The time is 07.09am and I think it’s quite late.
It is Saturday morning and it may be the case that most people on a Saturday at this time of the day are asleep.
And as yesterday I was training my team on time management – one of the things that came up was how to get things done.
From that came something that’s pretty much simple advice – but is exceedingly difficult to execute.
How is it that you can wake up early (early for me is 430am) and not feel miserable?
I figured I’d begin with a couple of things in mind –
Here’s my big promise first of all –
If you keep reading until the end of this blog and implement some of the secrets I’m about to share with you –
Then you’ll DEFINITELY be able to wake up at least one hour earlier than you’re currently doing.
First of all – I’d like to begin with the benefits I’ve seen of waking up early –
My personal results of waking up early
There are innumerable results I’ve seen from waking up early –
Waking up at 430am each day at least a couple of times a week has made me much happier as a human being.
I definitely think I’m happiest when I’m being productive and getting things done. It’s a trait I’ve definitely inherited directly from my parents. I’ve seen my father growing up working incredibly hard his whole life…
It’s something that’s quite a typical feature of any family of economic migrants – and it’s no different with mine.
I’ve seen my parents work incredibly hard their whole life so they could give me a better one. So that’s been instilled into my bones since I was a kid.
With this in mind – waking up early allows me to get more things done which makes me so happy.
I’m now (of course) writing this blog post, which is maybe day 150, and I’ll continue writing as often as I can – purely for the love of writing if I’m being honest.
Furthermore, I’m recording videos every morning about things that I enjoy as well as things related to work.
Fundamentally, before my ‘work-day’ starts I’ll work on things I’m personally interested in – and I’m creative at heart more than anything else in my life. So having each morning to work on the things that nourish my soul are important to my happiness.
There’s a clear distinction in my mood and energy when I don’t have this opportunity each morning to just wax lyrical about the things that I enjoy.
I’ve also become more productive with personal stuff than I ever have in my life. 100k+ words have been written, 100+ videos have been recorded, and I’m already beginning to see the commercial benefit of these things in my life.
Massive bonus 😛
Right – now let’s get into the psychological considerations when it comes to waking up early, without feeling miserable so you can run, study, learn or do whatever you damn want!
Find Your Why With Waking Up Early
Waking up early is definitely an adjustment.
It takes time and effort to consistently wake up before 5 am.
I’ll still have weeks where I’ll only manage it 3x.
However, it’s become a guiding principle in my life – and this is because I have a huge ‘why’.
My day job – at Pearl Lemon – is exactly that – a job that I do each day to pay my bills – and it’s a very demanding one that I’m happy to do.
However, I wanted to reclaim a piece of my life to work on things that:
- Make me happy
- Offer me a path to an alternative future
- Can help me build my personal brand
- Allow me to work on my business, not in my business
None of these ‘things’ might resonate with you at all – and this is ok – and is precisely my point.
For ME, these are big why’s – so in order for you to wake up early and have an additional several hours per day – then you need to have a big ‘why’. A big reason to pursue this path.
Otherwise, you’ll fail.
So by all means, try and start waking up early immediately – but along the way – also try and find your why.
You’ll know it – because it’ll create a burning sensation in your body to want to overcome this.
Now we’ve discussed the mindset side of it – let’s get into:
The Tactical Steps With Waking Up Early
Try and make a radical change
Aim to go big, so it’s a significant enough change for you to care about, and to tell people about.
I’d go for a 1-3 hour change in the time you wake up.
So if that’s 7 am – aim for 5 am.
If it’s 6 am – aim for 5 am again.
The time you set for yourself is your choice but I’d definitely say aim for it to be a big one.
Radical changes are noteworthy.
Radical changes are worth talking about –
Radical changes are to be proud of.
And if you fail in making your radical change (e.g a 2-hour rollback) – you are more likely to make an improvement anyway (e.g – ultimately a 1-hour rollback).
Create public accountability with waking up early
Now that you’re choosing to make a radical change – it’ll be definitely worth telling people about.
You should tell as many people as possible about it – because words are weapons that help your brain internalise this new habit you’re trying to create.
So not ONLY do you tell yourself ‘hey I’m going to be waking up early’ – you create an expectation in the minds of others that you’re going to be doing the same thing.
Tell as many people as you can.
Repeat it to them.
Ask them to check in on you.
Write it on Facebook.
Publish it on Twitter.
Fundamentally – by creating all this expectation around you –
You create an expectation, you create internal reminders, as well as unstructured external reminders – and therefore structured external support.
This will give you many more chances of being successful with this.
Accept in the beginning you’ll feel miserable
Changing my waking up time from 7 am to 430 am was a big change for me when I first went on that journey.
To start, I felt miserable in the mornings and would get bad headaches, become irritable and generally it would lead me into feeling ratty for the rest of the day.
So if you’re committed to this process – I promise you this:
In the beginning, you’ll definitely feel miserable.
- You’ll have headaches,
- You’ll want to (and probably will) nap later,
- You’ll struggle to concentrate,
- You’ll want nothing more than your bed
All of these things are normal, and in time your body will adjust to waking up earlier (and we’ll talk about the health implications of this and all in a little bit)
But I’m here to tell you you will feel miserable in the beginning and that’s ok.
