My mornings typically include rolling out of bed after hitting the snooze button 17 times, dozing off in the shower, and barely making it out the door on time. While riding the bus to work everyday, I always see people jogging along the lake or playing with their dogs in the park and I think, they’re doing it right. And then I wonder why I’m not making the most out of this crucial part of the day.
So, I decided to make a change. For one week, I would replicate the morning routines of top CEOs. Rumor has it, they wake up early (like really early), the idea being to get more hours out of their day. These extra hours typically include exercise and getting a head start on work– not laying on the couch falling down the Instagram rabbit hole. So, on Sunday night, I made an effort to go to bed early and set my alarm for 5am.
A 5am wakeup call was going to be a huge change.
I currently wake up at 7, leaving just enough time to get ready and out the door between 8 and 8:30, usually without even a minute to spare. Occasionally I’ll wake up earlier to go to the gym, but that is far from an everyday occurrence. Breakfast is usually in tow as I walk to the bus and I don’t have coffee until I get to work. A 5am wakeup call was going to be a huge change.
Wake-Up Time: 5:00 am
Morning Agenda: I don’t remember the last time I went to the gym before the sun was up, but I did. I was home by 6:30, showered, cooked breakfast, and prepared lunch in little over an hour. I also made a point to make my bed because I felt like that was just something a CEO would do every day.
How My Work Day Went: Since I already had breakfast and my first cup of coffee, I was ready to dive right into work, something that typically doesn’t happen. Monday was off to a good start and 5 am was not as scary as I thought.
Evening Agenda: I go to yoga every Monday and Wednesday evening from 5-6:30 and usually leave with renewed energy. Today was the same, I left feeling more awake than I started and didn’t have the urge to climb into bed before 9pm. Granted, my productivity didn’t continue, but I did stay up for the Bachelor.
Bed Time: 10:15 pm
Wake-Up Time: 5:15 am
Morning Agenda: I’m a firm believer that Tuesday mornings are worse than Mondays, and this week was no different. It’s also the day I need to be out the door and on the bus by 8am, so my 5am wake up call (which looked more like 5:15 today) didn’t buy me that much time especially since I was slow to start and crammed in going to the gym. After getting back from the gym closer to 7, it was a mad dash to get ready for the day, which resulted in no breakfast and no premade lunch. I quickly realized that just because I was waking up earlier didn’t mean I could squeeze in seven other things. I made it to the gym even though it was a struggle and found myself rushing out the door again. Day two was a bummer.
I quickly realized that just because I was waking up earlier didn’t mean I could squeeze in seven other things.
How My Work Day Went: I have class and work on Tuesdays and usually find myself sluggish around lunch time when I’m transitioning my brain from school to work. I had to remind myself that although the day had a hurried start I could still turn it around. Tuesday was met with a lot of trips to the coffee pot and pushing myself to stay focused.
Evening Agenda: When I got home from work I cooked dinner and planned for Wednesday, making sure it was better than today. I even got a little work done so my to-do list for the next day didn’t seem as intimidating and I went to bed around 11.
Bed Time: 10:45 pm
Wake-Up Time: 5:00 am
Morning Agenda: Since I made it to the gym on Monday and Tuesday, I decided to switch things up. I did yoga before walking to see the sunrise over Lake Michigan (at approximately 6:45), which was lovely.
Word to the wise: wake up for a weekday sunrise. It’s worth it.
Getting fresh air, saying good morning to people walking their dogs, and seeing a group of people bird watching was a whole different kind of morning for me…much better than zoning out on the elliptical. Word to the wise: wake up for a weekday sunrise. It’s worth it.
How My Work Day Went: Having crossed a few things off of my to do list prior to stepping foot into work, the day turned out to be as productive as the morning. I didn’t find myself reaching for copious amounts of coffee and I got through yoga without falling asleep in child’s pose.
Evening Agenda: I finally got home from yoga around 8 (long day) and the sight of my messy apartment suddenly made me want to crawl into bed and disregard all responsibilities. So, I curled up on the couch in my robe and resigned to do nothing for the rest of the evening.
Bed Time: 9:30 pm
Wake-Up Time: 5:10 am
Morning Agenda: I wanted to focus on actually getting work done today, so I skipped exercise altogether. Mistake number one. Starting the day with some sort of physical activity was a crucial part to feeling awake and energized versus spacey and sluggish. I did drink a cup of coffee the size of my head, but I still was lacking overall focus. And then to make matters worse, I spilled said cup of coffee on my couch. Thursday did not have a great start and I felt pulled in too many different directions. The desire to get so much done before 9 AM was paralyzing today.
How My Work Day Went: I worked from home in the morning, took a conference call and did other work before I headed to class at 1. My head was up in the clouds and I couldn’t wait for the day to be over.
Evening Agenda: After class I had a work event that ended up going late. I wasn’t tired or falling asleep at dinner, but I knew I was in for it tomorrow morning when my Lyft dropped me off at 12:30am that night.
Bed Time: 1:00 am
Wake-Up Time: 7:01 am
Morning Agenda: And then Friday rolled around. Oh Friday. 5am did not happen due to said late night work event. I sadly didn’t get up until 7 and once again made it out the door with little time to spare, going through that “Do I have everything I need?” checklist as I locked my apartment door. My Keurig also kindly broke this morning, a sign to stop drinking coffee on my couch, as if I needed another one.
How My Work Day Went: Anyone else think Friday’s are inherently unproductive? Today was especially due to the late night; we all had a slow start to the day and maybe left the office closer to 4 than 5 only reaffirming that the way you start your day is indicative of how the rest will play out.
Evening Agenda: I spent the night cleaning up all of the clutter my apartment acquired over the course of the week and prepared for weekend company. Even though I didn’t have to wake up at 5am anymore, I was in bed before 10.
Bed Time: 9:45 pm
- Waking up earlier didn’t keep me from rushing out the door. In fact, adding more to my morning routine simply made me rush for different reasons. Overall, it was unlikely that I’d wake up, workout, get ready, get a decent amount of work done, make breakfast and still have time to bask in the morning light. I wish, but it just wasn’t realistic.
- Don’t overload your morning (even with the extra time). In hindsight, I should have focused on a few energizing and productive tasks to add value to the day, rather than half-heartedly trying to do it all.
- 5 am requires an early bedtime, which isn’t always reasonable. I tried to go to bed earlier to get the same amount of sleep, but it didn’t always work out that way. To really commit, I would have had to skip watching the Bachelor or my work event on Thursday and it just wasn’t worth it.
A New Routine?
So am I going to continue this 5am routine? Not exactly…at least not every day. Knowing what I do now, that the payoff of a productive morning is an equally productive day, a 5am wakeup call is worth it. Is it worth changing your bed time? Again, not really. So I’m working towards twice a week. Because that seems reasonable, and also, I just love sleep.