Any of you around when I tried living like Benjamin Franklin for an entire week? Failing miserably at half his routine, but rocking the 5 am wake-ups?
I don’t know how the man did it (oh wait, yes I did – he never took care of his kids or house!!), but I give him credit for being completely obsessed with his trade. And hey, the world got some decent benefits out of it, eh? ;)
But seriously, he was no joke – check out his “Scheme”:
[I failed at the 2 hour reading/dining mid-day slots (who can take 2 hours for this?), and then the “examination of the day” in the evenings because I pretty much wanted to pass out from exhaustion by 10pm. I also found it hard to focus on goals and life all morning long and eventually opened up my laptop to start working before anxiety took over!]
A helluva exercise to take on though, and one which I highly recommend if you’re having trouble getting a good rhythm down yourself.
Here are our original two postings on this if interested:
It’s been three years now almost exactly since I gave this experiment a shot, so I thought I’d share how I currently feel about it all, since I’m proudly still going strong in the *waking up early* department :)
I don’t wake up at exactly 5 am on the dot anymore (which I blame on my kids), but I routinely get up 1-2 hours earlier than the rest of my family every day*, usually around 5:30/6:00 am.
Here are all the reasons I still do it:
#1. The stillness of the mornings is so peaceful! When was the last time you could just sit there by yourself in absolute quiet? Without interruptions? It’s hard as hell to wake up some mornings, but the second I sit down in my cozy corner of the house with my cozy warm coffee in my hands, I’m reminded right away of why I still do this :)
#2. It’s nice to set your *own tone* for the day, instead of outside influences. I used to wake up to the sound of crying babies or cell phones going off, but when you wake up around 5 am ain’t no one is ready to pester you yet! It’s as nice as it is empowering to wake up on your own accord.
#3. Early wake ups slowwwwwws down time and helps you appreciate life more. It’s so easy to get caught up in the quickness and routines of the day, that if you don’t take the time to breathe and hit “pause” at any point you’ll speed through the days much faster than you want. Waking up early helps slow you down a bit and gives you some good time to reflect and remember why you’re on this green Earth of ours! And it’s not to be busy 24/7!
#4. It’s nice having 100% YOU time. One-two hours to do whatever the hell you want: hustle/pray/build/write/create/read/anything except for sleep :)
#5. It feels damn good knocking out solid work first thing! I still do a version of the “Powerful Goodness!” recommended by B. Frank every morning (i.e. praying/reflecting), but with multiple kids in tow I tend now to jump right into my work and get a good start for the day before the madness ensues. Makes for a great time to knock out any of the stuff that tends to get pushed to the side, as well as any lingering passion projects too.
#6. I work/think much more efficiently in the mornings. This was another nice surprise because I always thought of myself as a “night person.” Turns out I work and think much more clearer (and faster) though in the wee mornings than I do evenings?! And since you’re not really *gaining* any free hours by waking up earlier because it means having to go to bed earlier, it’s like swapping out crappier hours with more focused and energetic ones! Kinda cool.
#7. Early wake-ups helped me to shut down the laptop in the evenings. First, because I’m usually way to exhausted to even do it, haha, but secondly because I’m now able to get most of what I want done every day jumping right into it vs having to wait on other peoples’ schedules. To hustlers this might sound like the opposite of a good thing as we’re so conditioned to work 24/7, but for all those who are self-employed you’ll know just how hard it is to delineate the lines between professional and personal time. Especially if you work online where people never sleep!
#8. I’m much less anxious these days! I didn’t realize how much I actually carried until starting this experiment, but looking back I was always a bit anxious going to bed knowing that I never got everything done I had wanted that day. Now though, no matter what’s going on, I always know I at least have an hour or two FIRST THING in the morning to deal with whatever’s on my brain! And even though it’s not any *extra* hours as mentioned above, just knowing I can get to it right away helps sooth me over as I lay down to sleep.
#9. I go to bed at a reasonable time now. This was probably harder at first than the actual wake-ups themselves, but after I got going I was so drained from the long days that I started actually *looking forward* to going to bed early, haha… No more 12am-2am bed times for this guy! I’m in bed like an old man by 10pm’ish every night! Party time!
#10. Lastly (and most surprisingly?), waking up early has stopped me from snacking and drinking beers throughout the night! This was by far the most unexpected result of this newly formed long-term habit. Since I knew I had to take showers and brush my teeth earlier with the earlier bed time, I got in the habit of doing both of them the second we put our kids down to sleep at 8. And then since I’m all cleaned up and in my jammies by then, the temptation to grab a quick snack or drink quickly diminished! Because who wants to have to brush their teeth all over again?? Not me!
My wife constantly makes fun of me for this, but my improving health (and physique) should hopefully woo her back eventually ;) And this is a trick you can use whether you want to wake up early or not! Just grab your toothbrush the second you start having cravings, haha…
The downsides of waking up early?
There are some downsides, of course, depending on your lifestyle:
- You have to go to bed earlier than you’re used to, because if you don’t it’s like walking around with a hangover all day!
- You might miss out on late night activities, whether with friends or your wife (hubba hubba)
- You might not catch all your favorite late-night sports games
- You might find you don’t work as well in the mornings than evenings!
- You might find you have to wake up at 4 am instead, if everyone else wakes up at 5 am in your household (ouch)
- You might already have a perfect schedule and don’t need to go around messing with it!
- Or you might just find that you are decidedly not a morning person and will never wake up early if your life depended on it :)
Different strokes for different folks, but it might just be the lifestyle change you need to improve your life.
Try it out for a week and see how it goes! If it sucks, just stop, but if not – keep going! I surely never expected to still be at it three years later…
Next on the list: tackling Benny’s 2 hour lunch/reading scheme! Maybe I’ll even do it with bifocles on and in a library he helped bring to America too ;)
PS: “Despite creating some of the most successful and popular inventions of the modern world, [Benjamin] Franklin never patented a single one, believing that they should be shared freely.”
– The Franklin Institute
*I only wake up extra early on *work days*… I use the weekends to fully refresh so I’m ready to roll again come Mondays. I don’t think you could keep an early routine going EVERY day and not burn out?