Proof Getting Up Early Makes a Huge Difference

sunriseI have read over and over again, “If you want to be more productive, wake up earlier.” Many productivity experts believe you should get up before 6am and you’ll get more done before most people start working than the average person will get done every single day. I have been on both ends of this spectrum lately.

Due to our current living situation, we have had a schedule bouncing up and down. In addition, both my wife and I have dealt with getting sick during this time and have also taken on more work than we normally would in pursuit of specific goals. While getting sick and taking on a larger workload are both temporary, they have wreaked havoc on our goals.

Not an Alcoholic, but a Stress Drinker

I have never considered myself an alcoholic, but I tend to drink a bit more often when under stress. Sometimes, this only lasts a day or two and I can get right back to it, but other times it will pop up a few times over the course of a month and do damage to my schedule and habits.

I know this about myself, so I do try to guard against it as best as possible. I do find that a cup of caffeine free tea often helps and gets me more in the mindset for sleep. However, there are times I cannot resist and a couple beers or a few glasses of wine become a nightly ritual for a few days.

I only mention this because it has popped up recently and has caused some issues with the waking up early. It’s not the main issue, as that comes from my wife and I staying up late and talking quite a bit in recent weeks. This tends to happen whenever there’s a big decision coming up or we’ve made a big decision and we are in the transition period of planning for change.

Productivity When Up Early

I already knew I was more productive when I woke up early (before 8am), but I recently received proof. One day this past week, I was up at 6:45am, which is the earliest I have been up in about three weeks….by many hours.

I have averaged a wake up time around 11am recently, so this was like getting an extra 4+ hours. I finished my day’s work at about 3:30pm that day and was able to put in about 3 extra hours on one of my personal projects.

Compared to all of the other days in the week, this was by far my most productive. Some of the other days I was able to get just as much client work done, but had no time left for my own projects. In addition, my work wasn’t done until about 8pm or so.

Stuck in the Cycle

cycleGetting back on track after being sick has been difficult. When I get sick, my body forget what night and day are and I end up taking a few long naps, sleeping more and at odd hours and everything gets thrown off. Since my wife and I both got sick back-to-back, it has thrown us both off, which makes things even more difficult.

If I had been the only one getting sick, I could have regulated my schedule by getting back on hers, but we both fell off the “wake up early” wagon and defaulted back to staying up late and getting up late.

Finally, we broke through a little bit this week getting up at 6:45am the one day and getting up earlier than we have been by a few hours. I think we are back on the right track and it’s a good thing because we have a full slate of work over the next few weeks.

My Takeaway

early-wormFrom going through this topsy turvy schedule, I have a couple main takeaways:

  • Getting up early, at least for me, leads to more productivity
  • I enjoy watching the sun come up
  • I get through my entire morning routine when I awake early and very little of it when I don’t
  • I’d rather be an early worm 😉 than a night owl

Habits are Hard…When You’re Sick

sticking-to-habitsIt seems like getting sick causes one to revert back to certain habits that provide comfort. Lately, I have been sick and it has thrown off all of the new habits I have been doing so well to try and keep. Only one has remained throughout being sick, which is not eating sugar. I haven’t even craved it much.

However, when I am sick, I crave carbs; specifically bread. I don’t know if this has something to do with my body’s need for quick, sustainable energy to heal me, but all I want when I am sick is broth and bread. It hasn’t been a stomach bug, either, so the appetite has been pretty good, just strange cravings.

The other thing I crave when I am sick and it’s not a stomach thing is beer. No idea why, but beer is like comfort when I am sick. It feels good on my throat, curbs my headache and somehow makes me feel better overall.

Hard to Wake Up

Maybe it’s due to the cough medicine, but getting up has been very difficult. Lately, I have been getting up basically whenever my body wakes up because I know I need rest. I have a feeling this will make getting back to the early mornings a bit more difficult once I am 100%.

I also feel very fogging when I wake up. This is probably due to the cough medicine, which I have no tolerance for since I won’t take medications unless it’s pretty bad.

Morning Routine Shot for Now

While I have been able to stick to bits and pieces of my normal morning routine, it hasn’t been as easy or the same. I like to be up before everybody else around us to ensure I can do my routine in quiet without distraction. Even once the dogs get a burst of energy; it can be difficult to get through the entire thing without a distraction.

This has probably been the one big thing that has thrown everything else off. When I am up early and I get my morning routine done, I set myself up for a good day. When I wake up even an hour late, it can make the day a bit harder to accomplish completely.

