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Waking up early is something I’ve gotten good at over the last few years, like really good at. I’ve consistently been waking up between 3:30am and 4:30am for the last 2 years. Now, while you might not be looking to learn how to wake up THAT early, this article will help you get up earlier than you do now.
It’s funny because a lot of people think you’re either a morning person, or a night person. But I think you can change your habits if you really want to.
I used to stay up well past midnight and wake up around 8 or 9 (when I was able to). Then I heard about this “Miracle Morning” book and decided to give the morning thing a shot.
I had no idea how big of an impact it would have on my life.
Since waking up earlier, I’ve been able to get enough done on my “off-the-clock” hours that I quit my day job to pursue my side hustle in June of 2017.
While I don’t really follow the full layout in the Miracle Morning anymore, it’s a great way to get started if you’ve never been a morning person before.
Why I Started Waking Up Early
When people learn that I used to wake up early at 3:30am, the first thing they say is something like “you’re insane”, “how in the world do you do that”, or “why put yourself through the torture?!”
Initially, I did it out of necessity. I worked a full-time job (8:30am to 4pm) with a long commute on either end of that. I was leaving my house at 7am and getting home around 6pm. That meant I really only had time at night to work on my side hustle of helping clients with marketing.
I knew if I wanted to make my side hustle a full-time job (which I did), I would have to make more time for it – so I started waking up earlier.
At first it was just a change from getting up at 6:30am to 6.
Then I changed it to 5:30am.
At the time, I thought THAT was an impressive time to wake up.
But then I kept going until 3:30am seemed like the last “sane” time to wake up. And even then it’s questionable.
But the truth is, I’ve come to love my morning time. Being up before the rest of the world not only makes me feel productive, but I can get half my work day done before many people are leaving to go to work. As an entrepreneur, the more you can get done before all the fires start, the better.
How To Wake Up Early, Consistently
If you don’t think 3:30am is a sane time to get up, replace that with “earlier” and see where you end up. Trust me I don’t go quite to that extreme now that I don’t have a full-time job working for someone else.
But I do still wake up at 4:30am. I told you, I love it!
Here are some tips you can use to help you wake up earlier to work on what you love doing.
1. Don’t give up until you’ve done it for at least 7 days.
Seriously, the first day you’ll be excited when you wake up and it will be easy. As the day goes on, your eyes might start burning a little bit because your body was used to getting more sleep. If they don’t burn, you’ll at least probably feel exhausted around 5 or 6pm, but stay with it!
2. Put your alarm clock across the room
This was the magic trick for me. If I relied on my phone alarm (which is usually within arms reach), I’d never have stuck with this. Yes, I’m telling you to go buy an old school alarm clock and plug it in far enough away that you’re at least 5 steps away from your bed. Go buy a $10 clock on Amazon if you don’t have one already.
3. Use Your FitBit or Smartwatch alarm
This is a great alternative if you have a spouse who is asleep when you’re planning to wake up. Wearables often come with a vibrate alarm setting that is jarring enough for you to feel, but doesn’t wake up the other person in bed. Here are a few I know have these settings
- FitBit Charge HR
- Apple Watch
4. Get excited about the work you’ll be doing in the morning
Think about how awesome it’s going to feel when you have x, y, or z done before “normal work hours” even start. If you’re working towards becoming self-employed, waking up early is a piece of cake compared to some other mental and emotional hurdles you’ll be going through. Take the challenge seriously, and reach your goals faster.
5. Go to bed at a reasonable time
It should go without saying that if you’re going to try your hand at waking up at 5am, it’s not going to be very productive if you’re going to bed at 1am. I usually strive for 7 hours of sleep, although during my “super hustle” phase I was only getting 5.5 to 6 hours.
Figure out what works best for you, but know that even if you’re getting up early, if you don’t have enough sleep you might be too groggy to get anything done – and then you’ve just wasted your time.
6. Remember that coffee awaits you
Yes, this one is going to be controversial. It’s the old, “will drinking coffee everyday kill you or make you live longer” debate. If you don’t like coffee, try tea, or even just warm water. Having some kind of warm drink helps me wake up and stay awake, but maybe for you it’s ice cold water.
Personally, butter coffee is my go-to every morning. And I try to wait an hour after I’ve woken up to consume my “joe.” My girlfriend sent me this video once and I couldn’t get the “wait an hour” mantra out of my head, so that part of the routine kind of just stuck.
7. Force yourself to go to the bathroom
This is my second line of defense after the alarm across the room. Generally when I wake up I have to pee. So, instead of getting back into bed, I force myself to go to the bathroom. I guess it’s the act of being vertical for at least a minute gets your mind going and then usually from there I am ready to stay awake.
8. Don’t snooze, or you’ll end up with 10 alarms set
Seriously, I used to do this. If you let yourself snooze one day, you’ll end up having to set more alarms “just in case.” But then those just in case alarms become alarms you need in order to get up. But once I started waking up early I didn’t let myself keep the habit up. Now I only use my one alarm across the room. It gets easier as you go, trust me.
I know some people who have 5-10 alarms to wake them up in the morning (not naming any names….you know who you are) and it completely ruins their last hour of sleep. What’s the point of snoozing if you can’t even sleep in? 🙂
9. Figure out what kind of work you do best at that time
I do my best creative work, like writing or brainstorming new projects early in the morning, so I try to schedule those things first for the day. For you it might be more tedious work that doesn’t take as much brain power as some other projects you’re working on. Do some testing and figure out what works best for you and your business.
10. Cross Step 1 off the night before
Have you ever heard you should put your gym shoes in the middle of the hallway so you can’t “forget” to go to the gym? Same thing goes for waking up early. Decide on the task you’ll be doing in the morning, and get step 1 out of the way first.
If you’re writing in the morning, this could mean creating a quick prompt for yourself to get your mind going in the morning.
If you’re doing other work, have that tab open on your computer, or that page bookmarked where you’re going to start reading.
If you are waking up early to get yourself to the gym, put your shoes in the hallway or right by your bed so you put them on first thing.
For ANYTHING you’re going to be doing, put a post-it note of your “why” on top of your laptop or behind your computer on the wall. Remind yourself why you’re waking up so friggin early and you’ll more easily be able to get through.
11. Wake up early….gradually
Do you go to the gym and just lift 150 pounds when you haven’t worked out in 3 years? No, of course not. So take this waking up thing gradually too.
You are not superwoman/man – take small steps to get to that ultimate goal. Start waking up 15 minutes earlier than you do now and see how it feels. Once you’re used to it, wake up 15 minutes earlier again and so on.
I didn’t go from waking up at 6:30am, 10 minutes before I had to leave for work, to getting up at 3:30am overnight. It took me a few weeks to get there.
Your body and mind will thank you for going slow.
12. Once you’re awake, drink water
I’m sure you’ve heard that a glass of water first thing in the morning is good for you. But I really urge you to try it for yourself. Put water by your bed or at your desk the night before and drink it first thing. For me, I feel more awake and my body just feels better when I do this.
13. Do jumping jacks
Remember how I said I drink butter coffee every morning? Well while my coffee is brewing I do jumping jacks to wake myself up even more. Call me crazy but it helps.
I started doing this when I slept through going to the gym one morning and felt bad about not working out. So I did jumping jacks while my coffee brewed. But it actually helped me wake up so I stuck with it.
Figure out what works for you
I know, this is the hard part. Where you actually have to put work into it.
You really just have to find out what works for you by trial and error. Start setting your alarm clock 15 minutes early and see what happens.
It might just change your life like it’s changed mine.