I've been in Sydney with my wife for the last 10 days. We will be here until December 21st. Sydney is a beautiful city- my favourite, in fact, but it's achilles heel has always been its timezone. If it's 1:00 PM in Toronto, it's 5:00 AM the next day in Sydney. In past visits to Sydney, Ada hasn't been a remote-first company. On this trip, I decided to try out a remote-first approach to working from here. I created a window for meetings during my early mornings that overlaps with Toronto. I begin work between 4:30AM and 5:30AM (12:30 PM - 1:30PM in Toronto) and finish up at around 4 or 5 PM Sydney-time. I take one or two breaks to run or swim in the afternoons.
What I have learned so far from this experiment
- I don't have much of a problem waking at 4:15 AM. In fact, I seem to awake in good spirits and feel quite normal after having my coffee.
- Arising mentally with the sun from dark to first light is a beautiful experience. I like the quiet. I have never noticed before how the sounds of birds change as the morning progresses.
- I get very hungry at about 9 AM. Breakfast smoothies have become more important.
- I find myself marvelling at how much more time I have to do my work, and reflect.
- At around 10:30 AM, I find people in Toronto are winding down. This is when I know I can get in to my deepest work. It's at this point that I bust out the headphones and brown noise.
- At around 3:30 PM I am pretty gassed. If I haven't gone outside yet, now is when I do that (walk, run, swim).
- At around 9 PM I cannot keep my eyes open anymore and I fall asleep quickly and deeply. I actually really like this feeling of being sleepy and as a bonus, my wife finds it adorable.
- A down-side to the 4 AM club is that I can't agree to do anything that goes later than 8 PM more than once every two days. I did try this, but the deficit after two days of less than six hours of sleep affects quality of work and equanimity.
- It is a bit strange that my Saturday morning is Toronto's Friday afternoon. I end up just working on Saturdays and not as much on Mondays. I usually do some work on Saturdays anyways when I'm back home so I don't feel any sense of loss here.
This works for me. I have yet to survey the teams I work closely with to see if they agree. I think I will try to carry on with this schedule when I get back to Toronto. It won't have the same advantages, but it will still give me more time in the morning for reflection. It will also force me to go to sleep earlier, which I have often struggled to find the discipline to do.