In high school, I vividly remember dad coming into my room four-five times, at increasing volume, to wake me and essentially drag me out of bed for school. Needless to say, I historically have not been much of a morning person. I’ve always enjoyed staying up late engaging with hobbies, working or studying.
For years in my professional life, I started my day at 8 am and worked late into the evening.
I would often start with email and other tasks that led to instant gratification and frequently found myself at 5 pm, without having made sufficient progress toward my long-term goals. As a result, I would stay up and work until 11:30 or 12 am. While I found productivity with this workflow, my mind was not as flexible and sharp late in the evening and, I experienced regular bouts of burn out. Inversely, I always felt great on the days I would rise early, meditate, and get a head start, focusing on critical, creative work first.
Either my routine is changing, or I am going to need a clone (and a psychiatrist). My twins wake up between 6:30-6:45 am and I love to spend 30-45 minutes with them at this sweet hour. Chalk up an hour to get everyone dressed, fed, and ready for school. By the time I drop them off, it’s 8:30 or 9 am. A 4:30 pm pickup leaves a very compressed workday. After an exhausting few months of working late nights and desperately trying to catch up on sleep, I decided to make a major change.
Income the 5 am Start and Monk Morning.
I’ve reclaimed my productivity and morning self-care routine by waking up at 5 am. I co-parent the twins on a 50/50 schedule, alternating between three and five days a week. On the days they are with me, I meditate, do 15-45 minutes of physical movement (yoga, stretching, Qi gong, or resistance training) and work for one 45-60 minute interval, before they wake. As soon as I drop them off, I head to the office to continue my day with no emails, meetings, or distractions until lunch. On days I don’t have the twins, I wake at 5:30 am. This routine allows ample, uninterrupted time for critical, creative work and leaves the afternoons for meetings, responding to messages and other essential tasks.
“Waking up is not hard to do”...although, it does require commitment and, regular recommitment.
Tips on how to establish an early routine:
- Set the alarm for 5am
- Go to bed at your usual time
- No snooze, when the alarm goes off, wake up and start your day
- Anticipate being a little tired for a few days as your body adjusts
- Eat something light (berries, nuts or fruit) to wake up your body
- Allow a flexible day to sleep in for occasional late nights or when recovering from a hard workout
- It’s not about perfection, if you miss a day, simply recommit to your routine
Few things compare to the quiet, solitude of an early morning. A peaceful meditation and a cycle of creative work that moves us closer to our long-term goals is a great way to begin each day. In my experience, this practice has led to increased productivity and a more nourishing and rewarding workflow, resulting in greater joy and satisfaction.