In this week’s episode of The Working With… Podcast, I answer my own question about waking up at 5 AM.
Hello and welcome to episode 33 of my Working With Podcast. A podcast created to answer all your questions about productivity, GTD, time management, self-development and goal planning. My name is Carl Pullein and I am your host for this show.
In this week’s episode a change from the usual format. This week, the question comes from myself and is about why I decided to join the 5 AM Club, made famous by Robin Sharma and what I have discovered about waking up at this un-Godly hour and why I believe you should be doing the same.
But, before we get into this week’s question I’d like to ask any of you wonderful listeners who also watch my videos on YouTube if you have anything you would like me to cover in my Todoist, Evernote or Working With Work series, please get in touch and let me know. I love answering your questions and I would like to open this up to my YouTube channel as well. All my contact details are in the show notes, but if you won’t look at those, you can simply email at email@example.com
Okay, it’s now time for me to hand you over to the mystery podcast voice for this week’s question:
This week’s questions from… Carl. Carl asks: So, Carl why are you waking up at 5AM every morning?
Good question Carl.
Well, I guess most of you have heard people say that waking up early is a positive habit to have. It energises you, it gets you ahead of the day and it put you in front of everyone else because very few people do it. And sure, I also had heard all those things, but honestly, I was never really tempted to join those early birds. I preferred to allow myself to think I was a night owl and that mornings were just not for me. It’s a very comfortable way to think and it meant I could continue deluding myself into thinking I was simply not made to wake up early.
But being comfortable is not really a good state to be in. When you are comfortable you are not growing. You are not developing and you are not becoming better. Over time if you allow yourself to remain comfortable you begin to stagnate and when that happens you soon find your whole life stagnates. You no longer get those promotions, your health begins to decline, you stop making new friends and seeking out amazing people and mentally you stop learning. Comfortable is a state that should scare you.
This is why I made the decision to start waking up early. I knew I was making excuses for not waking up early by deluding myself into thinking I was not an early bird. I also needed to find time to study Korean language to fluency over the next twelve months and after many failed attempts of studying in the evening there really was only one option left. Study Korean between 5AM and 6AM every morning. That knowledge has been spinning around in my mind for a few months now. So, I decided to do something about it. I began waking up at 5AM on Monday last week to study Korean.
Now, I’m not going to deny it, it was not easy waking up at 5AM. The first day was hard, so was the second. But I persisted. It takes a lot of self-discipline and, I believe, more importantly, a purpose. I have a clear purpose for waking up at 5AM. I want to be fluent in Korean by June next year. The benefits to me of being fluent in the language of the country I live in far outweigh the luxuries of staying in bed. The thing that has really surprised me is that after years of telling myself I cannot wake up early, I can. And it is not as difficult as I led myself to believe. Now, after two weeks of doing this—yeah, I know it’s still early days—I love waking up early. I no longer feel exhausted during the day and although I do go to bed an hour earlier than I was doing before, nothing much else has changed to the way I do my work.
I have also found I enjoy learning Korean—something after many failed attempts before I have never done—and I feel I am progressing. There have been days where I felt I didn’t learn very much, but I have noticed even after a short period of time I can read hangul faster (the name of the Korean characters) and I feel more confident when using taxis, ordering coffee and shopping.
So, should you join the club? Yes, I think you should. But there are a few things you do need to know before you start.
It’s all well and good waking up at 5AM, but if you have no plan to do something constructive with the hour between 5 and 6 you are going to waste the opportunity it gives you. If all you do is check your social media, email and worry about work, then you are not making the most of this wonderful hour. I have made it a rule not to check my email or social media during this time. This one hour is for study. Once I am fluent in Korean I will find something else to learn. This is a very special time. No one is disturbing me… Well, my little dog is. He doesn’t understand why we are waking up so early. You need to make the most of this quiet time. You can use it for exercise, meditation, planning or learning or a combination of all these things. What you do need to do is have a purpose. A reason for waking up early. Without that, you are going to find it very difficult to find the motivation for lifting your head off your pillow when your alarm goes off.
You should also be ready to adjust your evening routine a little. The first couple of days I went to bed around the same time I always had done. This was a mistake. Because I was waking up around an hour earlier than I used to do, that lost hour of sleep was really hurting my effectiveness and productivity during the day. After a couple of days, I realised I needed to go to bed earlier to compensate for the earlier start. That made a very big difference to the way I felt during the day. Now. Instead of going to bed at 11:30pm, I am am heading off to bed around 10:30pm. It does mean I have to get my work finished by 10pm so I can go through my evening routine and plan the next day, but overall all I have had to do is spend less time reading what my friends have been up to on Facebook and Instagram and that is no real sacrifice.
You need to be committed to this. If you break the chain, so to speak, and skip one or two days, you are not going to maintain the progress. I am being flexible. I don’t wake up at 5 am on a Saturday or Sunday. I wake up at 7 am instead. I used to wake up around 8 am on a weekend, but as I am waking up an hour earlier during the week, I decided to wake up an hour earlier on a weekend. I also made sure I changed what I was studying on a weekend too. Instead of studying via notebooks and books, on a weekend I watch videos of news readers and interviews in Korean. This way I can learn the right intonation and enunciation in my target language. Whatever you decide to do with your extra hour, make sure if you do decide to maintain it on a weekend you do something a little different. It adds a little variation and variety and this will keep you fresh and prevent you from going stale.
Whatever you decide to do with your one hour, the biggest benefit you will find is you gain an hour of ‘me-time’. In a world where so many people are complaining about not having enough time to do the things they want to, when you begin waking up at 5 am and you spend that first hour of the day only on yourself you will feel a lot less stressed. It gives you time to think, time to work on yourself and time to do the things you want to do. This is your hour to do with whatever you want to do. Spending the time on developing yourself—becoming a better you—can only be a good thing. You can start that hobby you have always wanted to start, you can read the books you have always wanted to read, you can do the exercise you have always wanted to do or you can learn the language you have always wanted to speak. All these reasons are win wins for you. This is your hour after all.
Well, thank you very much for listening to this episode. I hope it has given you some motivation to get yourself out of your bed early in the morning and begin a new life of learning, self-improvement and growth. Remember, this is your time—time to spend on yourself—don’t waste the opportunity. Great things await you and all it takes is lifting your head off the pillow at 5 am in the morning. Good luck and please let me know how you get on and what you are doing with your special hour.
It just remains for me to wish all a very very productive week.