Can I Give You 30 Extra Hours Per Month?

This is pretty cool. At first it will "seem" like common sense... and then you'll think "that sounds great, but it's not for me" but FINALLY... once you get to the third step, it'll hit you like a ton of bricks. This has got to be the #1 boost to my productivity all year.

Please wake up early from now on. The "average" person wakes up at 7AM on weekdays, but you know what else? The "average" person...

  • is 15 pounds overweight
  • only has 0.8 friends
  • has an IQ of only 100
  • only earned "B's" and "C's" in high school
  • attended college but didn't finish
  • only earns $28,000 per year
  • is $2,500 in debt...

Do you want to be average or better than average?

Here's something to be said about above average people... what do the CEO's of Disney, Apple, General Motors, Virgin America, and Starbucks have in common? They're all out of bed by 5:00 AM!

My first reaction to this was, "What a bunch of workaholics! Glad I'm not one of those..." Until I discovered that although many successful people wake up early in order to get a "jump" on the day... the primary reason is for personal, quiet, reflective time.

If you're here, then chances you are:

  • A student (you usually wait until the last minute)
  • Self employed (self motivation is ultra-important)
  • Employed (your time is not your own from 8am-5pm)
  • A parent (enough said)
  • Retired (possibly fixed income, health concerns or time limitations)

Either way, waking up even one hour is the solution to most of your problems. In college I discovered firsthand that staying up late or "burning the midnight oil" does NOT work. It only leaves you stressed, tired, overworked, and burned out because you half-ass rush your assignments the night before, or the morning-of, don't you?

On the other hand, here's how I became financially independent (by that I mean property owning and self employed)... I woke up early, spent about ONE (maybe 1.5) VERY FOCUSED HOURS in the morning, and once that was done, I went in to my day job for 8 hours of loyal servitude. Here's what happened...

  • I separated "church" and "state" -- internet business stays at home, work stays at work
  • I actually had time to eat a good breakfast
  • I had time for a walk (or a run or swim for the crazy people)
  • I began the day with excitement

What's also great is after work, I could do other things... relax, personal time, visit friends and family. This broke me out of the Work-TV-Sleep cycle most people are stuck in.

I could go on about studies that have shown that the parts of our brain that affect judgment get tired over the course of the day which explains why people overeat, drink, and commit crimes late at night instead of early in the morning... but let's talk about you!

Step #1: Sleep Smarter

I'm not saying you have to go to sleep early, or sleep less hours, but you need to be a little more careful about how you go to sleep...

  1. Have a set time that you "usually" go to sleep
  2. Avoid using your computer, TV, phone or iPad one hour before sleeping (the glowing light causes sleep problems)
  3. Your bed is for sleeping only -- if you need to nap or perform other activities, use your couch
  4. Sleep in a dark, quiet area that's just a few degrees colder than you have during the day (a no brainer but so many people miss this)
  5. Avoid eating right before bed (another no brainer)
  6. Hypnosis & sleep headphones (my secret weapon)

If I really can't sleep or my sleep schedule is out of whack, I use hypnosis. (I used to experiment with melatonin and valerian root but it caused more problems than it solved.) Here's what I do...

I put on a pair of sleeping headphones (basically a headband with very thin headphones so you can lay however you want).

I plug the headphone into my iPad, activate airplane mode and open a hypnosis app -- I used to use the "BinauralBeat" app but now I use one called "Lucid Dreams."

Hypnosis only works if you let it. It takes about 10-20 minutes for me. The narrator tells me to relax this and that, imagine this and that, breath in this way, count down to this number, the next thing I know I wake up the next morning and I'm no longer wearing the headphones around my head.

Step #2: Wake Up Smarter

Having better sleep habits alone might help you. But we have those days where we don't have time for 8 hours of sleep, or we wake up groggy and keep snoozing for 10 more minutes... 10 more minutes... and now you've slept too long and you're running late.

