The Five Hour Challenge

The Problem of Time

I’ve always prided myself on being an excellent manager of my time. I understand which obligations are most important, whether personally or professionally, and how I can ensure that I accomplish those tasks first. I’ve utilized Google Calendar to manage my personal and professional deadlines. I’ve utilized Google Keep to store my ideas and create to-do lists. I’ve utlized Google Calendar to create lesson plans and daily tasks to ensure that I complete all of my lesson plans and materials before the next week. Yet, even with all of those time management skills and tools, I’ve found it difficult to keep up with some of the things that I want to do professionally, particularly when it comes to blogging or my Innovator project, BoostEDU.

Recently, I was starting to feel like there were not enough hours in the day to accomplish all of the things that I want to accomplish. In relation to my personal life, I feel like I have done a (mostly) good job of disconnecting from work when I get home so that I can put on my “mom” and “wife” hat on and be present with my family. Professionally, I feel like I have done a great job of creating engaging lesson plans for my students and learning about the new grade level of math in which I am working. However, there was another part of my life that had been suffering- my side projects.

I Heart EDU and BoostEDU have become a great part of me. These side projects are close to my heart and have inspired me to continue doing what I am doing as an educator. Unfortunately, this is the area that suffers because my personal life (wife, mom, daughter, Christian, etc.) and professional life (math teacher, tech support, etc.) are higher on my to-do list. This will never change. Those two aspects of my life have to be first because they are more important. It doesn’t discount the importance of the other, but it does order it from least to greatest.

Encountering Road Blocks

Then I read a book by Rachel Hollis, Girl, Wash Your Face that really resonated with me. In fact, the following quote, in particular, hit home:

“My success has a lot to do with waking up early, being the hardest-working person in the room, asking for help, being able to fail over and over again, and working constantly to improve both myself and my brand. But plenty of people do those things and don’t experience the kind of success I have. You want to know what it is? Why I believe I’m the one writing this book right now when people who’ve tried to do exactly the same things I have haven’t succeeded? It’s simple, actually. It’s not about talent, skill, money, or connections. It’s because when they went after their dreams and came up against a roadblock, when they experienced rejection, or when someone or something told them no . . . they listened. I am successful because I refused to take no for an answer. I am successful because I have never once believed my dreams were someone else’s to manage. That’s the incredible part about your dreams: nobody gets to tell you how big they can be.”

Personally, I really don’t care about being the most successful in the room but I do want to be a person that works hard for their passions. So, I felt like this very much applied to me because I had let blogging take a step back and hadn’t even started my 4 C’s Self-Assessment for BoostEDU. Not for any particular reason, except for feeling like I didn’t have the time. I came up against a roadblock and…I just let it happen.

The Five Hour Challenge

Even after I read this book, I felt at a loss for how I could combat this feeling of “not enough time”. I’ve always had enough time in the day but I needed to find my “new normal” as a working mom. Fortunately, after I read Rachel Hollis’ first book, her second book, Girl, Stop Apologizing, was released and she had this idea to share:

What time do you need to be up in the morning? Now subtract an hour… that’s what time you should actually be up in the morning. Some people think my early morning wake ups are kind of crazy. But if I don’t wake up before everyone else, then I wake up in chaos and I carry that with me throughout the day. Time management for working moms is all about finding extra time and that might mean you sacrifice a little sleep.

Could an extra hour in my day be the answer? Could I really wake up early in the morning and immediately jump into working on my side projects? It was an interesting but intimidating idea. However, I felt like I didn’t have much to lose since my side projects had considerably slowed down in the previous months.

So, here is the challenge I gave myself:

For an entire month, I would wake up at 4:30 AM and take the first hour of my day to immediately start work on my side projects – my passion projects.

Instead of laying in bed for 15-30 minutes and checking social media, I would get up and get going. I would start working, drink an entire glass of water and have breakfast. (Side note: This challenge only applies to weekdays. I mean, come on, I’m only human.) By doing this, I would gain five hours a week in time to work on these passion projects that I had sidelined over the last few months.

And…guess what? I’ve been going strong for two weeks!

Positive Outcomes

Waking up early has had several expected and unexpected outcomes. Here are just a few things I have noticed:

  • I’ve been able to make significant progress on BoostEDU’s 4 C’s Self-Assessment.
  • I’ve been able to blog once a week.
  • I have drank more water and eaten a better breakfast.
  • I’ve found myself to have more energy throughout the day.
  • I have been less stressed and more patient.
  • I’ve been able to better disconnect from work when I get home.

It’s amazing how much I have been able to accomplish in five hours per week. All of these outcomes have been game changers for me. I have still been able to put my personal and professional life first but, I have also been able to work on my passion projects. I haven’t felt more balanced…but I have felt more centered which I believe may be more important.

I’m truly excited to see how these early mornings will continue to affect me throughout the next three weeks. And, to be quite honest, I have a feeling that this “early morning” routine will go on quite a bit longer than I originally anticipated. 🙂

Are you ready to take the five hour challenge? If so, share how you would utilize these five hours in your life!

4 thoughts on “The Five Hour Challenge

  1. I just put both of the books on hold at the library. Thanks for the recommendations. As a wife, mom, full-time school librarian and blogger on the side, I’m hoping to implement the five hour challenge. Excellent recommendations!

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