How to get up at 4.30am and get sh*t done
If you are thinking about how to squeeze more time into your day, you may want to experiment with waking up really early. I wake up between 4 and 4.30am in order to get my workout in and then focus on my personal projects. With a three-year-old, a full-time job and responsible for food in the family, there is really no other time in the day where it can be prioritized. Me time is truly for me when I’m the only one awake! After months of doing this, I know the challenges first hand and since the primitive part of your brain is always there to prevent you from anything uncomfortable, your number one enemy will be yourself – which is usually true anytime you want to grow and or work on anything worthwhile. There is no magic or playbook or workbooks to get up early. You just need to keep doing it.
Here are the tips to start the experiment and convert it into a habit:
1. Make it a “there is no other choice” decision
2. Tell yourself it is a 30 day experiment
3. Tell someone (your partner) about your plan
4. Set your alarm (silent, vibrate, blow the house down… whatever it takes and agreed upon – see #3)
5. Prepare your self-talk to combat your reptilian brain that wants to keep you away from discomfort
6. Plan out exactly (step by step) what you are going to do before you go to bed and when the alarm goes off until you are fully awake
7. Go to bed early
Listen to the podcast here with full transcript below:
Hi, this is Howie. So you want more time to do what you want to do. So about nine months ago, I mapped out my days to figure out where I could squeeze in more time. Like you, I want it time to myself. I need it to have a routine working out having time to do my own projects because there wasn't really any more time in a day I could squeeze out. So when I mapped out sort of my typical day from the moment I wake up till going to bed in 30 minute increments and there wasn't, it was pretty clear to me that it was either in the morning or late at night when everybody has gone to bed. Right? So that's the only time where I can control it and make sure that I spend that time doing the things that I wanted to do.
I think for me going late was something that I could do, but I felt that my motivation would be pretty low at the end of the day after having gone through you know work playing with my three year old you could just go into the day of, of making decisions and using your, your, your mind to, to sort out all sorts of different challenges and problems. So it was really the only choice I had, which was waking up at four or four 30. So there was something that I decided to do. And at that same time I started listening and reading lessons from Jocko Willink. He's an ex navy seal. He wrote this book called extreme ownership. And his thing was to get up at 4 or 4.30 to work out and, and to take care of yourself, take care of your body.
And, and so I was prepared to try it. So what I did was through a series of trial and errors really developed a, a plan for me to do that. And really the first thing you need to do well is to ask yourself, and that's really what you want to, I mean, do you really need time to do to, to, to do what you needed to do. Could you, after mapping out your day, find time to squeeze in you know, a time for your activities? You don't, you don't have to wake up at early. But if you want to, you have to do that first step, which is you have to decide! You have to decide that that is the only choice because that’s the only way in which you can succeed. And this, it takes adjustment!
I'm not going to lie, it's gonna take some adjustment for your body to be OK with it. So the first thing you need to do is make the decision, make that decision. No choice decision because that's actually gonna help you as you get up in the morning. So after you've done that, the second thing to do from a mindset perspective is that this is an experiment. You, you don't want to do it. It feels like it's not getting the results that you want. You're not actually making that routine a habit. You don't have to do it. So make it a 30 day experiment. So what I talk about for 30 x life labs, this idea of 30x, 30 times, do it 30 times. It doesn't have to be a decision that you make for the rest of your life.
That can feel so intimidating. So 30 times. 30 days. And then once you feel you have made that decision, it's going to be an experiment. You need to tell someone about your plan, especially if you live with somebody. I have a wife, we sleep in the same bed. I have to let her know because I'll be waking up at 4.30, an ungodly time to get up. So tell someone about it. Oh, the other thing about that too is when you tell someone about it, it helps you stay committed. Like for me, it became a motivation factor. I told her I was going to wake up and if I didn't do that. It's kind of a, it's kind of a douchebag move to, you know, set an alarm and not wake up.
Because I think no matter how soft your alarm is, it's gonna have some impact on your partner's sleep. So set your alarm. That's important. For me, I started off using a, a vibrating alarm from, from a Fitbit. And that vibration was actually pretty strong, so it not only walk me up but he'll still walk my wife up, which was just not a good thing to do. So I actually transitioned over to using my iPhone and just having a buzz that is one time it's really low really late and that they helped me wake up and I'm not a heavy sleeper. So that's actually good. And it's something that you can program on your own. So set up your alarm. If you someone that is a super heavy sleeper, it's going to be a little bit interesting.
