How to Get Up at 5am
Ali, a busy mom and small business owner, heard me speak at a marketing seminar last year. Inspired from my message, she went home and implemented a key strategy we love 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, to 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 5am,’ Ali said, ‘I’ve finally had extra time for me. I get more accomplished and feel like I’m in control of my life again.’
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
- Spend in spiritual study and reflection
- 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,’ wrote bestselling 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 10pm.
Victor Hugo wrote Les Miserables on the island of Guernsey, waking at dawn. He’d start the day with coffee and two raw eggs, and then write until 11am standing at a small desk that overlooked the English Channel.
The architect Frank Lloyd Wright did his sketches between four and seven o’clock in the morning, and 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 recognised the benefits of waking early so they could create without distraction. Angelou woke up at 5:30am, had coffee with her husband, and wrote from 7am to 2pm. Morrison wakes at 5am, 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.
‘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 this 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 who get up earlier.
‘But wait,’ you’re thinking. ‘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. Even the rough-and-tumble celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain recognised 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.’
The Biggest Obstacles in Your Way
Let’s be clear. There are reasons you aren’t able to get up at 5am right now. These might 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
Before we give you the tactics to get up earlier, you must be clear about your goals in life.
Do you want to get up at 5am simply because it’s a trend, a badge of honour, or something you’re doing out of peer pressure?
Or are you doing this because you know it’s right for you? Are you doing this because you have big goals and dreams that must be achieved, and your current schedule is an obstacle in the way?
If it’s because of the former, then no ‘secret’ I could give you will help.
In order for you to get up at 5am, 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 5am that you’ll commit to doing anything to succeed.
Once you’ve determined your reasons for getting up at 5am, let me assure you, anyone can do it. Here’s how.
Step #1: Set a Reverse Alarm
To get up at 5am, we must have an appropriate bedtime. If you desire seven hours of sleep, you need to have lights out at 10pm. 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 9pm. 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 10pm.
Step #2: Follow My 10-3-2-1-0 Formula
Stop drinking caffeine 10 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.
Step #3: Do This Slowly
One word of warning. If you are currently getting up at 8am, 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 jetlag will catch up with you quickly. Soon you’ll be exhausted, and holding a grudge against early mornings.
Instead, do as I did in 2007 when I realised that a 7:30am wakeup 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.
You see, 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 4am (or even 6am),’ 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.
But don’t add more stress to your life thinking that you need to be part of the #5amClub. It’s not mandatory. What matters is that you have more structure in your life so that you can finally have the freedom you desire and deserve. That’s what the Perfect Day Formula is all about.
For The Escapologist
Editor’s Note: This article comes courtesy of Early to Rise. To read more from our friends in the US, go to www.earlytorise.com.