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?
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I’ve been getting up at 5 or sometimes even earlier for over a year now (because I’m commenting first :) I like it, I work really well in the early morning assuming I have coffee. I’ve also been pretty disciplined about getting to bed earlier, and that’s mainly because I’m past the partying part of my life. Good riddance!
The coffee does help immensely :)
3 years! J$, that’s quite an accomplishment.
Definitely seeing more waking up at 5AM posts lately, maybe it’s because I’ve tapped into a stream of people who are trying to further themselves a ton. I think I’ll give this a shot, but man, I am not a morning person! Maybe I’ll stop snacking and eating:).
Also, Franklin only got 6 hours of sleep a night? He’s a beast!
Yeah – this crowd online is BIG into productivity/efficiency in their lives for sure :) And *experimenting* too – where I think the biggest changes come in, as a lot of the things we try *don’t* end up sticking! But you gotta test things out to see what works and what doesn’t, right? Hopefully the early wake-ups do with you if you indeed give it a shot :)
stick, but it’s those that do that really accelerate us forward!
I started getting up at 5 about a month ago after reading The Miracle Morning. I don’t do everything he recommends but I have enjoyed the quiet time reflecting on my day.
I always hear about that book!
Do you think it’s worth reading even if you’ve already realized how powerful early wake-ups are? What are some of the things he recommends that you’ve incorporated into your routine?
I’ve been getting up at 5:30 and it’s worked out great for me. It’s nice to have some time before the kids get up (my kids usually get up pretty early). I’ve been thinking about getting up a little earlier and trying a jog or some type of exercise first thing in the morning, but I haven’t been quite had the motivation to actually do it yet.
That would be an excellent addition if you can pull it off! The one area I currently lack the most in life is exercise too :(
I love this post. I’m self-employed and set my own schedule. I’m glad the way that you didn’t try the argument that you get more hours out of the day. I like that your body seemed to adjust to getting up earlier by a normal bedtime. I like your challenge about giving it a try for a week.
The best part is that you sleep on the weekend. It makes me reminisce about sleeping on the weekends and our babies snuggling in bed with us as they woke up.
I’m impressed by you hitting the 3 year mark! Great job.
Thank Kim! I’m enjoying the weekends a helluva lot more now that my baby is sleeping through the night better :)
I am not a morning person (super crabby, don’t want to talk to anyone, etc) but I have trained myself to get up every day between 4:30 & 5am. I don’t have to be to work until 8 but frequently go in earlier because I am up and ready. I am way more productive when I have those extra hours in the morning. I generally go to bed around 10:30 (after the local news) and rarely wake up to my alarm because I am already awake. If I happen to oversleep, I have a hard time getting on track for the day. My weekend wake up time is whenever I happen to wake up. Usually that is by 6 am, but would love to sleep until 10 or so but my body can’t lay in bed that many hours! The joys of getting old!
Oooh yes – being in the office before others makes you look SO GOOD too! Unless they give you crap for leaving early even though you did go in 3 hours before them, haha…
I don’t know how you watch the news though and still sleep peacefully. It’s always such horrible stuff :(
Check out Jocko Willink’s book: “Discipline Equals Freedom Field Manual”. Hooyah!
Heyyyy a Navy Seals guy – very cool! Bookmarked to poke around!
I’ve been waking up at 5:15 for years now and enjoy the extra time. I must confess to sleeping in to 6:30 or 7 on the occasional weekend. When I do, I miss that extra time in the morning and somehow that extra sleep doesn’t seem to matter.
Becoming a morning person takes practice. It is hard, but worth it. Like a anything else in life, things that are worth doing are not easy. As you said, mornings are slow, peaceful, and productive. I especially like waking up early on the weekends. I can go and do my running around while the rest of the world is still in bed.
I woke up at 7am a few weekends back after a Bachelor party (of all things!), and it was definitely a neat experience going down and having breakfast by myself at our hotel while waiting for all the other stragglers to wake up :) I’m not used to it on the weekends but I can see the appeal!
Oh WOW, I didn’t know this was a *thing* from Benjamin Franklin!
I’ve always been an early riser, but have intentionally woken up at 5 every morning for the last month since starting my blog. As a full-time writer during the day, I’ve found I just won’t have any juice left for my own blog if I try to do it at night.
