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Why I Wake Up At 4:22am

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When I told my coworkers that I voluntarily wake up at 4:22am every weekday they looked at me like I was crazy. They shared that familiar sentiment of shock and curiosity, colored with the appropriate observation of “WHY!? We don’t have to be at work until 9:15am.”

Let me explain.

Published in: Self Improvement
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Why I Wake Up At 4:22am

  1. 1. Why I wake up at 4:22 AM
  2. 2. I was having lunch with co-workers when the topic of morning routines came up Everyone shared what time they woke up, how much they liked or hated it, and what they did when their feet hit the floor. Then someone said to me: "Someone told me you get up super early, is that true? " When I told my co-workers I Voluntarily wake up at 4:22am every weekday, they looked at me like I was crazy. "WHY! ? We don't have to be at work until 9:15am! " Let me explain
  3. 3. T I've been a morning person since I was a . . / W little kld. . ’ ’ 3 -‘I. . I would stay up past midnight reading Ie Hardy Boys novels or writing programs J. J. in BASIC on my Apple IIGS. In the mornings. my parents came downstairs to find me sitting by myself at 5:30am. I was in the kitchen, eating Captain Crunch, and watching episodes of Mr. Wizard before school
  4. 4. Research suggests people are more creative, energized, and productive in the morning. Here's what the Journal of Applied Medicine says about the strong positive correlation between proactive people and moming people: "Morning people were more proactive than evening types, and people with small differences in rise time between weekdays and free days were also more proactive persons. Sleep length (on weekdays and on free days) and total time spent in weekend oversleep did not show any relationship with proactivity. These results suggest that morning people are more proactive than are evening types. " With that said. .. Here's what I don't believe: - People who wake at 8am (like my wife) are lazier 0 People who need more sleep are productivity laggards 0 That other factors, like circadian rhythms and metabolism. should be ignored Sleep length and time, like nutrition, is different for each of us and requires personal experimentation to be maximized. But even if you're not a morning person, you can still hack the early part of your day.
  5. 5. Being Principled I've spent a non-trivial amount of time "tuning" my morning routine. I don't want to get up and waste time reading Twitter and Instagram. So I designed my mornings around these principles. 0 Get chores out of the way I don't get home until late and I hate coming home to chores (like taking care of the cats). 0 Get my head on straight Plan my day, get my calendar in my head, and know what I'm doing that night. 0 Get smarter Spend undistracted time learning new things. Get my tech news fix and re-share content. - Get healthy Exercise and eat some good food. I can hit these goals about 90% of the time. But some days, I listen to my body when it says "Hey. you're getting sick" or "Yo. that fourth scotch last night was too much! " And I go back to bed.
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  7. 7. The Routine 4:22am - The Alarm sounds. I believe that waking on the quarter or half hour makes it easy to say "I'll just sleep for another 15 (or 30) min. " Sleeping an extra eight minutes feels less useful and incentivizes me to get up. I take those next eight minutes to actually wake myself up, trying to do it slow and with some degree of mindfulness. I sit up, clear my head. throw some sweats on, and put my contacts in.
  8. 8. The Routine 4:30am - Chore duties. Feed the cats, clean their water bowls, scoop litter. Brew some coffee in parallel and fill a giant bottle of water to drink before class. Then run the laundry (I wash and dry, Amy folds). and do some light vacuuming (with a quiet dust vac — I save the Dyson for weekends). 4:40am - Learn. I'm trying to re-learn Italian this year. so I spend 10min every morning using Duolingo to practice different lessons. I found that it wakes my brain up and gets my Duolingo score up for the day. I then try to practice another 10min sometime during the day. 4:50am — Read. I spend 15 min reading tech news sites. I use a Chrome bookmark folder called "Daily Industry Review" to auto-open these sites and then click through. I try to read 1-2 articles per site and will use Hootsuite to schedule them into my Twitter and Linkedln feeds. Long articles get sent to Pocket for reading on the train.
