Low on Energy Problem

The Miracle Morning isn’t going as well as I’d hoped. I love having the mornings for myself. I love the clarity it brings through the meditation and focussing. I love that I have some uninterupted time to work on my personal projects.

But I also have very little energy during the day.

This is not a result of getting up earlier (I’m getting just as much sleep as I used to), but I’m noticing it more at work. Normally when I started to have less energy, it was time to go home from work anyway. Now I’ve got that problem a few hours earlier at work.

My next project will be all about getting more energy. After that, I fully intend to go back to the Miracle Morning, because I’m loving it very much.

The First Two Weeks of Waking Up Early

The first two weeks of my current 4 week experiment has had its ups and downs. I’ve been waking up around 5 am every weekday, but the weekends have been less successful.

As I thought, I don’t need extra sleep when getting between 6.5 and 7 hours a night. I’m mostly fresh(-ish) all day long without feeling too sleepy behind my keyboard after lunch. But as soon as I get less sleep, I get very tired. It seems I’m right at the edge of getting too little sleep each night.

For me it’s important to see my friends regularly. When we meet, it’s usually in the evening. I go to bed later. I still get up early. It doesn’t work. It ends in fatigue, and I need to wake up later.

Another thing I’ve noticed that I get around 2 and around 4 hours of deep sleep alternating each night. Even though this is not a sleep study, I’m curious about this. I’d like to see what happens in the coming weeks.

The next two weeks I’ll go to bed half an hour earlier and still wake up around the same time, getting between 7 and 7.5 hours of sleep every night.

Other than that I’m keeping my morning ritual the same for now. I’m getting enormous benefits from it, accomplishing more in mere days than I used to do in months, I’m more focused, and getting fitter.

While it’s more difficult than I expected to find the right schedule, I’m noticing no other downsides. This experiment is huge: it feels like I’m finally getting control over my life.

Priorities For Normal People

One of the things I’d like to show with this blog, is that real people can be productive, too. Unlike all successful people on the web, who seem to have become a success overnight.

I’m a real person. I’ve got a ‘normal’ job. I’ve got a wife and kids who take up a lot of my time. I’m more than happy to give it to them. In fact, it’s my priority. I’ve got friends, groceries to buy, things to fix, errands to run. But I like to achieve ‘something’ personal, too. Where do we get the time?

The Miracle Morning actually helps me there. The benefits are huge. From Monday till Thursday last week I’ve accomplished more in the mornings than in the months before: I was more focussed, I wrote more, I worked out more. And just because I got up earlier.

Then on Friday life happened.

My wife went away for the weekend and had to get up at 3 am. Loosing sleep, I decided to cancel my early waking routine. I don’t want to make excuses. Dropping my schedule was an active decision.

I don’t need many hours of sleep a day, around 6.5 hours, but when I get much less than that, I can become grumpy and sometimes a bit depressed. It’s easier to get angry at the kids and I hate that. It makes me a bad parent. The children become unhappy. Everybody loses.

So even though I’ve made the commitment to get up early, my priority is with my family. And that means sleeping enough.

It’s not always easy keeping a schedule, but you know what? It doesn’t have to be. If you miss a beat, if you struggle, if you fall, that’s fine. Everybody falls.

It’s the people that get back up that win the race.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to my ‘normal’ day. It’s 6 am and I can hear my wife waking up.

 

Feeling Like a Fraud

Sometimes I feel like a fraud.

Who am I to develop this software for you?
Who am I to give you advice on this and that topic?
Why would anybody listen to what I have to say?
Or read what I have to write?
I’m nobody. Don’t listen to me.

But I’m unique (just like everybody else). The things in my head make me different. Where I live makes me different. How I grew up, what my parents taught me, what I learned, who I loved, how I loved, what I’ve read. That’s what makes me me, the same as your unique experiences make you you.

We all have something unique to share with the world. Some of it will resonate with others, some will not.

I read at least a book a week. That’s 52 books of knowledge every year. There’s lots of knowledge in my head. Sometimes I forget that not everybody writes software or even knows how to do it. I forget not everybody reads the same books that I do. Or hold the same views that I do. That’s why people follow my advice, sometimes, when I discuss software with them. Or how to be productive. Or how to follow your dreams. Or how to be happy.

So yeah, sometimes I feel like a fraud.

But some of my knowledge can help others. And as long as I can help one person live a better life, it’ll be well worth it.

