Why I Wake Up At 5 a.m. (And How Waking Up Earlier Can Help You Achieve Your Goals Too)

Do you want to become a morning person? Here are five simple tips for waking up early.I never used to be a morning person.

The teenager in me who slept until noon every weekend cringes at the fact that my alarm rings every weekday at 5 a.m. and I bound out of bed, ready to start the day.

But over the past two years, I’ve discovered that I do my very best work early in the morning.

That often means waking up hours before I need to leave for work to pursue my passions, whether that be writing blog posts, sending freelance pitches or hitting the gym to train for my next race.

It seems I’m not alone. Several writers and entrepreneurs I admire (Peter Shankman and Jeff Goins, included) are in this same camp. Business Insider also recently highlighted 27 CEOs and leaders who wake up early- I’m definitely in good company.

The reasons I love waking up early are pretty simple:

  • I’m able to think clearly first thing in the morning. After a long day at work paired with an evening networking event or dinner plans, I come home EXHAUSTED, both physically and mentally. Often, the stresses of the day weigh on me and I’m in no place to write (or even go to the gym and run). But in the morning, after a solid night’s sleep, my mind is clear.
  • Generally, nobody emails me until around 7:30 or 8 a.m. That means I get a solid two hours with no email distractions. And let’s face it…email can be VERY distracting.
  • In addition to my email being quiet early in the morning, my house is quiet too. My family and puppy are still asleep, and the house is literally silent as I make my coffee and set up shop in the kitchen.
  • The gym is EMPTY at 5 a.m. I’m able to squeeze in an effective workout using all my favorite machines in 45 minutes, whereas when I go at night, I often have to modify my workout or wait for machines, leading me to stay there even longer than necessary.
  • Once I get to my full-time job, the multi-tasking begins. Working in PR means managing several projects at one time, fielding phone calls, responding to emails and attending meetings. When I wake up at 5 a.m. and begin working, I’m able to focus solely on one task at a time, allowing me to complete those tasks quicker and more effectively.

Do you want to become a morning person too? It’s easier than you think.  Here are five simple tips for waking up early:

1. Go to sleep earlier. Seriously. It’s as easy as that. Figure out how many hours of sleep you need a night (I hover between 7 and 8 hours), decide what time you’d like to wake up, count backwards and GET IN BED! I know staying up late to watch that third *most dramatic hour ever* of The Bachelor can be tempting, but DVR it or catch up on your favorite TV shows online later.

2. Decide your goals the night before. Before you close your eyes, decide what you want to accomplish by waking up early. Knowing ahead of time what your plans are will help you stick to them. For example, if I know I need to go to the gym, I select a distance I want to run and keep that goal in mind. If I’m aiming to draft a blog post, I try to brainstorm an idea so that when I wake up, I can start writing.

3. Do not hit snooze! Whatever you do, do not hit the snooze button. The snooze button is an evil, dangerous invention and once you hit it once, it becomes easier and easier to talk yourself out of your morning plans. Trust me, I know.

4. Shower (And get ready for the day). For me, taking a shower jumpstarts my day. My alarm rings at 5 a.m., I shower, blow dry my hair, do my makeup and am downstairs by 5:50 a.m. ready to work. Being completely ready for the day means that I can work straight until 8 a.m. when it’s time for me to leave for my full-time job.

5. Treat yourself. Make waking up early enjoyable! While I get ready for work, I generally treat myself to a half hour of catching up on one of my favorite TV shows on Hulu (multi-tasking at its finest). Before I start blogging or freelancing, I indulge in a cup of coffee and two slices of cinnamon toast. I relish the feeling of not rushing in the morning, and treating myself to these small, but meaningful moments encourages me to continue my routine.

Do you wake up early to reach your goals? If so, do you have any additional tips for waking up early?

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  • Good article with great tips. I totally agree, I get my best work done in the AM. Thanks, good read.

