How Waking Up Early Can Change Your Life

Waking up earlier

I’m happy to present to you the first guest post on Deep Existence! *crowd roars* It’s from Eric Gati, who actually just interviewed me on his new daily interview website (which is awesome, check it out). If you’re interested in writing a guest post for Deep Existence, click here. Thanks for the insights, Eric!

The longer you are awake, the more time you will have in the day. Having more time in the day can lead to greater productivity. Greater productivity can lead to better results. Better results will bring you closer to your goals. The logic is simple.

Despite understanding this logic for the better part of my adult life, it wasn’t until recently that I found a way to execute it effectively.

Why People Dread Waking Up Early

When I used to hear about people waking up at 5:00 or 6:00 AM, I’d think they were freaks of nature. Why would anyone put themselves through that kind of torture?

For most people, waking up early means less sleep. And it’s a basic scientific fact that sleep is good for your body and mind. Right from the start, we’re faced with an innate, biological reason to not wake up earlier than we have to.

But have you ever stayed up really late, even though you knew you had to wake up early the next morning?  Maybe you were out late with friends, or you were working on a research paper that needed to be finished that night. There can be both positive and negative factors that easily conquer your innate desire for more sleep.

It’s easy to stay up late and sacrifice sleep, because if you must wake up by a certain time, you’re forced to do it. It’s not up to you.

But waking up early without such commitments is a decision. And when people make decisions, they often rely on motivation to execute them. As Stephen has said before—those who require motivation to take action will never be successful. (Stephen: That’s true!)

The reality of the situation is this: people dread the large chunk of time between here and 6 AM. It’s the “oh-my-god, I need to wake up AN HOUR earlier?!” feeling. And because they rely on motivation to overcome this, the plan to wake up early is scrapped almost immediately when they first hear the alarm, even if they went to bed with good intentions.

Put Your Excuses To Sleep

Getting “enough” sleep really isn’t the issue here. This is something we can manage, either by modifying our bedtime or discovering that we may not need quite as much sleep as we’re currently getting. Sleep duration aside, I believe the bigger issue exists with the excuses that people frequently use.

How many times have you heard someone say, “I’m not a morning person”? It’s an all-too-common expression that is typically more fiction than fact. To me, this is equivalent to saying, “I never get lucky.” As most successful people will tell you, you don’t “get lucky,” but rather, you make your own luck by working harder and/or smarter.

The phrase “I never get lucky” is so much like “I’m not a morning person” because it sets you up for failure. You can’t even begin to accomplish something if you already believe you will fail. Saying “I’m not a morning person” is shifting something you actually can control, to something you believe you can’t control.

In a weird way, we like issues that we believe we can’t control. If you don’t think you can control something, you won’t even begin to expend the necessary energy to overcome whatever the hurdle may be.

You can quickly improve your situation by getting out of the mindset that you’re not a morning person. You can be a morning person. You have complete control over it.

How I Tricked Myself into Waking Up an Hour Early Each Day

First things first: I started by saying “I am a morning person.” But that wasn’t enough.

Remember when I mentioned that the real reason people dread waking up early is because of the perceived “large chunk of time?”

It’s time to take that big block of ice and chip off little pieces, similar to mini habits.

Waking up early doesn’t have to be a one-day, one-morning change. You can do it more effectively if you ease into it, and tackle it in bite-sized chunks. I recommend 5-minute intervals, which is exactly what I did. For example, if you typically wake up at 7:00 AM, try 6:55 AM one morning. Is five minutes really going to hurt your day at all?

Stick with a daily reduction of your wake up time, and pretty soon, you’ll be waking up early without a problem. After 6 days of doing this, you’ll wake up an entire half hour earlier. You don’t even need to be this aggressive, however.

Some people will need to ease into this more gradually, and that’s okay. Try one minute intervals – that’ll take you a month to wake up 30 minutes earlier, but you might find it easier.

One more important thing – don’t take weekends off. I’m not saying you have to wake up at 5:45 AM on a Saturday morning, but keep yourself in the mindset of “I will wake up X minutes early.” If you’re on day 7, and you normally wake up a 10:00 AM on a Saturday, set your alarm for 9:53 AM instead. Stick with it.

My Current Routine

I think you now have a good understanding of how I went about waking up early. To give you the full background, I leave for work at my “9-to-5” job at 7:00 AM, to arrive by 7:30 AM. I used to wake up at 6:00 AM, but today (and many days before it), I woke up at 5:00 AM.

I jump out of bed without a problem (maybe a little bit of moaning and groaning, but nothing I can’t push through) and get my day started.