Habits Will Return

sicknessWhile being sick isn’t any fun and nobody would expect me or anybody else to stick to normal habits, they will return. Being sick requires extra rest and plenty of liquids, of course. It also requires giving yourself a break from habits and just letting your body do what it needs to do to heal.

I am probably about 85% today, which is better than yesterday, but not 100% yet. Still waking up much later than normal, which throws everything else off. What makes it harder to stick to habits, my wife has also been sick, so we have both been off on everything lately.

It’s thrown out normal meal times off, which has adjusted our sleeping schedule and everything else, just like dominos. She actually craves some specific junk foods when she is sick, which makes things even more interesting.

Did Quitting Sugar Cause me to Get Sick?

sugarThe simple answer is No. Quitting sugar or anything you’re used to can cause withdrawal symptoms, which can mirror the flu. However, I quit eating added sugar back at the beginning of the year and have been very successful with it. Usually, withdrawal symptoms happen for up to the first two weeks.

I believe quitting sugar has allowed me to fight this cold offer faster than normal, as the other people I know that are sick have had it longer and a bit harder than I have. This may not truly be the case, but without sugar in your system, your immune system is supposed to become stronger, at least that is what some people say.

What Probably Made Me Sick

My wife got sick before me, so that is probably where I got it, but she picked it up from someone else who picked it up from someone else. Likely, it’s going around because the weather has been so up and down. One day it’s 70 degrees out and the next it’s 30.

I almost always catch colds when the weather is super inconsistent like this or at least end up with a pounding headache. My guess is this is what has caused the sickness to start and it has spread from there, but I am no scientist, so who knows.

I am hoping to get back to things by next Monday at the latest. This sickness has actually delayed me doing much of anything for lent, as I tried to start something, but just like all my other habits, it fell pretty fast.

It’s hard to stick to habits when you’re stick and feel like you can’t focus on anything. I am on the mend, however. I look forward to getting back to my regular habits and feeling human again.

7 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

2017

The New Year is only 26 days old or about 7% over and probably close to 75% of people making New Year’s resolutions have already given up or will before the end of the month. Did you grab that bag of potato chips after swearing off junk food? Have you forgotten about the gym for the past week after forking over two crisp $20s for a new membership at the beginning of January?

It doesn’t matter what your New Year’s Resolution was, you’ve probably already given up on it, started over or decided it’s not worth it. You may even be wondering why you made a resolution in the first place. After all, you’re life isn’t that bad. You’re only 30 pounds overweight, which doesn’t seem like that big of a deal.

All the rationalizations in the world start to pop into our minds round mid-January. You’ve tried waking up early to exercise for the past two weeks and were actually successful for about half of those days. However, it feels better to stay in bed and you convince yourself that you’ll exercise later in the day, but it never happens.

Before you throw in the towel and make 2017 a bit of a mirror for 2016, it might help to understand why we so often fail at New Year’s resolutions. Experts will spout of a number of different reasons and some of they are certainly true. However, the reason you specifically fail may not be the same as anybody else you know.

If you’re like me, you’ve struggled with New Year’s resolutions in the past. Maybe you even boycotted them a few times (I sure did), but now you want to make this year’s stick. Understanding why we fail may be the first step to success. Here are seven of the most common reasons why you can’t make that New Year’s resolution stick.

You Really Don’t Want to Change

change

While it may seem admirable in the moment, losing weight may not be something you really want to do. Sure, you’d like to be thinner and if it means a healthier overall life, that’s fine, too, but you really don’t want to do the work to change.

Losing weight isn’t about exercise and diet. In fact, those may be the last two words you ever want to hear again and the word diet may be the worst four-letter-word in the book. If you could just magically shed 25 pounds all would be right with the world.

However, that’s not how it works. With any New Year’s resolution, you will need to make changes in your life. If you want to lose weight this year, it won’t just be about getting up off your butt and moving more, but also about eating healthier foods and plenty of other changes. Maybe you need to wake up earlier to hit the gym or skip that Netflix marathon to grocery shop more often.

Any new habit (which is what a New Year’s Resolution is) requires change to enjoy the benefits. It’s easy to want to be skinnier and healthier, but without a good reason to change, the motivation can be sucked out of you before you really get started.

Instant Gratification Not Met

instant-gratification

Maybe the most common reason people don’t change today is due to the need for instant gratification. New Year’s resolutions seem all shiny and new in late December, but when January 7th rolls around and you step on the scale to see it’s only moved 0.5, you lose all motivation to continue.

