It seems as if the whole world is asleep. No-one else to distract you and steal your time. This morning is your little, stolen secret. A guilty please that is just for you. A killer morning routine that sets you up for an amazingly productive day!
Why Wake Up At 4:30 AM?
Because it’s awesome! That’s why. OK, well maybe not awesome – to begin with, it is a bit of a brutal morning routine to get in to. But once you’re established, I found it quite addictive.
There are fewer distractions, no-one else to steal your time, and you can really get stuck into the stuff you need to get done.
This isn’t about sleeping less, this is about sleeping well, waking up earlier, and getting sh#t done!
Imagine what you could do with 2-hours of free time every day!
Morning Routine | 8 Tips To Get Up Early
Know Your Sleep Cycle
When we sleep, we go through phases. Typically, they last around 90 minutes. This is different for each person though, so you’ll need to play around with this a little. A good guide is,
What’s the shortest nap you can have and still feel refreshed?
The key is to try and wake up at the end of a complete cycle. We experience something called “Sleep Inertia“. If we wake during the middle of a sleep cycle, we feel groggy and find it harder to get going.
If we are trying to wake up and get stuff done, we need to complete these cycles before we get into our morning routine.
Know How Many Hours You Need
We all function on a different number of hours sleep. This also changes with age. As I’ve said, this isn’t about sleeping less. If you want to wake up early, you’re gonna want to go to sleep early. Knowing when you should be going to sleep is a simple calculation once you know how many hours your body needs.
This will take a little trial and error, but you should know after a couple of nights.
I don’t set an alarm.
Whenever I wake up, I check the time and if 4:30 AM is in less than my sleep cycle, I get up. If I can get in another cycle, I go back to sleep. The fact is, I wake up once I’ve had enough sleep.
So, if after using all these tips, you are waking up 30-minutes late, you should be going to bed 30-minutes sooner. Simple.
Don’t Eat Late
Now, I don’t know if there is some scientific reason for this. I’ve just found that this is essential for my morning routine. Whenever I eat after 7 PM, I find it harder to get to sleep and my sleep is broken.
If you are trying to get a better quality sleep, from my own experience (which isn’t much of a credential BTW) I would recommend eating at a set time on an evening and not having it within 2-hours of going to bed. This all forms part of your pre-sleep routine.
Have A 1-Hour Bedtime Routine
Now that you know when you need to be asleep you’re ready to start winding down and getting ready to go straight off to the land of Nod.
I used to get this incredibly wrong!
I did all the wrong things:
- watch TV in bed
- be doing work right up to getting into bed
- not have consistency in time and activity
I used to find it incredibly difficult to “switch off” and just go to sleep. The next couple of tips go more into this, but for this one, just know that having a routine that you stick to 1-hour before you go to sleep is the way to go.
My routine starts at 8 PM (sleep from 9 – 4:30 AM). I get my office ready for the next day – more on that later – and head for a shower. I do all the things I need to do in the bathroom PLUS a 3-minute meditation whilst in the shower.
Then, I read a book in bed. But once it gets to 9 PM, I put it down, turn off the light and go to sleep. I find it easier to go to sleep because of these next two tips!
Avoid Problem Solving
During this 1-hour bedtime routine, you should avoid any problem-solving tasks! There is an area of the brain that loves to work on problems and if you give it one just before bed, it will likely keep you awake thinking about it.
This is why I don’t think about work, about tomorrows plans, or even watch a crime drama during this hour period. Lack of sleep will kill our productive morning routine!
If you “spin-up” this area of your brain, it will keep you up!
You should also avoid doing work in bed at any time! You don’t want to associate your bed with problem-solving tasks. It should be for relaxing and sleep (and a few other things ;D)
Avoid Decision Fatigue
We are only capable of make a certain number of decisions during our waking hours. If we are going to have a productive morning routine, we need to spend our limited decisions wisely.
Have your to-do list written down for the morning. You don’t want to waste time and decision-currency when you’ve woken up. You want to get straight in there and get SH#T done!
Even have your clothes laid out the night before. I do these two things as part of my 1-hour wind-down routine.
I don’t even want to get sucked into writing social media comments, so I also avoid social media during this time. I found my social media detox a really refreshing time for this reason!
Be Active, Not Reactive!
This is critical for having a productive morning routine! Our minds are in one of two states
We are either being:
- Active – We choose what to deal with and forge our own path
- Reactive – We deal with things that come our way.
The rub is, that once you are in one of these states, it is difficult to switch across to the other. This is good for us if we keep ourselves in the Active frame of mind. To do this, we need to avoid slipping towards being reactive.
I’ve found that I need to avoid the following:
Checking social media
Doing “Research” on YouTube (even for a second)
It’s 4:30 in the morning! No-one will need a reply from you. This is one of the beauties of waking up earlier.
TIP: To make sure I don’t get dragged into any of these dangerous (at least from the point of view of productivity) activities, I switch my phone into aeroplane mode and plug it in to charge. I do this the night before and I charge it in the home office. NOT next to my bed.
I don’t want the first thing I do on a morning to be checking my phone. It doesn’t get turned on again until 7:30 AM when I prep my first Instagram post of the day. This is also part of me keeping my Digital Addiction under control!
Get Out Of Bed!
And here it is! The hardest of all the tips. I’m sorry, but this can only be achieved through discipline and willpower. Getting out of that bed, no matter what!
Suck it up and get on with it.
I promise that it gets easier after three days and, if you’ve used these tips, you will be getting better sleep and making great progress with your work.
It’s OK to have the occasional “late morning”, but my rule is, I have to have decided it the night before! I can’t just wake up at 4:30 and THEN decide to change my mind. That’s not discipline, that’s a cop-out!
Know your sleep cycle length (What’s the shortest nap you can have and feel refreshed when you wake up?)
Know how many hours of sleep you need (trial and error)
Don’t eat late
Have a 1 hour, pre-sleep routine
Avoid problem-solving and watching TV in bed
avoid making decisions in the AM (Decision fatigue) Have a to-do list ready for the morning, clothes laid out
Stay in an Active, rather than Reactive Mindset (don’t check messages, Leave the phone in another room)
Get out of bed – no matter what! (It’s worth it)
When people find out that I wake up at 4:30 AM every day, their first reaction is one of horror. People think that I must be going without sleep. Not true! I have my required 7hr30mins, I just move it earlier. I can get more done, with fewer distractions and still have a full day available to get the serious Dad work in.
If you are thinking about trying this, I would certainly recommend giving it a go. Stick with it though. Give it a week or two before you make your mind up. Also, take it gradually. Rebooting your morning routine isn’t something to just rush into. The shock might be too much.
Start drawing your routine earlier by about 30 minutes each night.
Thanks again, watch less, create more,