Wake up at 4AM. That sounds crazy, I know, but make it at least 5AM.
I was clicking around the internet a few weeks ago and somehow came across a TedTALK that talks about getting up at 430 and how it can change your life.
I know. It sounds absolutely ridiculous to get up that early at any time in your life for “no reason” but after two weeks I can tell you it so worth it. And no, you will not have to be in bed at 7-8PM either… unless that is your thing. Stick with me here.
Let me start off by saying I never was, and probably am still not, a morning person. If you asked either of my kids, or my coworkers, they will tell you how grouchy I was in the morning. Like do not even talk to me before 10AM. But like everyone in today’s world I felt like there was just not enough time in the day to do all the things I needed and WANTED to do.
On my old schedule if I wanted to just sit in the morning and drink my coffee and watch the news that means I would not have the time to workout. If I wanted to read at night, I neglected the laundry that needed to be folded and put away; or the vacuuming. After work I was rushing home to throw something together for dinner and feeling completely overwhelmed by the time we actually sat down for dinner and hour later. I knew something had to change, but I was not sure what it was. I work full time outside the home with two active kids. I did not want to give up on me time to accomplish want I wanted to accomplish. I am a firm believer in putting my oxygen mask on first.
You are useless to your loved ones and job if you are not taking care of yourself first.
Then I went a little crazy on watching videos on waking up at 4-5AM. Reading all the articles. After I was satisfied that for the most part, people who were waking up while it was still dark out were happier I set my alarm for 4AM the next morning. What is the worse that could happen – I snooze that sucker for two hours? So I set my alarm and guess what, that next morning, I got up. I actually got up.
Do not get it twisted, I did not hop out of bed but I slowly got up… made myself some coffee and drank it in peace while watching the news. I then worked out and put a load of laundry in the wash all before my son woke up for school at 6AM. I was able to take my time getting ready that morning; saw both kids off to school in complete calmness. (I mean as calm as it can be trying to get two kids to put their ipods away to get ready for school.) In continued calmness, after they left, I was able to get myself ready for work and left for work in a good mood. I arrived at work in a good mood. I felt good all day. I came home happy; made dinner, laughed with the kids over dinner, cleaned the kitchen, did another load of laundry and was done with all the things by 8PM.
Normally I would have been struggling to get everything done by 10PM.
I was in bed by 930. Set my alarm for 4AM again, and was asleep by 10PM.
I have been doing this for a few weeks now and even on the weekends when I set my alarm for say 6AM, I am up by at least 5. That is when I realized I have time to write now. I am getting so much stuff done in a timely fashion there are HOURS of my time that are left unaccounted for. Now I can spend my early morning hours taking it slow, and using the peace in the house to read and/or write.
I picked up The Daily Stoic and read from that every morning while drinking my coffee, after I do a quick Instagram and Twitter scroll. No, I am not going to be all, put your phone in another room and don’t look at it for the first three hours you’re awake. I personally need wake up time. But I will say if you want to get time back to yourself delete Facebook, but that is a whole other piece…
I can not attribute getting everything done to just getting up at 4AM every day. It is hard to get something done without a plan. So after I went HAM on the getting up at 4am videos I dove straight into the how to be more productive videos and articles. That is where I learned about calendar blocking and actually scheduling out your day; put everything you need to do into a time slot on your calendar. No joke, there was a half hour time slot for laundry on my calendar when I first started. This way you knew exactly what you need to do when. And I am telling you…. it is the bees knees.
Every Sunday I sit down and think about what I need to do that upcoming week, write it down. Then I look at what is already on the calendar and plug in my to-do list items where they fit in the calendar. And what I set up on Sunday night is not the holy grail for the week. Shit happens. Every night before I go to bed, Monday-Friday, I adjust the next day’s tasks.
I am quite literally living and dying by my calendar now.
I implore everyone to try this. If you are someone who struggles to find time in the day to get “everything done”; constantly running. Or if you just feel tired and sluggish all day for no real reason. But have a plan. If you try getting up at 4AM just to get up, you will not have success with it. Also find out what works for you.
I always thought I’d need 7-8 hours to be functional. I certainly wasn’t getting it but I kept chasing that. And when I did actually get it I felt tired all day. Doing this experiment I learned I need about six hours of sleep. The mornings I woke up after five hours were TOUGH; I almost always hit snooze and rolled back over for another hour of sleep. So six is my magic number.
The logical part of my brain kicked in…. there are 24 hours in a day. Right off the bat, I take off 14 hours for sleep and work. That’s ten hours left in the day… mind. blown.
I am aware that not everyone works daytime hours so even if you work evenings (like my husband) just try waking up a hour or two earlier than you normally would. That is really all I did, I woke up two hours earlier than I normally was and those two hours have changed my mood and mental health in ways I never imagined.