A month ago in my previous article “The Level of Success depends on the Level of your Personal Development” I wrote about how limited thinking can hinder your level of success. I shared my new years resolution and the main areas I want to focus on to create a Level 10 Life and hoped to inspire people to try the same and share their stories.
In this article I want to cover a topic that seems to be the most difficult one for many people: Getting Up Early.
My observations in the past, showed me that I simply didn’t have the energy to work on my side projects when I came home. If you sit in front of the computer all day and focus 8 hours straight on the screen you just feel exhausted.
After work, I usually go to my sports club or hit the gym and I come home at 10 o’clock. I then start with cooking and by the time I finish dinner it is almost 11.30pm…there is simply no way for me to do work at this time anymore. I believe that many people have a similar problem.
By pure conincidence I came across “The Miracle Morning” by Hal Elrod and got inspired by his story. His book didn’t reveal anything new, but the way he packaged his message inspired me to try it out. He basically created a morning routine with 6 activities. Each activity takes about 10 min. which makes a total of 1h.
I’ve been doing it for over a month now and want to share my experience and some tips in order to help you to overcome the hurdle of getting up at 5am. But before diving into the tips I believe there is one important thing you should consider first: The main reason why I see most people struggling with getting up early (myself included in the past) is simply that they don’t see any reason to do so. No one wakes up at 5am just for the sake of getting up early. You need an inner drive or a purpose that get’s you excited. Imagine back in the days when you were a kid and you couldn’t wait for christmas to come to unpack your gifts. The night before christmas day, you can’t even fall asleep because you were so excited to get up the next morning. So next time before you go to sleep, try to create this feeling of excitement.
The first month
To track my progress I created a simple table. I monitored when I got up early, when I was struggling and when I didn’t do it. The first week was great. It was a new feeling and therefore I was really excited. Of course I was tired but the excitement level was higher than the pain. Second Week the pain slowly took over. It is really hard to keep up the energy level consistently. Since I’m going to training about 4 times a week, my body barely had time to recover and I almost gave up. That’s why I decided to focus on the week days and turned off the alarm for the weekend and just sleep as much as I need. This works fine now because my body slowly gets use to it and wakes up automatically around 7.30 / 8.00 (which is still better than 9.30 before) During the 3rd week, I could almost feel that it is becoming a habit. I still feel tired in the morning but overcoming it becomes easier. An interesting observation I made was that I actually felt bad when getting up late, because I felt that half of the day was over and I wasted my time.
x = woke up at 5.00 am
x* = almost gave up, woke up at 6.00am
0 = no alarm clock, woke up when body was recharged.
The morning routine
When I started a month ago, I tried to implement the techniques from the “Miracle Morning” with a system consisting of 6 exercises (each for 10 min.):
But after a few days i realised that it just felt too stressful for me and I caught myself watching the clock all the time to switch activities. Therefore I reduced the amount of activities and adjusted the timing so I had enough time to think and reflect. My current activities include:
- Meditation 15 min
- Reading 15 min
- Exercise 10min
- Journaling 15 min
Alright, in the following I will describe in detail how my morning looks like
1. Putting the alarm far far away…
I used to have my Smartphone next to my bed, functioning as my alarm clock and also because I used to read articles when lying in bed. With my “new” routine, I now put my Smartphone across the room and read a physical book or on my kindle instead. By putting my phone far away I’m forced to move myself out of bed to turn it off. This can be super annoying in the morning but it does the job. By getting out of bed I put myself in motion which makes me half awake already. On the way to turn off the alarm, I…
2. … drink a glass of water …
… that I prepared the night before. I put the water next to my phone to hook this new habit with the old one of turning off the alarm. Preparing the water is key. If you have to go to the kitchen in the morning to get water, you probably won’t do it because it is just too much effort. What I also like is, to put a slice of lemon or mint in the water. This will give you a fresh breath in the morning and it also tastes good.
3. Going to the bathroom
After turning off the alarm and drinking the water I usually go to the bathroom to brush my teeth. After this little ritual I’m usually fully awake and ready for my morning routine.
Activity 1: Meditating
Coming back from the bathroom I start with my meditation. Why Meditation? I never really thought about it before and always wondered why so many successful people see it as an valuable part in their life. I felt that during the day so many things are happening and it is really hard to find a slot to sit down for 20 min and just let the mind rest and to find focus. Since I started with meditating I’ve notice some small improvements regarding the noise in my head. Maybe it is just an illusion but I feel that my mind calms down more easily now, which is great because it gives me headspace to think about how to progress. If you want to try it out, I can suggest to download the “Headspace” App. This will give you a good introduction to meditation and the first 10 sessions are for free to learn the basics and see if this is something for you.
Activity 2: Reading
“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” – Harry S. Truman
After my meditation session I usually grab a book which is in reaching distance and set the timer on my phone to 15 min. I never was a big fan of reading because I never really “had the time” during the day. Also at school I barely finished a book because of lack of interest. Now I have no excuse anymore. My new years resolution was to finish at least 6 books around business and personal growth, that interests me and which I think are beneficial for my personal growth. Now I quite enjoy reading in the morning because it is so quite. No distraction, no email, no people, no phone calls. Just focus. I also started to look into the techniques of speed-reading, which is an amazing skill to have, but super hard to master ( I think the advantage of being lazy is to look for things that makes you more efficient and saves you time;) ).
Activity 3: Exercising
Now its time to get my circulation going. I usually do 4 exercises with each exercise for about 30 seconds in one round. 5 Rounds results in a 10 min. mini workout with no break in between. If you feel that 10 min. are still too long, start with 5 min. A very useful and free app I use for this is Interval Timer.
After my 10 min. workout I quickly jump into the shower. I use to switch between warm and cold water (10 sec.) to strengthen my immune system and it really wakes you up if you’re still sleepy 😀
Activity 4: Journaling
After the shower my mind and body is relaxed and ready for the last activity. But before I start, I usually prepare my morning coffee. I just love having a good and fresh grinded coffee in the morning while filling up my journal. It makes me happy and relaxed. The idea of keeping a journal came to me after reading Richards Branson autobiography. He always kept a journal, where he jotted down ideas for new businesses or took notes of his meetings or thoughts. I tried to keep a journal before but probably failed to always have a pen with me and gave up. Now I just attached the pen to my journal and it works way better. It is not important how beautiful your journal looks like. It is not important to write down in detail what you did yesterday. If you think about it as something that no one will ever read and it is only for yourself, you will not worry about topic and format. Just start writing whatever comes to your mind and things will appear automatically.
“Writing are thoughts crystallized on paper” – Tim Ferris
Now think about this: by the end of all this, it is roughly 6am for me and I still have 2 hours! before going to work. Plenty of time to take a crack on my side projects. During the first month I managed to create a new personal Blog and worked on my first product. I honestly don’t believe that I would have been able to achieve this with my old mentality. Of course everything is still work in progress and there is a long way to go, but I think the first part was the hardest and I laid the foundation. One brick at a time. I know this can be hard for people with families but I believe if there is a will, there is a way. Even if you wake up at 6am, you will still have plenty of time. Just try it out, and see if it works for you. Don’t close your mind for new things.