How to Add 15 Days to Your Year

Spending more time with you family. Finding time to exercise. Clearing out your e-mail inbox on a regular basis (I know, shocking). What would you do with an extra 15 days each year? 15 days you can take that vacation you’ve been putting off, 15 days to start a business, 15 days to discover a passion you didn’t know existed.

One of the wisest decisions I’ve made this year has also been one of he craziest. But that’s the thing about wisdom – it often parallels insanity.

In 2010 I’ve committed to waking up one hour earlier…and by doing so, I’ve added an hour each day that I didn’t have before – 365 hours in a year, 15 days. Folks, that’s a lot of time – and it’s been time well spent.

In that time, I’ve discovered that at 25 years old, owning your own business, creating professional freedom, and loving what you do is not impossible.

I’ve continued to grow my passion for writing. Almost every morning, at 5am when I wake up and start my day, I open up my laptop, and write. Before the sun comes up, before my wife wakes up, before the emails start flowing in, I have my moment of solace where it’s just me and a blank screen starting back at me, begging me to write a few words each day.

In that hour, I clear my mind of distractions, I get organized, I prepare myself for the day ahead. There’s no frantic, “Oh shit I overslept what do I have to do today? Where do I have to be?”

And maybe most importantly, I get to start my day with the best friends a guy could ask for. Zack, Slater, Screech, Kelly, and the rest of the Saved by the Bell gang. (I swear, the day TBS takes Saved by the Bell off the air, I won’t know what to do with myself – at that point, I’ll be writing a post about why you should sleep in).

So whether you’re an early bird or a night owl – think about how you can add an hour to your day.

Maybe I’m crazy, or maybe I just inspired you to find a little extra time in your day to do something amazing.

What would you do with an extra hour today? What would you do with an extra 15 days in 2011?

(Check out the full rundown of my #reverb10 posts here)

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21 Responses
  • Bryan Reply

    Hey Matt,
    Great post – it is interesting, I have have been toying with this idea for a while. I’ve been planning/easing into waking up at 5am for the last little bit. For this exact reason as well. I am also going to be starting to train for a sprint marathon with a coworker. I usually wake up at about 7, so that adds more than an hour for me.

    You were able to do it the whole year? What would you say the “hump” is? You know, the amount of time it takes for it to become routine. For running/gym, it was 3 weeks for me.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      I’ve been waking up early for years….I’ve actually never been able to “sleep in” – blame it on my mom for waking me up way too early when I was younger. But, since you mentioned working out – that’s what I’m hoping and planning to spend my early morning time doing (much) more of in 2011 – getting a workout in before anything else. All about making it a routine, right?

  • eva Reply

    Don’t you just have to go to bed earlier? I mean, there is a required amount of sleep. I get up at 5am…but I go to bed before 9:30.

    • Bryan Reply

      I don’t know about Matt, but I dont think we actually need 8hrs of sleep a night. I think there is a tendancy to sleep more when you are tired (like 10hrs) and it makes you even more tired! I think studies show that it depends on the person, people tend to need between 6-10 hours a night. I find this topic incredibly interesting!

      • Edward - If You Can Read, You Can Cook Reply

        Individual needs to vary, but studies have shown that if you get average < 7 uninterrupted hours of sleep, you are actually damaging your brain. When you are younger, you need more sleep and as you age, your body's sleep requirements decrease but never cross 7 hours.

        Personally for me, on the days I get only 6, I am grumpy in the morning and tired all day long.

        • Matt Cheuvront Reply

          I function pretty well on not a whole lot of sleep – but I still average around 6-7 every night. As for the brain damage thing, yeah, I probably have a bit of that if I’m sitting here preaching to everyone why they should wake up at the crack of dawn… ;)

  • Michelle Reply

    Totally have to agree with this posting! With being self-employed and working from home, while homeschooling our three children as well, the only “me” time I get is early in the morning. I drink my coffee, check email, read TweetDeck, write blog posts and do yoga all before 7 AM. If I don’t get it done before then, it just doesn’t happen. :)

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      I’m with you – I guess I’m prepping to have even more responsibilities (kids, etc). Early AM is my time of “solace” and a time to prepare for the day ahead – on the RARE occasion I “sleep in” I feel like I’ve totally missed out on half the day.

  • Toddy Reply

    Wow getting up early EVERY day? Im impressed. But i like the sound of “In that hour, I clear my mind of distractions, I get organized, I prepare myself for the day ahead. There’s no frantic, “Oh shit I overslept what do I have to do today? Where do I have to be?” as I often have those fears even when I know where I need to be, am prepared, havent forgotten anything when I leave the house, I dont have that calm and in my “havent had coffee” state worry. I did get up early last week. Worked out. Did the crossword. The whole day was energetic, productive and smooth. Was this bc I got up earlier? Maybe. But heres the problem: If I had 15 extra days a yr, Id use them to sleep. I love sleeping, bumming, being in my cozy bed. As a young, peon atty my life is not my own and sleep is a luxury im not afforded often. How could i forego more of it, even in the name of self-improvement? Cheers, T.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      Haha well in your case, sleep wins, and that’s probably not such a bad thing. A cozy bed is a constant temptation (especially working from home).

  • Brad Reply

    I’ve mentioned before that I’m not an early bird. But if you put it that way, well, I just might have to reconsider my stance against waking up early. An extra hour in a day could be huge. Thanks for breaking it down.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      Do it! You’ll either be 1) glad you did or 2) you’ll come back here, tell me I’m nuts, and go back to sleep. What do you have to lose, except, well, sleep? Right…

  • Sukhraj Beasla Reply

    I’m a night owl. I can’t believe you get up early! That’s when I go to bed. :P I write at night while I’m chatting with my Twitter crew, got my Blip.FM stream going, and then I say hello to the sun and sign off. Magically while I’m sleeping, WordPress sends out my blog post and then things get rolling. I wish I could be a morning person. I absolutely love that time. There’s just something magical about the first rays of the sun hitting your face and the inspiration but I just haven’t gotten there. Maybe someday. :)

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      Maybe it’s the whole “married” thing that has me adhering to a slightly more “normal” schedule? I’ve never been much of a night owl, though. I like starting the day with some productivity whereas, at night, I’m all about winding down and relaxing (although, that’s often easier said than done)…

  • Nailah Reply

    I’ve also been waking up at 5am each morning – I alternate between writing and running. I had never done the math to figure out how many days I was gaining by that simple act. It’s amazing how much time you can gain just by getting up a little earlier each day! My one problem is that now I fall asleep crazy early. Have you had the same issue?

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      Yes – I get tired WAY too early (right now, it’s 9pm and I’m wiped). So my sleeping schedule is a bit off, not gonna’ lie. But, I don’t mind having a different schedule than most – being away early in the morning does wonders for productivity – probably because I’m one of the VERY few people who are actually up that early :)

  • Jenn Sutherland Reply

    Count me among the early morning hour addicts! Here it is Saturday morning, and I “slept in” to 5:20, and 2 hours later, I’ve walked the dog, done the laundry, baked brownies and made steel cut oats for the week. Spending the early hours of the morning in the kitchen on the weekend is my favorite time of the week. During the week, I take that extra hour in the morning to work out or to catch up on my RSS, so I can get my day started with no distractions when I get the the office at 8.

    On the flip side, I live like an 80 year old woman – I like to be in bed by 9pm so I can read fun stuff (no marketing reading in the bedroom!) for a few minutes before I go to sleep.

    • Matt Cheuvront Reply

      Haha I’m the same way! I’m an old man – early to rise but early to fall in the evening….it is what it is ;)

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