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Filtering by Category: productivity

The Zero Four Thirty Experiment

Yes, that is a picture of my giant NPR coffee mug (the mouthpiece is just to give a little scale…)

Yes, that is a picture of my giant NPR coffee mug (the mouthpiece is just to give a little scale…)

So, this summer, I decided to try out a new concept...  In my life, I’ve been neither a morning nor a late night person, but rather I seem to be able to adjust to whatever the alarm clock says fairly easily.  This is especially true if I wake up with any consistency.  

After reading a book called Extreme Ownership and hearing an interview with the author on the Tim Ferriss show, I became convinced I needed to try an early wakeup in order to get some things in my life done.  I am happiest when I start my day with a sense of accomplishment and don’t wait until late morning before I get to do any “work”.  Traffic and school drop-off circumstances being what they are, I would often find myself not getting to any work or personal productivity before 9:30 or so every morning.  Also, hitting the ground running at the whim of two energetic little boys sometimes left me, ahem, a little cranky! 

Jocko Willink, the author of Extreme Ownership, usually puts out a tweet every morning about 0430 - it’s usually just a photo of the face of his watch with the time.  I would continually see that photo in my twitter feed every morning as I had my coffee and breakfast with my family, and it made me begin to consider whether I, too, could take control of my day, and find a better sense of accomplishment by getting a bit of a jump on my daily work.  I also thought that by getting up every day at 4:30, I might be forced to not stay up so late in order to have some “me time”, a habit that was perpetuating a cycle of tiredness and a feeling of not getting to things that are important to me during my day.

I started at the beginning of August, and I honestly thought I would make it about 5 days and quit.  The first couple of days were a little hard, but I had an extensive personal project that motivated me, so I was able to keep at it.  By the end of the week, shockingly, waking at 0430 felt quite normal, and I was habitually waking slightly before the alarm clock, which is normal for me when my body has a consistent schedule.

The funny thing was, I REALLY liked it.  There’s nothing quite as great as a quiet house in the morning.  I had time to accomplish a lot of personal work and projects, practice trombone (with a mute!), and just have some focused alone time at the start of my day, which has done wonders for me mentally.  Here are some other benefits:

  • I don’t feel stressed when it’s 9AM and I haven’t started anything that I need to do for the day
  • I’m able to give my children the attention they need from the moment they wake up, and not be cranky and impatient during the early part of our day
  • I’ve been able to do all my audio and video editing in the mornings, and spend evening time with my wife
  • Trombone practice has been more consistent
  • I have broken the cycle of staying up late, in order to have time to myself
  • My bedtime has shifted earlier
  • I’m no longer tempted to have that 3rd or 4th beer of the night, as I stay up late and get absorbed in working on some project or other.  This has been a very important piece of the puzzle for me.  It’s easy for me to eat or drink alcohol late in the day in order to “prolong the moment", and sometimes I would find myself with food or drink that I didn’t necessarily want, but was just having because I was up and didn’t want the “me time” to end.

One thing I decided early on was that if I got up at 4:30, and I felt tired as hell, then I would give myself a pass to go right back to bed, with no guilt.  That has worked great.  I don’t sweat it if I wake up and feel like I just can’t do it that particular day.  It gives me some flexibility, and again, no guilt over not “achieving” something.  I think it’s easy to get wrapped up in always getting things in, whether we are really up for it or not.  I think this causes a lot of less-than-quality time spent doing things, whether it’s family time, trombone practice, or working out.  Back in my Ironman days, I worked out many times when I should have just taken a nap, or slept in!

So, do me a favor… Do you have any routines, morning or otherwise, that help your productivity and happiness?  I’m curious to hear what works for all of you!  Leave a comment on the website or Facebook.  I look forward to hearing from you!  Oh, and if you need to get in touch, try me about 4:30 tomorrow morning, I’ll be up.  😃



I am NOT talented!

Don't you hate when someone says, "ohhhh, that guy, he's sooooo talented!"  The fact may be, you know "that guy" put in thousands of hours of work over many years to get there... So, is it Talent, or Work?  Comments are always appreciated!  

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