We all want to get more things done during the day but very few of us actually manage to do that. I find myself running like a hamster in a wheel sometimes trying to finish all my projects but by the end of the day I still have a bunch of stuff left and I have no energy to do anything else. Have you felt the same before?
We often say “I wish there were 48 hours in the day!” But no matter how much we want that we still cannot control the time. At the same time we can control our schedule, we can control when we go to bed and when we wake up.
When I heard that Steven Aitchison (a blogger I greatly respect and admire) had created a guide How to Become an Advanced Early Riser I knew that I had to check it out. I do not want to give away all the secrets but I can say that the guide really works.
Steven says that anyone can ditch their alarm clock and start waking up early effortlessly. At this point I can’t really ditch my alarm clock because I have two little girls who are my alarm clocks. Every morning my precious double trouble brigade wakes me up whenever they want to and often the first thing I see is some trouble or a fight over a toy.
However by following Steven’s advice I managed to get a better night sleep. Restorative sleep is the magical pill against stress, depression and loss of life balance. If you are well-rested then the entire world looks hundreds times brighter even on a rainy day. I hope that one day I will again be able to live on my own schedule, but this is a topic for another post.
I want to let Steven talk a little bit about his experience with being an early riser (he knows all the answers to your questions anyway.)
1. Why did you decide to become an early riser?
It was a combination of things really. I had been looking at different ways to make my life better and found myself increasingly short of time to do work, socialize, and study everything I wanted to learn about the mind. The tipping point was when I nearly lost my job because I had gone in late, for the umpteenth time. I was put on a 4 week improvement plan and advised that if I was late again, not to bother coming back to work. I did improve, so much so that a few months later I was being considered for a supervisory role, but decided to turn that down and leave instead with my head held high.
2. What was the most difficult part of the transformation into the advanced early riser for you?
The most difficult part is the motivation. I used to get up at 5.30am and say to myself ‘What the hell am I doing this for?’. You’ve got to have a great reason to be able to get up early in the morning. If you get up early to watch back to back episodes of ‘Two and a half men’, you’ll get pretty tired of getting up early.
I have amazing reasons to get up at 4.30 in the morning. I have goals and dreams that I want to achieve and getting up early allows me to get a step closer to my goals.
3. What does your typical day look like?
4.30 – 5.00 – Get up looking forward to the day ahead, in fact really excited about the day ahead. No alarm clock to rudely awaken me out of a good night’s sleep as I get up naturally.
5.00 – 5.15 – Check in with important emails, prioritizing what needs to be answered now and saving other emails for later replies.
5.15 – 5.45 – Check in with connections on SU, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. I have recently become the Guest Post editor at TheDailyBrainstorm and linking with new exciting people is one of the remits here so this part of the day is important.
5.45 – 6.00 – Cup of coffee and walking around the kitchen (I do all my thinking and come up with some ideas whilst walking around), put notes in my ideas book.
6.00 – 6.30 – walk for two miles or some other form of exercise.
6.30 – 6.40 – Meditation or relaxation
6.40 – 7.00 – Write for new eBooks or work on the blog, follow up with connections.
7.00 – 7.15 – Get the boys up for school and wake Sharon up to get ready for work
7.15 – 7.30 – Shower, brush teeth. Make sure the boys are actually up
7.30 – 8.00 – Spend time with my wife just talking about the day ahead, dreams, chilling. Having breakfast with Sharon, toast and tea whilst boys watch a little TV (if they are ready ) 8.00 – 8.15 – Last minute preparations to get house in order, school bags, lunches for the boys etc, kiss Sharon goodbye (very important )
8.15 – 8.30 – Take boys to school
8.30 – 8.45 – drive to work whilst listening to a business or personal development book on my iPod
8.45 – 12.00 – work as addiction worker
12.00 – 13.00 – Go home for lunch and check in with connections. Grab a coffee, open letters.
13.00 – 16.45 – work as addiction worker
16.45 – 18.00 – Spend time with Sharon talking about our day, chilling, cup of coffee and talking with boys if they are around. Take them to clubs if necessary.
18.00 – 19.00 – Write, emails, connect, put dinner on if I am making it, otherwise Sharon will do it.
19.00 – 20.00 – Sit down to dinner with Sharon and the boys and talk about day
20.00 – 22.00 – Coaching calls, write some more, deal with more emails,
22.00 – 22.15 – Get the boys ready for bed and hug goodnight
22.15 – 23.30 – Chat with Sharon, watch TV, read
4. Do you believe that anyone can ditch their alarm clock and become a happy early riser?
I have no doubt in saying that anybody could ditch their alarm clock and learn to wake up naturally. Put it this way, if I said to you I will give you $100,000 if you can wake up at 6am every morning without an alarm clock, I bet you would be able to do it. It’s all about motivation. The motivation for me was to discipline my mind and take control. getting up without an alarm clock was an experiment in mind control for me. I have now been getting up naturally for around 15 years or so.
5. Is your family on the same schedule? If no, how does difference in schedules affect your relationships?
My family is definitely not on the same schedule My wife, loves her bed, however I have noticed that she can no longer have a lie in at the weekend like she used to do. My two sons are bed lovers as well.
My schedule does not interfere with my wife’s or my sons as we all go to bed at the same time during the week, usually about 10pm. My wife and I stay up and talk in bed, or read, watch TV or whatever until about 11.30 – 12am, so I still get to spend all that time with my family. Only I get up at 4.30 – 5am and steal time for myself and work on my own projects before waking Sharon and the boys up at 7am.
The other thing about working when nobody is up is that I don’t feel guilty about working. I work in the evenings when Sharon is watching TV, to unwind, and the boys are doing their own thing, I feel guilty about not spending that time with Sharon and the boys, so I make sure that when I come home from my day time job that I spend a few hours with my family before going to work up stairs. That’s why the weekend is so important for us as well, as it’s family time.
6. How do you maintain your energy level throughout the day? I personally could sleep for 6 hours but then I feel dead on my feet in the afternoon. What is your secret?
Ah! The secret sauce
I speak about that in the guide, but I guess it is not really a huge secret.
I take what I term as ‘micro naps’, usually two throughout the day. I get the afternoon slump that most people get, and the reason for this is explained in the guide, and I deal with this by going home for lunch and having a 10-15 minute nap. It’s a very light sleep, and I usually nap at my desk at home whilst listening to some relaxation music.
If I feel the need I will also nap at work for 10 minutes. The trick is knowing how to steal 10 minutes at work .
I also incorporate a few other practices as well, but I don’t want to give too much away.
7. What is your biggest motivation in life that keeps you going day after day and creating amazing guides like How to Become an Advanced Early Riser?
More and more I keep asking myself the same question: ‘What am I leaving behind?’
When I first started blogging and writing, it was an ego thing. I wanted people to tell me how interesting I was or how good I was, but quickly realized it was something much bigger than that. I also want to improve as much as I can. My first guide ‘Lucid Dreaming’ is not a masterpiece, but you can see the difference in writing from the guide ‘Lucid Dreaming’ to ‘How to Become an Advanced Early Riser’. My next guide will be better than the one before.
My real motivation is that I don’t want to leave this earth having not given anything back, and having not left, what Chris Guillebeau talks about so well, ‘My legacy’. I want to be doing something worthwhile, something that has meaning, and something that will help another human being. There’s so many shitty things happening in the world today, and I want to be someone who contributes to people saying ‘It’s not such a bad world after all.’
Thank you Steven, I greatly appreciate your answers and tips that you have shared with my readers.
Please feel free to ask me or Steven any questions in the comments below. When does your regular day start?
Keep it balanced!