Can you turn yourself into a morning person?

I’m a curious person. I try new things very often, and I like pushing my body and my mind and seeing how far I can take it. Aside from this idea I’m going to explain in this post, I’m currently also doing a podcast a day for 365 days.

Other things I’ve done recently:

  • I’m trying to do more cardio to get my resting heart rate below 50.
  • I’m planning another podcast idea, and should be launching it soon.
  • I’m making myself a new website. Well, a couple of websites actually.

I don’t say this to brag, I say this to give you an insight into how my mind works. I’m no stranger to hard work or pushing myself physically and mentally.

I am however, a stranger to early mornings. And I have been for nearly 30 years.

For most of those years—certainly all of my late teens and twenties—I’ve told myself: “I’m not a morning person”. I’ve told myself I hate early mornings. I’ve told myself I’m just a Night Owl™, a man destined to never be good at getting up early because it’s just not me.

It doesn’t feel nice getting up late

I don’t enjoy being this way. Over the last year for reasons unknown to me, I’ve got steadily worse at getting out of bed. The times I’ve been getting out of bed have slowly gotten later. The snooze button has been hit more times than I could count. And as we all know, the devil is in your snooze button.

Once I’ve snoozed my alarm a couple of times, I get out of bed, groggy and unprepared for the day, and just wanting to go back to sleep. I’m grumpy for a bit. All I want to do is just go back to bed. I daydream of bed whilst I’m brushing my teeth.

I usually start work around 9am, but I’ve been getting out of bed around 8.15am–830am. That makes me rush around, trying to get ready. So to top it all off, I’m groggy, grumpy, rushing and on the back foot every morning, all before 9am.

Not good.

“But…I do my best work on an evening!”

The reason I’m terrible at getting up on a morning is because I like working late at night. I enjoy the peace of the time after 9pm. I enjoy scurrying away into my loft room and working on some stuff. I usually do this a couple of nights a week, but those late nights tend to carry into the other days too.

It generally means that I don’t get to bed until 11.30pm, and I usually get to sleep sometime after midnight.

Just look at my data from Fitbit for the last week.

Not a single day last week did I get to sleep before midnight, and I stayed up way too late at the weekend.

So I sat down and reflected on all of this stuff last night. I’m going to bed too late, and getting up too late. I’m getting a rubbish start to every morning, and feeling like I’m playing catch-up all day.

So what do I do?

I do two things that I know best:

  1. Look at what successful people do.
  2. Try an experiment.

1) What do successful people do?

Whenever I’m stuck with something or my way isn’t working, like many other people: I turn to the internet. I look around at some successful people. Or rather, I look around at some well-known people who claim outwardly that they’re successful, and see what they’re doing.

Before I even opened my web browser though, I actually knew some successful people’s morning habits. I’ve been interested in the idea of getting up early for a while because a couple of people on my radar already do it. People like Dwayne Johnson and Jocko Willink have been teasing me with this idea for a while.

I also did the Google thing. Some of these people might not still maintain this schedule, but I know one person does, and I’ll get to him in a minute.

  1. Dwayne Johnson is famous for getting up at 4.15am.
  2. Jack Dorsey wakes up at 5.30am.
  3. Richard Branson gets up at 5.45am.
  4. Tim Cook is known for sending emails at 4.30am.
  5. Jocko Willink gets up at 4.30am every morning.

Jocko is my main inspiration for getting up earlier. I’ve read his fantastic book, Extreme Ownership, and I loved his TED talk with the same title.

He’s an ex Navy SEAL and he gets up at 4.30am every day and takes a photo.

There’s clearly a pattern. Lots of successful people in high-powered jobs who have to perform to a very high standard every day of their lives choose to get up stupidly early on a morning.

2) All this calls for an experiment, and it’s called Four Thirty AM

After reflecting on all of this: my inability to get up early enough, how it’s affecting my day negatively, seeing what successful people do, and mainly just my endless obsession to improve myself and try new things, I took the plunge.

In fact, I did it this very morning.

So right now, it’s about 6.15am. I’ve been writing this post for about 40 minutes at a time of the day that is completely alien to me. But it feels good. It feels like I’ve discovered an extra couple of hours in a day I never knew I had or that I knew existed.

Extra time

When I sat down at my laptop at 5am this morning, I felt like I was in a episode of The Twilight Zone. I felt like I’d been given an extra couple of hours to do something with, that suddenly I was at 26 hours a day.

You know when you’ve planned an evening out with friends, then it gets cancelled and suddenly you’ve got a free few hours? That’s what I feel like right now.

On the first day of this, the pain of getting up at 4.30am is far less than the joy of discovering extra time. I’ve found a time to write and blog, something I’ve always enjoyed doing and never found the time in the day for me to do it.

I’m going to keep you updated about my experiment.

Here’s a bonus: me groggily talking about this experiment at 5am this morning.