I’ve never been a morning person. Like, ever.
And if you told me years ago that I would not only be getting up at 5am, but I’d actually be enjoying it, I would have laughed so hard at you, and then gone back to sleep.
This isn’t one of those ‘you have to be getting up at 5am if you want to be successful’ stories, I assure you.
It was just an experiment in changing the way I approached my day, and because I’m always keen to better optimize my time and my organization skills, I thought it might be handy to share with you too.
Why I Chose 5am As A Wake Time
I’ve usually worked jobs that required crazy hours.
Back in my teenage years I worked as a manager at our local McDonald’s store which opened at 5am (yes, there was a time when McDonald’s stores would actually close).
This meant I had to start work at 4am. As a 16 year old that’s incredibly early, especially considering I also had horrible insomnia.
Then for the last 12 years I’ve been an emergency Paramedic, which has meant I’ve either been working night shifts (gross) or on call, where I could be called out at any time of the night, and 5am always seems to be the popular time to call.
There was no real deep strategy behind me choosing 5am, but after being up at all hours of the night, 4am/4:30am seemed too early and felt like I was getting up at night still, and 6am felt too late.
Lessons From Getting Up Early
I’ve seen many, many sunrises over the years but now I actually choose to get up before the sun, which is a big deal.
But I’ve learned a lot from it, which really surprised me.
I used to scoff at people who said the morning was the best part of the day, and trust me, I honestly didn’t think I’d still be getting up early.
But I am.
And this is what I now know.
1 – There’s Something About Sunrises…
I’ve always been a big fan of sunsets. I love the vibrant colours they give off and the breathtaking scenery as I watch the sun give way to the night over the horizon.
I live in the country so our sunsets are pretty darn spectacular.
But there’s something about sunrises…
It’s like no matter what happened, there’s a clean slate being served up for you.
I used to feel this way a lot when I saw a sunrise on a night shift, it was like it was washing away the night.
Now I see it as a way to start my day in the way I want my day to be.
Like, thanks to the sunrise, I get to choose how I want my day to unfold.
I know logically that has nothing to do with the sunrise and everything to do with my mindset, but it’s a mental trigger for me and I love it.
2 – The Quiet of a Morning Is Incredibly Productive Time
I run four businesses from home, plus I have an 8 year old and a 4 year old, a husband who I occasionally see, and various commitments that take up my afternoons.
I have a lot to do in my days and sometimes (aka, all the time) it feels like I’m chasing my tail and constantly just trying to keep up.
Which means I need to leverage productive times as much as possible.
I never thought mornings would be a productive time for me but I can get more done in the hours between 5am and 7am than I get done in an entire day of trying to work around a 4 year old.
She is an awesome little helper but I do take regular breaks to spend time with her and just play.
But for those two hours of a morning, when the house is quiet and no one is demanding my time, I get to focus and just work. It’s amazing.
3 – Giving Yourself Something To Look Forward To Is The Best Motivation
If I’m super honest, most mornings, it’s the thought of a hot coffee that gets me out of bed.
That’s my motivation right there.
As much as I’d love to roll over and snuggle into my husband instead of getting out into the cold, it’s that coffee calling me that tips the motivation in favour of just getting up.
I also really love working on my businesses.
Getting up and out of bed to work on them is exciting. I love writing, I love the people I meet and connect with… I love it all!
4 – Getting Up Early Means Less Mindless Activities At Night
How many times have you stayed up at night watching TV mindlessly, not really enjoying what was on?
Or scrolling through Facebook for hours on end?
I used to do it all the time.
I would find myself up still at 11pm or even midnight, watching random Netflix shows that were serving no real purpose to me.
Knowing I’m getting up at 5am means I spend my nights much more intentionally and much less time doing mindless activities.
Sometimes my husband and I will even switch the TV off and just talk, catching on on what’s been happening and catching up with each other.
5 – The Days Are Easier When You Prepare For Them
While I still declare I am the Queen of getting ready in 5 minutes, I now spend time at night preparing for the next day.
I write my to do list the night before so I know exactly what is on my agenda for the day and know my intentions for the day.
I pick out what I’m going to wear the next day, put all of my devices on charge so they are ready and fill the kettle with water ready for my coffee.
They may be little things but at 5am, having all of this done makes such a big difference.
6 – We Don’t All Need 8 Hours of Sleep
I’ve always known I don’t need 8 hours of sleep, despite what is supposed to be ‘normal’.
I don’t think everyone needs the same amount of sleep to function at their peak either.
I find I’m optimal at around 6 hours sleep, but if it falls below 5 then I start to struggle.
A friend of mine needs at least 10 hours sleep otherwise she can’t function. We are all different.
During my teenage years I suffered from horrible insomnia and struggled to even sleep for an hour each night.
So I learned very early on how to function on lower levels of sleep. Plus years of shift work and being on call has meant I rarely ever get a full night’s sleep.
And even now, if I have more than 7 hours sleep, I start to feel lethargic and run down.
I tried it. For months I tried getting the full 8 hours sleep as per recommendations but it was horrible.
So find the amount of sleep that works for you and work backwards.
If you want to get up at 5am and getting 7 hours sleep is perfect, then go to bed by 10pm. Perfect.
7 – Self Care, Every Day
Getting up at 5am means I have time alone, every single day, for self care.
No matter how hectic the rest of my day is, I have been able to take some time out for myself to sit and drink my coffee while it’s hot, and do what I want to do.
Some mornings I use this time to journal, make some attempt at meditation or just simply read before I get into my to do list.
Starting your day with self care put you a step ahead for the rest of the day.
Is Getting Up At 5am The Answer To Productivity?
As much as I’d love to tell you that getting up early is the secret sauce to being super productive, the truth is that it actually depends on you, what you need to do in a day, and your own unique situation.
If you’re more of a night owl that is super productive at night, then getting up early might not be the best answer for you.
There’s no point in changing something that’s already working for you.
BUT, with that being said, I have to say that productivity is not the only benefit I experienced from getting up early. The mindset shift was huge for me.
Dare I say… I actually loved getting up early.
So I challenge you to try it.
Give it a go for a week or two, give yourself something (like good quality coffee) to motivate yourself to get up early, and see how you go.
If you love it, stick with it. Tweak it to make it work for you, it’s all up to you.
While I never imagined myself to be a morning person, I can honestly say that after finding my groove in my early morning get ups, I can’t imagine going back to ‘sleeping in’ on a regular basis.
This post originally appeared on Project Hot Mess and has been shared with permission.