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I know what you’re thinking because it is exactly what I use to think. I thought that I could never wake up that early. The snooze button was my best friend until ten minutes before I had to leave for work. Over the years I had read articles and heard people talk about how the most successful people wake up at five in the morning. But there are also plenty of studies on how important a good night's sleep is. So, how do we accomplish both, and are there actual benefits of waking up that early?
Getting Enough Sleep
It’s true, sleep is incredibly important and a necessity for success. Most people think of entrepreneurs as zombies who work 22 hours and sleep for two. This is completely untrue. Most successful entrepreneurs and business executives make sure that they are getting enough sleep so they can perform at high levels during their waking hours.
So, how do we ensure that we get enough sleep if we are waking up at five? Well, it’s fairly common knowledge that we should be getting 6 to 8 hours of sleep per night. Simple math puts that at going to sleep between 9 and 11 at night. I try to make sure that I go to sleep by ten every night, giving me a good seven hours of sleep.
Note that this requires that you are not just in bed by ten but asleep by ten. This was where the big realization and change came for me. I was typically going to bed at ten anyway, but I was usually on my phone for another hour or two. Then because of the stimulation from my phone, it was hard for me to go to sleep right away. Take some time to decompress from your electronics at least 30 minutes to an hour before bed. Take the time to read or journal. It’ll make falling asleep that much easier. Plus, if you are anything like me, you’ll be pretty exhausted those first few nights after waking up early and you’ll fall right asleep.
What Do You Want to Accomplish?
So, now that we are getting enough sleep (perhaps without even changing the time you go to bed) we need to determine what we will do with these added couple of hours in the morning. The key here is to use the time for something that you really want to accomplish. If you are not motivated and excited about what you’re doing you’ll never wake up. For me, it’s my freelance business.
As I mentioned, I had known about the practice of waking up early for years. But I never had the motivation to get those extra couple hours back in my day. Then I started getting more freelance work. My weekdays are dedicated to my full-time job, so the only time to accomplish this was nights and weekends. However, this cut into my family time. I found it hard to balance this extra workload, spend time with my family, work on our new house, plus my graduate school classes. There were just not enough hours in my day. So, I added two more hours!
I started waking up at five to do freelance work, which includes non-client work to improve my business and knock out some graduate school homework. This left my nights and (most of) my weekends open for the other important things in my life. By waking up early and making sure I went right to sleep at night, I gained ten hours for my workweek. This was all without a noticeable change from my family and friends’ perspectives.
So now that we are up and in a mindset to get things done, let’s talk about the benefits.
You’re Already Winning
I was tired when I woke up that first morning. I didn’t want to get out of bed. But I pushed through because I wanted to accomplish my goals. After two straight hours of work, I felt like I had completed a lot in my day already. No one else was up but I had checked things off my list. Starting off the day with that mindset greatly improves the rest of the day.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of waking up before anyone else is just that: no one else is awake. My productivity dramatically increases when there are no distractions from the outside world like emails, texts, calls, and other notifications. The amount of work I can get done before everyone is awake is far greater than during regular work hours.
Sets a Routine
There are numerous benefits to setting a routine in your life. You will get better sleep which can improve your overall health. You’ll know exactly how much time you have in your day. There is more predictability. And the list goes on and on.
Adds Time Back into Your Life
I’ve already mentioned the biggest benefit for me: extra time to accomplish my goals. I’ve been able to check off items from my to-do list to keep everything more manageable in my hectic life. You’ll feel like an empowered superhero with everything you can do.
I won’t lie to you, the first week or so will be hard. You’ll find yourself very tired especially if you work a full-time job as well. However, if you can push through and create that routine you won’t be tired and your productivity will go through the roof! Remember to set your goals so you actually wake up, be productive, and get the right amount of sleep. Soon you’ll be crushing your goals with at least ten more hours than everyone else!