    • Jessica Lawlor

      My pleasure! Thanks for reading 🙂

  • Great post Jess with awesome advice! I agree that getting up earlier makes you more productive. I’ve been struggling with trying to fit in the gym. I’m usually on my way to work by 6am. While I do get to work early and am productive, I’m missing the gym. By the time I get home, I’m shot. Any thoughts? Thanks!

    • Jessica Lawlor

      Thanks Alex! 🙂

      Wow…on your way to work by 6 a.m.? That’s VERY early. Unless your gym is open 24 hours and you want to wake up at 4 a.m. (yikes) you might NEED to work on forcing yourself to become an evening gym go-er. Perhaps you can use your commute time home to re-charge? Also, are you hydrating enough? I get very tired when I don’t drink enough water. Maybe fill an entire water bottle right before you leave work and drink it throughout your commute. Also, change into your gym clothes at work right before you leave. I know it sounds silly, but sometimes when I get home, the thought of having to change into anything but pajamas is just unfathomable…but if you already have your clothes on to workout, it makes it easier to just go.

      Thanks for asking this question…you actually just gave me an idea for a post 🙂

  • This is great, Jess!

    With a part-time day job and a toddler, it is ESSENTIAL that I wake up early to get work done! I do have a problem with checking social media which leads to the rabbit hole of wasted time…which is an issue.

    I like Gretchen Rubin’s advice about getting completely ready for bed way before it’s time to just make it easier to crawl into bed. I tend to try and squeeze in work on both ends (again, business + toddler, etc), so it helps me remember to GO TO BED. 🙂

    • Jessica Lawlor

      Oh yes…checking social media. DEFINITELY distracts me while I’m trying to work in the AM. Here’s what I’ve been trying to do to combat this: I make my coffee and toast…while I eat my toast, I browse FB and Twitter. Then once I’m done, it’s time to work and the social media sites get clicked out of.

      I love that piece of advice from Gretchen Rubin too! I’m usually in my PJs the moment I get in my house (love being comfy) so this isn’t a problem for me.

      You should be proud of yourself though…you get A LOT done with your hectic schedule and a toddler!

  • This is a great post, Jess! It is SO difficult to be productive after getting home at night. It’s the going to bed earlier part that’s hard for me. I’ll definitely be using some of your tips though! Love the website by the way 🙂 Keep up the amazing work as usual!

    • Jessica Lawlor

      Thanks Mackenzie! I’m with you…after a long day, I’m totally shot. Going to bed earlier can be difficult at first, but after a week or so of waking up at 5 a.m. your body will be begging you to go bed earlier. 🙂

  • Wow, I really needed to hear this today. Sometimes I sit and wonder how people manage it all, fill time Job and blogging. I’m glad to know that not-so-morning people can become morning people, in a way. Encouraging!

    • Jessica Lawlor

      I’m with you…it takes a lot to work, blog and fit in working out. Becoming a morning person definitely helped with giving me an extra hour or two of time to work, but I still try to find balance. I.e. one day I’ll wake up at 5 a.m. to go running and the next day I’ll blog. I definitely can’t do it all! 🙂

  • Great post Jess! I am trying to go to bed at 9:30 and get up at 5:15 during the week days. So far I have mostly been using my extra time in the morning to exercise but if I had some projects or freelance work to do I agree that would be a great time to get it done since I’m also at my best in the mornings. That’s awesome you get almost two hours of extra work done every morning!

    • Jessica Lawlor

      Thanks Amber! That’s how it started for me- waking up early to get workouts in, but then I realized how much I could get done in other ways too. Now I’m trying to find a balance between working out in the morning and getting work done.

  • Nicely done, Jess. You first point is something that I’ve been attempting to do lately. I was never a big morning person either, but with two kids, you are sort of pushed into an early day. You are dead on… getting up early allows you to get a ton done. Get gutsy! 🙂

    • Jessica Lawlor

      Thanks so much for your comment, Jason! Mornings are now my absolute favorite time of day, so much so that I look forward to going to bed early because I know how much I’ll get done the next day 🙂

  • Ann

    When I’m writing a novel I get up early and work for an hour or two before starting the day. I find it is easier to write before my mind gets cluttered and it’s so nice and quiet.

