I Just Found a New Life Habit: “Why Are You Awake?” Alarm

How to Invest Your Time Like MoneyI just found a new life habit: a daily “Why are you awake?” alarm on my phone, set to 30 minutes before the time I want to go to bed.

The idea comes from a short ebook I just read, How to Invest Your Time Like Money, by Elizabeth Grace Saunders (published by Harvard Business Review Press).

Saunders’s idea is simple but brilliant. She makes this point about habits:

Habits reduce the amount of time that you spend deciding what to do, lower the energy needed to take action, and ensure that you’re spending time on what’s most crucial.

Applying the idea to the decision we make each day as to when to go to sleep, she writes:

How do you make going to sleep a routine so you have fewer decisions to make and more hours resting? (This is the question all parents ask about their children’s bedtime routine but rarely direct toward themselves.)

A very simple approach is to set a “Why are you awake?” alarm on your phone for fifteen to thirty minutes before your ideal bedtime. This reminds you what time it is and prompts you to get ready for bed, unless you’re doing an activity that’s worth losing sleep over.

I set this new alarm in my phone just minutes after reading this section of the book.

Speaking of which… my “Why are you awake?” alarm just went off five minutes ago–sharing such a simple but brilliant idea is surely worth losing five minutes of sleep over… but off to bed now!



Thanks to HBR Press for the review copy of this awesome, succinct ebook. Find it here on Amazon, here at HBR’s site, and learn more about the book here at Elizabeth Grace Saunders’s site. Full review forthcoming!

3 thoughts on “I Just Found a New Life Habit: “Why Are You Awake?” Alarm

  1. The problem with this is that it is hard to resist snoozing your go to bed alarm, just like your wake up alarm.

    1. True. So far I’ve hit snooze on the alarm all three nights I’ve had it set, but because my alarm has this “label” (“Why are you awake?”), I have actually stopped to answer the question–“because I am working” or “reading the Bible” has been my answer thus far. Tonight I will probably answer, “b/c I’m mindlessly surfing the Internet,” and then (I hope) promptly shut it down.

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