At 4am, most human beings are dead to the world, fast asleep in their beds. That’s not the case for me. At 4am, my alarm rings, I jump out of bed and kickstart my day. By the time most people are just about waking up, I’ve gone to the gym, listened to an audiobook and got a head start on my task list for the day, writes Sabri Suby, founder of digital marketing agency King Kong.
I believe everyone can and should experience the power of such an early wake-up call. But when I advise people to wake up this early, I often hear them argue that they do better work at night than in the morning.
I counter this by pointing to the long list of billionaires who wake up early, and comparing them against those that don’t. It doesn’t take a genius to realise that the majority of the world’s most successful people are making the most of that time before the sun comes up.
In fact, I’ve never met a night owl who does really productive work from 9-12pm – it’s always pseudo work. The whole ‘night owl’ excuse is generally just for people who love to sleep in.
So what are the tangible benefits of such a dramatic shift to your sleep schedule?
Firstly, it gives you an edge, as you can pretty much always guarantee you’ll be awake before your competition. Secondly, it allows you to get a nice block of headspace before the craziness of the day begins.
I personally save an incredible amount of time by getting up earlier. It only takes me nine minutes to get to the office because I avoid traffic, and I get my workout in at the gym. By the time most people have arrived at the office I’ve had my coffee, had my work out, listened to my goals, listened to an audiobook and ripped through two or three really important tasks.
Waking up early is also about the importance of discipline and routine. For me, I like to set the tempo for my team and be the first one at the office. I don’t just talk about work ethic, I don’t talk about working hard and setting goals: I do it every day.
In order to get enough sleep, I go to bed at 9pm
What am I going to do between 9pm and 10pm that’s so important? The answer is probably not much – and this is probably true for anyone reading this article, too.
My girls are asleep long before 9pm, so I’d rather get up and get to the office early, so that I’m able to get home and spend some quality time with them before they go to bed.
And what should you use the extra hours for? Well, it really depends on what you are trying to achieve and your personal goals. To start with, take an audit of your time. What are the 20 per cent of your inputs that are giving you 80 per cent of your output?
Spend more time on that 20 per cent: that could be learning, audiobooks and anything that’s going to compound over time and sharpen you up. It might be spending time with your family or cutting off commute time – it all depends on your personal goals.
Consistency is key
Go to sleep and wake up every day at the same time, even on the weekends. There’s a whole circadian and biorhythm to your day, so when you wake your body releases serotonin, testosterone and all these other chemicals that allow your body to learn and work to a certain schedule. If you keep your body humming along to this natural rhythm, you’re putting yourself in absolute peak performance for when you need to work.
I used to think if I woke at 4am on weekdays I could still sleep in on the weekend, but it doesn’t work like that. All that’ll happen is you’ll go to bed later the next night but still wake early, feeling crappy. You need to keep that regimen going every day for optimal performance.
This is the same reason I advise people to slowly make the change to waking up earlier. Try waking half an hour earlier each week over the space of a few weeks, until you get to that 5am or 4am mark. Once you’re there, it’ll take at least a month to start feeling the benefits and enjoying results.
It makes me laugh when people suddenly start waking up at 4.30 every day for a week and say they don’t feel good. Of course you don’t feel good: you have to reset your whole circadian rhythm to get in sync. Remember, it won’t happen overnight.
It isn’t easy to wake up early, but then again, being successful and productive isn’t easy either. If you want to transform your life, then transform your everyday. Make the time for what’s important so you can get the edge you need to achieve your goals. Whether it’s spending more time with your kids, improving your health and wellbeing or building a business, that golden hour of time before the sun rises will be your greatest asset.
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