Improve Your Life 8: Wake Up Early
Waking up early? Do you think it’s impossible or insane to get up at 5AM or even earlier?
I loved being awake late and doing interesting things. It’s 3 AM, and I’m still thinking just another 30 minutes. I have spent most of my life this way. I thought I was a night owl type of guy. My night owl identity means that most of my life I woke to an alarm clock or around noon.
Then in my early 30’s, I got the idea of becoming an early riser and started to experiment with it. I turned out that it is pretty easy to wake up early. The key is in getting to bed early. In my case, it seems that if I get anything between 6 to 8 hours of sleep, I will wake up without the need of an alarm clock.
I really believed that I couldn’t go to sleep early and even if I do, I won’t wake up early.
Well, as it turns out I was wrong. It takes some time for me to adjust the cycle of waking up and going to bed. But once adjusted I go to bed at my chosen time and wake up 6 to 8 hours later.
For me, early rising means getting out of bed before 6 AM. 6 AM wake-up time corresponds to getting to bed at 11 PM at the latest. Going to bed early is the main problem for me with early rising. I do not feel physically or mentally tired by the time I should go to bed. However, I have come to understand that feeling does not reflect my the actual state. My productivity is down, my thought processes are slow, and it would be a really good idea to go to bed.
Whatever the case, make yourself to go to bed early. The benefits are worth it! When you get up around 5 AM, you have several hours of lead time on regular people. You can use that time to do things that matter daily exercise, read, meditate, work. And you can do all that free of distractions.
Avoiding distractions doubles your productivity.
It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom. ~~Aristotle
Go for a run or walk, do some bodyweight exercises. Early morning is a great time for daily exercise as your energy is close to peak level.
Read for 20 to 30 minutes
No phone calls, no people, no nothing. Just you and the text you want to absorb. The other day I was trying to read a New York Times article while my girlfriend was watching Youtube, TV was on, and two kids were seemingly attempting to murder each other upstairs. I read and re-read the article for 40 minutes before I gave up. Get up early, and you will devour that material with laser-like focus. (You can replace the reading with online courses).
Meditate early in the morning
Daily meditation doesn’t have to take more than 10 to 15 minutes to strengthen your willpower and mental capabilities. There’s no better time for meditation than in the early morning after you have had some exercise.
One key to success is to have lunch at the time of day most people have breakfast.” – Robert Brault
Do deep work
When you are working in an environment where there are other people around you will probably not get more than 15 minutes of uninterrupted time to concentrate on that important task.
Gloria Mark conducted a study on office workers, which revealed that “each employee spent only 11 minutes on any given project before being interrupted” and that it took, “on average, 25 minutes to return” to their initial task. ~~Wikipedia
Getting to work in the early morning will seem like magic. You will get stuff done with unbelievable speed as you have no interruptions and are at your peak performance. By the time others start to arrive, you are done.
Create Your Morning Routine
If you have decided to wake up early then make sure those extra hours do not go to waste.
Create a morning routine that you follow consistently!
Mix relaxation with deep work and use the productivity and willpower you have just after waking up to get amazing results.
Write down a perfect version of your morning routine:
Waking up, bathroom, clothes, eating should not take up more than 20 to 25 minutes of your time.
Now you are ready for your first deep work session. Spend 1 to 2 hours on your most important task.
Take a 10 to 20-minute break. For example, you could go for a walk. Just walk 10 minutes in a random direction and then turn around.
Your brain will be alert and ready for the next deep work session after your walk. Spend another hour or more on your important tasks.
By now you have completed more work than most people get done in a whole day. If you started at 5AM then time is around 9AM.
Take a break for 20 minutes. Do whatever makes you happy.
Meditate for 10 to 20 minutes.
That’s it! You are done!
Wake up early every day so that while others are still dreaming, you can make your dreams come true.” – Hal Elrod
That was the perfect version. You will not be able to follow it every day but use it as a template and then make adjustments as needed.
But what about exercise? Well, now is a good time to do your full daily workout. I don’t want to use the most productive time of my day on running or lifting weights. So, I do it after I complete the bulk of the mental work.
But I don’t want to start without any physical activity at all. I do one or two repetitions of push-ups or pull-ups during my waking up sequence to get my heart pumping. Of course, the brisk walk in the middle of the morning routine is something that gets you energized.
Rising early is not a habit, this is a lifestyle.
Now make a decision to go to bed at 11 PM today and the next few days. Your mind will be blown!
Also published on Medium.