Here’s the anticlimactic secret, get up at 5 a.m.
Ali, a busy mom and small business owner, heard me speak at a marketing seminar last year. Inspired by my message, she went home and implemented a key strategy we love here at Early To Rise.
Ali started getting up earlier.
We believe that getting up earlier than everyone else allows you to get ahead of the world, reduce stress and anxiety, to be more creative, and even improve your health. After all, our website is not GetUpAtNoon.com.
“Ever since I started getting up at 5 a.m. I’ve finally had extra time for me. I get more accomplished and feel like I’m in control of my life again,” Ali said.
Other readers of my book, The Perfect Day Formula, report finding time to:
• Write a book, create new products, and do more marketing
• Get to work early so they can get ahead on the day’s tasks
• Sit in quiet introspection and have gratitude for the blessings in their life
• Exercise and engage in other forms of self-care
Essentially, my readers finally have time for themselves again!
There really is something about getting it done early.
“There really is something about getting it done early,” wrote best-selling author Tom Venuto in his review of my book on Amazon. “That goes for business and creative work, just as it does for health and fitness.”
History is full of great composers, writers, and thinkers who awoke early and created great works before others were out of bed.
Beethoven rose at dawn, composing all morning and finishing in the early afternoon, and was in bed at 10 p.m.
Victor Hugo wrote Les Miserables on the island of Guernsey, waking at dawn. He’d start the day with coffee and two raw eggs, then write until 11 a.m. standing at a small desk that overlooked the English Channel.
Architect Frank Lloyd Wright did his sketches between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m., then spent the rest of the day in busy work, taking meetings, answering letters, and helping students. “I wake up around 4 a.m. My mind’s clear, so I get up and work for three or four hours,” he explained.
Contemporary female authors, Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison, recognized the benefits of waking early so they could create without distraction. Angelou woke up at 5:30 a.m., had coffee with her husband, and wrote from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Morrison wakes at 5 a.m., has a coffee and watches the sun rise, a crucial part of her routine that serves as the anchor for her to get down to work.
It’s not being in the light, it’s being there before it arrives. – Toni Morrison
“Writers all devise ways to approach that place where they expect to make the contact, where they become the conduit, or where they engage in a mysterious process,” Morrison said. “For me, light is the signal in the transaction. It’s not being in the light, it’s being there before it arrives. It enables me, in some sense.”
Success comes easier to proactive people that get up earlier.
Even the rough and tumble celebrity chef, Anthony Bourdain, recognized the value of the early morning for getting stuff done.
“When I wrote Kitchen Confidential, I was still working the line,” Bourdain said. “I’d get up at five or six in the morning, light up a smoke and start typing. I’d try to get a couple of hours at the computer, then I’d drag a razor across my face, hail a cab and go straight to work.”
And I know, it’s hard to get up so early. Of course, if it were easy, we’d all be doing it.
The good news is that anyone can do it.
- The Biggest Obstacles in Your Way
Let’s be clear. There are reasons you aren’t able to get up at 5 a.m. right now could be,
• Shift work
• Family obligations
• Late night alcohol intake
• Social events or business dinners
• Social media and email addiction
• Fear of missing out on the latest television show
• Genetics (20% of people are meant to exist on a ‘night owl’ schedule)
Some of these reasons are acceptable. Others are not. Most can be overcome.
- How to Overcome the Biggest Obstacles
Why do you want to get up at 5 a.m.?
Your answer should be something along the lines of, ‘my goals and dreams are ginormous and must be achieved, but my current schedule is an obstacle in the way.’
In order for you to get up at 5 a.m., you must truly want to get up at that hour to take advantage of the great benefits awaiting you. Or, there must be such negative consequences of not getting up at 5 a.m. that you’ll commit to doing anything to succeed. Once you’ve determined your reasons for getting up at 5 a.m, let me assure you, anyone can do it.
Step #1 – Set a Reverse Alarm
To get up at 5 a.m., we must have an appropriate bedtime. If you desire seven hours of sleep, you need to have lights out at 10 p.m. This can be a struggle with the charms of Netflix, social media, and yes, even books.
The trick is to set an alarm for an hour before bed. That’s right, you’ll set an alarm for 9 p.m. Once you hear the alarm, you must begin your pre-bed ritual. Stop using electronics. Turn off the television. Take a warm bath (if that helps you sleep). Make sure the kids are in bed. Use my brain dump exercise to expel all the mad thoughts rushing through your head. Do whatever activities you must that help get you ready for bed so that you can be under the covers and on your way to a good night’s sleep before 10 p.m.
Step #2 – Follow My 10-3-2-1-0 Formula
Stop drinking caffeine ten hours before bed. Stop drinking alcohol or eating heavy, spicy foods three hours before bed. End all work-related activities two hours before bed. Shut down all electronics an hour before bed. And don’t hit your snooze button in the morning. (Watch my 10-3-2-1-0 Formula video here.)
Step #3 – Do This Slowly
One word of warning. If you are currently getting up at 8 a.m., it’s a bad idea to start getting up three hours earlier tomorrow. That might work for a day or two, but the self-imposed jet lag will catch up with you quickly, and soon you’ll be exhausted, and holding a grudge against early mornings.
Instead, do as I did in 2007 when I realized that a 7:30 a.m. wake-up time was not right for me. It left me anxious and unproductive. The next morning I woke up five minutes earlier. The day after that, another five minutes earlier. I slowly continued until I found the right time for me.
And that’s the big lesson.
It’s not about the hour you get up, it’s about what you do with the hours that you are up.
“Though I’ll probably never get up at 4 a.m. (or even 6 a.m.),” writes Chelsea Ratcliff, my co-author on The Great Cardio Myth, “I’ve already started putting many other principles into play and have successfully achieved one Perfect Day. I’m looking forward to reaping many more in the new year!”
“The trick is in the structure,” adds author Ryan Murdock in his review. “It’s helpful while being uncompromising about the need to focus, prioritize, and dedicate yourself to following your higher purpose.”
Structure, as I teach in the book, brings you freedom. And when you find your right morning hour, you’ll have less stress, you’ll be more productive, and you’ll finally have the “me-time” you’ve been looking for.