Having a baby gave me access to the self-help guru lifestyle.
That’s right, previously there was no way I could get up at 4 AM. Once you have a kid you become a midnight owl. There are times when my kid says “screw you man, I’m gonna get up at 2 AM and never go back to sleep.”
I got one of those kids. Little cutie.
Anyways, I saw this random productivity guy with 800K+ tweet followers that I’ve never come across before — Alex Becker — share his productivity routine. It went viral.
He wakes up 3:30 AM. Every. Day.
I’d never normally be able to do this, but given what’s going on with my kiddo I’m seriously thinking of trying his routine. Here’s what it looks like…
3:30 AM — Get up
The only time I woke up this early is when I had the flu a few years back and got to work by 3:30 AM to do my admin work before anyone arrived in the office. That way I couldn’t infect any of them with my germies.
Every part of it was painful. I went to bed at like 6 PM. By the time I woke up my brain tried to tell me to stop. It felt like I was waging war in my head. Through some miracle I got in the car.
I drove to the city with zero traffic. I didn’t see a single pedestrian.
When I finished my work I came home. The whole process sucked but that’s because I had the flu and was flirting with death — such was the banking lifestyle I lived.
The other time I got up this early was when I was young and dumb and woke up at 4 AM every day. It had its advantages but I grew out of it.
When many of you see 3:30 AM wake-ups, you’ll likely discard this part of the routine. While it’s probably not practical, it is worth flirting with the early morning hours as an experiment.
For some of you, it may unlock your golden hours. A time of the day when you can do some of the best work of your life.
Given I now go to bed at 7–8 PM most nights because of my kid, I’m wondering whether I should try early morning starts again. 3:30 AM would be possible for me.
You do you.
3:30–4:30 AM — Cold shower, red light therapy, 60-pill supplement protocol
I’ve tried cold showers before.
I struggle to do them nowadays. Maybe I’ve become an old man, like one of those dudes from the movie Grumpy Old Men.
But I do believe cold exposure has its benefits. You definitely get a kick of endorphins and feel alive when you have a cold shower. The reason I don’t do them anymore is I already feel awesome.
I don’t believe in too much bio-hacking or productivity nonsense. After a while it gets excessive and becomes nothing more than bragging rights. But if you’ve never tried a cold shower, I urge you to try it.
Maybe it’ll unlock a human upgrade for you.
When I saw red light therapy I had no idea what that was. I’m familiar with the negative effects of too much blue light though. So I went to Uncle Google and Aunt ChatGPT.
This form of therapy is highly controversial. It’s mainly used to improve your skin’s appearance so you get less acne and fewer wrinkles.
I’m not planning on being a supermodel so I won’t be experimenting with this one. You do you.
And finally there’s the 60 supplement pills. It’s worth noting this Zach guy is worth a tonne of money so some of this is rich-boy-lifestyle stuff.
My take on supplements comes from a famous Aussie swimmer who said to me “Mate, all those supplement pills are just expensive piss.”
What he meant was they’re unnatural and don’t get absorbed well by the body, so you just piss them out — same as you do alcohol.
My grandma always taught me to eat good food full of nutrition. Doesn’t mean I take zero supplements. I take 1–2 but definitely not 60 LOL.
You decide if you want supplements.
4:30–9:30 AM — Work for 4–5 hours
I like this one.
Focused chunks of work are so much better than the traditional job workday that’s full of shallow focus punctuated by useless meetings.
When you follow this schedule it lets you get stuff done when energy is the highest, before the world wakes up to distract you. These focused chunks also produce the magic of flow states (read about them here).
Obviously, if you work a job you may not have a choice of when you work or whether there are interruptions. But if you do, you should consider trying to work for 4–5 hours in a flow state.
9:30–11:00 AM — Full body workout
Exercise is more about psychological health than physical health for me.
If I don’t work out my brain goes to mush. What I don’t like about this one is the duration.
My personal trainer always used to say to me “If you’re in the gym more than 30 minutes doing weights, you’re not training hard enough.”
You see it all the time. Guys and gals in the gym having huge breaks between sets or looking at their phones.
Or even on their phones lol.
I prefer to go hard and fast. Saves me time too.
Either way, I don’t think the gym is a must. There are plenty of ways to move your body. It’s more about what you like to do. Because if you hate exercise you’ll never do it — that’s what the gyms don’t tell ya.
11–12 AM — Martial arts, urban knife combat and firearms training
In this time slot Zach either does Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or boxing. If it’s Saturday then he does urban knife combat. And if Sunday he does firearms training.
Unless you’re training to be Rambo then I’d recommend skipping this one.
I couldn’t hurt an ant so I never want to see anyone get hurt. It solves nothing. This is where things drift away for me with this routine.
There are too many “cool bros” advocating there’s a collapse coming and we need to doomsday prep. It does us no good. And it’s the worst in America.
In Australia, where I live, we don’t have guns. And there’s no such thing as urban combat knife training. Instead, we learn empathy, compassion, and how to love each other. It’s an uphill battle but we try.
Stay away from bro warfare.
(There are enough wars already.)
12–3 PM — Work for 3 hours
Similar to what I like to do. Always nice to finish the work day early.
3–5 PM — Hyperbaric chamber / infrared sauna (while reading)
One of my friend’s brothers owns a large hyperbaric chamber business. They install them in hospitals all over the world, and even on aircraft carriers and in war zones.
He told me they’re great for healing people who’ve been injured or are facing certain types of illnesses, but he has no idea why someone would have it in their daily routine.
Again, it sounds like it could be bro science.
Saunas is another nice addition. My local gym has one and I’ve been experimenting with it. It’s definitely a nice place to distress and the health benefits are a little more scientific.
I also like that Zach reads or listens to audiobooks during this routine. It’s a good way to double the investment on your time.
After all, leaders are readers.
5–8 PM — Write the next day’s to-do list, relax with partner
If I said to my wife we could only see each other between 5–8 PM, she’d divorce me. So for many of you this one isn’t practical.
Our partners need more than a hi-bye interaction. But for some they have trophy partners who are there for show and bedroom needs and not much else. I’ll let you decide what this routine is based on.
Planning your day the night before is something Zach does and I do this too. It’s such a powerful productivity hack. It means you wake up and know exactly what to do so no time is wasted — and procrastination is less likely.
One other thing he does is put on red light glasses after 6 PM.
Despite looking too cool for school with your red shades on, I’m sure how effective this is. I do know people that do this and speak highly of it.
For me, wearing glasses all the time and seeing the world in red are big enough detractors not to do it. You do you.
Imagine watching The Simpsons and everyone’s red. Ruins the fun, doesn’t it?
8 PM — Sleep
This is the biggest lesson of this article.
What would happen if you went to bed earlier? Maybe not every night but for 1–2 days each week. I think it’s an experiment worth doing.
For me, it has a decent impact on what I get done. And if I feel stressed about being behind on a project, I can catch up during the early morning hours.
Early to bed, early to rise.
You’ll notice there’s no mention of meal breaks in this schedule.
That’s because Zach eats while he’s doing each item of his routine. I prefer to do more mindful eating, but you do you.
Oh, and the stuff he eats is too bespoke for most of you. I’m vegan so I fail at item one on his shopping list: steak.
Now to the obvious conclusion of this article…
No single productivity routine works for everyone.
Take what works and discard what doesn’t. Experiment. Open your mind. Get past Zach’s clickbait and the haters that follow. In other people’s schedules lie experiments for yours.
Time is our greatest resource, so it’s worth thinking about how you use it and get the most from it.