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What waking up at 6 every morning has taught me

All the videos and articles on this subject we're being very positive on waking up early, so I decided to give it a try. I was skeptical before I started, but as soon as I started waking up earlier, I was convinced it was a positive change for me. Here are the most important things I found:

  1. I needed the motivation to get up
  2. I had a lot of extra free time
  3. I had to reinvent my day-night cycle
  4. I've been more focused throughout the day
  5. When there is little motivation, you have to get creative

Of course, this list wouldn't be complete with an explanation of these points. You can see the overall theme is that in order to be productive, you need to be motivated. Without motivation, it'll be very difficult for you to make a habit out of this.

I needed the motivation to get up

You need to look forward to something in order to motivate yourself to get out of bed earlier. A lot of people say they have trouble getting out of bed in the morning. This could be true on most days, there are also days where it's very easy. Think about a really exciting day you can't wait to start. I bet you have no problems jumping out of bed and get started on your day. So really, the biggest problem getting out of bed earlier is lack of motivation. You need to have a certain goal to be able to wake yourself up. Matt D'Avella has an amazing video about this aspect that initially triggered me to wake up earlier. You can find it on YouTube.

Give yourself three very simple tasks the night before. The simpler the better. In my case, I went for things like write 100 words for a blog post or work out for 10 minutes. I could easily complete these tasks on a given day, now I'm just motivating myself to get the first 2-3 tasks for that day done very early on. If you're having trouble coming up with tasks, you can do the dishes or mop the floors. These tasks are something simple, that you can do while listening to a podcast or watching a video and it's just something to get you into doing something. This will lead to you doing more things after these initial tasks. The most important thing is to get started.

I had a lot of extra free time

All of a sudden I had an additional hour to do things in the morning. I had more time to work on my side project PunchlistHero, write blog posts, and work out. Those are just some of the examples of how I filled in this additional time. This hour allowed me to really focus on something, rather than being distracted by anything or anyone. This also meant that by the time I went to work, I had already completed several of the tasks for that day and I was already awake and ready to go.

I had to reinvent my day-night cycle

If you get up earlier, you'll be tired earlier. That's pretty straightforward. Before I would start to get tired around 23:00 (11 pm), I'm now tired at 22:00 (10 pm). I figured from the beginning that I wasn't a night owl anyway and in the evenings I'm often very unproductive. This meant that I took an hour away from the unproductive part of my day and gave it to the productive part.

I've been doing my best to get at least 7 hours of sleep, ideally 8 hours. By turning on alarms on the weekends I'm trying to reduce "time in bed" difference between the weekdays and the weekends. This way I'm able to keep a fairly consistent day/night cycle. This makes it much easier to wake up early as well. After a week or two, I started to wake up by myself, sometimes even slightly before my alarm went off. After a while I didn't need to specifically set the 2-3 goals the night before anymore, waking up early had become a habit.

I've been more focused throughout the day

Before I could be a little absent at times, because I was thinking about something, but now I can get more of that done in the morning. I'm sorting out my thoughts in the early morning and be done with it throughout the day. This has allowed me to be more present during meetings and while working on complicated tasks.

The extra time in the morning has allowed me to work on my side projects and finish tasks, allowing me to not having to worry about them during my work hours.

When there is little motivation, you have to get creative

In the spring and summer months, it's quite easy to get up early. The sun is already up and this helps you to wake up more quickly. In the winter, this is a bit of a problem. Getting up in the winter means that you get up when the sun is still down so it's pitch black outside. This makes waking up the natural way quite difficult. I came up with a simple solution for this: sunlight LED strips.

This sounds strange, but my home office has LED strips on the ceiling. When turning them on, it almost feels like it's actual sunlight. Using this method, I've been able to wake up quite easily in the winter and fall months. Now that's it's light again when I wake up (April), I no longer have to use the LED strips in order to wake up. I can simply open the curtains and see the sunlight.

Have you ever tried to get into the habit of getting up earlier?

How did it go? How was the experience for you? If it was positive, what did you use all of this extra time for? If it was negative, why didn't it go the way you expected to? Let me know on Twitter!

Posted on: May 1st, 2019

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