I’m a coffee drinker, so that’s step #1 for me, and it’s something I genuinely look forward to every morning. I suggest you find what that is for you – if you don’t like coffee, find something else you enjoy (like as a particular flavor of tea, for example). Don’t confuse this with “motivation to wake up.” This is just a little bonus – something to make your newly-created habit more enjoyable.

How Waking Up Early Will Change My Life

You’re probably wondering why I wanted to create this habit, and how it’s changing my life.

About 6 months ago, I had an idea for a new website. It wasn’t anything revolutionary, but it was something that I knew I’d be very passionate about, and something that I knew people would find great value in. The only problem was, I knew it would be a ton of work, especially when you consider that I have a “normal” full-time job.

That project ultimately launched in early January of this year, and is now known as The Daily Interview – a site that publishes an interview every day (five days a week), featuring a different internet entrepreneur or blogger.

The reason I’m mentioning the specific project is so you can see that this was no ordinary blog. Not only did I need to publish content 5 days a week, but I would need to spend time reaching out to these entrepreneurs, writing custom interview questions, and promoting each day’s content on the appropriate social media channels.

This was no small task.

Although life outside of my normal job isn’t too crazy, I still like to spend my evenings and weekends with my fiancé. I knew that something needed to change if I was going to pull this off. And waking up early was the solution.

While I do need more than one hour a day to make this interview site succeed, that extra hour in the morning makes the rest of my day, week, etc. so much easier. More importantly, it makes this entire project possible.

I strongly believe The Daily Interview will change my life (and hopefully offer plenty of value and inspiration to those who read it). If you feel you have a project or business idea that can change your life, but can’t find the time to execute it, get into the habit of waking up earlier.

Soon, you too will realize that waking up early can change your life.

Eric Gati is a professional CPA who loves to blog in his free time. You can check out the aforementioned site where he publishes daily interviews with inspiring entrepreneurs at http://www.thedailyinterview.com. You can also find his personal blog, where he documents his journey of building an income online, at My 4-Hour Workweek.

About the Author

I'm lazy, but you can call me Stephen. When you're as lazy as I am, you need superior strategies to live well. My strategies are so effective that I'm productive every single day. As the world tries to figure out how to always stay motivated, I create strategies that don't require it.

Eric Gati @The Daily Interview

Thank you for sharing this post with your readers, Stephen! If anyone has any questions or comments for me, I’d be happy to respond to them here.

Stephen Guise

Of course, and thank you for writing it.

Onder Hassan

This is something I really need to train myself to do.

I’ve been a night owl all of my life and never used to like going to bed early.

But when I eventually did, I would often like to sleep for long hours and not wake up until early afternoon.

I didn’t realise how bad this was for my productivity until very recently. So I did a test and actually woke up at 6am one morning.

The long and short of it was I got so much more done between 6am and 12pm than I ever did in the afternoon.

I had a massive surge of willpower and energy that lasted for hours up until 12pm. It was a great feeling.

I remember reading an article somewhere where setting an alarm is actually not good for you and that ideally, your body should be programmed in a way where it naturally wakes itself up.

It makes sense because there were no alarm clocks in the tribal periods and we haven’t evolved much since then 😛

J.D. Meier

I remember how surprised I was when I finally realized that the secret of waking up earlier was going to bed earlier.

And, of course, the secret behind that was to truly imagine all the benefits I would get from getting a jump on my day.

jamie flexman

Hi Eric, I have an appalling relationship with early starts. On one hand, I work infinitely harder and my day is so much better when I get up at stupid O’clock, but I have reached the point where I cannot rise before my body wants to wake up.

I have toyed with the idea you present, it’s a good one.

One other method which I have thought about is waking with the sun.

Work out the time when the sun first shines into your bedroom (sleep with the curtains open) and set the alarm clock two minutes earlier each day to go along with the sun rising. Of course this can only be done in the lead up to Spring/summer but I think it’s worth a shot.

Thanks for reminding me I need to start doing this!

Kevin Bond

Awesome post! A lot of fun to read and very practical!
I am a morning person myself, and this post really rang with me because I did that same process as well! Haha it’s a small world after all =D
Anyways, thanks for posting this and it was a lot of fun to read!

Eric Gati @The Daily Interview

Thanks Kevin, I appreciate it! Glad to hear you were able to relate.

Eric Gati @The Daily Interview

Hey Jamie, I totally understand where you’re coming from. It’s not easy waking before you body wants it.

I like the idea of rising with the sun – definitely worth a try!

Eric Gati @The Daily Interview

Absolutely. Thanks for the comment J.D.!

Eric Gati @The Daily Interview

Great story, Onder, and that’s exactly what I experienced too. 🙂

Stephen Guise

I smiled at “stupid O’clock.” 🙂

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