Using a timer to free myself

I used to work myself up right after waking up. I’d go peer out the window to see if it was raining, go check the outside thermometer, then log onto my laptop and check the weather forecast to judge if the conditions for riding before work were favorable. Even when all that looked good, I would still struggle with the question of whether I wanted to go outside into the pre-dawn chill at all.

Why? Because I can’t make good decisions so early! I take a while to wake up. Yet I would stare out the window while brushing my teeth, trying to judge the quality of the inevitable rain and simultaneously fret that I was wasting time deciding.

Aside: "You're not made of sugar," i.e. you won't melt in the rain, is an understandable saying when it's rainy as often as it is here, and yet, no. Rain sucks.

For a few years now I’ve been using a daylight lamp in winter to help with SAD symptoms. Half an hour of blinding light while having breakfast helps keep me even-keeled, but as an extra bonus, knowing I am stuck in front of it until the light turns off has freed me from all that pre-coffee angst. By the time it’s done, I’ve had coffee, oatmeal, checked the weather online, the sky is lightening, and I’m in a mental state fit to make small decisions.

The same technique has improved my lunchtimes. I tend to either get lost in a good book or, knowing I get lost in a good book, check the clock every thirty seconds when I know I have to get back to work on time. Setting an alarm lets me relax and enjoy the book.

In the mornings, it’s also a goad to keep writing. I check my email, do the daily Wordle, wake up a little, and then write until the light goes off. Sometimes I just write total bullshit if the muse isn’t striking, and delete or edit it the next day. Knowing there’s a defined end time makes it easier to keep going.

The light turning itself off is also a much gentler and less jarring signal than an alarm; I might keep going with that technique even now that it’s spring and I don’t need the fake sunshine boost.

Aside: I hear setting a timer also works to motivate you to clean around the house. Can't verify.


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