Lessons learned from waking up at 5:00 AM every day for the past 30 days

A month ago I set a challenge to myself to wake up every day at 5:00 AM for 30 days. I started on May 1 and the challenge went until May 30.

That was the intention. The result was a little different. So my blog post title was a bit misleading. The goal of the challenge was to get up at 5:00 AM every day but the result wasn’t quite every single day.

DAY BY DAY RESULTS

Things started out pretty good. In the first 9 days, I got up at 5:00 AM 7 times…
Friday, May 1 — Got up at 5:00 AM
Saturday, May 2 — Got up at 5:00 AM
Sunday, May 3 — Got up at 5:00 AM
Monday, May 4 — Got up at 5:00 AM
Tuesday, May 5 — Got up at 5:00 AM
Wednesday, May 6 — Got up at 7:45 AM
Thursday, May 7 — Got up at 5:00 AM
Friday, May 8 — Got up at 5:00 AM
Saturday, May 9 — Got up at 8:30 AM

In the middle of the challenge I went on vacation so I knew (ahead of time) that these 3 days wouldn’t count…
Sunday, May 10 — N/A
Monday, May 11 — N/A
Tuesday, May 12 — N/A

Vacation’s over. Back in the game! It was a bit of a struggle at first…
Wednesday, May 13 — Got up at 5:00 AM
Thursday, May 14 — Got up at 8:00 AM
Friday, May 15 — Got up at 5:00 AM
Saturday, May 16 — Got up at 9:00 AM
Sunday, May 17 — got up at 8:30 AM

… But then I got into a groove for a week and it went pretty well…
Monday, May 18 — Got up at 5:00 AM
Tuesday, May 19 — Got up at 5:00 AM
Wednesday, May 20 — Got up at 5:00 AM
Thursday, May 21 — Got up at 5:00 AM
Friday, May 22 — Got up at 5:00 AM
Saturday, May 23 — Got up at 5:00 AM
Sunday, May 24 — Forgot to post. Woke up around 8:30 AM.
Monday, May 25 — Got up at 5:00 AM

Things started to fall off the rails near the end as I got sick…
Tuesday, May 26 — Got up at 8:30 AM
Wednesday, May 27 — Forgot to post. Didn’t wake up at 5:00 AM
Thursday, May 28 — Got up at 6:00 AM
Friday, May 29 — Got up at 5:00 AM
Saturday, May 30 — Got up at 8:30 AM

My challenge was for 30 days and I got up at 5:00 AM only 17 days in total. That’s not a great number, although there were 3 days in there (during my vacation) when the challenge was placed “on hold” and I knew ahead of time that I wouldn’t even try to get up at that time, so that’s a bit better.

LESSONS LEARNED

I learned a lot during this challenge. Here are some of the lessons:

  • Getting up at 5:00 AM is WAY easier than I used to think it would be. In fact, even though there were circumstances that kept me from getting up every day, I’m really proud of the 17 days I did get up at 5:00 AM!
  • I am SO much more productive between 5:00 AM and 12:00 PM than I am at any other time of the day. When I get up at 5:00 AM, I get all my work done at this time and that gives me the afternoon and evening to do whatever I want (work, play, whatever).
  • This challenge also helped to connect my brain to my body a bit more. By that I mean: I realized that I can have a productive morning if I wake up alert or if I wake up groggy, but if I wake up really sleepy then I’m of no use to anyone and my writing is garbage. Therefore, I have 2 possible “tracks” to take in the morning (alert/groggy, or, sleepy), so now I need to figure out how to increase the likelihood of waking up alert (or, at the very least, groggy) instead of sleepy.
  • Routines help: When I follow a pre-bed routine, I am more likely able to wake up at 5:00 AM than if I skip my routine. Although I don’t have exact numbers on this, it seems like my pre-bed routine has potentially greater impact on my sleep quality (and on how I feel when I wake up) than how much sleep I get.
  • Environment helps: Before this challenge I tried waking up at 5:00 AM and failed miserably (which is what prompted the challenge). What helped was: for this challenge I moved my phone into the dining room so I had to get up and walk through my house to turn my alarm off… and while I passed through the kitchen I turned the kettle on. That environmental shift made it so much easier to get up and stay up.
  • Accountability helps: There were 2 or 3 days during this challenge when I didn’t really want to get up at 5:00 AM but I also didn’t want to admit on my blog that I failed. So I got up and stayed up.
  • Activity helps: I try to do a bit of activity (most squat thrusts and stretching) in the morning to help get the blood pumping. It makes a big difference.

Even though the results weren’t as consistent as I hoped, I really liked this challenge a lot and I can’t express enough how much more productive I am when I wake up at 5:00 AM versus any other time of the day. So going forward I’m going to continue this practice.

The 5:00 AM challenge (30/30)

Well that was kind of an ignominious end to the 5:00 AM challenge.

