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Early to bed, early to rise is changing my life

The most accessible life hack I ignored for years

Photo by Ben Blennerhassett on Unsplash. Also it is not me.
this is a snippet of my upcoming 2017 year in review

I was in a rough place at the end of 2016. I wasn’t sleeping or exercising enough, I was irritable, and I thought I was either going to get fired from ConvertKit or quit due to burnout. I was also in a cycle of getting sick ever couple of months, which had never happened to me before.

I didn’t really pull out of it until around March, and it started with focusing on exercise first. I’ve written this before, but fitness is the key cornerstone habit for me. It’s the trigger that sets off a successful day. When I’m moving, I want to eat better, and I’m also tired at the end of the day. I feel better about myself and do better work. It’s the domino that starts knocking others over.

I had redlined for most of 2016, and was paying for it. 2017 was a much better year for personal and mental health, and that was a big hit.

No work after 7:00 pm, wake up at 5:00 am

For most of my life I’ve worked late, getting an extra hour or so in after dinner. I always felt like there was something else to do, either with ConvertKit work or on my own side hustles. I changed that in 2017 for two reasons. First, when I worked later I wasn’t spending as much time with my wife and son, and that was taking a toll that I could not recover form.

Second was that if I was working late, there was no chance I was going to wake up early. Which leads to the second part, I started waking up much earlier. I’ll say this loud and clear.

The key to waking up easy is to go to bed early. The key to going to bed early is to stop working and allow your mind to cycle down.

I totally get all the reasons to hustle on your own projects after work. For me, that was time I needed to spend with family. Even once my wife went to bed, it’s better for me just to go to bed then and wake up at 5:00 am to hustle. Everything has been better since I made those changes. Not easy, but better.

I had quick chat with Jocelyn K. Glei on Twitter about sleep, and she had a new podcast episode about the topic! Check it out for the science of sleep, and in general her podcast is great! One of the best quotes is:

“What we’ve only come to realize recently is that the brain is pretty far from resting during sleep… the brain is actively cleaning synapses and reinforcing important ones. So not getting sleep means you’re not doing your house keeping.”

3 quick tips for getting to sleep earlier

1. Stop Working Earlier

What’s maddening about this practice is there’s not a great hack for it. I just have to stop. One sub-tip here is that I write down what I accomplished during the day, and then my top tasks for the next day. Doing this in the last 10 minutes acts as the cue to turn off work mode in my head.

2. Put the phone away

I do this by charging it in another room for the night. I don’t sleep with it in my room, which also helps. There’s not a true reason for it to always be next to me, if a loved one has an emergency, they should call 911 first, not me.

3. Stretch, meditate, or take a walk

I try to meditate in the morning, so I stretch and mobilize in the evening. Like writing down tasks, it’s the cue to my body that it’s time to wind down.

These 3 practices have made it much easier for me to fall asleep at night, and then wake up earlier in the morning! Then I truly have time to myself for whatever I want to do. Being married with a 2 year old, it’s really the only “me time I have each day. I can exercise, write, meditate, read, and truly approach the day on my own terms.

I’d love to hear if you’ve become an early riser in your life, and how it’s changed. I’d also be interested in the counter-point! Are you a night owl? Do you think 7 hours of sleep is excessive? I’d like to hear from you too!