“Routine, in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition.”
― W. H. Auden
Read Time: 6 minute
Routine – it's become a dreaded word in our culture, a word we closely correlate with monotony.
But for the next 21 days, we want you to break that notion.
When directed towards what matters, routine is what will allow us to stay on track, reduce the willpower we need, and move further, faster.
By definition, a routine is simply a sequence of actions you follow regularly. In this post, we'll be talking about the routines you set up and follow each morning and night. These routines are what will ensure you are able to create the space you need and give you something to go back to when you stumble.
If you take the time to set them up properly and, most importantly, stick to them, you'll walk away from 21 Damn Early Days way further than you thought possible.
To help us shift from the monotony of a "routine" to something that matters, we call our routines, "rituals".
It will help re-frame it in your mind as something that matters to you success.
Starting With Bedtime
Getting up at 4:30AM doesn’t start when your alarm clock goes off, it starts the afternoon before.
Yep – a full 12 hours before you wake up you should be thinking about it because the decisions you make then will effect how easy it is for you.
We've got some things to think about and do below:
1. Your Bedtime
This is one of the biggest things you'll need to understand.
Answer the question: how many hours of sleep do you need?
For most men, it’s between 7 and 9 hours and for most women it’s 8 to 9 hours. Of course, this is a uniquely individual thing that you have to figure out for yourself.
Spend time figuring this out and then count back from 4:30AM – that’s your bed time. If you need 7.5 hours of sleep, then you need to be asleep by 9PM. Given that it takes roughly 15 – 30 minutes to fall asleep, you should be in bed with the lights out by between 8:30PM and 8:45PM.
This might sound early right now, but once you get the hang of early mornings and realize how much you can accomplish early on in the day, it won't be seem so bad.
1. figure out how much sleep you need.
2. determine what you bed time is.
3. Stick to it. No BS.
2. Build a Night Time Ritual
The easiest way to consistently get to bed at an hour you aren't used to is to have a ritual around it. Our bodies are way smarter than most give them credit for and creating a night time ritual will serve as a cue that it should start getting ready for sleep.
During it you can prep yourself for bed, drink herbal tea, read a book, journal, prepare for the next morning (setting up coffee, getting out gym clothes, etc.), mediate to something that calms you, set your alarm, and/or mentally go through the process of getting up in the morning.
Keep things simple and calming, and you will thank yourself the next morning.
Preparing for the morning the night before is one of those little things that makes a huge difference. If you nail your nighttime routine, early mornings will be easy.
You are much more likely to get out of bed and hit the gym if you were in bed on time, your bag is packed, and all you have to do it throw on your shoes and head out the door.
Three simple rules to your ritual. Your ritual should:
- Take at least 15 minutes.
- Be similar each night.
- Be done at the same time each night.
1. Develop AND WRITE DOWN YOUR evening ritual.
2. Set your alarm for 30, 10, and 0 minuteS before You want to start.
I need a solid 7.5 hours each night and generally fall asleep quickly, so I need to be in bed by 8:45PM and asleep by 9:00PM. I like to do a little more with my night time routine as I use it to decompress from the day, remind myself where I'm at, and get prepped for the next so I budget 30 minutes.
Here's an example of what it'll look like:
7:45PM - First alarm goes off telling me I have 30 minutes until I have to start winding down.
8:05PM - Second alarm goes off, telling me I have 10 minutes. I begin shutting down what I'm doing.
8:15PM - Alarm goes off, make tea, shut off my phone, and set my alarm for tomorrow.
8:15PM - Turn on some chill music. I use the same song each night, which tells my body it's time to go to bed. Spend the next 15 minutes decompressing from the day, writing down thoughts, going over what happened that day, understanding what went well and what did, and looking at my agenda for tomorrow. This takes about 15 minutes.
8:30PM - Brush my teeth, read a book for 15 minutes.
8:45PM - Crawl into bed.
9:00PM - Good night.
1. PUT YOUR RITUAL SOMEWHERE YOU WILL SEE IT EVERY DAY.
3. Tried and tested evening Rules
Trust us when we say we've messed this up just about every single way you can.
Whether it's been 21 Damn Early Days or the chases we've done, more than once we've found ourselves sitting there at midnight, wired and not able to fall asleep.
To save you the struggles, we've put down some of the best rules for making your nights easy:
1. Ditch The Phone
As powerful as they are, your phone is likely the biggest distraction in your life. We recommend leaving your phone charging outside of the bedroom and investing in a $20 on an alarm clock to get you up each morning.
This does two things:
- It stops you from being on your phone in bed and
- It forces you to get up to check-in each morning.
2. Technology Cut-Off
Speaking of technology, we recommend cutting it out at least an hour before bed. The blue light from your phone/computer screen will tell your brain to stay awake and stop the production of melatonin (the sleep hormone). Unplugging at least an hour before will tell you body it's allowed to fall asleep.
3. Food Cut-Off
Do not eat 2 hours before bed. It makes a huge difference in the quality of your sleep.
4. Caffeine Cut-Off
Cut out caffeine six (yes, 6) hours before bed. That means if bedtime is 9PM, then 3PM is your last call for lattes.
5. Gym Cut-Off
If fitness is a part of your daily routine, get your work outs in by the early afternoon at the latest. Exercising late in the day can signal to your body that it shouldn't be ready to sleep yet.
Better yet, sweat damn early each day.
6. Have A Plan and Stay The Course
You are saying yes to an unbelievable set of mornings, so stick to your plan and feel good about saying no to other things that come up last minute.
No to a late meal, no to going out (even for just one drink), no to (insert pseudo FOMO or shiny object here).
7. Last but not least, have some damn confidence in yourself.
You got this. Enough said.