Jan 24, 201911:51 AMOpen Mic
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3 ways to make the 4 a.m. club work for you
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“Early to bed, early to rise makes a [wo]man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” — Ben Franklin
You’ve heard it said a million times before: the early bird catches the worm, and in the opinion of many highly successful people, the phrase is much more than a cliché. The benefits of an extremely early morning routine have been touted by so many self-made celebrities that the “4 a.m. Club” has become a part of the public vernacular. Any web search will pull up a dozen articles with contradictory research on the benefits and downsides of the routine, along with firsthand accounts of people “taking the 4 a.m. challenge.”
These trials are often full of negative impressions: disorientation in the dark hours before dawn, a mid-afternoon slump that belies productivity, and by dinnertime, the inability to form coherent sentences. Then, almost as quickly as it begins, the challenge is over, sworn off forever as an unrealistic, unachievable, and borderline inhumane goal.
Yet 4 a.m. remains the magic hour for many world changers like Oprah, Michelle Obama, and Tim Cook, and experience has taught me why. In my world, it’s a time of quiet, focus, determination, and accomplishment.
My routine is not without naysayers. An 8 p.m. bedtime with a 4 a.m. wake-up call has made me the subject of much critique over the years. Many people feel uncomfortable with my choice, claiming that my practices are unhealthy and not sustainable for the long term. Yet I’ve found deep joy in the practice.
As an entrepreneur and the mother of a growing family, high-paced days at my desk and endless days on the road are only outpaced by high-energy evenings and weekends with my family of five. My favorite use of this early morning time is for my own personal development and self-care so that I can be at the top of my game during the remaining hours of the day. By waking up at 4 a.m., I’m able to routinely take time for myself. I work out while listening to audiobooks, I meditate while I stretch, I prepare a healthy breakfast — and most importantly, I tackle my most critical work of the day while enjoying my espresso — all before 7 a.m.
If this is something you’ve wanted to try but haven’t yet managed to find success in, here are a few keys I’ve found to making this routine not only possible, but extremely enjoyable as well.
Check your DNA
Have you ever referred to yourself as a “morning person” or “night owl”? We typically use these terms to indicate our preferred time of productivity — but they can signify something much more fundamental to our being. Our tendency to be productive at certain times of the day is often hardwired in us, an internal clock that’s determined by our DNA. This genetic predisposition is called our chronotype. If you identify as a night owl, then you can stop reading now. This method is not for you and it never will be. In fact, research shows a correlation to weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease if you try to force an extra early wake time when your DNA is telling you otherwise. But if you feel like you do your best work in the morning, or maybe you’re not sure, than the 4 a.m. club could be for you.