With my limited understanding, we usually wake up groggy because our sleep pattern is interrupted. Haven't you slept too long, or had a dream that was interrupted, and you woke up feeling like crap? On the other hand, you've "accidentally" only slept 5 hours and felt fine the next day, because you had your REM sleep and woke up during a "light sleep" cycle.

The most amazing iPhone app ever (you can also run if you only own a $99 iPod Touch) is called Sleep Cycle. You place it under your pillow and it "somehow" tracks when you're awake, asleep, or in a deep sleep... based on its gyroscope and the movements you make in bed. You set a 30 minute window for the time you want to wake up, and it waits until "the best time" to do it.

  1. Use "Sleep Cycle" instead of a traditional alarm clock to wake you up
  2. Get in the habit of waking up at the same time every day
  3. Get out of bed, out of your bedroom, and preferably outside as soon as you wake up
  4. Use a "Philips GoLite" and multiple alarm clocks if waking up is still a problem
  5. Don't check email in the morning, relax and be productive instead

Step #3: Four Daily Tasks

Now that you wake up early, you have extra quiet time in the morning to wake up, relax, and get ready for the day. Once you start your day you'll get so much done even before lunchtime (before anyone has a chance to disrupt you) you'll want to use your time wisely.

I've said this so many times I'm almost sick of it. But this is what you need -- FOUR DAILY TASKS.

Have four tasks to complete every single day. COMPLETE. Not start, not do, not try, COMPLETE. "Checking email" is not a task. Getting "35% complete with ebook" is not a task. Writing one ebook chapter, that's a task. Sending an email to your autoresponder list, that's a money making task. Setting up a web page, that's a task. What works best for me: three 45 minute tasks and one 15 minute task.

Use those three techniques to use your time better, claim your additional 365 days in the year and live longer, and accomplish at least double what you did before.

Quick question: what time do you normally wake up to get started on your business, and what's your secret to waking up at that time?

Filed in: Productivity

Comments (32)

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  1. Judy Jackson says:

    Having the next day’s ‘stuff’ (business and personal) planned and set up the night before. That way you know what to do and have what’s necessary to do it ready… so you can get going instead of wasting time floundering around and ‘fixin’ to get ready’

  2. Getting enough rest at night is the first step
    to healthy living and having a successful day. I wake
    up early day 5:00 am meditation,prayer,exercise,how
    it get my day started. Thank you for information
    30 extra hours, great stuff.

  3. I’m thankful I sleep well, but I often wake up groggy or in the middle of a dream. Looking forward to trying the iPhone app you mentioned. I’m pretty consistent about bedtimes, but waking up ready to go would really help get the day moving.

    Thanks for sharing your personal experience, Robert. Big help!

    Theresa 😎

  4. Claire Koch says:

    Yes I just recently took steps to make sure I sleep I have cronic pain in my back when I don’t get at least 8 hours sleep so it is critical to me.

    Nobody ever really emphasised the finish what you are doing and be prepared for the next day before to me anyway and I am really seeing how mandatory this is.

    This post is a serious wake up. Thanks for changing my life

  5. A good routine is key.

    You’ve talked a lot about this on your webinars. Having systems to follow for your morning tasks, bedtime tasks and any other repetitive tasks that you don’t need to change because doing so would just make them take longer is a huge time saver for me.

    Once you’ve figured out the best way to do something, quit thinking about it and just trust your mind to get you through it as quickly as possible.

    Some people like to constantly change up repetitive tasks and do them differently every time.

    That’s a big mistake not to mention a huge waste of time.

    It’s been said that “a mind is a terrible thing…,” and I would agree that overuse of that critical analytical part can cause more harm than good.

    Our minds are incredibly powerful tools when we are performing automated tasks.

    Let your mind do what is does best. Let it take care of the boring stuff and save your creativity for the fun things you will have time for afterwards.

  6. Ken says:

    Excellently crafted post with many good points.
    Yes I love it when I get up at 5-ish AND exercise (preferably Tai Chi).

