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As an ex-nocturnalist, I attempt to call the Night Owls over from the dark side to see the benefits of waking up early. I talk about how I didn’t believe the hype on how successful people wake up early—I got plenty done at night. But I changed my mind when I compared daily logs of my output: the results showed a 2x increase in productivity and output.

We talk about how you can get more from the same amount of hours by structuring your day right. Get challenged to run your own tests and prove it to yourself.

Show Notes
  • 02:41 “Yeah, yeah, I see those articles all the time that say ‘Why Successful People Wake Up Early’ or ‘The One Reason People Who Are Successful Wake Up Early’ blah, blah blah… I don’t buy it. I’m a Night Owl and I get stuff done.”
  • 03:08 I was in that boat for a long time. I’m a Night Owl and that’s what I default to.
  • 03:26 Is the Early Bird/Night Owl thing genetic or biological? Is it something determined by your formative years or is it purely habit-based? Does it matter either way?
  • Early Wake, Daily Write
  • 05:07 It wasn’t easy. I still identify as a Night Owl. If we go on vacation or visit family on holidays, I go right back to sleeping at 2am, waking at 10am. That’s just my default.
  • 06:17 A lot of people who feel the same way tend to defend the “burning the midnight oil” thing. I know the feeling—you get past dinner and the nightly routine and you get into the late-night groove, and it’s all quiet, everything’s silent and still and you’re thinking, “All right, I can really get some stuff done.” I know that feeling. That feeling is what people go off of when they think, “It’s too hard for me to wake up. I’m not a ‘morning person.'”
  • 07:08 Staying up late habitually is an emotional thing. You’ve got an emotional connection to this pattern you’ve set for yourself so that when you get out of your normal environment into an early-wake schedule, you haven’t lost that emotional memory. This is why you want to default back.
  • 09:00 It all starts with writing:
    • Blog posts
    • Podcast outline
    • Newsletters
    • Videos
    • Courses
  • 09:34 Because everything started with writing, I wanted to start my day there. I wanted that to be the first thing that I did. Yes, the Night Owl can make time to write late at night, but it’s not the very first thing in their day and this makes a huge difference.
  • 10:29 Your mind is doing a lot of work for you while you’re sleeping. It’s processing things for you. Yes, you’ll be groggy for the first 15 minutes, that’s normal. But right when you wake up is the best time to do the most important work of your day.
  • 10:51 External things you are exposed to during the day will cloud your thinking. It weighs on your mind. In the morning you don’t have that extra baggage.
  • Sleeping is literally charging your body. Use this charge on the most important thing right when you wake up.

    Produce, don’t consume.

    Checking email or notifications squanders this charge.

  • Log Your Results
  • 14:14 It’s easy to write this off as “That works for them, it doesn’t work for me.” But I can’t stress enough that I was in the same position. I self-identify as a Night Owl. What I could not argue with was the results. I’ve personally logged my results:
    • When I got up
    • When I went to bed
    • What I wrote
    • How many words I wrote

    When I woke up early and started my day with writing the word count results were double that of my Night Owl output.

  • 14:57 I have the Do Not Disturb mode on my phone scheduled until 7:30am. This way, when I wake up at 5:30am and look at my phone, there are no notifications. I also don’t go looking for any notifications. After pouring myself a glass of water and sitting down at my computer, if I forgot the night before to close out my Gmail tab, I squint my eyes so I can’t see it and use a keyboard shortcut to close it. It’s crucial not to look at email before you’ve done your writing.
  • 15:50 I go to a totally different space on my desktop and pull up a blank document. Sometimes 10 minutes pass before I write something. I don’t always immediately start writing 3 minutes after I get out of bed, sometimes it takes a few minutes of thinking, but once I start going, it flows. It wasn’t easy at first, but after a couple weeks of doing it, I started to get into the rhythm.
  • 16:31 “I want to do Early Wake, Daily Write, but I also want to work out in the mornings. Which should I do first?”
  • 17:25 Either works as long as you can keep yourself from consuming before you produce.
  • You have to keep the producing as the first thing.

    Premature consumption will kill the production.

  • 21:38 Before you go to bed, write down the 3 things you want to accomplish the next day.
  • 25:12 Circadian Rhythms.
  • 29:07 Feedback from Dan:
  • I work full time in a design studio, which I love, but I also have lots of personal projects I’m trying to get off the ground, such as creating a magazine from scratch. This is tricky when I work 9am to 5:30pm. I started by doing the logical thing and spent my evenings working on my own projects (often late into the night). It really wasn’t working because a) By the time I got home I was creatively burnt out so wasn’t being productive or efficient and b) it was affecting my relationship with my girlfriend. The majority of time was being spent on design and it wasn’t fair on her. She is really supportive, but I was asking too much!

    I now get up at 5am. I have three super productive hours to work on my own things before I have to go to my day job. This time is so focused and solitary, I get as much done as I would with 6 hours in the evening. My nights are now free to relax and recharge. I love this morning time and don’t know what I’d do without it—it’s like a secret supply of time!

  • 30:30 I dare any of you Night Owls to log your output and compare it to an early wake schedule.
  • 32:07 We say “I’m a Night Owl,” but there’s something to stating your identity that causes you to live into it.
  • 32:15 The reason I’ve been saying “I’m a Night Owl” because I want people to know I can relate to them. I want them to know that I am exactly what they are and I’m choosing to do things differently because I have the data to prove that the output is better and I am more productive. I want people to know that I’m not “someone who just is a morning person.”
  • 33:50 Feedback from Sarah:
  • I was a night owl before listening to the podcast, just fooling myself. It’s just easier to stay up late than pulling yourself out of bed, so you trick yourself into thinking you’re a night owl.

    Reality is there’s nothing worse than fighting against the urge to go to bed while working late, and getting up at 2pm because you went to bed at 5am.

  • 36:30 Writing helps free up space in your mind. You also remember the things you write better than the things you don’t.
  • 38:56 You forget what it’s like to feel tired when you stay up late all the time.
  • 43:38 A lot of people are still on the edge. If they haven’t turned off the podcast already, they’ve at least decided in their minds they’re going to write this off. They don’t want to change—that’s going to be work. They think, “I’ve got this time in the evening, and I can get stuff done.” Yes, you can get stuff done. You can be productive. You can get a lot done, and you can even be successful as a Night Owl. But I’m going to say it…
  • You’re not going to be as successful as if you woke up early.

  • 44:14 I want you to prove it to yourself and log your output. Spend a couple weeks daily going after something. Daily. Every single day. First of all, see if you can really stick with it by trying to do that work at night or in the second half of your day, and secondly, look at the output and compare it.
  • 44:54 At least test it out. If you’re not purposefully trying to skew the results, I think you’re going to surprise yourself.