It was the start of my second year of medical school when I decided I wanted to wake up earlier. But this wasn’t simply a goal to wake up 30 minutes earlier. No, instead, I planned on being up at 4:30 AM from my original 8 AM wake up time!
Yes and no. While studying in medical school dominates the life of students, my new wake up time had nothing to do with medicine. Actually, that was the whole point!
Anyone on the path to becoming a doctor completes years of schooling and training before they finally become a full-fledged physician. I love medicine and patient care; thus I’m okay with the time sacrifice. What I’m not okay with is sacrificing opportunities to learn and enjoy hobbies outside of medicine. This is why 4:30 became my new favorite time.
I announced this goal on my blog as a 20-day challenge. I figured if I could do it for roughly 3 weeks, then maybe I could assess its benefits and feasibility.
Gradually 3 weeks has turned into almost over a year!
While not every day is easy, there are many reasons that waking up at such an early hour benefits me. Here are a few:
1. Time to Focus on Yourself:
Like I said, I love patient care and don’t regret the career path I’ve taken. Still, pursuing medicine requires time and a lot of it. Students and trainees can thus forgo their other hobbies and goals because of time constraints.
Waking up at odds hours gives me the opportunity to focus on myself before any of my other obligations. My priorities will be different than yours but the value of this time will be the same.
As a medical student, I don’t have enough time to focus on my other goals. In addition, I also don’t have dedicated time to learn about things outside of medicine. This is what I use these extra hours for. On some days I’m working on building up my blog and readership. On others, I’m spending a few hours finishing a book I’ve been wanting to read.
How you use your extra hours is up to you. Regardless, if you feel like there are not enough hours in a day for what matters to you, then these early hours may be for you.
2. Your Productivity Increases:
You would think that waking up at a crazy hour would just make you tired earlier. Instead, I’ve found that I’m energized! Maybe it’s the cup of black coffee, but I think it’s the realization of how much I get done before my old 8 AM wake-up time.
Not only are you already productive prior to walking into school or work, but you’re motivated to continue! Simply thinking about how much work you can complete before the sun even comes to work is powerful.
By 8 in the morning, I’ve done some reading, planned out my goals, meditated, exercised, typed 500 words, and am ready to start my day as a medical student.
When I begin to study for my courses, there’s no need to ease into it. My body is already conditioned to work. Thus my studying becomes easier and efficient. Similarly, you will find that it easier to focus on your studies, work, or task for the day.
Most importantly, over a period of weeks to months to years, you will start to make strides from who you were before. Every day you will be more motivated, productive, and closer to where you want to be.
3. Your Evenings are Now Free!
This obviously will vary for everyone, but I found myself finishing everything by 5 PM. This gave me 5–6 hours to enjoy my evening as I wished before bed.
These extra hours are golden for me to relax, spend times with loved ones, or play sports. Sometimes I also use them to similar to my earlier productive hours.
Simply having this buffer room in my schedule has made medical school less stressful. I know I can study more if I need to, but I can also call it a day and not immediately have to go to bed.
Wouldn’t you like a few extra hours in the evening to unwind or focus on who and what matters? Simply shifting your “start time” can allow you more freedom to do just that!
Waking up early is advice all of us have heard at some point or another — waking up 4:30, maybe not so much.
I’d recommend waking up 30 minutes to an hour earlier, a week at a time until you reach your desired time. Don’t expect this to be an easy change. But like anything that’s worth it, it’s worth the struggle. Eventually, it’ll become habitual and you’ll be addicted to the results.
If there is something specific you’d like me to address in a future blog post, comment below or email me at [email protected].
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If you’re a first or second-year medical student wanting guidance on how to succeed in medical school, read my book, The Preclinical Guide. I provide all the tips I wish I knew day one of medical school. Check out the book here.
Until next time…