7 Days a Week

This fall, we started a new stage of life, with both our daughters out of the house and on their way to school by 7:30am, and our son is in college. This early start to the day opens up a huge swath of the morning for me and my wife.

Because of our still-very-energetic dog, to make this schedule work, my wife and I have been getting up 6:30am at the latest—to allow for a 1-hour walk + helping the kids get ready for school—meaning we’re up daily between 6:00 and 6:30am.

And to make THAT work we’ve gotten pretty rigorous about getting to sleep each night.

This schedule is strict enough that it has naturally spilled over into the weekend: if I wake up 5 days in a row between 6 and 6:30, on Saturday I seem to wake up at that time as well.

And, while this can feel oppressive at that moment of pre-sunrise wakeup, the shift towards having the same sleep schedule 7 days a week, rather than 5, is making a lot of sense to me.

There’s lots of sleep science in favor of the idea of waking up the same time each and every day, and breaking the college schedule of staying up late / sleeping late on the weekends. The older I get, the more I relish a really great nights’ sleep, and this newfound consistency seems to be helping me in this regard.

To make this all work, here are the pre- and post-wakeup elements of my routine that I do 7 days a week:

  • All family cellphones away in a drawer in the kitchen by ~9:30pm
  • Reading fiction on a Kindle (not iPad) for 15-45 minutes each night in bed
  • Same wakeup time most/all days—currently 6:30am or earlier
  • Drink a full glass of water right when I wake up, by my bedside, which I think helps stave off migraines (I also take Migralief each night but, of course, consult your physician)
  • 45-minute dog walk each morning—not listening to music, or podcasts, just walking

While the rigor of this routine doesn’t bring joy each and every morning, in practice it results in:

  • A prolonged period away from my cellphone—from ~9:30pm to 7:30am daily
  • Ease at falling asleep, thanks to following the same PM routine that ends with reading fiction, which takes me away from everything
  • Thanks to my energetic, harassing dog, an hour between wakeup and engaging with my phone
  • Exposure to sunlight within 30 minutes of waking up

This routine could break down somewhat as post-COVID life picks up again—both more travel and more socializing at night.

But having this structure in place feels like the right foundation, not just on weekdays but 7 days a week.

The problem with skipping Tuesday

Hopefully you noticed by now that I publish this blog once a week every Tuesday.

Except for last week: I got back from my first big international trip post-COVID, and returned to such a mountain of work + jetlag that I didn’t put up the post that I’d written. I wanted to give it another turn, and I was shot by the end of the day on Monday.

Of course the week stayed busy, and then it was a holiday in the US yesterday, so again, no post. And, since I schedule all my meetings on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, I’ve got very limited quiet time until the end of the week.

From where I’m standing, I can see how easy it would be to let another week go by.

And, in the tradition of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, pretty soon one thing leads to another…

I think people often confused routine and discipline, and the role that they play in long term projects and how we structure our days.

Discipline by itself is awfully hard: doing all the mental work of deciding to do a difficult task, prioritizing that task, fighting through the resistance, and getting the job done.


Whereas routine is a lot easier: discipline is involved, but it is simply the discipline of walking a well-worn path.

That’s much, much easier.

Until next Tuesday.