I hate alarms.
As a highly sensitive person (HSP), waking up to an alarm always put me in a bad mood, even if I got enough sleep. The noise bothered me, and I refused to wake up another day to the sound of it. Over the years, I learned to train myself to wake up without one. Now I wake up at hours that may surprise others — any time between 4:30 am to 6 am. Sometimes, when I need it, I’ll sleep no later than 7:30am, but those days are rare.
I do this not because I want to get a head start before the world (maybe a little), but mostly because I’ve learned how sacred mornings are to my mental health. When I have a chance to wake up before the rest of the world, I take the pleasure of hearing the birds sing, the sunrise, and the dog snore, all while enjoying the tranquility and luxury of pure focus.
Over the years, I have monitored my energy levels closely and found that:
- My most productive time is between 6 am and 10 am
- I’m least efficient between 3 pm and 6 pm
- I tend to do my deepest work between 6 am and 7:30 am
With a full-time job working from 9 am to 5 am, it can be a challenge to do my best work. But knowing that I’m the most focused and productive in the morning, I’m able to plan my day accordingly by doing the hardest task (like writing long-form content) in the morning and small, mindless tasks at the end of the day.
Again, it doesn’t always work in my favor — last-minute tasks are asked of me, things come up, meetings are set at hours throughout the day — but having this insight on when my energy levels drop helps me be the most efficient I can be.
I’ve been thinking about my morning routine a lot compared to what it means to be an HSP. It’s no wonder that the mornings are the most optimal time for me. I’m able to think clearly without absorbing the feelings, opinions, and words of another person like a sponge.
In the last couple of months, I’ve been working from home, my morning ‘focus’ time has expanded exponentially, allowing me to allocate a few, solid hours to myself. Here is a typical morning for me:
- Wake up between 4:30 am – 5 am
- Make coffee
- Read for an hour (non-fiction – inspires me for the day; makes me think. I read fiction at night; it takes me away and doesn’t stimulate me to the point where I can’t sleep)
- Do a half-hour of yoga (YouTube videos – highly recommend Fightmaster Yoga)
- 30-45 minutes to shower, eat (eggs over easy, blueberries, sometimes toast), get dressed
- Take the dog on a walk
- Prepare my workspace, fill out my BestSelf journal
- Start work at around 8 am. The first hour, I’ll either get a head start on a challenging task or use that time to organize my day. I hate jumping into a busy day full of distraction, so this hour helps me prepare.
My morning routine is not always the easiest to stick to, but 95% of the time in the last two months, it has been. I have never had such a habitual morning routine like this before. I think the mandatory work from home helps; I don’t tend to be rushing anywhere, and it makes the morning routine stick. It’s reliable, and I can depend on myself to make it work.
Having time alone for deep work is a great life strategy for HSPs. Whether in the morning, mid-day, at night, finding time to clear your head, create, think, learn, is like brain food for HSPs. We crave it, we need it, and it can be hard to carve that time out for ourselves.
Tracking your energy levels can help with finding a daily routine that works for you. Although it is not always easy with demands like family and work, there are small steps and changes you can make to find time for you.
I’ve created a free personal energy level worksheet to help you get started. Throughout the day, you’ll track your energy levels and make notes of what tasks/projects are draining or energizing.
After a week of tracking your energy levels, you’ll reflect on the data by answering 10 questions. This will give you insight as to the most optimal time is to work on certain tasks, and make changes in your routine wherever you can.