  9. 9. The Routine 5:05am — House logistics. Already at 5am! I will update our budget, take care of our rental properties, and deal with any household logistics that I need to via email. This is mostly managing our budget in the excellent YouNeedABudget software, emailing tenants about any issues. and reviewing notes from homeowners meetings. 5:15am — Plan my day. I spend the last 10min of this part of the morning reviewing my calendar for the day. I move personal and work appointments around as needed and generally get my head around where I'm going to be and who I'm going to be meeting with. 5:25am — Get to the gym. Get ready for the gym and bike to Crossfit. I usually get there about 15min early to stretch and warmup. -
  10. 10. The Routine 6:ooam — Workout or Blog. I workout at Crossfit South Brooklyn on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays during the week, and both Saturday and Sunday on the weekend. Tuesdays and Fridays are rest days in our gym’s Crossfit programming, and on those days I use this hour to work on my blog. When I joined Microsoft I was single and had no after-work responsibilities. I went to the gym after work but then wouldn't get home until 11pm, fully awake and energized from exercising. Not great for my sleep. After a few months of dating Amy she asked me to not spend two hours per night at the gym instead of hanging out with her. A valid request. I changed to morning workouts shortly thereafter. I discovered I loved getting my workout in during the morning, a sentiment that has only gotten stronger since switching to Crossfit several years ago. It makes me feel energized, and I don't have that nagging feeling of "damn it I have to go to the gym tonight" throughout the day.
  11. 11. The Routine 7:15am — Cook, Eat, Triage. After I bike home, I cook a quick breakfast for Amy and myself. I'm usually starving since I work out fasted and will make (just for me) a four-egg scramble with bacon, sausage, and veggies, usually with yogurt and blueberries on the side. Yum. While I eat breakfast. I take my first look at work email, review urgent threads, and see what came in overnight. I maintain lnbox Zero so anything in there is new from the last 12 hours or returned by Boomerang. 8:30am — Head to work. Leave for work. I *love* the R train. 9:15am — Daily standup. Arrive at work for the daily scrum standup. Try to seize the day.
  12. 12. job Small Goals BIG RESULTS This routine represents my ideal morning and I'm able to do it about 90% consistency. The 10% is from things like traveling. being sick. having gone out the night before or having stayed up super late working. I've been able to evolve by setting small goals that work towards a bigger one. Many years ago I was waking up at Sam but I wanted to try waking up earlier. I knew I'd like an extra 30min in the morning. That's a big jump and also has a lot of impact on your evening. I started experimenting small. My goal was to wake up at 4:45am twice a week. then after a few weeks it became 4:30am, then after a few weeks I spread that out to all five weekdays. More recently that has worked with tasks like Duolingo, and even finding the optimal time to leave the house for the subway.
  13. 13. Count All The Sheep Ifyou'Ve gotten this far, you've wondered what time I go to sleep. Remember when I was eating Captain Crunch and watching Mr. Wizard? I slept four to five hours a night. My father is the same way. My guess is I have the "less sleep" gene. My goal is to improve the quality of sleep. Research and plenty of articles suggest it's not the amount you sleep, it's the quality of sleep that helps you become more or less productive. Anyways, I go to sleep at 11pm most weeknights. Now here are some hacks I use to keep the quality of my sleep high. ..
  14. 14. o No coffee after 3pm. I'm uber sensitive to caffeine. 0 No naps during the day. 0 Avoid the computer or iPad for 30 minutes before sleep. Reduce the blue light pulverizing your brain. 0 Don't eat dinner right before bed. 0 Have a tablespoon of almond butter before bed to balance out my blood sugars. 0 Drink one full glass of water. 0 Read for 15 minutes on my Kindle Paperwhite 0 Use a sleep mask. That has added benefits, like conditioning myself to sleep in random places.
  15. 15. V 1 Com Someone remind Me whj I'M doing -tings] (Please) 74
  16. 16. Because when I get home at night, this is my to—do list: 0 Hang out with my wife and S " friends _ o Binge-watch House of Cards ” 0 Enjoy a glass of scotch I I I .1 . _ ‘ - , . 3 > 4 Maybe the better question is. .. Why wouldn't I do this?
  17. 17. Tweet at me I want to hear what your morning looks like. Thank you!

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