• Eve Arnold

If You Needed 8 Reasons to Wake Up Early, Here’s 9

It’s Early.

It’s quiet.

It’s peaceful.

It’s uninterrupted.

We’ve become obsessed with how people orchestrate their mornings; the morning routine has become something to marvel at. We watch in awe of the level of productivity to be achieve in a simple, beautiful morning routine.

There are a million articles on how successful people start their days, it’s the self-help equivalent of smarties to a 6-year old. Queue the sugar-high and excitement.

We sit and wonder, how do these people do it? They wake up at the crack of dawn, have the energy to exercise, practice yoga, down a healthy smoothie and grab a cold shower all before 6 am. At the extreme end of the morning routine hype, it’s gotten a little out of control. Cold shower, morning journalling, hot-yoga, repeating positive affirmations in the mirror 17 times over.

Now we don’t have to dip into self-help overdrive but there is lots to be gained by waking up early.

Are you someone that wakes up early?

The truth is it’s two-fold. Part of the answer to that question is that the key is to make the morning routine a habit. If you do anything for long enough and you will find yourself automatically carrying out activities that you once thought was impossible. If you find the idea of waking up at 5:30 am impossible, the good news is that you only need to find the will power to do it about 90 times before you start doing it consistently. Mindlessly. It will become odd to not get up at 5:30 am.

The second part of this is reframing your identity. As I go along in life I’m starting to figure out that you can become whoever you want to be. The stories we tell ourselves about who we are, are just fleeting stories that are current for the now. What I mean by that is, if you want to be someone that wakes up early, you can be. You just need to tell yourself that you are that person. Benjamin Hardy writes about this extensively, in fact, I watched a TedTalk yesterday of him explaining this very concept. So, if you want to become someone that wakes up early, one of the quickest ways to do that, is to start identifying as someone who gets up early. Tell yourself you are someone who wakes up early. You’re a morning person. James Clear talks about this extensively in habit formation. To successful form new habits, we need to change the stories we tell ourselves.

So the short version of all this? If you want to wake up early, you need to form the habit of waking up early. To do that, you need to identify as someone that wakes up early. And to do that… you need to tell yourself, consistently, you are someone that wakes up early. A morning person.

#1 The silence is the loudest it’s ever been in the early hours

There is nothing quite like the stillness of the morning. Just before the world properly wakes up there is this stillness about the place that is completely calming.

It’s like you can feel everyone still tucked up in bed and you get the world to yourself for a few hours.

There are no cars on the roads, no people walking around. It’s just you and the world.That kind of peace means that you can get into the flow state of work much more easily. There are no distractions, no phones going off, no emails coming through. It’s silent.

It means you can tackle your challenging tasks early on and make a big dent in the work you’ve got. I’m a big believer that 8 hours a day chained to a desk doesn’t work. People are different and have different energy levels. Depending on when you work best will determine your productivity and output. If you are someone that works best between the hours of 5:30 am–9:30 am, there are four solid hours you can work, uninterrupted.

Get into the flow state and your morning may well turn into a day’s work.

#2 Getting deep inside your own head

The time in the morning is completely free of distraction. No incoming calls, texts or emails. No WhatsApp group going off. That means you have a clearness that you are unlikely to have the pleasure of in the middle of the day. It means you have a time where you can finally think. Time to think deeply. Time to think about the most important things to you, what your goals and aspirations are.

A time where you can think about what you want to achieve in your day and how you are going to go about doing that.

That time to think gives you the opportunity to think deeper than normal which is likely to result in some outputs that might surprise you. Time to think will likely result in your best work.

Getting up at 5:30 am means you can think clearer than any other time in the day. That the benefit of having the world to yourself.

#3 You churn out work at a level you’ve never experienced before

I’m not sure if it’s the quietness that does it or maybe it’s the time to get your brain moving. Whatever it is, perhaps the large coffee, productivity goes through the roof.

The combination of quiet and no distractions means there is little else to do other than work. There is nothing but time and you in front of the computer to produce.

Your environment is primed for success.

Quiet, still, no distraction. So you are much more likely to produce. To work. It amazes me that we still look at time spent behind a desk over actual output as a determinate for success. The likelihood is that if you manage to get deep into your work you could have written an article, formatted another and done some research for a third all by 9 am.

That is a great output for an entire day’s work. Continue on that streak and you’ll have written 365 well written, well-researched articles in a year. If you average 1,500–2,000 words per article that equates to 730,000 words in a year. A single 200 page book is 55,000 words. That’s 13 books. A pretty productive year.

Waking up early and having the world to yourself at 5:30 am, at least for me, means my output has quadrupled.

#4 Momentum is the real motivation you are looking for

One thing that breeds productivity is momentum. It’s the reason why I will go and do a small mundane task if I’m struggling to muster up the will power to tackle my most challenging tasks. Doing anything, even the smallest things, will give you the momentum to keep going.

That momentum will spur you on to continue being productive throughout the day.

Starting your day successfully means you will have the momentum and that will have a big impact on the rest of your day.

Getting a head start on the day gives you more confidence, more ambition and more faith in your abilities.

#5 Gives You More Time – early bird

Working 9–5 is fine. Good even. There are a whole host of good things happening in 9–5s and there are a whole host of reasons to have a 9–5. Above and beyond the obvious, one of the things a 9–5 is brilliant for is routine. It gives us structure and structure is a good thing. Structure and systems are the sure-fire way to getting whatever you want.

