6 A.M. is for Slackers: How to Wake Up an Hour Earlier without Feeling It

Written by Brendan O’Meara

There’s something to be said for waking—and WORKING—before the sun rises, before the world rises, before texts and emails start flinging in at you.

I wake at 5 a.m., but that’s not good enough. 4 a.m., as I see it, is the final frontier. I do my best work early in the morning and there’s something to be said for getting a good, solid two hours of work in before most of the world wakes up.

But how? I mean, you COULD just set the alarm one hour early and dive in blindly, cut yourself from that hour you’re used to sleeping. Or, with patience, you can ease into it. If you give it 12 weeks, three measly months, you can wake an hour earlier and find the extra time to _____________.

I’m in the middle of my plan to wake at 4 a.m. and while challenging, I find it relatively painless. Here’s how:

I was waking at 5 a.m. due to a day job. That was my baseline time. Yours could be 7, 6 a.m., whatever.

On Sunday night set your alarm clock (I use my phone), so that it automatically goes off at the same time every morning without any extra needed attention. If you normally wake at 6 a.m., set the alarm for 5:55 a.m.

Do NOT hit the snooze bar. Put your feet on the floor IMMEDIATELY.

For seven whole days, you wake at 5:55 a.m. Week 2, 5:50. Week 3, 5:45 and so on for 12 weeks, or 60 minutes.

But there’s a key, a real quandary once you have banked an extra 15 minutes. You need to have a plan for the time. If you don’t, you’ll either go back to bed, hit the snooze bar, or sit on the couch (which will cycle you back to the sleep you’re trying to avoid).

After 12 weeks, you will have seamlessly found an extra hour in your day to write, to paint, to knit, to read, to watch movies you never felt you had the time for, to WHATEVER. That’s up to you.

In a few days I’ll be cresting 4:30 for 4:25. It’s hard. It’s like adding 45 more pounds to the barbell for squats. You start to feel its gravity.

But what buoys you through is finding that extra time. It was there all along. All you needed to do was uncover it.

Then, if you ever want to sleep in, you’re original baseline time will feel late. Bonus.

Podcap—How Gimlet Media’s ‘Surprisingly Awesome’ Teaches You To Pitch Stories

Written by Brendan O’Meara

For my first podcap—a recap of podcasts I’m listening to—I’m taking a look at the latest from Gimlet Media.

Gimlet Media released a new podcast, Surprisingly Awesome, featuring Adam McKay and Adam Davidson. Google their names if you want vital bio information.

This podcast tries to take something seemingly boring things like mold (Episode 1), free throws (Episode 2) and concrete (Episode 3) and illustrate how, you guessed it, awesome they are.

So far, all three have been, you guessed it again, surprisingly awesome, but there’s something more, something deeper this show represents that’s important to all storytellers and freelancers. It’s this: So what? or Why do I care about ­­­­ ______?

The podcast is, in essence, an elaborate story pitch of why something apparently mundane is, in fact, interesting, and worthy of our time and worthy of a publisher’s dollars.

In all three instances one of the hosts is bored while the other is excited. Like a defense attorney pleading his case for his client, he tries to sway a biased jury. No change of venue. The other host is the permanent venue so get over it.

Also at the core is this central statement, one created by Gimlet co-founder Alex Blumberg: I’m doing a story about X, and it’s interesting because of Y. You can take AB’s Creative Live course and learn all about this.

For the latest episode on concrete, AD could say, “I’m doing a story about concrete, and it’s interesting because natural disasters, like the Haitian earthquake, aren’t really natural disasters, they are concrete disasters.”

The story suddenly gets green lit because that is interesting. You feel it in your bones. Cheap concrete shatters and in poor, developing countries. The cheap concrete breaks like brittle when the earth rumbles.

This podcast, aside from being entertaining, is a master class in getting writers to probe deep into a mundane topic and find what is ultimately sellable about the story.

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