I’ve been reading a lot lately about all those entrepreneurs who wake up at 4-5am to conquer the world. It seems to be working. But I’ve got to admit, my initial thought was:
“psychopaths, who wants to get up at 5am?”
I take it back, or at least admit that I may be turning into one of those psychopaths.
I have been toying with the idea of doing it myself for a while, particularly around the time I decided to go full-time self-employed.
The absolute best part of this self-employed thing is that I have more control over my own time. I can do the things I always wanted to, without the guilt of a sly Google session in my previous job.
However, I am faced with a problem. A very first-world one so no tiny violins thanks.
I want to do a lot, I have always been ambitious.
I want to work on building my freelance business, work on this blog, my personal blog and of course write a novel or two. But you only have so many hours in the day to dedicate to anything other than sleeping or eating.
There are several unhealthy solutions to saving time like shutting yourself away from the outside world, not showering or just eating microwave meals so you don’t need to cook. But one that sticks out is the simple solution of getting up a bit earlier.
What about all my other projects?
So that’s where the 5am experiment is coming from. Now, this doesn’t mean sleep deprivation. It just means getting up early and – you guessed it – not going to bed late.
I have pledged to myself, and my very sceptical partner, that I will give 5am wake-ups a try. What better place to share my experience than on this blog?
How I am preparing
Easing into it
Yeah I could just immediately jump to 5am wake-ups. I might only hate my life for about two weeks and then get used to it.
However, I know me, and me is a world expert in making excuses. If I throw myself into 5am wake-ups, I’ll be groggy, miserable and it’ll be so easy to convince myself that this doesn’t work, it’s not for me…etc.
So I will be easing into it.
I usually get up around 7am. I’ve got 2 hours to claim back. I’ve started setting alarms for 6am. I’m doing this for at least two weeks.
The following week, I will do 5.30am, then the magical 5am the week after that. That’s 4 weeks of planning for this, but you may benefit from doing 15 minute steps instead. I’m easing into it, but I’m also impatient.
It’s so frustrating seeing those articles when people try something new (diet/routine/exercise) for like two weeks without any preparation or research and it goes badly. They then insist:
THIS DOES NOT WORK FOR ANYONE. DON’T TRY IT.
Well, it bloody works for some people.
Getting out of my pit
Alarm goes off, all it takes is a simple stretch over to clumsily push that deadly snooze button.
I know, from trying early wake-ups in the past that this will 100% happen by day 3. I am not good at self-discipline, especially when I’m half asleep and don’t know where I am or what I’m meant to be doing.
I’ve enlisted the help of an app, because modern problems – modern solutions and so on.
It is called Alarmy, and it’s a pain in the arse.
You can set it like a normal alarm but with the bonus of annoying the hell out of you enough to force you out of bed.
You can either choose to shake your phone vigorously to cancel the alarm, take a photo of a pre-selected image or solve a maths problem.
I figured the first option would end up with my phone flying out of my hand and I just couldn’t summon enough self hatred to make myself do a maths puzzle at 5am.
I chose the photo one. It’s easy enough to do and it requires you to physically get out of bed to do it. I have to go to the bathroom to take a photo of the toilet. Don’t let anyone tell you the freelancing lifestyle isn’t glamorous.
I still weigh up whether to just go straight back to bed or not, pretty much every morning. However, I haven’t broken my streak yet which is miraculous for someone this lazy.
If you’re like me, I would definitely suggest getting an app like Alarmy – it’s free so you can’t really go wrong.
Creating a timetable
Another thing that helps you not only get out of bed, but do something useful with your time is to create a timetable.
I already have my “goal timetable” but also shorter ones while I work up to 5am:
5am – Wake up
5.05am – Write at least 500 words of fiction with a coffee
6am – Exercise for 30 minutes
6.30 am – Shower & get ready
7am – Work on blogs x2
9am onwards – Freelance work
I’m sure this timetable will become more fine-tuned and will change slightly, but it’s an idea to get started.
It’s really important that I don’t just wake up and have nothing to do, or just a vague idea of what I’m going to do. I need a plan, because 5am-me won’t even know what year it is, unless past-me has written instructions down somewhere.
So, for the first few weeks I’ll just be writing fiction and blogs in the mornings. Then I’ll make room for exercise because my god, I need it.
Set myself up for the day
Like many other human people, I have become dependent on a black substance called coffee. The sooner I get coffee, the sooner I’ll be able to do something useful.
It’s not even just the caffeine, the hot liquid is wake-up enough. If you’re not a coffee person – which is very surprising as a writer, but probably for the best – then make something like tea, herbal tea or hot lemon water. Lemon water is meant to be very good for you. Although there is no scientific evidence to suggest it, many people swear by it.
I am lucky enough to have a separate office in my house – very bourgeois, if the internet is anything to go by.
In it I have a kettle, a cup and some instant coffee and tea bags to get me started. That means, I can go to the bathroom and then head straight to my office first thing in the morning.
There’s no need to go downstairs and get attacked by two kittens who always look like they’ve had more coffee than me. There’s no danger of getting distracted by boring household tasks that await me in the kitchen. I can go straight to work.
This is important– to make it streamlined and simple to get to work/whatever you want to do at 5am. The more speed bumps in the road, the more likely you are to get distracted/forget what you’re doing.
Some people even sleep in their gym clothes to make it easier to work-out in the morning – although I’ve got a suspicion that advice comes from someone who has never worn a sports bra.
Humans aren’t very different from dogs. We appreciate treats when we’ve done something good. It’s called positive reinforcement and it could very well make your early morning wake-ups more bearable.
At the moment, I haven’t got a treat in mind. I am currently trying to fast until midday, so I can’t really reward myself with nice chocolate-related goodies that I actually want.
However, it’s something that works for a lot of people. It could be a bit of chocolate or a latte or something nice at the end of the week, because wine in the morning = not a good idea.
If you’re not into the reward system, another way to do this is to make your work/meditation/exercise space as nice as possible.
In my office I’ve got an oil diffuser, a nice lamp, a bonsai tree and some cool vintage travel posters on the wall. My partner calls it my nerd cave and he’s probably right. But I like it and that’s all that matters. I enjoy sitting in the office, it’s a nice space and that helps a great deal with my productivity levels.
Keep track of your progress
Another little experiment I’m going to start is the bullet journal. Everyone has their own way of doing it but my focus is going to be on habit tracking. I want to monitor how much I get done and also remind myself to do it. You could tick off a daily to-do list, use an app, make notes – whatever helps you record and remind yourself.
It’s always good to see how you progress and grow – it builds motivation and feeling of accomplishment.
So there you have it, my reasoning and methods for getting up at 5am. I will be checking back in a few months time to detail my experience – so watch this space.
If you don’t hear from me, I have failed and I don’t want to talk about it anymore.
Wish me luck.
Do you wake up at silly-o-clock? Or are you more of a night owl instead? Please feel free to share your thoughts below.