The Magic of Waking Up Early
Waking up early can lay the foundation for creativity and focus.
I wake up early every single day. I’ve always loved to wake up when everyone is sleeping. As a child, when I slept over at my grandmother’s house, in the early mornings, I used to love faint sounds of boiling water from the downstairs kitchen. I’d tiptoe downstairs just to sneak a peek at what my grandmother was up to. As the sun shone through the curtains, the peace and serenity of the morning is what gets me out of my bed. But, waking up early does not equal productivity.
It simply promotes focus and creativity. It is your mindset that will allow you to make full use of your focus and creativity throughout your day.
Your Morning Brain
If there was a time of the day when our brains are most receptive to stimuli, then it would be the morning hours immediately after you wake up. Famous people such as Tim Cook from Apple, Bob Iger from Disney, and Indra Nooyi from PepsiCo all wake up around 4 am every day.
These CEOs all have no time at all during the day. They are bombarded by everyone else’s requests during the day while attending meetings all day. They all treasure the morning hours to give them uninterrupted solitude to allow them to focus their mind on their work.
Many of these CEOs engage in morning exercise, watch TV, check e-mails, and read the papers. They all have a routine that gives them clarity.
According to this fascinating study, your brain shrinks throughout the day. Then, after you are rested overnight, your brain will return to its full size the next morning.
So, when your brain is the “biggest” in the morning, take full advantage of it.
The Satisfaction of Being the First At the Table
I’m not sure about you. But, I’ve always loved a head start. Who doesn’t? If you had just one more hour than everyone else, wouldn’t you want to make the best of that hour?
I look at my day as a giant meeting that never ends. People will come and go to join the meeting during the day. But, by far, I’m the one who drives the meeting. I’m also the one who is held accountable for the results of this meeting.
A little preparation for this “meeting’ of my day is needed every single day. During my morning hours, I’m preparing for this “meeting” of my day.
What better way to show up to a meeting than to show up with results?
I always create something in my morning hours or tick a few boxes off my todo list so that I always show up to my “meeting” with results. This way I won’t feel bad if my productivity isn’t up to par during the day or an unexpected incident occurred that derailed my day.
Making Space for Creativity During the Day
I’m a big believer in creative people’s ability to procrastinate. I believe that we all need mental space to be able to be creative throughout our days.
Waking up early is about the ability to create that “mental space” while you have full control of your day.
Mental space is what we all want. This commodity is “scarce” if you have an overflowing todo list, if you have infinite distractions, and if you are sitting in meetings all day long.
I close my eyes during the day to clear my mind. But, most often, I need more.
When I center my mind in the morning and create a wide-open space in my mind, this is what happens:
When I’m in the car, trying to drive my son from point A to point B, I ponder on the topic that I’m going to write the next morning. I diagram the structure in my mind. Then, suddenly, an original idea comes in that magically tie the entire structure together in my mind.
I store this idea and the structure in the mental space I created in the morning. I treasure it until I can write the article.
If I don’t create extra mental space in the morning, this original idea and the diagram of the structure have nowhere to go but in the garbage can.
It’s hard enough to think up original thoughts, to not being able to store it due to a lack of mental space, no thanks!
Emotional Focus Leads to Intellectual Focus
By far, there’s a sense of emotional cleansing when I’m working in silence in my morning hours of reverie. It’s an emotional bath. After enough sleep, problems, worries, and emotions from the previous day don’t seem as important.
By focusing on the immediate present, I am setting up my day with objectivity. With objectivity, comes a sharp intellectual focus.
This type of intellectual focus allows me to write down the problems I will try to solve today, how I will go about to solve them, and what is the bigger picture.
When you have intellectual focus without emotions, you are more likely to focus on the journey rather than the outcomes. Most of the emotions come from a focus on the outcomes. By focusing less on your emotions, you are focusing more on the journey.
“Life is too short,” she panicked, “I want more.” He nodded slowly, “Wake up earlier.” — Dr. SunWolf
Maybe you don’t need to wake up at 4 am every day. But, you can wake up 30 minutes earlier than you normally would. What would that do for your day? Would you be able to focus your day, take the emotions out of it, and make space in your mind?
What would your day look like, if you tried that for one day?
Thanks for reading.