How I Wake Up Early For A More Productive Day

Getting up well before sunrise is a new habit I’ve adopted to be more efficient with my waking hours. Here are some tips to help you wake up early and have a more peaceful and productive start to your day. 

Back in January of 2008 when this blog was brand spanking new, I wrote a similar post about getting up early. Back then I worked full-time from 8:30 to 5:30 and had no energy after work to exercise. I was a 5am gym goer five days a week. These days I have much more flexibility in my work day thanks to being my own boss, but we all know the kids are the real bosses of the houses! Because my job as a mom is a little less flexible, I realized getting up early would solve a lot of time management problems I was having at the start of 2020.

Thomas has long been an early riser, so in January I started getting up when he did to get an hour of quiet productivity into my day. Here are some of the tips I’ve taken away from this new change in routine.

How I Wake Up Early For A More Productive Day

1. Find your why

There are people who love early mornings so much that they get up early just because. (Hint: I am not one of them.) My reason: unpredictable toddlerhood and nap schedules means I need an extra hour of uninterrupted work. Gandalf once said, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”  If you think of your day as a pie chart with 24 hours, you know that you have to take from one category to gain in another. After the kids are in bed (between 7:30 and 8), I used to spend 2 hours of “relaxing” time watching a show, reading, playing on the internet. Rarely did I use my evening for anything productive, as I was too tired to work.

I refuse to compromise sleep (see below), but I realized that if I went to bed an hour earlier and got up an hour earlier, I could steal an hour from my fluff evenings and give it to the productive mornings. Thomas and I still have an hour to spend together before bedtime, and sometimes we do still watch a show together, but that time is simply compressed to less than one hour instead of two.

Even if I’m doing things other than working first thing in the morning (like exercise or household chores) doing something at 5 frees up more time later in the day for other things that are important to me: like spending time with the boys or working on my business.

2. Prioritize sleep.

Sleep will always be a priority for me. In order to get up early, I have to go to bed early. That is a non negotiable. The first week you change your routine, your body clock is going to be a bit angry. You might not be tired at your new bedtime, and you might feel extra sleepy when your alarm goes off. But after a week or so, you will start to naturally wake up. I noticed that I started having dreams in the 4:00 hour. Usually that means I got enough rest. Getting up early is so much easier now. So is going to bed at 9.

3. Put your phone (or something else exciting) on your night stand

I know having your phone on your nightstand is somewhat controversial. But grabbing my phone first thing helps me wake up. My alarm clock is not a blaring beep – it’s actually Taylor Swift’s Wildest Dreams. When the song plays my brain is immediately curious what emails and texts I might have gotten overnight, and checking these helps me wake up. Maybe for you having a devotional or journal and pen right there might provide the same mental stimulation.

4. Ease into it with a cozy robe and coffee

It is much easier to convince myself to get up when the only thing I have to do is put on a robe and slippers and brush my teeth. Wait until you are more awake to get all the way dressed, shower, put on makeup and all that. Even if I know I’m going to work out in the morning, I build in a little time to have some coffee and wake up. It’s kind of like if you tell yourself you’re going to get on the treadmill to walk and once you’re walking you get the urge to run and sweat. Ease in.

5. Do your most important thing first thing – work, workout, shower – and mix it up

Sometimes a workout first thing sets me up for the best day. I try to do my most important thing at 5, whether that’s a workout because it makes the most sense for my schedule, work because I have a time-sensitive to-do list, or a shower because I need to be dressed and ready by 7:30.

If there is one thing about my personality I have learned, it’s that I can’t do the same thing over and over. So while this post might be more helpful if I tell you do EXACTLY the same routine everyday at the exact same time, that would not be sustainable for me. Novelty makes life more exciting. Flowing into what you feel like doing will help you be your best self.

Some days I wake up and think about my day and know a 30 minute treadmill run in my basement sounds like more fun than working on a blog post. Other days I can’t wait to open my computer because I’m so excited for the first task on my list. And sometimes I know an extra hour of sleep will be totally worth it. Mixing it up really helps me feel a different kind of productivity.

More posts on work life and productivity:

Are you an early bird or night owl?