    However being a night-owl for many years (a natural tendency?) plus years of working swing shifts make it a –

    Try working “dog watches” at sea – 4 hours on / 4 hours off (24/7), IF you really want to experience sleep disruption of the highest order. 😉

  7. SA says:

    This is interesting. Unfortunately you didn’t link out to any conclusive data on “Either way, waking up even one hour is the solution to most of your problems. ”

    One of the sole reasons I started a business is because of this: I’m not an early riser! From the time of pre-k I never got up early. The establishment would have me believe that anyone who doesn’t get up early wouldn’t be successful – “the early bird gets the warm” blah blah blah

    Wrong. We live in a global economy. If I get up at 12pm, I’m still 6 to 12 hours ahead of certain parts of the world. If you kind 2000 people with a problem some place on this planet and solve a deep, maslow style need for $40/mo – you have a 7 figure business – that let’s you sleep in.

    The point I’m making here is that our lives should be built around our own individualized productivity cycles not absolutes. The only “absolute” is in business is that when you charge a price higher than your cost of acquisition – you will be around along time, haha

  8. Howard says:

    I recently listened to a podcast on this subject on the BulletProof Executive blog:

    He gave roughly the same advice about hacking your sleep, but with a bit more science behind it. I was a bit surprized that he appeared to disagree with Dave Asprey on a couple of key points.

  9. Here I am.

    I chose to listen and follow directions today.

    You asked me to come by Robert and comment.

    Will do.

    I was on your Time Management on Crack webinar Live this week. Normally, I just catch the replays.

    My answer to your Questio

  10. sobbycv says:

    hi, Thanks for your wonderfull Information
    I would also like to add my thoughts to this

    when going to sleep ,think thoughts of your goals as already achieved.Thank god and the universe for the success with your goals & keep that thought as you slowly drift into sleep.keep only 1 goal at a time till you achieve that

    same thing when waking up, thank the universe for fullfilling your goal and think vividly of your goals as achieved

    Both takes only few minutes and brings wonderfull results in bringing wealth and abundance into your life

    Make money

  11. Howard says:

    Another hack I learned about from a Jimmy Moore podcast is L-Tyrosine. If you are in the habit of hitting “snooze,” try taking some L-Tyrosine immediately before hitting the snooze button the first time. I take 2.5g of the stuff when I first get up, and it has a subtle “wake-up” stimulus that actually makes coffee irrelevant. I find that when I take L-Tyrosine, I can skip the morning coffee — or drink some, but it doesn’t make enough difference either way to notice.

    L-Tyrosine is an amino acid, fairly cheap and available online or from nearly any health-food store, but you may have to take 4 or more 500mg capsules before you notice any effect (as I mentioned, I take 5 capsules first thing in the morning). For fastest and most noticeable effect, take on an empty stomach. One of the potential side-effects is headache, so start out with 500mg.

    I have also found that it is a mild appetite suppressant. If I take another 2.5g dose about 30 minutes before lunch, I find that I am satisfied with less food, which in turn reduces any afternoon drowsiness. It’s supposed to have other health benefits, but I haven’t really noticed anything other than the wakefulness enhancement and appetite suppression, and neither effect is extremely strong.

  12. Here I am.

    I chose to listen and follow directions today.

    You asked me to come by Robert and comment.

    Will do.

    I was on your Time Management on Crack Webinar Live this week. Normally, I just catch the replays.

    My answer to your Question here Robert
    … “What time do you normally wake up to get started on your business, and what’s your secret to waking up at that time?”

    … “I don’t have a usually waking time. I realize that it would be best for me if I did. I get up when I feel like it. I have no set business hours. I get easily distracted. I love to research and I branch off a lot. I spin my wheels a lot. I have tons of skills, but I burnt myself out at a crucial stage of my online career so I have never capitalized. I have a confidence issue which you wouldn’t expect that I had because of my abilities yet it keeps me from asking for any money for what I do and from completing the courses I should be offering which are in my head mostly. I know videos are the way and there should be no excuse for me to create a whole bunch, except for my issues with my self. I am trying to charter a new course. The inertia of my life must change. @MoniqueCloutier

  13. Karin Olson says:

    Thanks for this, Robert. I think the best compliment I can give to your article is to say that I just forwarded it to all of my close friends.

