Waking up early is not for everybody. If you ask 100 successful person you can find, I bet you will meet a good portion of people who wake up as early as 10 or even 12 afternoon.
In fact, there is no sufficient research to say whether waking up at 5 will make your day more productive or not. That’s why it is quite foolish to deem yourself less productive compared to those who are early risers.
It’s not the time to wake up that you’re after. It’s the high quality, well-spent time with activities that can propel you forward that you should pursue, making your day as complete as it gets because it’s tailored in accordance with your biological needs.
However, that’s not the point that I’m trying to make here. While I believe you can get things done in any time you please, I also think that the right activities at certain time can get you the required spurt of momentum to get the best out of your day. So it’s kind of a mixed stance that can get you a very different response on, depending on where you stand.
Anyway, let’s get back to the title.
Why I Wake Up at 5.
Let’s imagine this. You find yourself wake up at 5 am. The room is cold, the sky is pitch black, and it’s raining too. For most people, life starts at 8 (I’m not referring to you, Jakartans). It means you have yourself a 3 hours head start before everyone else.
In a fast-paced world like the one we live in today, 3 hours is a lot of time. It really is. Many people are overwhelmed with routines and busy schedule that they can barely enjoy the process. But if you can seize that 3 hours, it is an additional resource at your disposal that you can use for leverage as you please.
If you have such a massive advantage in a race, would you let it go to waste? Would you gladly let yourself leave the arena empty handed? I don’t think so. I know life is not always about a race, but there are many times when it is.
Landing a job opportunity, getting a full bright scholarship, or becoming a successful entrepreneur within your industry. These marathons are not the type of races that can be won overnight. Every improvement (big or small) is essentially incremental to determine where you will end up in the long run.
Now, let’s assume that you have this 3 hours advantage over most of your peers every single day for 5 years straight and you use it in the right manner. One small reflection and one planning at a time can make you 1% more happier whilst being 1% more efficient at a time. Now, compound those numbers for 5 years. If that’s not a game changer for you, I don’t know what is.
You see, whether you win or lose, always remember that you always assume the biggest responsibilities for every outcome. Don’t shift the blame. Own it. It may make you feel guilty at first, but it will also make you realize that you have the ability to rectify the situation.
Don’t let this opportunity go to waste.
That, my friend, is exactly why I wake up at 5. Waking up as early as I can allow me to think more, do more, and plan earlier. It doesn’t guarantee me more happiness obviously, but I can assume more control instead of relying on something else. That’s a start.
Right after I wake up, I make my bed and then start to sit for a good 10-15 minutes to plan everything that I want to do for the day. I never really go into micro detail here, but at least I know what I’m going to do.
I don’t have to waste 10-30 minutes just to think about what should I do next while procrastinating and watching puppy videos on YouTube, acting as if I have nothing else to do.
Then, I will put my headset on and listen to some morning music, albeit at a very low volume. I’m a firm believer that getting my mind in the right zone is essential to get the best out of my day. This is why I love waking up early.
During these time, I can be as selfish as I could. I can do as many self-improvement activities as I could. After all, self-improvement is a selfish activity in its truest sense. Everything is about me, me, and me. I don’t have to worry with any other responsibilities because this time window is something that I fully deserve for the sake of my own wellbeing.
Some people say that being selfish is no use to others and can be detrimental to your surrounding. Well, I beg to differ. If I use these early hours to improve myself, to be selfish towards bettering myself, than I’d gladly shoulder the consequence.
A better me will be better for anyone else too. If I go through the day uninspired and not even feeling connected with myself, how can I connect with everyone else around me? How can I spread enough positivity when I can’t even influence myself into thinking and feeling happy? I will end up giving more harm than good to my surrounding and that’s not what I want.
One of the most underrated part about waking up as early as 4.30 is the solitude and the silence. This is the perfect time for me to think only about myself. To reflect on my progress and contemplate about my mental state. To ask myself if I’m already happy or there is something else that bothers me. Not everyone can afford a psychologist to check up on their state of mind, sometimes you just have to do it yourself.
