Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
September 20, 2010 7:39 AM

Early Morning

When are you most inspired to create, tinker and experiment?

I have memories of being a very young child and not being able to sleep. I would stumble downstairs in the dark and sit in front of the television waiting for something decent to come on (it felt like hours until something finally did come on... it probably was). I remember my parents always encouraging me to try to sleep in a little bit longer. At worst, to just lay in bed instead of wandering around the house. I used to think that waking up early is a problem. Sometimes I still do.

I like the quiet of the early morning.

The alarm was supposed to go off at 4:10 am this morning (I had a 6 am flight to catch). Like most people, having an alarm set that early creates a low-level amount of stress that I'll miss the alarm or not hear it, which usually keeps me tossing and turning. By 4 am, I was off to the races (ok, that's a little bit earlier than my regular wake-up). When Twist Image first started to happen, I made myself a personal, entrepreneur's promise (one I have yet to break): I would go to bed when I was tired and I would wake up when I was no longer tired without the aid of an alarm clock. Yes, there are some odd occasions when the alarm beats me to a wake-up, but it is a rare occasion. I've learned to embrace, love and be inspired by the quiet of the early morning and the silence of the world.

Head out on the highway.

As my car rolled towards the airport, I was at peace with the pre-dawn darkness and the glare of the eighteen wheelers' tail lights making their way to parts unknown. Three different ideas came to mind and one business issue I had been grappling with resolved itself. I took the nearest exit, pulled over and got to work on Evernote so that this moment of ideation could be captured.

Nobody knows where ideas come from.

We do know that ideas happen in our subconscious and - for some - the best stuff happens when our minds are quieting down. For some this happens in the shower for others it's right before bed or right after waking up. Others have the capability to unlock their creativity while listening to music or reading. A lot of uber creative types encourage others to try meditation. It's different for everyone. The only way you're ever going to unlock new corridors of your own creativity is to change your schedule and life rhythm.

Try waking up early.

It sucks to say that - especially if you are a night owl, but try it. Not once... try it for 30-days straight. The only way this will work is for it to become a habit. For it to become a habit, you're going to have to do it, consistently, until it no longer feels like you're doing something different. In my personal case, I've recently given myself permission to be up as early as my body wakes itself without feeling bad about it. I no longer think that I should be getting back to bed. I no longer worry that I may be causing long-term damage to my health. The body is one amazing computer. As long as I either go to bed or relax when I'm feeling tired, it should adapt accordingly. There are stories that Albert Einstein didn't sleep through the night, but he often took cat naps whenever the mood struck him.

But, it's not just about waking up early.

Along with giving myself permission to wake up early, I've also made a personal agreement that I will use that time to be creative and inspired. To focus on writing better Blog posts and books. To spend that time working on some of the issues that our clients are grappling with and to, ultimately, use that time and space to be a Media Hacker. To re-imagine media, marketing, advertising and communications. In doing so, I've also realized that this is one of the pillars to my own personal success: it's a time when I am working, doing and thinking while others are either sleeping or doing things that add little value to their lives and those around them. It's the perfect time to exercise: the body, the mind and the spirit.

Your turn: when are you most inspired to create, tinker and experiment?

By Mitch Joel