Project Franklin

There are many stories in the American folk tradition of Benjamin Franklin’s legendary frugality, wisdom and manifest virtues. The quotation “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy wealthy and wise” is oft laid at his door for instance.

Why am I writing about one of the Founding Fathers? Because my sleep schedule has been shit this entire school year. As I type this at 1am my room mate and I are cracking jokes about how bad our sleep schedules have gotten and his side of the room is littered with the remains of near a dozen cans of monster with which he maintains consciousness during the school day. I can’t claim to be much better, save that coffee and Red Bull take the place of monster in far lower quantities.

Point is that my sleep schedule sucks. I go to bed at (on average) 0130 and wake up at 0800. Now add to this the occasional all nighter (bi-weekly) and going to late due to typing drafts for my blog or just randomly browsing the internet I’ve probably been running a 6 or 7 hour sleep average all school year. And I’ve finally realized that it’s a huge problem for me.

One aspect of programming which is oft commented on is the “flow” state in which programmers are the most productive. Programming being my first love in many ways, I strive to try and reach the same state of “flow” in my other classes with little success for a variety of reasons but many of them would be mitigated if (god forbid) I was actually well rested rather than simply not feeling the urge to keel over and fall asleep wherever I happened to be standing.

What’s the motivation for this? A couple of factors ranging from Hacker News to the fact that I spent this weekend at home rather than in the dorms and that I have new running shoes at long last. The product of these factors is that I now remember how nice it feels to be physically exhausted from working out and to be well rested to boot.

So what am I going to do differently?

1. Getting to bed

There was some jesting on a HN thread related to sleep today that several commenters found it more valuable to have a “go to bed” alarm than a “get out of bed you sod” alarm. At one point I had my various linux systems configured to essentially kick me off at 0000 by setting the backlight brightness to zero. Crude, but it’s amazingly hard to type when you can’t see characters appear on the screen.

2. Get exercise

I used to be a competitive swimmer back in high school and one thing I remember vividly is how soundly I used to sleep. I’d do my full day at school, get back, do homework, go to swim practice at 1900, have dinner at 2230 and be in bed at 2300 to be up at 0615 the next day to do it all over again. Lets just say that I had getting from home to the school buss down to an art in order to squeeze that 0615 from an original 0600 disaster. How did I manage to pull that off in HS when I’m failing with a nearly identical college schedule? I suspect that it’s because I’m not working out. Fix’n that is easy enough…

3. Eat the elephant one bite at a time

I am a very poor college student in that my approach to homework and projects is largely to race between classes fighting due date fires as they arise rather than trying to get ahead and stay ahead on my class work. I’ve often wondered what sets me apart from the other students in my Turing Honors year, and one of the culprits which has been on my mind for some time is that I never developed beyond the fire fighting scheduler if you will in High School while these other students did. Now I’m playing catch up almost two years in. The fix? I have a little black faux leather notebook which I’ve been carrying around for some time, taking down todo items for later transcription (or not, that’s something else I need to work on) into todotxt and a log on about a 0030 resolution of how I spend my days. Rather than put