I Woke Up at 5am Every Day for a Week

The early morning isn't all it's cracked up to be.

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.

 

Monday

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

 

Tuesday

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

 

Wednesday

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

 

Thursday

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

 

Friday

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

 

The Result

  • 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.

 

Are you an early riser? How do you make the most out of your mornings?

  • I am so not a morning person but have forced to become one since I’m a teacher and have two small kids. So here’s some tips I’ve learned:

    Download the Kiwake app, which forces you out of bed with no snooze alarms. It’s changed my life.

    As you said, don’t try to add in too much in those mornings. I get up at 5 now to work out because it’s the only time I can realistically do it. I work out at home and then prep everything the night before, like my outfit or lunches.

    Early and consistent bedtimes are key to get your body on track. Easier for me as I’m an old lady now 🙂 But with little kids it’s simple as my weekday social life is non-existent and I’m so exhausted that I’m easily in bed by 10- 10:30. It’s hard though if there’s late nights or different bedtimes.

    • The Everygirl

      These are amazing tips! Thanks Kellie 🙂

  • I’m 100% not a morning person but I’ve been getting up earlier to avoid the rush hour commute, and I’ve found that the thing that makes it more bearable for me is routine. I definitely might try the morning exercise to feel more awake thing though

    – Natalie
    http://www.workovereasy.com

  • I love this! I’m terrible about getting up at the very last second and rushing through my morning to get to work on time. Maybe I’ll attempt this and see if it works better for me. I often dream of a morning workout or a sunrise walk!

  • Lorraine

    I love your honesty and transparency on what’s realistic and what’s not!!! Finally this isn’t an article saying that you should stick to waking up at 5 a.m and be in bed by 10pm!!!!! Also, I love your weekday sunrise idea, it sounds like a bloody wonderful way to start the day. 🙂

  • Danielle McIntyre

    This makes me want to try a 5am wakeup challenge- just so I can fit in some exercise. Need that productivity in my life!

    Danielle

    http://www.thedarlingedition.com

    • Rebecca Ann

      Let’s do it. We can be accountability buddies. Hitting the gym after work has just not been a thing I can make myself do lately.

  • Liam Havard

    Love this! Well done. I’m far from a morning person too so kudos to you. I’m trying to get myself up at 6am this week, wish me luck.

    Liam

    liamjhavard.com

  • Vanessa

    I’ve always been a huge morning person but college has been getting to me lately coming up on the end of my second year. I still wake up earlier than most of my peers, but not as early as I used to. I found that waking up 2 hours before any class that I had to get to (M, W, F I have 9ams) was more than enough time to get ready without being rushed, have breakfast and take a leisurely stroll to my morning class. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I found that I would take the time to sleep in until 8am since I didn’t have anything to do until 1pm. Weekends are split into one day waking up as early as possible (usually 7am) and then the other day sleeping in as long as I need to (usually Sundays) to feel rested enough for the next week!

    I love the idea of going for a morning walk to see the sunrise though. I might begin to add that to a day that I already wake up early and just move up my wakeup time an hour or so to watch the sunrise by the river nearby!

    -Vanessa
    thevibrantscience.com (Launching May 1st)

  • Elizabeth Lopez

    You need to read the Miracle Morning!!! The 5 am wake up plan needs to be purposeful and structured. Any highly success person will agree, from Oprah to Bill Gates. We just talk ourselves out of it because you want to sleep in. Have one amazing Miracle Morning and you’ll never want to sleep in again!

  • Kristena

    Way to go! I love early mornings and get up around 530 if it is a gym day and 7 if it isn’t. I could do a better job of going to bet before 11 though. I know I’m not getting enough sleep. I have a day job (with an hr commute) as well as a side business, so late nights are due to my working at home.

  • Ashley Rizzardo

    I am barely a morning person. I’m only up at 5:30 because I have to be in order to get home earlier in the evenings. Kudos to you for getting the physical activity in early- maybe that would wake me up a bit more!

    Ashley | Sunday Brunch

  • sara

    Love this article! Reminds me of Try Living with Lucy video series on Refinery 29 except in written/photo form. Please do more of these types of articles. I found your insights very helpful – esp. about exercise.

  • I really enjoyed reading this! I see so many directionless blog posts about “Why You Should Be Up At 5:00am” “The Most Successful CEOs are up at 5” and they don’t give any insight that I don’t know already.
    Loved this test and it was interesting that you said you just tried to add more into your day which is something I’d do.
    I want to try this maybe twice a week (I already get up at 6am/6:30am)
    https://geotheleo.co

  • I loved reading this! What a fantastic experiment. I agree, I think waking up at 5am once, maybe twice, a week is a great way to change this up — because it’s so hard to make it to bed by 10PM every night. This was so fun to read!

  • I just started a new job which is an hour away from me so I am currently forcing myself to also wake up at 4:30-4:45AM. What I have found that makes the process more possible, is to prepare for the next day, the night before. I do meal preps on Sunday and Wednesday (sometimes Tuesday). So every night, all I have to do is make my lunch bag and my husband’s lunch bag. I should prep my work clothes the night before too. When I get out of the gym, I take a quick shower and make breakfast. The most challenging part for me is my hair! I have thick straight hair so doing things with it can be challenging since I don’t have enough time. I have to be out the door by 7. It’s all a learning process!

  • Love your sense of humor about this! Just started waking up at 6:30am and it’s been going well, but I have noticed a lot of the things you mentioned, like rushing always seems to happen no matter what! Glad to know I’m not the only one!

  • I am an early riser and only because of where I just moved to a few months ago. I have to be on the train by 6 40am and then it’s about an hour and a half before I’m at work. I have used the time to catch up on reading or just relax but I miss my old commute which was only 25min.

    https://dreamofadventures.com/

  • Ronny Cheung

    i’m a firm believer that Tuesdays are worse than Mondays too. I actually quite like Mondays.

  • Ashleigh Edwards

    I love this blog post! I am an early riser. I get up at 4:30 am every morning to do my work out before I have my 8 am class and then off to work! I wasn’t a morning person until my second year of college. Now, I wouldn’t have it any other way. If I don’t work out in the morning my day feels lagging and exhausting!

  • Chen

    Great article!
    I never thought I was an early riser until I started hitting the gym before work instead of after. My my, what a difference! I use the bedtime function on my iPhone to keep me on track. I try to do the early rise thing at least 3-5 times a week – and give Friday as a treat to myself. i usually go out on Thursday nights so it works out well. I also do as much as possible before bed, like making breakfast/lunch and picking out an outfit.
    You can do it!