your fine post this morning at 4:45 a.m.

    I’m going to reverse engineer your experiment. Starting tomorrow, up no earlier than 7 a.m. (Am I lying to myself….or can I actually stay in bed that long?)

    Well, your data (from you and all the great comments)suggests that no kids + fewer client needs in the early a.m. + time throughout the day with God = later to bed/later to rise might be just the cup of tea (coffee) for me.

    Will keep you apprised.

  14. Vance Shutes December 1st, 2009 9:03 am


    I was cracking up while reading your whole post! Nothing like the vernacular to make the point.

    Besides, while you’re getting up at 9am, it’s 6am somewhere!

  15. Jeff Brown December 1st, 2009 9:19 am

    Hey Don — I love that formula.

    However, I’ve found the number of clients don’t have any bearing on the equation. Even many years ago when I had three full time assistants goin’ full steam all day every day, it didn’t matter. My easy accessibility during whatever hours I’ve worked has proven far more critical to client satisfaction than when those hours actually occur.

    Would love to be kept in the loop on your reverse engineering play.

  16. Jeff Brown December 1st, 2009 9:25 am

    Hi Vance — Love your take. It’s my belief that as long as the cat gets skinned, nobody cares when it happened. It reminds me of the saying, “It’s not the dog in the fight, it’s the fight in the dog” that’s important.

  17. Thomas Johnson December 4th, 2009 3:51 pm

    I think the late start in the AM is a function of the retail residential real estate disease. I am trying to remember the last time I met with a client before their work day started. Knowing the routine of most families getting started I cannot fathom a listing appointment before the day starts. Clients seem to free up the time to concentrate on our stuff after dinner. I like to skin my cats when they have full bellies and are a little less feisty.

  18. Matt December 6th, 2009 9:28 pm

    I feel the same way. I can’t stand talking to somone that wakes up a 5am everyday and by 10am they are so cracked out on coffee. I’d rather get up at 8 or 9 go to work, work a little late and be done. Your right though, it’s the same closing at 1pm whether or not you woke up at 9am or 5am.

  19. SuiteSusan December 14th, 2009 11:51 am

    “Slackers” come in late, get their work done and leave at the same time as those that come in on time. Seems like maybe the slackers might be slacking less than we think and working more productively in less time. Hmmmm… However if they came in on time couldn’t they get even more work done? Hmmmm…