Now all I need is a waterfront home with a giant porch that I can watch the sunrise from in my PJs every day … ;)
Haha – that would be nice :) I bet all your *good* writing power works in the mornings the best too, huh? I’m glad you’re putting it into your blog first and then into your job ;)
UPDATE: Just saw that you reside in Charleston, SC! One of my top places to live one day – it’s soooo beautiful there!! Especially those old town parts, jeez…
Ahh! I didn’t know that. Yes, Charleston truly is a magical city and we are so fortunate to live here! :) I’m so lucky to work in the historic district, so when I get annoyed or stumped, I just go for a walk. Slightly more inspiring when it’s not 101 degrees, though. C’mon, October…
Let me know if you’re ever this way visiting, or if/when you make the move!
Okay I will! But only if you intro me to Shep from Southern Charm so we can party together :)
Oh lawd, no deal! :P
Yes to all of this! I started waking up early a few months ago and it has had a drastic impact on my life. I finally get “me time” to do whatever I want (like read J$’s awesome content) and also flex my own writing muscle. I never thought that I could actually do it, cause I thought I was a night owl, but once I started, it almost became addicting. I actually forgot to set my alarm this morning and still woke up at 5:30am, fancy that.
I wake up to the alarm at 6:15 every work morning, it’s tough to steal sleep from myself right now (16 month old and a new born) the peace does sound amazing – maybe will try this formally next year when midnight wake up calls are less frequent.
Yes – when babies are in the mix there’s no way in hell you can – or should – pull this off :) Your brain won’t even work right even if you tried, haha…
I drift back and forth between waking up early and sleeping in a bit. It’s so easy to get thrown off track when it’s the dead of winter or if I get sick or go on vacation. But I completely agree how it starts the day off in a more productive way!
“My wife constantly makes fun of me for this, but my improving health (and physique) should hopefully woo her back eventually”
Haha, this is great! It’s amazing how good habits reinforce each other…congrats on the improving physique.
I blog at night after my son goes to bed so it’s really hard for me to get up that early. I guess it just depends on the person and their routine. Waking up at 5 am doesn’t work for me.
Bennie Frank was the OG of frugality – Poor Farmers Almanac is a wealth (see what I did there) of frugality lessons. Early to bed, early to rise, make a man healthy, wealthy and wise comes to mind in this post.
BF became much less frugal in his older years – he spent much of his later days in France and was a huge hit with the French ladies. Guy was BALLING in France (party like it’s 1799!). Sounds good to me – work hard, build your wealth, then enjoy the good life.
I had a good routine of sleeping between 10:30-11 pm and waking at 6:30 am, giving me 7.5-8 hours per sleep per night. Now that I’m nearing 40 that’s all been shot to hell. I’m hoping it’s just summer and the extra heat – I always sleep better in the winter. Us Badgers like the cold, I guess. I haven’t set an alarm for years, since I did wake up like clockwork, but now I often wake up at 5 am and that’s it – I’m up. Shifting my bedtime to 10 pm helped a little but not much. If I had the option of sleeping later, I would take it! Hard to be productive when you’re sleep deprived…
Yeah – a lot of those early founders of our country were good at consuming a little too much of things in life ;) And leaving the world in debt too! Even though some where known to preach otherwise (*ahem* Thomas Jefferson).
Oh yeah, I’m always busting up sucka MCs about TJ — dude spent MAD amounts of cash. He’d go to a book store and clean house, buying books by the cart-load and often sending them to other people if he had duplicates. Furniture too – far more than could ever fit in his places. At least Bennie Frank practiced what he preached for most of his life. He also wanted to jail journalists who were critical (sounds familiar?). He’s not my fav…
Haha…. I did not know that about him.
I have been mastering my morning practice for a few years now. I started in March 2016 with writing. I started by writing down 10 ideas every morning. And it grew from there.
I remember you blogging about this a few years ago, J$. And I thought it seemed extreme. But the truth is, some of the most successful people wake up early and work on themselves first thing in the morning.
I read Hal Elrod’s book “The Miracle Morning” too. I began to incorporate all of his SAVER principles into my morning routine. Today, I wake up at 5:30 and meditate, then go for a 5-mile bike ride, make some delicious french press coffee, then sit down and write. My morning practice gives me the clarity and the focus to pursue what is most important to me.
And it is true, your morning routine supports other great habits. That’s cool that your wife has “taken notice.” Reducing your alcohol intake makes a huge difference. But that is another story for another time.
Thanks for sharing your unique point of view. You inspire me to share my own morning practice, too!
