I often have a lot of ideas for potential projects or tasks that I want to work on, but up until very recently I have had difficulty staying motivated and finishing anything.

For years I have tried to work on these projects after work or on the weekends, but I have been unable to consistently keep any sort of routine.

Solution

This April I stumbled upon a video titled “# 0430 Club (Josh)” on Youtube by the software company Thoughtbot. The video described a movement created by a former US Navy Seal where you challenge yourself to wake up each day at 4:30 AM and use that time to improve yourself.

It was from that video that I decided, rather than working on my projects in the afternoon, I should wake up earlier and make mornings the most productive part of my day.

After a little over two months, setting back my alarm clock 1 1/2 hours each morning has been the most impactful trick to boosting my motivation and productivity ever.

Due to this change, I’ve been able to hold my longest ever GitHub commit streak, which is still going strong at 2.5 months of daily commits.

There are several reasons why I believe this made such a positive impact on me:

  1. Fewer distractions - Nobody will be messaging you at 4:30 in the morning.
  2. You can start your day off already feeling accomplished
  3. You have no obligations to the world at 4:30 AM (groceries, meetings, appointments, etc)

Since I am able to reliably do this everyday, my mind and body have adapted to this routine and it’s now ingrained in me as a habit. I’m able to wake up with a purpose and a goal. While before, I might have laid in bed knowing I have plenty of time to get ready for work or perhaps go to the gym, now from the moment I wake up I know I have a task to complete and a set amount of dedicated time to work with.

Another major benefit I have discovered is if I am stuck on how I want to implement a feature I can have extra time to ponder about it while I’m going about my day. This contrasts to being stuck on a problem or being immersed in a project and then trying to fall asleep because I didn’t start working on my project until I came home from work.

Downsides?

The one downside I have experienced after making this change is that I do get sleepy earlier in the night. Prior to making this change, I would go to bed at 10:00 PM. Now that I am waking up earlier, I am usually asleep by 9:00 PM.

This could negatively affect your social life if you regularly interact with people that are on the opposite end of the sleep spectrum.