alarm clock

How getting an alarm clock made me a better teammate

Almost one year ago exactly, I bought an alarm clock. Like many people, I had been using my phone to wake me up in the morning. But I wasn’t happy with how it was affecting me.

When I had my phone bedside, I found myself waking up in the middle of the night, and I would immediately check my phone. My mind would quickly start buzzing again – who posted what in Slack? Which clients had emailed late? Why did I now have a meeting in the morning? What was it about?

I found this becoming a vicious cycle – it would happen multiple times per night, and was really fueling my anxiety. At first, I wasn’t sure there was much I could do – it felt like everyone uses their phone this way, and it’s important for me to stay connected with work to be prepared for the next day, right?

However, I found these anxious overnight moments becoming cumulative – what began as a few panic sessions per night became those plus checking my phone before I went to sleep, which then became that plus checking it first thing after I woke up. I found myself starting my work day tired, anxious, grumpy and not in a good mindset to support my team. I dreaded starting the day.

Getting the alarm clock actually felt like a longshot, and maybe a silly idea. I wasn’t sure if it would help but I felt like I needed to try something. I started keeping my phone in the kitchen and woke up to the funny music of my new clock instead. Amazingly, it had an almost immediate impact. Although I felt the withdrawal of not having my phone nearby, my anxiety episodes during the night got less frequent, and not having the phone there to fuel them meant they were less severe. Eventually, they stopped happening altogether.

With this new setup, I was more excited to start my day, and much more present with my team during morning meetings. While I do still check my phone in the morning after getting up, having a less interrupted night has been a huge blessing. This experience also helped me realize that I should be more open to these micro-improvements rather than judging them as “silly” or “longshots.” Small steps are OK as long as they get me moving in the right direction.

(FYI, this is the alarm clock I bought. It lights up. I didn’t think about it much before ordering it. They don’t seem to make it anymore, unfortunately.)