  14. Hi Claire,

    I just wanted to reach out and say that I am happy that this post by Robert has helped you.

  15. Annie says:

    Self hypnosis is the way I get to sleep. But rarely before 11pm, then I can sleep for up to 10 hours if not disturbed. This gives me a welcome break from my osteo arthritis. On the other hand my husband is ready for sleep by 9PM and awake by 5AM. Neither of us seems able to change – so we sleep in separate rooms.

  16. Ray says:

    Waking up early is definitely the key. I started waking up earlier to exercise in the morning and I couldn’t be happier about the decision.

    I’m going to try out the sleep app too.

  17. Kenergizer says:

    I’m going to bed now. Only THIS time, I’m going to bed with an iphone under my pillow. Can’t wait to see what the experience is like! 🙂
    Thanks, Mr. Plank!

  18. Good stuff, although I’ll admit that sleep is rarely a problem for me. Another tip that works is one called the “Pomodero Technique”; the short version of it is that you use a system where you concentrate on a task (AND ONLY that task) for 25 minutes straight using a timer.

    Then, have the timer give you a 5 minute break. Rinse and repeat.

    I find if you use a clock to completely dedicate yourself to a single task, you take out a lot of potential for wasted time.

  19. Great reminder, Robert. I used to be insomniac, and used Holosync for years to sleep and sleep well.

    I may do it again. Where do you buy the sleep-headphones? Where did you get yours?

    I have known about the sleep cycles since 1987… and then, for three years, I slept exactly 3.5 hours a night, that is two sleep cycles.

    I was well, I was energized, and I built skills most people go to university to get. I went from architect to magazine publisher with superior skills to compose a magazine, design display ads, use Photoshop, PageMaker, QuarkXpress, databases… instead of sleeping my life away.

    And your four daily tasks, I resist it with all my might, lol, are the best thing to make sure that the doing gets done in the right direction.

    I am about to launch a new course in a new way: this is the time to get hooked on this habit again: the results won’t happen unless I do it this way: I am scared of doing something so ambitious and new.

    Anyway, thank you again.

  20. hil says:

    I have struggling mightily with getting my work done…!
    So this advice is GREAT, Robert!

    My trick to getting up on time is to drink extra water
    before I go to sleep.

  21. joyce says:

    get up when want and do what I want

  22. John Harmer says:

    I’m not quite average since my IQ is 136, I have 3 university degrees, and ran my own business. And I worked hard for the degrees and in my own business

    When you get to my age,and realise that you have been working for about double the number of years that Robert has been alive,sleep patterns get a bit erratic.

    That said, his suggestions are valid. When I was running my own business, I was always up, exercised, and had done a couple of hours work before breakfast. Its the only way to succeed.

  23. Michele says:

    I still am a night owl and this has got to change. I am no spring chicken any more and this going to bed real late business is scuppering my day.

    I am going to try and switch off at 10:00pm. Do other things, go to bed at 11:00pm and wake up at 6:00am and get some quiet productive work done. Luckily I have dogs so that’s my exercise taken care of every morning after I drop my kid off at school.

    Am interested in learning more about those hypnosis headphones of yours. I could do with some uninterrupted peaceful sleep!

  24. You made some great points, Robert. I am unofficially a member of the “5 o’clock Club,” which means that my goal is to get up at 5:00 a.m. I did that for a long time and it made a huge difference. Unfortunately that rarely works anymore because of my issues with sleeping.

    My body doesn’t seem to like more than 4-5 hours sleep and I know that’s not healthy. If I go to bed before a certain time I wake way too early then at 5:00 am I’m too sleepy to function. I now find it more effective to work later then sleep through until 6 or 6:30 a.m. Establishing a pattern does help.