Last night I was still feeling sick so I took some medicine and went to bed. I ended up sleeping until 8:30 this morning! Even now (at about 9:45 AM) I’m still pretty wiped out. Head’s stuffed up, muscles are achy, etc. Not feeling too hot. The past few days have been like that, which is not how I hoped to finish the challenge.

But overall, I’m really happy with the challenge and the results. Although I didn’t get up at 5:00 AM every single day of the challenge like I wanted to, I was successful most days of the challenge and I was MASSIVELY productive this month as a result.

If I can find a silver lining in disappointing end to the challenge, it’s this: I loved the challenge, I love getting up at 5:00 AM every morning, and I’m going to continue this practice going forward (although maybe I’ll reserve one day a week for sleeping in a bit!)

Stay tuned tomorrow because I’ll share a bunch of lessons I’ve learned during this challenge.

The 5:00 AM challenge (29/30)

Good morning! It’s 5:30 AM and I got up at 5:00 AM this morning! (Whew) Even though I’m a little under the weather, I am feeling a bit better and I definitely didn’t want to fizzle out on the last couple days of my challenge to get up at 5:00 AM. So I knocked back some Neo Citran (my “drug” of choice when I get a head cold) and went to bed REALLY early yesterday. Had a fantastic sleep and woke up feeling refreshed and ready to go today. Awesome. Yeah, I’ve still got a bit of a sore throat but not as bad as yesterday. Which is good because I have A LOT to do in the next few days!

Gotta run.

Stay productive!

The 5:00 AM challenge (28/30)

Good morning! It’s 6:20 AM and I got up 20 minutes ago. For three frustrating days, I’ve failed at my challenge to wake up at 5:00 AM.

But now I have an answer why…

On Tuesday, I woke up at 5:00 AM and was utterly exhausted. I shut off my alarm and crawled back into bed and slept for hours. I blogged that wasn’t sure what the reason was for how extremely tired I was.

Yesterday, the same thing happened and I missed blogging about it altogether. But I started to get some clues: I was achy, tired, there was something in my throat, and it was a struggle to get any work done. I went to bed early.

Today… yeah, I’m sick. Sore throat. Aches. Pretty tired. I was still able to get up early-ish (6:00 AM) because I went to bed early last night and had a great sleep. But I could easily go back to bed, which I might do after my deadlines.

Normally I try to push through this stuff but I’ve got a lot of demands on my time and my body coming up in the next couple of weeks and I need to be operating at my best to deliver. So I’m going to do whatever I need to do today to get through and then probably head to bed with some hot lemon water.

Okay, gotta push through on some projects until I can call it quits for the day.

Stay productive!

How to publish your book on CreateSpace

How do I publish my book on CreateSpace?” I get asked this question a lot so I’m writing the info here so that it’s hopefully helpful to lots of people.

Before I answer the question, let me just say that CreateSpace is not the only place to publish your book but in my experience it’s the best place to do so right now. Although CreateSpace isn’t perfect, nothing is and the benefits outweigh the challenges (in my opinion).

Before CreateSpace was even an option, I was thinking about publishing through Lulu.com but CreateSpace provides easier access to Amazon, which is a buyer’s marketplace and THE place to go when you want to sell your book.

So, assuming that you want to publish on CreateSpace instead of anywhere else, this blog post is for you.

I’m also going to assume that your book is written. You can do step 1 (below) without having written the book but I think you should write your book first. It’s the hardest part. That’s all I’m going to say about book writing — anything else is outside of the scope of this blog post.

HOW TO PUBLISH YOUR BOOK ON CREATESPACE

Go to http://www.createspace.com and sign up for a free account. Your Amazon account won’t work there; you’ll need to create a new one.

Once signed in, click Add New Title and you’ll basically work your way through CreateSpace’s following workflow to publish your book:

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So let’s look at the first one (on the left)…

CREATE

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Ignore this step. Well, you can do it if you want but it doesn’t really directly contribute to the publishing of your book. I’m sure it’s helpful but I’ve never done it.

SETUP

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In this step, you’ll add the basic info for your book. You can change up the title and author name as you refine those. Note: The title and author name need to exactly match the book cover! (Your subtitle does not need to appear on the cover).

You can also choose from a variety of methods of obtaining your ISBN but the fastest, easiest, and cheapest way is just to get CreateSpace to issue you one.

You can do a lot of the work ahead of time, even advancing to some of the later workflow steps, but it’s still in this Setup step when you upload your book’s content (in the Interior step) and design your cover.

When you click on the Interior link, you can download a pre-formatted Microsoft Word template that you should copy and paste your book into. The template is very convenient to set up but I’ve noticed one frustrating problem: It’s a GIGANTIC filesize and can be a resource hog and is really inconvenient to email when you’re collaborating. So I suggest to people that they create their down document to write their book, and then, when they’re ready to publish, convert it.