We live in a society of instant gratification, but we cannot allow your New Year’s resolutions to fall prey to this trap. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and you can’t get to the finish line without falling a few times, getting back up and pushing forward.

Seemingly Unachievable Goals

unachievable-goals

Often, we bite off far more than we can chew, which can suck our motivation fast. Maybe you found out you’re 100 pounds overweight and your goal is to lose it all by spring. Well, you only have three months to do it, which means you need to lose, on average 33.33 pounds per month or more than one pound a day.

First, if this is your goal, that kind of weight loss is simply not healthy. Second, setting a goal like this is setting yourself up for failure.

We have to set goals that stretch us and make us push ourselves, but they also have to be achievable. It may be achievable to lose 100 pounds in a year (2 pounds a week for 52 weeks is reasonable and still healthy), but expecting this type of weight loss in just three months is a mistake.

Making your New Year’s resolution achievable will help to ensure you don’t quit. It’s much easier to stay motivated if you know you only need to lose 2 pounds a week and you find out in mid-January you’ve already lost 6 pounds.

You Don’t Have a Plan

no-plan

So many of us expect to wake up on January 1st and just get right to achieving our New Year’s Resolution. We don’t put together a plan because the resolution was really just something we said to others to make ourselves look good when they asked.

If you really want to change, you need a plan. Nobody loses 30 pounds by accident. They set the goal, break it down into smaller goals and put together a plan to achieve the goal. They take the time to figure out what they will eat, how much they can have and when they will eat.

Achieving your New Year’s resolution means you need a plan. If you didn’t make a plan for this year, you don’t have to give up. Instead, make your plan now and get started.

Never Defined Why

why

It’s fun to say, “I want to lose 30 pounds this year.” It makes us feel good in the moment after someone asked what our New Year’s resolution will be. However, the what isn’t going to happen unless you define the why.

The What – Lose 30 pounds
The Why – Because it sounds good

In this scenario, this is your what and your why. The what is pretty and would be wonderful, but the why is basically undefined and setting you up for failure.

Do you want to lose 30 pounds because you want to gain energy? Are you worried about your overall health? Are you single and you’d like to look your best before entering back into the dating world?

There are plenty of great reasons for losing 30 pounds, but if you never define the why, you’ll never accomplish the what.

Over Thinking Instead of Doing

over-thinking

You cannot think your resolution into fruition. You have to get off your butt and do. If you want to lose weight, you cannot stay still and think about it and expect the number on the scale to go down. Instead, you have to get up, move around, change your eating habits and do the things that will move you close to your goal.

Taking on Too Many Resolutions

too-many-resolutions

Are you that person that answers the resolution question with something like, “Oh, I have too many to count”? Taking on too many resolutions will most likely lead to failure.

While some will tell you to focus on one, that’s not what I believe everybody should do. Yes, it’s great to be laser focused on one new habit at a time, but you can actually stack your habits to achieve more in a shorter amount of time.

For example, my New Year’s resolutions for this year were to go to bed earlier, wake up earlier, exercise first thing in the morning, quit eating sugar and cut back on drinking alcohol. These all fit nicely together.

Going to bed earlier will most likely make waking up earlier easier. This is simply an adjustment in my schedule, which makes it really just two resolutions rolled into one.

Exercising first thing in the morning is far easier to do when you wake up earlier.

Quitting sugar and cutting back on alcohol are probably the hardest two. When you remove alcohol it’s common to crave sweets since many alcoholic drinks are loaded with sugar.

Out of all of my resolutions the only ones that take a large amount of willpower are quitting sugar and waking up early. However, the exercise helps with the sugar and the going to bed early helps with the waking up early. All of these resolutions work together, which makes them possible.

Of course, they are all designed to push me closer to my goal of getting back under the weight of 200 pounds. Plus, I have other goals for my productivity this year, which waking up earlier will help with.

You don’t need to focus on just one resolution at a time to achieve change in your life. If you have proper motivation, you can tackle multiple resolutions all leading you to one larger goal.

There are several other reasons why we don’t stick to our New Year’s resolutions. However, these are some of the most common. If you take the time to put together a plan and you have the proper motivation, you can achieve any change in your life you desire.

What’s holding you back? Why did you quit your New Year’s Resolution this year or are you still on track? Comment below and share your thoughts.