    Checking emails first thing can delay getting off to a productive start but balance is essential. I like to quickly check if any of my clients need a quick response to anything, place important emails in folders to read or deal with later…then move on.

  25. rosie says:

    How did the headphones come off your head during the night?

  26. Robert Plank says:

    Rosie: I wake up an hour or two later after the audio has run out, remove the headphones and fall back to sleep. But I’m not awake long enough to remember doing it.

  27. Karson says:

    Hey Robert,

    Thanks for the article. I’ve had trouble sleeping lately and I just got the sleep cycle app. Look forward to giving it a go. Might just have to try that sleep hypnosis stuff too.


  28. Definitely don’t fit any of the averages you mentioned. My current schedule is much more driven by my night time work hours so it may be tough to switch to a 5 am wake up. I do see the benefits of starting the day on a solid note and building from there.

    Thanks for the great information and keep it up

  29. Actually, on the subject of sleep I can add a valuable tip. I found out six-seven years ago that I had sleep apnea. It is a disease that is treated using a CPAP-machine – the opposite of a vacuum cleaner. This machine blows air into your nose so you don’t forget to breathe. Actually, some 3-5% of the population have this disease, so when people feel like crap when they wake up it might be time to get this checked. Your GP knows how to get you checked at the local hospital where you will sleep with a measuring machine for a night, and then the sleep patterns can be identified.

    But when I also studied sleep patterns, I found out I could sleep better for six hours than if I slept 7 hours. Exactly due to both REM- and other phases of sleep. Each sleep cycle takes approximately 1½ hours – 90 minutes.

    So if you have five hours before you need to get up, set your alarm to four hours and forty minutes if you know you can fall asleep straight away rather than getting into another cycle.

    Therefore my sleep pattern is always divided into 4½-6-7½ or 9 hours at best. In this way I have been far more alert after only 6 hours than crappy sleep for 7 hours and 10 minutes when I began focusing on 90 minute intervals. I even experience waking up five-ten minutes before my alarm sound on my Nokia 100.

    Thanks for a good blog. 🙂

  30. This is a really interesting set of tips, Robert.

    I have issues sleeping, and I’ve always been a super late person. Like, my best work time seems to be between 10pm and 2am. I’m usually a MACHINE during those hours. But keeping a schedule like that presents its own set of issues, obviously.

    I’ve used hypnosis with good results before, but I haven’t even thought about those special headphones lately. I think I’ll get some asap. I use the “BrainSync” system by Kelley Howell and I love it (I use it for sleep and focus.)

    But I found this post at a good time because my husband has a new job that runs on 12 hour shifts. 5 to 5 – am to pm or pm to am – and we’re not sure which shift he’s going to end up with yet. While it isn’t a HUGE deal right now since he’s out of state for training, I’ve been wondering how I’m going to get myself onto his schedule once he gets put on a shift officially. My current sleep time is going to be at the most inopportune time of day no matter which shift he gets! LOL!

    I know it’s going to take changing my habits one direction or another, but I think you’ve given me some great ideas here. I have insomnia, so I wake up randomly at night, and then I am terrible about snoozing my alarm a bunch of times because of that. It seems like getting up is a battle I wage every day.

    So thank you for reminding me of those headphones, and telling me about that phone app. I have an android, so I’ll see if they have something compatible for my phone. I would love to reclaim the beginning of my day and turn it into something fun and energetic – no matter what hour my day begins at. 🙂

  31. Carl Picot says:

    Hi Robert

    My sleeping is pattern is destroyed right now … and my loathing for my day job means that I leave getting up until the last second.

    I usually burn the midnight oil and work on my IM stuff till at least 2 in the morn..

    I’m going to try what you say and get some of those headphones as well …

    but not now as its 04:40 and Im still awake

    When I get back to day job work tomorrow.

    Cant wait to be self employed 🙂

    cheers Carl

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