Feb 6, 2024

30 Days of 5am

30 Days of 5am

So, here I am. 7.20 on the final day of a streak of 5am wake-ups. This morning I procrastinated, pretending to work and looking at Airbnb’s, dreaming of the day that I can move more than 5 meters from my front door without punishing and overwhelming guilt.

Let’s rewind.

I started this thing, well, 30 days ago. I can’t remember the date exactly, my brain at this point feels like the apricot jam I put on my crumpets of a morning. That is, if I soaked them in coffee and regret from drinking to much the night before. Anyway.

30 days ago. Thems were the days. The days when I had brown hair, we were in Stage 4 lockdown, and the world was on hold. Not much has changed really. My dog has learned to shake hands, my hair is a bizarre shade of orangey blonde, and the lockdown punishes on. Ceaselessly.

30 days ago, my dreams consisted of saving enough money for a house, maybe moving out of the city, a new car, becoming financially free to do whatever the hell I want. Now, I’m not sure if I dream at all.

Nah, just kidding. While it is true that those things are now seemingly too far out of reach because of the financial pinch we’re all feeling, this 30 days of waking up before the crack of dawn has given me time to pause and reflect on what is truly important. This is the sole single benefit I have discovered in undertaking this experiment. The time afforded to me as a result has given me opportunity to do the things that are important to me first, before getting stuck into the day.

Previously, I was waking at 8.25, plonking myself down at the desk and getting to work editing that day’s batch of videos. While probably a dream scenario for some people, the productivity guru inside me was screaming that this was not a full use of your time. So it had to change.

I had seen Matt D’Avella’s attempt at the same challenge, but what truly drew me into undertaking the challenge was Nathaniel Drew's attempt at recreating Benjamin Frankin's daily schedule. You can watch the video for yourself here, but in summary, Ben Franklin woke up at 5am and worked his ass of the whole day before cutting himself off from the world at knock off time to dive into books, conversation, music, or any other type of diversion.

So my day, for every day but one in the last month looked like this.

5am/5:30am - Rise. Anything later than 5:30 was deemed a failure. Cup coffee, strong coffee, then I'd open up my pocket Moleskin and write out the following.

September 18 2020

Wakeup: 5:00am

What good will I do today?

  • Thing 1

  • Thing 2

  • Etc

It's worth pointing out that these things are not meant to be a to do list for the day. While I did end up writing external tasks for myself, the intention with this was to focus on intrinsic things that would improve my life as a whole. For example, 'spend time playing with Connie.' (Connie is my Daschund and she is the best.) While playing with the dog isn't necessarily a productive thing that will net any monetary income, it does keep the heart ticking and reming us of why we do the things we do.

6:00am - Write. At the beginning of this 30 day challenge I was roughly 30,000 words through a novel that I had been writing in my spare time. But due to my 8.25 wakeup, subsequent video work, then routine of crashing on the couch and shooting people on Call of Duty, there wasn't much time for writing during the week. Then the weekend would roll around and I'd promise myself I would catch up on the weeks words. Instead, it seemed that the mountain that I had made for myself was so great that I would hardly take a step. Then the guilt spiral began, the weekend was over, and it was back to editing videos on Monday morning.

Now, it seemed I had all the time in the world. I started off by giving myself a small goal of 500 words to complete in the two hours before Kirrily, my wife, woke up and the day began. Often I found myself crushing that target and writing upwards of 2,500 words in the two hour period. Sometimes I would write much less. One such occasion came the morning after watching my favourite football team, the Sydney Roosters. I like to have a drink when I watch the footy, and don't we all, but this night I had one or four too many. I was not good for an inch of work the following morning.

8:00am - I'm taken out of my work as Kirrily walks down the stairs holding Connie. There's a moment of play and family hugs before we're into breakfast. I sit down to a cup of tea, a crumpet or two with apricot jam, and watch this morning's offering from Good Mythical Morning.

8:30am - It's into the videos, into meetings, emails, instant messaging with coworkers, editing, reediting, rendering, rendering, rendering.

5:30pm - Somewhere around 5:30am I make a conscious and deliberate decision to turn off the work computer and disconnect from social media, email, and Microsoft Teams. In this COVID time, we workers are deprived of that one simple pleasure of walking through the front door at the end of a hard days work. Now, our work and our home life are so inseparably coagulated that the line between one and the other has become non-existent. Some hustle mongers like Gary V, and just about every other young entrepreneur on the internet, would applaud this amalgamation of church and state, but even Ben Franklin took time for himself, time for his family, and time to absorb the inspiration he needed to perform at his best. Anyway, all this to say I finish work between 5:30 and 6pm.

5:30pm - 7:00pm - This was a largely undefined section of the day. Sometimes I would work late depending on what needed to be done, or if we had taken Connie to the park. Sometimes I'd kick the footy at the park, reliving old dreams of past glory. Maybe I'd have a beer in the bath with a book, or maybe I'd would punish myself with a 5k run.

Although, I did try to set myself the task each day to sit back in my armchair and round out my thought’s in the way Benjamin Franklin did. He would write the following, as would I:

What good did I do today?

  • Thing 1

  • Thing 2

  • Etc

I found this to be a simple, yet effective, way of keeping myself accountable while also tracking my development and progress. 

7:00pm - 9:00pm - Dinner. TV, movies, footy (if it's on). We started this 30 day period watching the end of Friends, and ended it beginning How I Met Your Mother.

9:00pm - 10:00pm - Read fiction. I have spent most of the lockdown discovering The Witcher series. First, I watched the show, then bought the game, now I have finished the first book and am halfway through the second. I can't get enough.

10:00pm - I pass out.

Ultimately, this experiment has been a success. So much so that, after a weekend or two of sleeping in as long as I damn want, I will most likely implement early mornings into my regular daily schedule. I think I have been more productive, creative, and inspired in this last 30 days alone than I had in the past 18 months. And definitely since lockdown began. I had finished the remaining 30,000 words of my book, The Academy (coming soon-ish), started implementing a second brain strategy which prompted me to create this website, read more than I have in my life, and started the process of realising a YouTube channel idea that I have had since the 2019 NRL Grand Final.

My final word is this. Just do it.