The monthly experiment for February 2013 is to wake up early.
“It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom.” – Aristotle
Here at the Monthly Experiments Project, we take on a new personal experiment every month. Sometimes we do it for the sake of fun and curiosity. Sometimes we do it to intentionally create a new habit. This month’s experiment falls somewhere in the middle.
When I was a kid, I loved getting up early and going for a run or just reading a book. I liked the stillness and the quiet of an early morning. I still do.
As I got older (and became an entrepreneur), I became a bit of a night owl. Staying up late, partying or working late, sometimes all night long became the norm for me. I told myself I was more productive and creative late at night. You can read about what happened and how I became a workaholic.
Since I stopped working late a year ago, I’ve been getting up a little earlier. I don’t get up early every day, but I started to notice a pattern that made me want to do this experiment.
On the days I get up early, I feel better and get more done.
Proactive versus Reactive
Somehow, getting up early makes me feel like I’m ahead. Staying up late feels like I’m behind. That might sound silly, but it’s true.
One of the outcomes of the Practicing Mindfulness experiment is that I’m trying to be more proactive and less reactive with everything I do. It’s much better to be one step ahead than to have your back against the wall. It helps you stay in control of the outcome you want.
Another motivation is that I want to write more regularly. When I did the Write Every Day experiment, I found I was more creative in the morning. Writing was easier. It was fun.
I’m writing this post before the sun comes up. The house is quiet. The dog is sleeping at my feet. I have a hot cup of tea and my mind is still. I’m not thinking about all the things that happened during the day, because not much has happened yet. I just woke up, made tea and started writing this.
The act of writing takes place first in our minds, and I find it easier to start with the blank canvas of a new day. – Tweet that
So, I’m going to give it a try for a month, and of course you’re invited to join me.
Tell Me You’re In!
I realize this isn’t an experiment everyone will be interested in. I’ve been a night owl, so I understand if anyone is skeptical about doing this.
Still, if you’re curious and want to try something new, I’d love to have you join me. You can click the link below to tweet that you’re in. Maybe we’ll have some early morning Twitter chats later in the month.
“I’m in! I’m going to #WakeUpEarly with @JohnMuldoon this month.” – Click To Tweet
How To Wake Up Early
Leo Babauta wrote a great post about becoming an early riser. I encourage you to check it out over on Zen Habits.
I’ll write a post with some of my own observations and advice soon. For now, here are a few tips:
- Go to bed early. Your body only needs so much sleep. If you go to bed at 9 or 10, it’s not hard to get up at 5 or 6.
- Get some exercise. When I get some exercise during the day, I find it easier to fall asleep early.
- No caffeine in the afternoon. I like a good afternoon cup of coffee or tea, but it I drink it too late, I don’t sleep well.
- Set an alarm, and don’t hit the snooze. Self explanatory, really. The snooze button is optional.
- Reward yourself. When you get up early, do something you love. Walk, run, read, write, have a nice breakfast or coffee. If you reward your new behavior, it’ll help your habit stick.
That’s it for now. You’ll notice that most of those tips are things you do the day before you wake up early.
I’ve been using the free (and fantastic) Lift app lately. You can join me on there and keep track of your experiment progress. I put some notes on how to do that on the Wake Up Early experiment hub page.
How Early Should You Get Up?
Honestly, I don’t know. I think everyone will have a different ideal waking time. I’m going to aim for something between 5:00 and 6:00 AM. I may adjust that earlier or later depending on how I feel.
If you decide to join us, let me know how early you plan to wake up in the comments.
I’m sure some of you have experience with this. Please share your tips or any advice you have in the comments.