Set 2 alarms in different parts of the room up
So for me, that’s my phone and my watch.
They’re both set to wake me up in the mornings and one is set for 430am and the other for 440am.
I have the advantage of seriously pissing off my partner if I wake her up as well – so I need to get the alarm switched off quickly.
And if I get it switched off quickly but then don’t get out of bed (because naturally sometimes Strawberry will wake up anyway) – then why the hell am I setting the alarm so early in the first place
Go to bed earlier
This is a simple one that’s hard to execute.
Going to bed earlier is a critical part of being able to wake up earlier as well.
In my life, nothing much happens on weekdays after 930 other than winding down for the evening with television or spending time with my partner.
However, each evening Strawberry and I will eat dinner together and then go for a walk.
This ensures that we’re always spending time together every day.
After this, I’ll retire to bed at around 930pm.
Often I’ll get into bed at 9 pm in preparation to shut the lights at 930/10 pm – but more often than not it’ll be a little later than this.
If I intend to be in bed by 9 pm – it also means that ideally, I need to have finished eating by 7 pm – which doesn’t often happen.
And then this can be problematic when it comes to trying to sleep as you’ve yet to digest your food.
Ideally, if I’m sleeping at 930 – I should have finished eating by 6 pm…but I’d never end up eating with my partner Strawberry then – so there is that consideration.
However, by and large, I do eat earlier than I used to (7-8.30pm onwards was the norm – now it’s 6.30-7.30).
Eat Less Before Bed
In combination with eating earlier – it’s also useful to simply eat less than you used to if you’re going to bed earlier.
It’ll help you digest your food more quickly and you’ll have much less trouble sleeping through the night
Recognise there are three new habits to form
Going to bed early.
Waking up early.
This is what makes the challenge so complex – that you need to work upon all of these things at the same/similar time.
But this is something that I wish I realised sooner. Looking back upon it I don’t think I consciously realised these were all of the components of sleep.
Getting into bed at 930pm.
Waking up at 430am.
And then staying awake.
All of these elements require effort and will happen in short succession around a similar time.
The one, to begin with, is waking up early – and then staying awake, and THEN going to bed early.
If you focus on attempting it in this order – then you’ll succeed.
So now let’s focus upon some things that are critical to this ‘early morning rise’
How to wake up early and not feel miserable
I think to avoid this on a consistent basis it’s ultimately about discipline. Having the discipline to go to bed on time, to wake up at the same time and to develop a real sense of routine.
One of the challenges I still have is that at the weekends – I definitely don’t get into bed at 9.30 pm. I’ll often end up getting into bed at 11.30 pm sometimes later…
Which basically ruins everything else.
Nonetheless – if you’re seeking to wake up early and not feel miserable than I totally recommend implementing all of the above points
How to wake up early and study
If studying is something that’s important to you when waking up early – then I’d recommend priming your environment before you get to bed.
E.g if you wake up at 430am and your intention is to start studying by 5 am – then it pays to say this to yourself the evening before –
‘I can’t WAIT to start studying at 5 am tomorrow’
This will help subconsciously reinforce the activities for the next morning.
Furthermore, if you prepare your environment by laying out your books, knowing what you’re going to be studying the next morning – then this makes for a powerful primer when you wake up in the morning.
So in summary – preparation and planning are important to study in the mornings – especially if it’s a habit you’re trying to build
How to wake up early and go for a run
Similarly – if you want to wake up early and go for a run – why not prepare your running gear the night before instead of in the morning.
So putting your running trainers as well as shorts and t-shirt by the door (you can even sleep in them if they’re clean).
Then you can wake up – and depending upon whether you eat breakfast or not – you can then just head out of the door.
In the days when I would wake up and go for run first thing in the morning – especially during the summer months – I’d eat half a banana and then head out to run a half marathon.
So – depending upon what your preferred routine is – as long as you have your kit ready by the door as well as nourishment – you can be out the door before your body has time to figure out what’s going on.
And you’re off and away – running.
Is it better to wake up early or stay up late?
Ok – so as we come towards the end of the blog I thought I’d give this some consideration.
In the case of my partner Strawberry – she’s someone who doesn’t like the mornings at all.
Interestingly enough – she recently did a DNA test and got back her results – which basically confirmed that she’s more productive and awake in the evenings.
I’m still awaiting my results.
Another way to measure this is to do a chronotype test to understand when your preferred awake and sleeping hours are.
I’m a bear chronotype which means my sleep pattern pretty much follows the sun so I’m up and awake in the morning. I’m a bear trying to be a lion if I’m being honest (which is why I struggle – Lion’s wake up super early).
Strawberry is a wolf – doing well later and at night.
My point is – knowing when it is better to be productive and when to sleep and when to wake is very much a personal feeling. By trusting your intuition you’ll have a much better handle on whether to wake up early or stay up late.
My sleep pattern is definitely something I still battle over and is something I encourage you to consider in terms of figuring out what works best for you.
I may adapt my sleeping routine again in the years to come as I try and learn more about myself and adjust accordingly.
The strategies above are what I use to wake up early and not be miserable…
And waking up early has certainly changed my life.
So it’s why I’m still so passionate about it – so I hope this blog helps you with your sleep journey!