I’m sure many of us have heard of the 5 am club. Wake up early, get more done when the world is sleeping. We are told it is the one true key to success (among many other true keys to success). Except, is it? If you see daily routines of famous people, you are bound to find examples that don’t always corroborate the claim. Also, after reading Taleb, I’m even convinced that our need to attribute traits to successful people stems from our inability to deal with randomness.
Have I tried waking up early before? Yes. Have I succeeded consistently? No. First of all, notice that the people who are advocating such “keys to success” usually have a book or workshop to sell at the end. We always fall into this trap of “I’ll wake up early tomorrow and do xyz”. Because xyz is what I want to do and doing it at 5 am is how I become successful.
Rule 1 – Ignore the 5 am advice.
But the 5 am rule isn’t all bogus. The essence of it is to find an uninterrupted block of time and do your xyz. Here comes the real problem. Present you always wants to screw future you. You’re always putting off your xyz to the next morning which is spent snoring. Since our sleeping patterns may be genetically predetermined, we should instead change the problem statement to “how to screw future you with minimal loss?”.
Rule 2 – Wake up and be ready to rush through the door.
The idea is to give yourself a 30 minute head start to the day. Get to work a half hour before you are required to be in the first meeting (or whatever commitment). Use this time to collect your thoughts so you don’t feel like you’re playing catch up the rest of the day. And every time you catch yourself thinking “I’ll do xyz tomorrow”, start doing it right then. Force current you to screw future you. The next morning you can feel bad about waking up late but at least you will have done xyz.
Rule 3 – Go to bed at the same time every day.
Even if it is 3 am. Even on weekends. In fact, it would be beneficial to have a 3 am bedtime if you end up staying out late during weekends. And never skimp on sleep.
But what about breakfast? The other key for success. The most important meal of the day. Except, is it? That’s for another post.