How waking up at 4:30 AM changed my perspective on life

I have been in a quest to be more “productive”. For me, productivity is about being able to concentrate deeply on one task in order to generate a great output. I started my quest by hitting the books(and some audiobooks). Each of the books below gave me great insight into what it means to effective with my time.

I learned that in order to be able to be more productive, I needed to be able to work with laser focus(Deep Work). However, this endeavour required uninterrupted time. Like most people, I am constantly “busy” with life, however not with the things that produce a meaningful outcome.

After learning about the habit loop (The Power of Habit), I decided to create a new habit for myself:

Waking up every weekday at 4:30 am for 21 days.

Based on the habit loop, a habit can be deconstructed into three steps plus one step. This would be the framework for building my new habit.

  1. Cue:

Setting an alarm for 10:00 pm that prompted me to follow my night routine.

  1. Routine:
  • Small workout previously to going to bed
  • Do an activity that settles my brain like reading a book
  • Prepare my desk and room for waking up at 4:30 am
  • Go to bed thinking about all the great things I am going to accomplish in the morning.
  • Watch a short motivational video
  1. Reward:

For every day that I wake up during the weekdays at 4:30 am and on Saturday at 6:30 am I am going to give myself $50. I will do this for 21 days for a grand total of $1,050. However, if I break my steak I start again from $0.00.

  1. Belief:

I believe that if I follow this habit for the next 30 years until I turn 60 years old I would have gained 4.4 years in time! And not only any time but quiet, valuable productive time.

The Result — Rise and Shine

The first couple weeks were extremely hard. I slept with my Apple Watch that would vibrate at 4:30 am to wake me up. However, most nights I would snooze the alarm and sometimes without even realizing it.

After much trial and error, I decided to use my phone as my alarm (which I regularly do) and set it away from my bed. When my phone went off at 4:30 am I would be forced to get up.

The first day I accomplished it was incredible. 4:30 am is a beautiful time in the day, where the whole world is quiet and sleeping. I was able to accomplish so much in just three hours. As the days progressed it got easier and giving myself everyday $50 kept me motivated. However, I did notice that waking up this early required changing more than my night routine.

  • I would feel tired by 3:00 pm so I would need a coffee.
  • I had to constantly drink water to keep myself hydrated.
  • I carved out 2 hours in the evening for family time.
  • When going out with friends and co-workers I would have to leave early if I wanted to wake up at 4:30 am the next day.
  • Sometimes I would shower at 4:30 am to keep myself from going back to bed.
  • Had to avoid driving in the morning to work

Overall it has been a great experience that I am going to continue. I ended up buying myself some great headphones and really nice computer speakers.

My advice to you if you are attempting this challenge is to work on your habit loop and don’t underestimate the power of momentum and rewards.