Alarm Clocks, Nature Sound Gallery, Morning Routine, and a 4-Day Work Week

Mt. Fuji and Mt. Shiomi at sunrise

Photo above – Mt. Fuji and Mt. Shiomi at sunrise.

Something a little different.

Alarm clocks

I can’t remember the last time I set an alarm to wake up. I do remember the last time I set one but I always wake up before it goes off. 


Even if it’s set for 3am I’ll wake up first.

Setting an alarm is a back up strategy that rarely gets any use.

It feels great to wake up synchronised with the sun and I have been doing it now for at least 20 years, probably longer. That means rising very early in summer (I woke up naturally at 4:45 this morning and went for a run) and a few extra hours in bed in winter, but rarely later than 6:30am.

Nature Sound Gallery

There is an Apple HomePod in my living room and a HomePod Mini upstairs with an automation set up to play tracks from Nature Sound Gallery at sunrise, a compilation of soundscapes from natural environments around Japan. This drowns out the din of morning traffic audible in summer if the windows are open. Yes, it makes me sound like a new age hippy but have you read The Nature Fix by Florence Williams? If not, you should.

Morning Routine

If I don’t go for a run or a bike ride I’ll have a coffee (only two cups a day) and write some Morning Pages, add a few printed photos to my journals or edit a few, and then briefly check my email, the news or my favourite websites. I don’t mind doing this in the morning because I rarely use my computer throughout the day and never at night. Then I’ll take a morning bath and read for an hour with no distractions. 

Since autumn 2020 I’ve been doing the 16/8 diet so never eat before 11am. 

It’s taken a few years to dial in this routine and it’s one I’m very happy with.

The 4-Day Work Week

Since April this year I have switched to a 4-day work week and it’s possibly the best work-related change I’ve made to my life in years. Work is from Monday to Thursday and I am ‘free’ from Friday to Sunday.

To make this happen I condensed my schedule from 5 to 4 days. It was that simple. Ironically I am now busier than ever on Fridays because that’s the day I look after my daughter for the whole day. Busier, but more fulfilling. On Fridays we go on bike rides, hikes, to fancy parks, or to her favorite place at the moment, Legoland at Nagoya Port (buy a yearly pass if you go).

This was only possible because of self-employment where you can have more control over your schedule. There are risks involved, especially financial, but I can’t imagine working 9-5 for one employer and having to ask for time off.

Time is more valuable than money but the key is a good balance between the two. That allows you to live a life on your own terms, with a routine that you choose and without any alarm clocks.

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