1) Time for you. You’ve had those days when you wake up 30 minutes before you need to be somewhere. Your mind is in a panic, you throw on wrinkled clothes, often not having time for breakfast or even your shake, speeding through traffic, hair is undone, missing calls or texts that were supposed to be sent; you’ve been there before. Once you start your day in this exasperated mode, your brain is conditioned to remain in it throughout the rest of the day. This is inefficient, decreases your overall performance, and even reduces your brain’s learning and recovery potential!
Skip the stress – start the day your way. Have a plan and establish a morning routine. As kids we had a morning and bedtime routine, yet often as adults this has been discarded with last week’s pizza box. This reduces the adrenaline release of a rushed morning, allowing your brain to wake up naturally and complete tasks in an organized manner.
My morning routine is alarm 4:45am, 30 ounces of water, put coffee on, restroom, light stretching / warmup / workout 45 minutes, shower, breakfast, get dressed, say good morning to dogs and wife, grab my packed lunch, head for the office. Although I’m not always a huge fan of automation, it is a way to be efficient and effective. My weekend routine may vary and incorporate reading on the couch with coffee, dogs, and wife before getting to the gym.
Find what your priorities are and begin, Now!
2) Win the day. The Routine sets you up for success. So refer to step 1 and establish a routine. Once the routine is in place, this begins the cycle of success for your day. Your mind is able to focus on priorities. I understand that priorities change – therefore you need to create a PowerList. This is a list of 3 to 5 tasks that must be completed that day. Write them down. For me I write them in the notes section of my phone, and cross them off as they are completed. This creates miniature mental victories which propel you forward. Success and winning the day is accomplished by repeatedly executing the small tasks, not random large victories.
The PowerList doesn’t have to be exactly 5 things to begin. Maybe you’re like me and begin with just 2 tasks that day. That’s fine. But you must be sure to complete them and cross them out to win mentally. This creates and maintains momentum. After winning in this fashion for a day, then several days, and then weeks, etc, your mind becomes a honed task-tackling behemoth.
3) Circadian rhythm. Waking up at a specific time each day sets your hormonal and energy cycle for the day. If you are waking up at 5am Monday, Wednesday, Friday; but sleeping in until 9 am Tuesday, Thursday, and the weekends, your body will never acclimate and your energy levels will be a rollercoaster. Now don’t get me wrong – certain times of year such as winter where the days are shorter your body will naturally want to sleep longer, which is fine. But this shouldn’t be grounds to reorient your life to not waking up until 10am December through March. Keep some semblance of an early morning, but if the body begins to feel too rundown or like you’re getting sick, back off for a day or two and allow your body to sleep until it naturally wakes up.
A plan to start waking up earlier is to go 15 minutes earlier one week at a time. For example: if you wake up at 8am currently and want to start waking up at 6am, start with the alarm at 7:45am for one week, the next week set the alarm for 7:30, the following week set the alarm for 7:15, etc; continue this until you are waking up at the desired time. This gradual accommodation will make you much more successful at getting an earlier morning established.
4) Improved sleep. When you start your day at a consistent time, your circadian rhythm has been established, you incorporate healthy physical activity and eat right, and by the end of the day that you just won you will sleep incredibly. Your mind will be satisfied and feel accomplished. Your body will have undergone the exertion that it craves. You can rest your head easily and allow our best recovery tool as humans to begin; sleep.
5) Silence. Our modern world is busy. Texts, emails, phone calls, meetings, Zoom, errands, groceries, social media, gym, family, driving, chores, animals – it doesn’t end. When you wake up early before most of society, the world is so silent and peaceful in a hard to explain way. This is an amazing time again to spend on YOU rather than keeping up and caring for the world around you. Focusing on yourself is not selfish – it is a necessity for optimal function. If you go down, everyone who relies on you will be unable to function at full capacity as well, and a horrible ripple begins. So, take the early morning to set yourself up for success, spending some time on yourself in silence or whatever method that currently looks like to you, repeat this over days, weeks, months, and years – this is how greatness is made!
I hope this list of 5 Great Things about the 5AM Life has inspired you. I used to tell myself I would never be a morning workout person. It is not always easy. But it truly is life-changing in all aspects. I encourage you to try this over some period of time and watch the transformation.