The No Rush Morning

After only a few days of doing The Miracle Morning, I find that I really like it. I like to have some time for myself before rushing of to work. I’ve already written more in three days than in the previous two weeks combined. I work out every morning. I love it. And the good thing is: I don’t have the feeling I’m missing out on anything in the evening even while I’m going to bed earlier.

Even if you’re not doing the Miracle Morning, you can still start your day without feeling rushed. If you’re anything like most people, you’ve probably calculated your wake-up time in the following way: “I have to be at work at 9am, my travel time is 40 minutes, it takes me about 35 minutes to get up, have breakfast and get ready, so I have to set my alarm at 7:45.”

I used to do it like that, too. Mostly I’d also go to bed too late for getting enough sleep. Next I’d be hitting snooze, sleep some more, feel rushed all morning while trying to get ready in time, finally arriving at work just in time and often a few minutes late.

But for the last few years I’ve started waking up earlier, so I could enjoy the morning more. I’m not overly fond of my work (like too many people, I guess), I do like the time after work, which I spend with the kids and my wife, but in the evening I mostly sit or lie on the couch. I’m not sure if I’d call that ‘enjoying’ life. :)

So I get up earlier.

There’s no rush. I make some tea. I read a book while having breakfast. I really enjoy this part of the day now and I never hit snooze on my alarm.

Even if you’re not a morning person, studies have shown that your mind is freshest the first few hours after waking up. Why not use that time to invest in yourself instead of wasting it?

 

 

How To Wake Up Feeling Refreshed

Sleep is different for everybody. Some people need more than others. When we’re younger we need more than in our thirties. But how much do we really need? And how come we’re often feeling groggy when our alarms wake us?

To become a more effective sleeper, we can do three important steps:

Make sure our sleeping environment is optimal

A few tips for a good environment:

  1. Sleep in a dark room. Light prepares us for being awake.
  2. Keep the bedroom wel ventilated. Open a window, even in the winter. Humans tend to thrive better on oxygen. :) Sleeping with our doors and windows closed drastically increase the carbon dioxide levels in our rooms. I have measured it in my own room and the changes are huge.
  3. Get a good mattress. Go to multiple stores that specialize in mattresses and let them all inform you. Keep in mind that an expensive mattress doesn’t mean it’s a better one. The extra money you spend is used for commercials that try to trick us into believing these mattresses are what we really need.

Measure how much sleep we really need

Keep a log of your sleeping pattern. A spreadsheet will do fine. In it note the following:

  1. The day,
  2. What time you went to bed (or more importantly what time you fell asleep),
  3. What time you woke up,
  4. How many hours and minutes you’ve slept,
  5. How you woke up (with or without alarm),
  6. How you felt waking up,
  7. Notes on how you felt during the day. Did you feel like you needed more sleep? Did you have an after lunch dip? Were you doing something active or were you sitting down before or during that dip? Was your mind always clear or sometimes cloudy during the day? Were you focussed?

Do this for a few weeks and see if you notice a trend. Find out how much sleep you really need to feel fresh during the day. Don’t try to be tough and tell yourself you only need 5 or 6 hours to get by.

More sleep increases your productivity in spite of leaving you with less time during the day!

Wake up during light sleep

There are a few phases in our sleep. For our purposes we’ll divide into just three types: REM, light sleep, and deep sleep. Waking up during REM and deep sleep leaves us groggy and we’ll just want to hit snooze.

We need to wake up during light sleep, but how do we do that? Well, in the previous step we found out how much sleep we really need. With this knowledge you have two options.

Option 1. Don’t set an alarm. What?? Seriously: if you found that you need 8 hours of sleep, you can go to bed by 10 pm and trust that you’ll wake up around 6 am. I’ve not used an alarm in years except for times I needed to get up earlier than usual. You’ll automatically wake up during light sleep.

Option 2. Use an app like Sleep Cycle or an activity tracker that measures your sleeping patterns, such as the Jawbone Up. Sleep Cycle will wake you up with soft sounds. Jawbone will vibrate me awake, not disturbing my wife’s sleep.

Now that I started my Miracle Morning routine I’ve switched to option 2, but I fully expect to go without an alarm within a few weeks and still wake up around 5 am. It is by far my preferred way to start the day.

I’m really curious to hear about your sleeping patterns, and if you’ve tried the above. Let me know on twitter or mail me.

 

 

The Miracle Morning Experiment

For the next 4 week experiment I’m going to do The Miracle Morning routine, after a book by @HalElrod.