Parkinson’s Law

Let’s say for argument’s sake you wake up at 5:30 am. You get out of bed, do your thing for a bit and then get in front of the computer before 6 am. That means you, in theory, could have 2 solid hours before you start work. If you are lucky enough to work from home full-time or have complete control of your hours then working solidly for 2 hours in the morning, is a complete game-changer.

There is a rule that states that the time taken to do a task expands to the amount of time allocated. It’s the reason that we can write 4,000 words in an all nighter before an essay is due and the same reason that same task would have taken 7 weeks if we let it.

Back in 1955, Cyril Northcote Parkinson wrote an essay called ‘The Economist’ and the first sentence read:

“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

What Parkinson was saying here is that you will be amazed at what you can achieve if you ask the simple question: “if I had to finish this tomorrow, how would I go about it?” That thinking leads us to come up with methods and techniques to attack our problem in the most efficient way possible.

Parkinson isn’t saying that you can build a skyscraper in a day or create a million-dollar business in 4 hours. What he is saying is that if you ask the question you will be amazed at the ways you come up with to meet the deadline.

Two hours of uninterrupted time in the morning is plenty of time to get your day’s worth of work done. Uninterrupted time is worth twice if not three times as much as interrupted time.

Completely focusing for two hours means you have, potentially, the rest of the day to do with as you please.

#6 Welcome to lean manufacturing and here’s what it can do for you

Ever heard of lean manufacturing? In lean manufacturing, the idea is to look at the system and strip out the waste. The time spent doing things that are adding no value is stripped out.

Why do we never apply this idea to our own life?

How much time do we waste?

How much time do we spend in unnecessary meetings, on calls that we don’t need to be on, on emailing back and forth when a simple text would suffice? We waste time because we have lots of it. That time could be channelled into much more productive means if we wanted it to be.

We waste time on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook. We waste our lives looking at what other people are doing. We feel as sense of unhappiness yet we continue to peer through the living room window of other people’s lives and not look at our own.

Waste is only waste if you define it as such. There are many things that fit into this bracket:

  1. Time in meetings you don’t need to be in but feel too awkward to leave.

  2. Scrolling through social media, envying people you don’t know.

  3. Emailing back and forth when a phone call would solve the problem.

We probably waste, on average, 3/5ths of our day. If we were being honest with ourselves.

Hacking our morning routine and waking up at 5:30 am is one way to not waste time and get the stuff done you want to.

#7 An identity shift to your god-like status get up early

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” ― Theodore Roosevelt

Picture this. You’ve just spent the last three hours completing your hardest tasks. You’ve got a belly full of breakfast and enough caffeine to last you three more hours. So far you’ve written 2,000 words, you’ve formatted an article, you’ve gone through your inbox and answered all the most important emails.

And it’s not even 9:30 am.

By the time everyone is just getting into work you’ve practically finished everything you need to do today. Now you’ve got time to do the bonus stuff. If you’ve done three solid hours of work by the time other people are just getting into work, one thing is for sure, you’ll be pretty happy with yourself.

We feel a sense of authority and power when we are ticking through our to-do list and know we what’s going on. We start to feel like we can conquer anything we want if we set our minds to it — which of course we can.

If you wake up consistently at 5:30 am, no snooze, no falling back to sleep, you will have nothing but time to create. By doing things early, before everyone else, we create a dialogue between ourselves.

You create an important identity-shift.

You are the type of person that gets up early and gets stuff done. You are the type of person people marvel at and ask… how do you get so much done in a day?

These small wins every day create a system that allows us to succeed. And success breeds positivity.

#8 Like the person looking back at you

How many times do you beat yourself up for not achieving the things you want? For years you’ve been saying you want to lose weight, write more, start that business. For years you’ve been feeding yourself the same excuse over and over. You don’t have enough time. In other words means you don’t make enough time.

The time in the morning is the easiest to hack. It’s untapped potential.

When you start executing on what you say you will you start to build a reputation with yourself. You are the type of person that says they will do something and actually does it.

For years I used to beat myself up that I couldn’t commit to what I said I was going to. I wanted to start something on the side. I wanted to create things.

However, my actions never met my thoughts. It was frustrating to continuously go through the loop of ambition to no action. I would beat myself up continuously that I was never going to get anywhere and continue around the same loop over and over. That was until I started hacking my mornings.

Once you start delivering on the things you say you were going to, life becomes much more abundant. Your expectations of yourself become higher. There is so much satisfaction in saying you will do something and actually do it. When you wake up at 5:30 am you have a handful of hours, uninterrupted, to do exactly what you said you were going to. It’s the perfect time to work on whatever you want. When you finally start doing as you say you will you become happier.

It’s the little things that add up to the big things.

#9 Stop with the theory and start with the reality

We all have visions of the life we want to live. It involves getting up early, getting a head start on the day, fuelling our bodies, getting some exercise. I used to think about it all the time. I had a view of the person I wanted to become. I wanted to be that person that got up early, downed a smoothie, went for a walk and hammered out a load of work all before I started my day job.

At the time I just couldn’t understand how people managed it. It was stuck between dreaming and my actions. I wanted to become that person, I just didn’t think I actually could. I thought these people existed in the movies. Nobody really gets up early to get a jump start on the day. Nobody cares that much do they? The answer is yes. Yes, they do.

As soon as I started to get up earlier I found that I was happier because I was finally becoming the person I wanted to become. And then you realise you are in complete control.

If you want to become an author you can. If you want to become a marathon runner. You can.


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