Once formatted, I also suggest that you convert it to PDF and then upload the PDF version. You can upload the Word version (and I have for some books) but I’ve found that CreateSpace sometimes makes slight formatting adjustments and they messed up my Word version of the document. But if I upload a PDF that problem (of course) doesn’t exist.

When you upload your book, CreateSpace will automatically scan your book and let you know if it detects any problems and you can always upload other versions if you make corrections.

Also in the Setup step is creating the cover. Amazon has their own cover creator which is okay but not great. I used it for my Sales Funnel Bible book because I was fine with the simple cover but it’s not a great cover. You can get one designed by a designer (note: The cover has some very exacting standards when it comes to the size of the spine so make sure you know exactly how many pages are in your book before you get your cover created!)

When you’ve uploaded a version of the interior that you’re happy with, and when you’ve created the cover, then you complete the set-up.

CreateSpace will check your file — I think by a human. (They say it usually takes less than 24 hours and indeed they are pretty quick… I think 18 hours is the most I’ve had to wait).

After they check your file then you’re ready to move on to the next step…

REVIEW

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In this section you can get a printed copy shipped to yourself or you can review the book digitally. If this is your very first published book, I recommend shipping yourself a copy. It doesn’t cost much and it’s really informative to see it in print. I made a lot of changes once I’d seen my physical copy. I made the changes and had the option to ship myself another copy (although my subsequent reviews have all been digital). I also love how fast CreateSpace is at sending out review copies. Seriously, it’s amazingly fast.

You can continue through the following sections (below) while you review your book. But once you’ve reviewed your book and are happy with it, then you go back to CreateSpace and click on Proof Your Book (see below) and you’ll have a chance to review it again or approve it.

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You can continue with the following steps before, during, and after you review and approve your book.

DISTRIBUTE

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You can set a lot of this stuff up while you are waiting for your book to be reviewed or a review copy shipped to you.

Channels are the places that CreateSpace will sell your books. They have 3 default channels: Amazon, Amazon Europe, and CreateSpace estore. I sell books through the first two but I suspect the third one is kind of a filler channel; I don’t make sales through here nor do I ever point someone to this channel.

They have 3 other channels you can select for something called “Expanded distribution” and they include bookstores, libraries and academic institutions, and CreateSpace direct. Again, I’ve sold books through the first two and the last one seems kind of pointless to me.

A note about distribution to Canada: As a Canadian, I have a lot of Canadian friends and family and clients (but mostly friends and family!) who want to buy the book from Amazon.ca. And after publishing my book on CreateSpace I tried to figure out how to get it distributed to Amazon.ca. I did some research and basically discovered that Amazon.com and Amazon.ca operate very differently and publishing from CreateSpace will automatically publish to Amazon.com but not necessary to Amazon.ca. There isn’t really a way to easily get your books to Amazon.ca, you just have to hope that it happens. (Well, I guess there is a workaround: If you become your own book distributor but this requires you to get the books printed from CreateSpace and sent to you and then you send them out — not a very efficient or cost-effective process, in my opinion). That said, my wife and I have both published booked on CreateSpace and they appeared on Amazon.ca in under a month. So either they are not automatically pushing over everyone’s books or they somehow determine that ours are to be sold in Canada.

Next is price. Price is pretty straightforward. You need to set the price for your book. This is the hardest part because — hey — you want to make some money on your book but you also want it to be affordable for people to buy. Fortunately, you can change this easily (the price isn’t printed on your book cover unless you put it there). I do a lot of writing and thinking about price and pricing strategies on this blog so you might want to do some reading about that here, although this is generic (for any product or service) and not specific to book publishing.

Amazon sets a minimum price you HAVE to sell your book at (and I presume they’re building in some basic printing costs as well as profit into that price). This is the retail price you’re setting — you can buy your own books at a lower cost (I believe it’s Amazon’s minimum, although I might be wrong).

Cover Finish is a funny step because all you do is select whether you want glossy or matte, although I’m not sure why you don’t do that in the cover step during set-up. (shrug)

Description is where you write the book’s description and your author bio, as well as select some other sorting/finding tools like the BISAC code (you can only choose one) and search keywords for the book.

Publish on Kindle is an optional step. If you choose to publish on Kindle, your CreateSpace ID won’t work. You’ll need to sign in at kdp.amazon.com with your Amazon ID and you can connect those two accounts here. They will try to convert your book for your although you might want to re-upload your own version with some adjustments (which is what I had to do because their conversion looked weird).

SALES AND MARKETING

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I never use this tab. Partly because the Sales Tracking can be done on the page you get to when you first sign in, and partly because Marketing Resources is okay but not as robust as one might like, while Get Ideas has some potential but it links you to the CreateSpace Community forums.

YOU’RE DONE!

Just follow through step-by-step and you’re done. Your book publishes on Amazon! Of course there are more steps in the follow-up to market your book and make sales, plus (depending on where you live) there might be some payment/taxation information you’ll need to share with Amazon but that’s all outside of the scope of this post.

Follow these steps and publish that book!