Friday, September 24, 2021

Practical Guide To Waking Up At 0500 Everyday

There is a sense of calm early in the morning. Everything is silent, there is no hustle bustle of daily routine. It's the time of the day when you can get a lot more done in a very short period. 

I can do a shitty job at describing what it feels like. But to really understand what I mean, you have to experience it yourself. 

Almost a year ago, I start listening to the book "The 5AM Club" on Audible, it was just like other self help books that try to teach you one thing. I used to listen to book and not really read them. I always wanted to read books regularly but in my messy schedule, I never got around doing it consistently. 

Listening to "The 5AM Club" changed it for me - I am very grateful for its advise. I have been reading consistently since about a year now. On an average, I read around 2.5 books in a month. That's an exponential improvement over 0!

What Changed?

I think you must have guessed it by now, I decided to try out the advise mentioned in the book. The book talks about getting up at 5AM at least 5 days a week so I started waking up at 5AM all weekdays. 

It was super hard to do it initially but then slowly but steadily it started getting better. This post is an attempt to document what worked for me in the hope that in someways it can help you make the transition to "The 5AM Club".

First Thing - Read The Book

There is no shortcut to this, you must start by reading/listening to "The 5AM Club". I am not getting incentivised in anyway to say this, I do like the book very much. It's a quick and easy read, you will feel like you are reading a story. At times it does get repetitive (just like any other self help book) but you could easily skim through those parts. 

The Why?

Now you need to think a little bit and find answers to the following question
  • Why do you want to get up early? 
Our mind is a big trickster, if you do not have a strong reason to this question, you are at a huge disadvantage. When the time comes, the mind will come up with a million reasons why it such a bad idea to get up early. If you do not have a strong reason, you will lose the battle. Your fluffy soft bed will attract you like a magnet and you will go back to sleep. 

It has happened to me a million times, but once you have a strong reason to get up early, something changes in your mind. It sort of knows that you are determined to get up early and supports you in doing that. 

For e.g. When you have to catch that early morning flight, do you not get up early? Thats the thing, have a strong reason for getting up early. The reason could be anything like

  • I want to read 
  • I want to go for a walk
  • I want to get some calm, peaceful time for myself
  • ...
My reason was "I want to read and become a better version of myself".

The How?

Start Sleeping Early

People want to wake up early but they don't sleep early. As simple as it sounds, most people will fail at this point. 

Nobody is a Superman, don't try to stay up till midnight and then expect that you will wake up at 5AM. It might work for a day or two or even a week, but it's not sustainable as an habit. 

Getting up early doesn't mean we sacrifice on good sleep, it just means adjusting your sleep schedule a little to reap incredible benefits of rising early. 

Start slow, I started by adjusting my sleep schedule by just 15 minutes every week. This means, I was sleeping 15 minutes early every week and waking up 15 minutes earlier in the morning. I continued that for 2 months and voilĂ ! I was sleeping at 2200 and waking up at 0500.

Before you go to bed

You need to setup the environment so that it's ripe to sleep early and rise early. Here are somethings you could do

  • Set an alarm for when you want to wake up and keep it at a place where it's out of your reach. It should be placed in such a way that, to turn it off you would have to get up from the bed. It needs to be in the same room that you sleep but not reachable from your bed. There are two essential things here
    • You should be able to hear the alarm - so it needs to be close enough
    • You should not be able to stop it without getting up from the bed 
    • This simple trick does the difficult job of getting you out of the bed easily. 
  • To prime the environment further, think about why are you getting up?
    • If you plan to read the book, keep the book that you want to read next to the place where the alarm was kept
    • If you plan to walk, keep your shoes next to the clock
    • You get the point right?
    • This will motivate you further to actually quit the laziness and work towards achieving your goals. 
  • Stop staring at screens 60 minutes before you plan to sleep. This includes no mobiles, TV, iPad or laptop. 
  • Before you sleep, remind yourself about why are you doing this? Remember "The Why?" thats driving this whole thing. It needs to be a strong force, something that you always wanted to do.
After you wake up 

The brain will make excuses and it will tell you to go back to bed and sleep for another 5 or 10 minutes. It's a trap, don't fall for it, remember "The Why?" and get out of bed.

Knowing what you are going to do after you get up, helps a ton! Follow a schedule, it helps getting into some sort of rhythm. Here's my rhythm:
  • 0500-0530: Getting fresh
  • 0530-0600: Meditate 
  • 0600-0700: Reading 
  • 0700-0745: Any form of exercise i.e. run, walk, jog, skip, yoga etc. 
  • 0745-0800: Breathing exercises with family (started after the COVID19 hit us)
  • 0800-0830: Shower and getting ready
  • 0830-0900: Breakfast
  • 0930 onwards: The work day begins!
I am not like the Subodh from Dil Chahta Hai, I do not follow the schedule to the minute. But jotting down what you are going to do when, improves the chances of that thing getting done. 

Your rhythm doesn't need to follow mine, experiment a little and do what works for you. By the time it's 0930 so many important things get done and I start my day with a feeling of content!

One specific problem that I struggled with a lot was, feeling very sleepy especially while Meditating or Reading. I tried a few things but the thing that worked the best was to follow this advice 

Keep Calm And Drink Coffee

I usually make a cup of hot black coffee and sip it while reading. It makes me feel super fresh and my brain feels sharp, fully ready to absorb all the new ideas!

Final Thoughts

I am not going to sugar coat the reality, getting up early consistently is hard - at least for me. Doing this consistently needs a lot of discipline. 

There are days when my body doesn't feel like getting out of bed and I don't. I do fall off the wagon and the rhythm breaks but keeping the focus on "The Why?" helps me get back and continue doing it. 

I hope this memoir helps you in some way, if it does or doesn't or if you have a better way of doing it, please do let me know!
Have some Fun!