I copied the routine of a company director who gets up at 3:30 am every day -- here's what it was like

Early start wake up iPhone alarmCyrus Engineer/Business InsiderThe 03:30 alarm was in. My usual working day alarm was out.

Business Insider recently brought you the story of Dan Lee — a company director who starts his day at 3.30 am.

Lee’s incredibly early start allows him to get the very maximum out of his days (he has often completed more by 7.15 am then some do in an entire day.)

Successful people in all walks of life have often risen in the early hours. Apple CEO Tim Cook is known to get out of bed at around 4 am while sporting greats Floyd Mayweather Jr and Tiger Woods have been known to hit the gym at before the sun rises.

So I thought I would give Lee’s gruelling early starts a go, for one week.

Here’s how my morning routine looked during the week.

3.30 am — Wake up, drink two litres of water, two cups of coffee or tea, and a smoothie.

3.45 am — I then began reading as, unlike Lee, or Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian, I do not have a pet to spend quality time with.

4.45 am — A 45-minute run around north London, usually a distance of roughly 5 miles (8 km).

5.30 am — Return home, quick breakfast, shower, post the 10 most important things in the world right now.

6.15 am — Leave for work, arrive at the BI UK office at around 7. 15 am to start my working day.

Sunday night was nerve-wracking.

Getty/Chris Hondros

As Sunday night drew closer the reality I would be getting up at 3.30 am for the next five days really hit me and suddenly I started worrying. I fretted about making sure I got to bed early enough, and ended up turning off the lights at 7.30 pm -- which I now know was way too early as I did not fall asleep until nearer 10.30 pm.

Monday morning hit hard.

Scott Barbour/Getty Images

Before I knew it my alarm was going off and my first day of the experiment had begun. I really struggled to actually get up and seriously considered the possibility of either not doing it at all or simply just lying and saying I did it when I didn't (who would know?)

The first morning felt pretty weird.

Scott Barbour/Getty Images

Part of Lee's daily ritual is drinking large quantities of water, coffee, and a smoothie first thing. At best I usually manage a glass of water before I get to work. So my body definitely suffered a shock. However the large amount of sugar and caffeine I had consumed certainly helped wake me up. Whether a nutritionist or dietitian would approve is another matter. And I did get fairly regular headaches, although these decreased in regularity as the week went on and my body adjusted.

3.45 am reading was both good and bad.

Hannelore Foerster/Getty Images

Lee -- like many other successful businessmen and women -- makes sure to factor in plenty of time in his day for reading. Bill Gates is a famously vociferous reader and has previously said he tries to read a book a week. Personally having time each day to read was great, but sitting in my living room at 3.45 am, knowing that I had a full day of work and commuting ahead of me, did not create quite as relaxed an atmosphere as I would have liked.

Early exercise is excellent.

Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

The early morning exercise that Lee factors into his schedule was definitely the biggest positive from his brutal routine for me. I have lost count of the amount of times I have packed my gym bag in the morning intending to work out after I leave the office before just heading home instead, so Lee's method eliminates this and I got my daily exercise for the day out of the way early. Running on totally deserted streets was a bit strange but it was a brilliant way to wake up and definitely put me in a more positive frame of mind for the rest of the day.

Commuting and chill.

Shutterstock

Commuting in London at rush hour is pretty grim, as millions would tell you. For the majority of people it is the first thing they do and is quite frankly a horrible way to start your day. Personally my morning commute seemed a lot less stressful and tedious than usual, possibly as I had already been up for hours and had nearly two hours of reading and exercising behind me.

Mornings simply vanish.

Logan Mock-Bunting/Getty Images

Once I got into the BI office in east London my mornings just disappeared, it genuinely felt that no sooner had I sat down then I was getting up for lunch. Whether I was actually any use in the office or just a sleep-deprived zombie you would have to ask my colleagues! However I did have to make a lot of trips to the bathroom after having drunk two litres of water before the day had really begun.

Afternoons became a living nightmare.

Touchstone Pictures

While the mornings went fast, I only wish I could say the same for the afternoons. My early starts really began to hit me and it felt like I spent my whole time watching the clock. I'm not sure about Lee but I really struggled to get anything substantive done. Also my eyes began to sting and staring at my computer screen became a real struggle.

The rush to get to home and get to sleep was so great I ended up making stupid errors.

Paula Bronstein/Getty Images

If my morning commute was a stress-free zone, I can't say the same for my journey home. I was so desperate to get back as soon as humanly possible that I basically sprinted from my office to the train station, with anyone having the audacity to walk slowly, get stuck at a ticket barrier, or just get too close to me receiving an exhausted but angry glare. I was so panicked about getting home that I managed to get on the wrong train twice during the week and the wrong bus on no less than three occasions. Fail.

My treat for the week was Arsenal -- and they let me down.

Getty

I tried to keep my evenings as free as possible, knowing I had to get as much sleep as possible. My one exception was 'treating' myself by watching the Arsenal-Barcelona Champions League game. Which Arsenal lost. Making my week even worse.

My appetite went all over the place.

Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Usually I have a fairly set eating pattern during the week. During my week of following Lee's routine my eating habits fell apart. Due to the fact I was having a proper breakfast in the morning and consuming all that water, smoothie, and coffee, meant I was not hungry till about 3pm at work. At that point I would then have an unnecessarily huge lunch (Pret a Manger did very well out of me during the week.) All this meant by the time I got home I was not hungry and too worried about the time to wait till I was to have any dinner. So effectively I ate two meals a day for a week, as well as not really sleeping.

And when it was all over ...

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Usually I have a fairly set eating pattern during the week. During my week of following Lee's routine my eating habits fell apart. Due to the fact I was having a proper breakfast in the morning and consuming all that water, smoothie, and coffee, meant I was not hungry till about 3pm at work. At that point I would then have an unnecessarily huge lunch (Pret a Manger did very well out of me during the week.) All this meant by the time I got home I was not hungry and too worried about the time to wait till I was to have any dinner. So effectively I ate two meals a day for a week, as well as not really sleeping.

NOW WATCH: Ideas videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.


Tagged In

features warroom-us