With so much change rippling through orthodontics, it’s easy to get caught up in the chaos and lose sight of why we entered the profession. No matter what you do, orthodontics is a people profession. It’s about interacting with people, getting to know their hopes and fears and ultimately, helping them solve at least some their problems. Unfortunately, most of us are too busy to appreciate this.
Ever have one of those days where you’re so busy doing work that you don’t get anything accomplished? The truth about today is that we are more accessible than ever before. Even the most carefully planned day is one phone call or text message away from spiraling out of control. This always-on mentality means that we are multi-tasking all the time. While it may feel productive, it’s probably not. Too many people confuse action with accomplishment, motion with movement.
The question is how do you stay grounded, be productive and keep in-touch with what really matters? For me, joining the 4:30 Club has made all the difference in the world. What is the 4:30 Club? I’m glad you asked.
Perhaps the most important habit I have formed is waking up each day at 4:30 am. I believe in it so much that I come off “preachy” to my friends and colleagues. Why would anyone consider waking up so early? It’s simple: these early morning hours you’ve just harvested will likely be the only uninterrupted time you will get all day. Here’s what these hours can do for you:
1) You capitalize on the quiet.
Because most people start their day two to three hours later, no one is calling, emailing or texting. This time becomes yours and yours alone, allowing you to begin your day on your terms, at your pace.
2) You perform some self-care.
It’s a shame, but when a task takes more time than you’ve allocated for it, exercise is one of the first things to go. When you’re a part of the 4:30 Club, you suddenly have time to exercise, jog, meditate, or whatever form of activity you prefer. Without the distraction, you can hone your focus, get your blood pumping and clear your head.
3) You can tackle the little things.
We focus so much on the big picture that the little things—things like paying bills, going over the calendar or hand-writing a thank you note—can easily add up or get over-looked. Doing a little bit in the early morning takes them out of your mental cue and frees your mind to be more creative and productive during the day. It also allows you to think more constructively and put more thought into each task.
4) You can do your creative work.
Like the little things, creative thinking tends to be one of the first things to go when schedules get packed. Alone in the morning, you can think more strategically about certain initiatives. You can send out more thought-provoking emails. Or you can sit down and write a blog post about how waking up at 4:30 makes you more productive!
5) You can sit down and eat breakfast.
The word breakfast literally means ‘breaking’ of a ‘fast’. Your body runs better when it’s got a steady supply of fuel to run on and you’ve just denied it nourishment for 8 hours. Skipping breakfast means denying your body fuel for twelve or more hours.
6) Spend more time with family.
By the time the rest of your family awakes, you’re in a better place and not feeling the pull of emails, or pre-work stuff. Personally, I have small children. Even the smoothest running morning is teetering on the brink of chaos. We call it a “shot gun” start of ironing, breakfast, teeth-brushing, refereeing and, well, you get the point. If you can focus on them, it will help mellow the mood.
So why not give it a shot? It just takes a few days to get the hang of it, and who knows, you may discover (or rediscover) a whole new side of yourself.
For me, the best thing about being in the 4:30 club is that it sets the tone for the rest of the day. It lets me feel like I have some time to myself, I get to accomplish many goals before the “real day” even starts. This allows me to be a better husband, father, friend, and colleague. In short, it lets me be a better person, which is a pretty good thing when you’re in a people profession like we are.
Executive Vice President
Suggested Additional Reading: Time Management Mastery – Podcasts for the Orthodontic Professional