Rock on man, glad to hear it! And impressed you work out so well in the mornings – that’s something I need to find lots of convincing/motivation to do personally!
You get that “10 ideas” idea from James Altucher by chance? He’s always promoting that:
I miss the days when everybody went out to lunch. I’m no slacker, but years ago I used to go out to lunch every day with co-workers. It was a nice break and a way to bond with co-workers and get a break from the office. Now everybody eats at their desks and don’t even talk to the people who sit next to them, but email, text or IM instead.
Somehow all the work still got done years ago with a lunch break. I think now we have so many other distractions and/or ways to goof off during the day if you’re not focused and motivated so instead of taking a real break and interacting with people in person, we are using up that time with various other distractions during the day (mostly the internet and social media). Plus, I think it is good to take a break to get out of your chair for a while (your back will thank you) and clear your head to avoid the afternoon slump.
I really like this article. I usually sleep in. But the other day I couldn’t sleep and got up around 5:30AM while on vacation in St. Simon GA. I managed to photograph stunning pictures of the rising sun, after which, I floated in the still morning ocean. It was the most amazing feeling. Couldn’t have experienced that sleeping in!
You know it!!! Your future self will never remember how tired you were either – only the wonderful memories :)
I’ve been getting up most weekday mornings at 5am for a few years now. I get up and exercise for an hour, clean up around the house for 15-20 minutes, then get ready for work. I find I’m far more likely to exercise first thing rather than trying to do it after work (particularly if traffic’s been bad). I also find that starting my day with a choice that’s good for me (exercise) sets the tone for the rest of the day. I’m less likely to partake of sweets offered at my office (you have no idea how many people bring in cookies, fudge, cakes – but never fruit!). I give myself Fridays to “sleep in” until 6am.
YES! Love it!! You probably have 10x more energy to be able to exercise in the mornings too!
This is so fun! I used to wake up at 5 so I could work on my freelancing. After a while, though, I realized I was completely exhausted waking that one hour earlier. Now I sleep in ’til 6 and feel great. :)
I think it’s wonderful to try setting your own schedule for the day, and using someone else’s schedule as a springboard is a great first step.
I’m practicing a new 30-day habit of writing 1000 words BEFORE I open up any internet. No emails. No social. AND I’m going to work out before hopping on the internet. It allows that work out time to be more my thoughts than all the stuff that showed up in my inbox (none of which I can take care of while working out anyway.)
We shall see how it goes, and which parts I keep, ditch or adjust. =)
Fantastic idea!! I’m gonna look out for the recap on that one and guess that you will most *definitely* keep doing it, just adjusted a bit – probably around the working out area :)
While not exactly similar, I don’t allow myself to drink coffee until I’m finally ready to work-work online, haha… I found i used to waste all that caffeine on clicking around and emails, so now I save it until I need it for the brain power stuff and it helps me get to it faster! Because COFFEE!! :)
I used to have to wake up at 5:15 every morning for my job teaching middle school, and I SO resented the early morning hour for those 4 years I did that! Now that I stay at home with my kids, I finally decided to start a morning routine when my oldest was a little over 3 (because up to that point, I’d always just wake up with her), and the difference when I started waking up on my own an hour or so before her was ASTOUNDING! I got so much done during that time, and I loved that instead of waking up every morning feeling like I was already behind, I was able to wake up and feel like I could start my day with INTENTION rather than just letting everything happen to me from the get-go, if that makes sense.
I just had a baby less than two months ago, so I haven’t been able to get back into my morning routine again (too sleep deprived!), but the baby has started to sleep a *little* longer at night, so I’m hoping that in the next month or two, I’ll get back into it.
And props to you for trying B. Franklin’s whole schedule—that is pretty darn intense.
YAY!!! It’s always better – and more empowering – waking up early on your own time than on someone else’s for sure :) And 100% agreed taking breaks when babies come – exactly what I do too, and in fact just back into the swing of early wake ups after our newborn is finally sleeping better here too. Feels good to be back!
I love waking up early!! I’m not as hardcore as 5am though… 6am is about as early as I can go. I get up, make the bed, do some yoga, have a nice cup of tea and breakfast, then look/work through my personal goals and development. It means I get time to focus on me before I have to dedicate 8+ hours to my day job. The one downside is that my friends have named me the ‘grandma’ of the group, because I’m always trying to duck out of drinks by 9/10pm!