You have to figure out what works for you. And you know, really negotiate with your partner cause it's not something that you can probably just do alone. But all right, set your alarm. And then the next thing is you need to prepare your self-talk. So what's really important to hear is as you go through your journey of trying to make this a habit, waking up at 4, 4.30 in the morning, for example your brain is going to tell you every time when you wake up that early and say, why are you doing this? You have this self-talk from a brain which is programmed to keep you comfortable, is going to say: Hey, what are you doing? Go back to bed. Just come back to bed. It's nice, it's warm, it's cozy. You're not going to get much done anyway. Who does this? You're not a morning person.
You're gonna have this voice inside your head telling you to quit. When I first started it was so strong. I mean that voice in my head was so strong. He was just telling me like to go back to bed. And the self-talk that I had was and is still today: hey, you're already up. Your sleep is already interrupted. Even if you go back to bed, you're not going to get the rest that you hope and you won't be able to do the things that you want to do. So you get up, your sleep is already interrupted. So you go through what you plan to do. That happens till this day, after nine months of doing this. But be prepared for the first week, month, it's going to be strong.
Your brain is going to be pushing you for comfort and so you need to prepare for it. Really be clear about why you're doing this and to help you do that, the next step is plan out exactly what you're going to do. Plan out exactly from the moment your alarm hits to what you're going to do the next few steps and also prepared the night before. So, so this is what I do. The first thing that happens when my alarm goes off is I head straight to the bathroom. And on the way there, I pick up my exercise clothes, which I placed the night before. Make it as easy as possible because at that point in time, at four o'clock in the morning, you're not going to be going through a lot of a lot of planning. You are just trying to get yourself to a place where you can actually think and be up.
So I grab my stuff, I go to the bathroom, I change, and I use the toilet. So right after that I go downstairs and switch on the lights. I go workout. Whether it's going outside or the Peloton in the house, do something right for me. That is the first thing I do to get my body up, I exercise. And after that exercise, I do my stretching, I do some meditation and then I go straight into my projects. Whether it's a reading, writing, filming, that's how I start my day. So you need to plan on exactly what you do. And the last thing that you need to do for you to wake up at 4.30 in the morning is go to bed early.
You just have to go to bed early, right? You're not gonna still be able to wake up at 4 or 4.30. Everybody needs sleep. I did cut back a little bit on sleep. I used to sleep about eight hours. By waking up at 4.30, I try to, I try to go to bed absolutely by 10. So that's six and a half hours. So most of the time is between six and a half to seven hours. So I cut back about an hour and my body adjusted. At first. It was really tiring, very tiring! I think, I believe in the first couple of weeks my body was really tired and I had this numbing pain almost in the middle of my forehead for the first few days.
But I pushed through it and the body adjusted and now I feel so much better. So I'm gonna run through to seven steps again for you. Number one is to make that decision, make that decision to be no choice decision that you don't have a choice. This is the only way. That's number one. Number two think about it as a 30 day experiment. Think about it as an experiment. It's not a, is not a lifelong decision that's so big. It's scaring you off from starting. Number three, tell someone about your plan. Whether it's your spouse, cause you have to or tell a friend. Tell someone that you're going to do this. Number four, set an alarm. Whether it's a vibrating alarm like mine, like a little buzz. If you live on your own and maybe you hit two alarms and maybe you make sure you shake up the bed when you wake up. Depending on how heavy a sleeper you are. Number five, prepare your self-talk. Make sure that you are clear on your why, but also how can you combat that brain of yours that's gonna want to stop you from waking up, to give you as many excuses as it can to get you back to bed. What are you going to say to yourself? And number six. Plan out exactly what you're going to do right from the moment you wake up to the morning and go do go through the few hours in the morning and plan out what are you going to do the night before to make that happen. So plan it out. And last but not least, number seven, go to bed early. Go to bed early so you can get the rest that you need. And you can get up at 4.30. Well, those are my tips. Your seven steps.
I would love to hear from you. What's working, what's not working, what are you struggling with? But till then, good luck. I'm just going to say this. You have, we all have one life, right? So go all out. Do what you need to do. Well, thank you. I'll see you again soon.