How to wake up early in the morning using 15-minute shifts?
Having been a night owl all my working life for the past decade, I never found anything special in being a morning person. My usual routine was getting up at 9–9:30AM, getting ready and going to office by 10:30AM, which meant that my work started at 11AM and I got free from office work not before 7:30PM. After losing most of my day, I did not have much of an option except the night to explore any other activities that I wanted — movies, books, courses etc. I got so comfortable with this routine that I never really wanted to sleep before 1–2AM and got trapped in the vicious cycle of never waking up early.
The disadvantage was that I ran in a different mini-timezone than most of my peers and even family — be it having meals, working or any other activity — everything ran an hour or two later than everyone else, which delayed every small task for me. I started feeling that my time was controlling me rather than the other way around. I found myself struggling to get hold of my routine. I tried several times to get up early and change the cycle but it was always quite tempting to just stay awake at night and continue to do what I was doing instead of specially waking up and doing the same thing in the morning. I never expected much of a difference.
However, all of this started costing me my health. Wrong eating habits, messy work schedule and late night eye-straining activities pushed me to make things right. So, I started taking baby steps and here’s my journey.
I knew that if I tried to wake up at 6AM, it would last only for a few days and I would quit it soon. Since I was waking up at 9:30AM, I started waking up only 15 mins early — 9:15AM and continued it for a few days. This was easy. Once my body clock got set at 9:15AM, I started waking up at 9AM. Even 30 mins of a difference started making me feel right from the start of the day that I had 30 mins extra at my disposal. I used this time to do some physical activity — walking/stretching etc. consistently.
Simultaneously, I also kept sleeping 30 mins early. I continued this 15 min effort every few days and achieved waking up at 8AM within a month. My next milestone is 7:30AM and eventually 6AM. And boy! the results are magical. Somehow 2 hours in the morning feels much more than the same 2 hours in the night and the reason is my energy level. Since my energy level is highest in the morning, I think better, focus better and perform better.
Right after I get up, I go for a morning walk for about 30 mins. While I am at the walk, I listen to an audiobook or youtube videos etc. This whole process of just 30 mins increases my energy manifold. Since the mind is free in the morning, I get more ideas to better execute my work. Besides, these 30 mins improve my health, knowledge, exposure and energy level. Once I am done, I enter my day being much more active and focussed. You can customize this to any physical activity that suits you.
I use this focus to better plan my schedule and make notes/to-do lists of the top things that I must execute in the day. I follow this up with my morning chores and a bath followed by a nutritious breakfast, all before 10AM. All these activities take around 2 hours for me in the morning but the effect is amazing compared to my previous schedule.
The increased oxygen in-take from the morning walk has eliminated my daily coffee intake, which earlier forced me to stay up at night. Better planning keeps my day more in control, which increases my productivity. Since my meals are on time and there is little to no eye-strain before bedtime, my health has significantly improved. The best advantage? Since my critical tasks are done more in daytime than night, psychologically, I feel all the time that I have more time at hand instead of chasing time throughout the day. This enables me to make better use of my evenings, doing the things that I actually love and want to do— reading books, exploring stocks, spending family time etc. I covered about 7 books in the past 45 days, did a lot of stock analysis in detail, spent quality time with family and much more, which was just not happening in my light-night curriculum.
I am trying to make this better everyday by pushing myself by 15 mins shifts. If you are someone in the same boat, do try the 15 mins shift method and share your results.
All the best waking up early and seizing control of your day!