Haha yeah – that happens :)
I get up at 5:30 AM every weekday morning. (I wouldn’t say that I wake up then… sometimes I’m still pretty groggy!)
Sadly, it’s because if I want to take advantage of the free ‘early bird’ train travel, I have to leave home in time to catch the 6:31 train.
At least you can do some good thinking/working on the train, yeah?? And it’s hopefully a pretty quiet one at that time? :)
Thank God for podcasts. They make my 50-minute commute (each way) bearable.
I’ve been waking up early 5 am for years now. Get a cup of coffee, hook the dog to the leash and we take a leisurely walk to the top of the street. It is amazingly peaceful to be the only one out in nature at that time of the morning. Love hearing the owls hoot at us. I also say my daily affirmations out loud. It is very centering and has really helped me focus on my goals. Got the idea from the book “Morning Miracle”
Cool! I’d love to hide in the bushes one day and hear you say them to inspire myself as well ;)
As a long time reader, I actually remember when you began this ritual. I have to admit, I didn’t think it would stick this long. Kudos to you for staying with it. Now if I could just get my own lazy butt out of bed a little earlier each morning…
Heyyyy man! Glad I could surprise you! Haha…
I think you need to at *least* try it for one day just so you can say you did it ;)
Love the concept as I am a natural morning person however the benefits of the above post is lost for me. I have been getting up around 3:30 am for 11 years because I have to be at work before 5 am. So I actually get less down time and reflection time than the usual parent. I seldom get to bed before 9 pm. Home and family obligations along with wanting to spend some time with everyone else as well. Maybe one day I will achieve some balance…but not holding my breath at this point. I call these the sleepless years. I was more rested when the kid was a toddler as we’d both settle in for an afternoon nap. Ah the good old days! ;)
Oh wowww yeah, hard to slip it in there getting up that early, ugh… Maybe you can do some good reflecting/listening to podcasts or something on the way to work? I feel for you!
I’ve been getting up at 5 AM and heading in to the office early for many years. As Shan mentioned, you can get so much more work done before everyone else starts showing up. I also like that I miss all the traffic both to and from the office due to the shifted hours. In the winter, it’s nice because the morning drive is in darkness and that makes it easy to forget what a long commute I have (45 minutes).
I work 7-4 and have my alarm set for 5:20 already….ugh, I don’t want to get up earlier than that! Hell, I don’t want to get up that early! Usually in the mornings (beside my regular clean up/get ready routine) I meditate and if I’m really ambitious I do some yoga.
The past couple weeks I’ve been waking up around 4:30 and just lying there, but if it continues I’m going to make myself get up and do the yoga, put on the music, get some chores done so I don’t have to do them when I get home, and maybe work on my handmade jewelry projects if I have time.
I’ve….come to dread mornings because (reasons) and I don’t want that trend to continue. Time to change the narrative before it really becomes routine.
Goooooood luck!!! I like that music idea! :)
Awesome to hear that you’re still doing the 5am wake-up call! I can only do it half the time or so and the other time I want to sleep in just a little bit more.
I do agree that it slows time waaaaaaay down though, which is refreshing. You help inspire me to do better with the early wake-up call. I believe it’s a common habit of millionaires.
It is indeed!
But doing it half the time at least gets you to a half a million ;)
Franklin was the original blogger – the guy had a newspaper in Philadelphia and its possible he published this, not necessarily because he practiced this schedule, but because it made good copy.
Also, Franklin probably had servants to take care of his kids, do the housework, etc. I don’t seem much in his schedule for any of those activities.
Haha yup – much easier to work on your craft if you ignore everything else :)
I loved this! I get up early as well, and coffee is a must. I truly believe you get so much more accomplished with an early rise and as someone else commented I’m older and I think a bit wiser, so my late nights with friends is usually over by 9 pm.
I used to get up early on a regular basis when I was in high school and worked on a horse farm (4:30-5:00), and sometimes in college depending on my work schedule (one semester I worked 5:00-7:30 before an 8:00 class). I really enjoy the early morning hours, but sometimes I had to stay up later for work/school and my schedule gradually shifted. Since I got married in August, though, I’ve been getting up at 5:30 with my husband most mornings and am rediscovering how much I enjoy those early morning hours. We just signed up for a gym and I plan to get up at 5:00 so I can fit in a good hour workout before work. I am also more productive in the morning than at night so I am happy to go to bed at 9:30-10:00 whenever my schedule allows.
Rock on! And congrats on the new married adventure too! :)