A Week of Structure and Boundaries

Last week I wrote a post about how you need to stop disappointing yourself and while I gave a good overview of my thoughts I didn’t talk about the hardest part, which is putting them into action. I wanted to talk a little more about how I stopped disappointing myself with one thing in my life for a week (hey, it’s a start) and some of the surprising results.

In that post I brought up the example of not getting enough sleep and constantly disappointing myself after failing over and over to get to bed early. I’ve always been someone who has stayed up late but with my life getting busier and more things needing my attention I’ve felt like my lack of good or enough sleep was having a negative effect on me. Couple this with the fact that I’ve now started to enjoy getting up early to run and this was a habit that I had to change.

Looking back I think I started getting more serious about fixing this issue after I had gotten sick of not feeling energized during the day at work and the sense that my overall mood was way worse than it should have been whenever I was tired. I’m sure from the outside looking in most people wouldn’t be able to tell the way I’m feeling, but to me I was over it and wanted to make a change.

I guess recognizing that it was even an issue was the first step for me. Even though it was something I thought about a lot I just kept falling into the same traps of not getting to bed on time and then feeling tired the next day.

The first thing that really got me thinking more about doing something about this little issue of mine was sharing was sharing it with one of my friends and co-workers Rex. I remember I told him about how when Stephanie’s out of town I would fall asleep on the couch and then end up waking up around 3am to go to bed, which would totally mess me up for the entire next day. He told me that he sometimes does the same, exact thing and from that point on we’ve started to keep each other a little more accountable. I’ll text him “GET OFF THE COUCH!” and he’ll do the same to me, which sounds like something small, but it works.

The next step was for me to really make sure that I set myself up for success as much as possible. I guess you could say that I set some boundaries and structure and even though that sounds super cheesy it’s actually working. I won’t give too much detail on each of the things I’ve done but here’s a quick list so you can get a good idea of where my head’s at with all of it.

  • I set a goal of always getting to bed by 11pm or earlier. I don’t nail it every time, but giving myself a goal of when I need to get in bed by has been really helpful.
  • I’m getting up early on weekends, too. I want to be able to keep the same sleep schedule throughout the week because the more consistent I am with it, the better. Yes, this means that I set my alarm for Saturday morning. Hey, whatever works.
  • I removed the Reddit app from my phone, which was something that I always ended up wasting time on at night before I went to bed. Do I miss it? A little, but it’s helped me get more control of my time, which is the goal.
  • I don’t spend time playing on my phone before I go to bed or when I wake up. These are both time sucks that are fun to do but they don’t add any value. If you’re going to bed, then go to sleep. Do you read before bed? That’s fine, but wasting your time watching an endless number of YouTube videos for an hour before you put your head on your pillow is only taking away from the sleep you need.
  • This past week I had something scheduled for before work every, single morning. Either I had a quick 30-45 minute coffee meeting or I went for a morning run before work every day last week and it was awesome. By having that meeting setup I get out of bed when I need to and there’s no way I’m going to hit the snooze button. Both running and having good conversations with awesome people are both great ways to start my mornings (read more on the importance of coffee meetings over here on my buddy Jason Shen’s blog).

The results of these changes have been really positive so far. The mix of getting more sleep and having better control of my time and energy has only made me feel so much better. I’m getting more done at work and I’m getting my mornings started with things that energize me, which is a lot better than getting out of bed groggy and then heading into work.

I did notice that I felt a little worn down toward the end of the week which still had some negative effects on my mood, but that’s just a result of running again after breaking my toe and putting all of this plan into action. I know I’m doing the right things to keep me moving in the right direction and once my mind and body get used to my new routine I’m only going to feel better and better.

If you made it down here I know this was a little long and it might seem like I’m making a big deal out of getting more sleep. But breaking bad habits, no matter what they are, is never an easy thing and will never happen unless you have some type of plan in place. Even though it’s been hard, I’ve enjoyed putting all of this into action and once it becomes a good, new habit for me I’m sure there’s something else I’ll start working on next.

photo credit: Seven Wonders of the World


Leave a Reply


  1. Thanks for the shout out man! No sleeping on the couch!

  2. jwhite

    Somebody should make a “GET TO BED” App 🙂

    Good writeup, I like it

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  4. So good! Just read the sleep post, which lead me here. This is an article I read a while ago that got my gears spinning, but I haven’t done anything about it until this week. http://www.good.is/post/how-i-made-sleep-a-priority-and-got-more-productive/

    Since I’m working on the book, I have to be really focused and intentional with my time. I don’t want to send my editor 4 AM emails or do crappy work because I’m on a time crunch. Going to bed early, then waking up early to do more drawings has already proved to be a remarkable system. Will keep you posted on the sleep patterns. Thank you for sharing. It’s encouraging to know it will get easier.

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