You can read all about his amazing story on his site, but for brevity: he came up with the idea of starting his day doing all things most successful people do. So I’ll get up early, and follow this routine:

  1. Wake up between 4:45am and 5:15am
    I’m a morning person already, so I’m not expecting too much difficulty here. The reason I’ve got 30 minutes to wake up, is because I’m using my Jawbone activity tracker to wake me up during light sleep. I also drink a glass of water first thing in the morning.
  2. Meditate for 5 minutes
    I don’t know how to meditate, and I’m still skeptical about it. But admittedly many successful people seem to do it and the very least it’ll do is nothing, so I might as well try it. :) If nothing else, I like the idea of just sitting down, doing nothing, and not start with a morning rush. I boil some water for tea after this while doing:
  3. Affirmations for 3 minutes
    I focus on what’s important to me right now, my business goals. Actually my family is most important, but that part of my life is already going well.Tea water is done, so I make my tea and do:
  4. Visualization for 5 minutes
    I’ll visualize my ideal life, I’ve actually written this down this morning. I’ll keep refining it in the following weeks and I’d like to add some actual pictures to enhance that vision. I’ll also envision the path to get there.
  5. Read something positive for 10 minutes
    I’ll read while walking around in my living room (when ‘reading’ an audio book) or while standing up (reading on my Kindle). Here’s where I drink my tea, too. :)
  6. 7 minute workout
    I could work out longer, but I want some actual work done during this Miracle Morning routine, too, so for now I’ll just do this effective 7 minute workout.
  7. Write for 25 minutes
    I want writing to become a habit. Whether I’ll post it or not, that’s not the point. I need it to get better and I need to do it regularly. I can’t help or inspire people while doing my experiments but not showing anybody the results and struggles.

My family slowly wakes up around this time and I can now spend time with them without being rushed.

The most difficult part may be to go to bed in time. I need 6.5 to 7 hours a sleep at night. To wake up at 5 am I need to be asleep by 10 pm and go upstairs to get ready for bed by 9:30 pm. Fortunately my wife is pregnant and doesn’t mind going to bed early at the moment.

 

Dealing With Memories

It’s been three weeks, and I’m still cleaning up. I gave away more of my comics and some books. I found boxes of CDs, old clothes, books, spare bathroom tiles, and (gasp) video tapes…

The hardest stuff to get rid of are the boxes with memories. I’d kept old cards, trophies, the first computer my (late) father gave me, letters from when I started dating my wife. I kept all of this, because throwing them away seemed like saying farewell.

But these objects aren’t memories. They are physical reminders and I found that I don’t need them. I haven’t opened those boxes in over 6 years and while my father passed away over 20 years ago, I still think about him weekly, and many times more often than that. Similarly I enjoy being with my wife, but I’m happy with her *now*. I’m not happier when I read her old letters.

For the really great memories I use and app called Day One, but I’m not keeping any objects anymore. Those are not my family. Not my friends. Not my memories. They are mostly clutter, just taking up space.

What’s in Your Drawers?

Taking a good look at my house, I see so much stuff. I look in the drawers, and it’s full of things I never use. Broken sunglasses, instruction manuals (often of items that are long gone), remote controls (same), wires, more wires, and cables, ten year old paperwork, clothes I haven’t worn in ages, birthday cards, old phones (10!), an old computer (Commodore 64), an even older one (Atari), dried up pens… I can keep going for a while!

I didn’t think I was a hoarder, and I know there are many who are worse, but I never knew just how much shit I’ve bought. And kept.

And those are just my drawers…

What’s in yours?

What is Minimalism

Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it. – Joshua Becker

This excellent definition contains three important points:

  1. Promotion of things we value first,
  2. Removal of not valuable things second,
  3. It’s intentional.

The advice of many minimalists is to start with reducing the number of items we own. Looking at the above definition, this may seem less important than promoting things of value, but they actually have a good point. Reducing the clutter in our life removes distractions. It teaches us we’ve bought too many things we don’t need and it’ll make us think twice before buying something new.

So yeah, we’re still allowed to have collections if that collection adds value. We don’t have to adhere to strict rules about living with less than 100 items. But we have to be intentional about the items we keep and the items we buy.

It is important to know, or find out, what things add the most value to your life. In most cases these are family, friends, and experiences. But it’s not one size fits all. This is something you’ll have to find out for yourself. One of the easiest ways to find out is to take a good and honest look at your past. Were you happiest when you drove that new car, or where you happier when you visited the Grand Canyon? Chances are your fondest memories are of the unique experiences you’ve had, the places you’ve been to, the people you’ve met. But, if you’re honestly happy while driving a car, then minimalism for you means buying a luxurious car and remove other things that add no value to your life.

The key is to be intentional about it.