There are not enough hours in a day. This has forced me to continuously optimize how I spend my time, so I can fit more things into a finite day. I’m currently reading Designing Your Life and I’d highly recommend it if you want a different perspective on how to live.
My current life design has me waking up at 5am and going to bed at 10pm. Most of my peers see both of these times as incredibly early. The usual reaction I receive is of utter disbelief. Their schedules usually consist of sleeping around 2am and getting up at 9.
Don’t get me wrong, I used to have a very similar habit in high school, sleeping late and getting up as late as possible. This all changed once I got to university and my work load skyrocketed.
As I transitioned to being a coach, I moved my workouts to the morning because that was the only time I could consistently make it to the gym. And so my habit of waking up early and getting to the gym for 7am was formed. I managed to keep it up for the entirety of second year. Come summer I started to wake up earlier and earlier, eventually making it to 5am. Within no time, the benefits of this new style were obvious.
Why I Wake Up Early
There are more productive hours in a day. I’ve found that I’m able to accomplish more in the 16 hours that I’m awake. The difference is that instead of working from 10pm-2am, I work from 5am-9am. While working at night, there is no hard deadline to meet, you can always push back your sleep to get it done. In the morning, 9am is a hard deadline because of class/work. This puts more urgency on the work that I do and ensures that I never sacrifice my sleep.
Very few people are awake before 8am. This means that nobody will email or text you during this time, allowing you to fully focus on your work.
Irregardless of whether you like to work in teams or alone, being alone with your own thoughts is useful. It allows you to consolidate your ideas and opinions and prepare yourself for the day to come. I’m an introvert and the recharge I receive from quiet mornings allows me to function at my maximum all day.
Having administrative tasks to do is a weight on one’s mind. It’s hard to keep up with emails during the day while still being productive. That is why dealing with your entire inbox in the morning is so important because it leaves a blank slate for the rest of the day. If you only answer urgent emails during the day and leave the rest for tomorrow morning, you lose less time to context switching between work and emails.
This is a personal experience of mine, but I feel way more creative first thing in the morning. Inspiration could come from a dream I had, or the thought that wouldn’t leave my mind last night. In the morning your mind is a blank slate because you haven’t weighed it down with your day to day thoughts. The majority of my blog posts were written between the hours of 5am and 9am.
Perhaps I’ve convinced you to try and redesign your sleep schedule. Waking up early isn’t easy, but it also isn’t hard. If you do a quick Google search, you’ll find thousands of articles preaching techniques to wake early with. There are some pretty great ones out there, including my favourite: losing money if you sleep in. Instead of telling you what you should do, I’m simply going to share how I wake up early.
How To Wake Up Early
I use an old fashioned alarm clock instead of my phone. It’s much more reliable and doesn’t run out of battery. It only shows me the time and beeps really loudly once a day.
Alarm Clock … Across the Room
My alarm clock is on my desk on the other side of my room. It’s incredibly loud and jarring, and forces me to physically leave my bed to turn it off. I never use the snooze button since I’m already out of bed and on my feet. Once I’m in motion, inertia helps me stay in motion.
Cold Water (at first)
When I first started waking up earlier, I’d start my day with a splash of cold water to the face. This is incredibly effective, but it stopped being necessary after a week or two of sticking to the plan. If you actually wake up at 5am every single day, you’re exhausted when the evening rolls around. You sleep earlier and are well rested by 5 the next day.
Leave the Room
Physically leaving your bedroom as soon as possible drastically reduces the chance of crawling back into bed.
Have Something To Do
If you wake up early, but have nothing to do, it becomes really easy to not stick with the plan. Having something to do gives you a goal, something to accomplish, a reason to stay awake. I usually shower first thing in the morning.
Music in the morning just works really well. I love Youtube videos that are 3 hour mixes of a certain genre of songs. At first I listened to Morning Guitar Instrumental Music every morning, but since then I’ve moved on to Relaxing Bossa Nova & Jazz Instrumental Music.
Making coffee is a big part of my morning routine. I boil the water, grind the beans, put everything in the french press, set a timer, make oatmeal while I wait, finally plunge and enjoy a steaming hot cuppa coffee. Not only does this process take five plus minutes, which ensures I’m awake, it results in a delicious cup of caffeine.
There’s nothing quite like working out first thing in the morning. You’re stiff at first but once your blood gets pumping it’s unbelievable. I’ve taken to doing sets of 20 pushups throughout my morning, usually culminating in finishing around 140. The adrenaline, plus coffee, starts the day off incredibly right.
Is this for you?
Is it? I don’t know. I do encourage you to try it. It may not be compatible with your life style, but you won’t know if you like it better than your current situation until you try it. If you do attempt a redesign of your mornings, let me know how it goes.