Sure, I can also do it in the afternoon or even midnight, but it just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
Doing this routinely provide me with more purpose and clarity as to why I do what I do. Consequently, this will also make me more calm and well prepared to take on any challenge thrown at me.
Let me tell you this. It’s a fantastic feeling when you’re less stressed going through your day. I’m not lying if I say that I wish I know about this sooner. Being able to experience that moment of silence, getting your mind in the right zone, and knowing the feeling of having a laser focus. It’s not only relaxing, but also gratifying.
This state can be achieved in myriad of ways, be it listening to a soothing playlist or asking questions like “how was my day yesterday?”, “how do I feel with myself at the moment?”, “where do I see myself in 5 years?”, or “what are the things about myself that I want to improve today?”.
It might not make your daily task significantly easier to do, but it will transform your day-to-day experience bit by bit. When you know your personal state very well (thus knowing your very next direction), it will put your mind in a good position to be perfectly aware of your surrounding (including yourself), focusing on the now, and finally letting it flow when it’s time to perform.
You realize that you have limited control on the things that can happen to your day. You acknowledge that there are just too many uncertainties that could affect your day. But you also realize that none of that actually matters.
On the other hand, you know that there are only certain things you have full control over. Things whose results are entirely up to you. These are the ONLY things that you should focus on. This way, having a laser focus will be easier to achieve because you are ‘aware’. You manage to override the noise and focus on what you can do.
It’s not the only way, obviously, but it’s a pretty appealing alternative that you can always give a try. Based on my upbringing, learning to calm and recalibrate myself before the storm is always the best way to crush things ahead.
Lastly, I love waking up for the most obvious reason. It gives me more time to tackle the hardest activities first.
It’s clear as day that each person has their own biological time and this will always vary greatly from one person to another. Some people can better evoke their peak performance when the sun goes down while others have the ability to let their brain do the heavy lifting at midnight.
But since this post is about my perspective, I will elaborate mine.
My peak game always arrives in the morning. That’s when I feel like I can move a mountain if I put my mind into it. Aside from light meditation, self reflection, and daily planning, I hit the gym from 6.30 until 8 and then proceed to do my college homework right after that. I also prefer to finish my freelance project during the day.
Being able to hit the gym as early as I can is half the battle for me. It can be very tiring but on the other hand, I also need it to get myself ready for the day physically and mentally. I feel more energetic and mentally prepared right after, which is why I usually channel those spurt of momentum to finish my freelance project and college homework.
Also, it’s not a coincidence that I always feel more inspired, more spirited, more energetic, and less stressed when the sun still shines bright. That’s because around this time, I feel the least pressure due to realizing that I still have a lot of time left to finish what I’m doing. Yes, I do acknowledge that this one point is highly subjective and some people are built to function at night. That’s okay.
Despite the title, the actual purpose of this post is NOT to encourage you waking up at 5. It’s never about that at all in the first place.
It’s to encourage you to find your biological time span. To identify when you function at your peak and then design your day around it. Taking an advice plainly without adjusting to your condition is equal to giving yourself an antibiotic when you tear your achilles.
The hardest part might be to pinpoint the ideal schedule when your routine is strictly affected by other things such as college schedule or meeting appointment. For example, you prefer to wake up at 10 but you have class at 7. That’s got to be it, isn’t it? It sucks, I know. But let’s not complain any further here.
This is where your ability to adapt and identify the room for trickery is truly tested. For example, you can always give yourself a 10-20 minutes power nap in between to quick recharge yourself during the day. Another trick is to gather all your hardest task in certain time window. Having more focus and more energy will translate to a better quality of work.
People whose performance are greatly influenced by outside context will perform better when they work in a coffeeshop. Meanwhile, others require a calm setting like library to get the best out of their potential. Then, there are certain group of people who believe they’re a way more efficient workers when listening to a couple of crescendos movement and symphonies. You get the point.
Do you have any other idea to implement to your routine? Good. Write it down and start executing it tomorrow. What? So it doesn’t work too well, huh? Great. Let’s try something else. Sometimes the hardest part is to start for the first time. But once you get around it, everything will feel like a subconsciousness and a series of action that you hardly have to think about getting started. You just do, naturally.
So, what are you waiting for?