    • Jessica Lawlor

      Isn’t it so great? My mind not being cluttered is the reason I think I enjoy mornings so much. I can think so clearly!

  • I’ve been getting up early to exercise and it’s made a world of difference. I no longer stress about “not having time” to get in shape. It’s so much easier when everyone else in the house is sleeping. I even get to enjoy a few minutes of alone time while I eat my breakfast. Such a nice way to start the day before it gets hectic!

    • Jessica Lawlor

      I SO agree! That’s actually how my waking up early came to be…I couldn’t motivate myself to work out after work, so I started going to the gym in the morning…since then, it has evolved to doing other work too, but it’s still the same idea. Mornings=awesome. So glad to hear it’s working for you!

  • I recently got up at 6am one day to skype with my mom in China (it’s really hard to find a time when both of us work full time and there’s 13 hour difference…)
    I feel so productive that day at work! All the tips in your post will help me in developing the habit of waking up early. Thx!

    • Jessica Lawlor

      Wow! That definitely is quite a bit of a time difference. I’m so glad it made you realize how productive you can be early in the morning though. Good luck! Definitely keep me posted.

  • Hey Jess! Thanks for following me on Twitter. I just started following you too, and I’m so glad I did. This is such a great post! I literally cannot even fathom being a morning person, but I’m usually pretty tired when I get home and force myself to do blog posts, etc. I have to be at work at 8, but I might be able to push it back. What time do you go to bed every night?

    • Jessica Lawlor

      Hi Cat! Thanks so much for your comment! I too am so glad I found your blog. I definitely want to learn more about managing money, and your blog seems like a great place to start.

      I go to bed every night around 9:30 or 10 p.m. Sometimes a bit later. I honestly look forward to waking up at 5 a.m. every day now, so it’s a lot easier than you’d think 🙂

  • I love this post! I’ve always seen myself as a morning person– it’s the time of day where I really feel at ease. I always wake up by 7-8 AM, but I might just try getting up even earlier to get more of a jump start on my days after reading this. Definitely inspiring insight here.

    • Jessica Lawlor

      Let me know if waking up earlier works for you! 🙂 I love my early mornings!

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  • Hey Jess, Great post. I have recently joined the 5AM club and blog about my adventures. I find developing fitness, and working to a plan that you have outlined works great makes the process easier. Well done – in admiration!

    • Hi Nicholas! So glad you found this post and have joined the 5AM club too 🙂 Best of luck to you!

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  • Great post Jessica! I’ve been wanting to get up earlier so that I can do my workout before heading to class, and I’ll be trying these this week (especially treating myself)! Plus, it’s nice getting to see the sunrise every morning 🙂

    • Hi Baylee! Thanks so much for the kind words. Working out first thing in the morning is the best way to get it out of the way for the day. Good luck testing these tactics out! 🙂

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  • Rebecca Jane Raymond

    Hi, do you get up at 5am on weekends too?

    • Hi Rebecca! No, generally I do not. On Saturdays, I usually sleep until 8:30 or 9. On Sundays, I get up a little earlier around 7 or 7:30ish.

      • Rebecca Jane Raymond

        Owh, okays. Thanks! Waking up early is such a struggle for me. I hope to be able to encourage myself to do it and make it a habit. Thanks for sharing.

        • I hear you! It’s still a struggle for me most days! Good luck- you can do it!

  • maria


  • maria

    Love you too

  • Health Cure Tips

    This exercise is perfect as a warm up. Get onto your hands and knees. Start by rounding your back just like a camel so that your head will try to meet your pelvis.http://www.healthcuretips.com/morning-exercises-that-will-make-you-feel-great/

  • katy

    Hi jess, love your post, and responses to everyone.
    what time would you recommend to get up if you have to leave the house early. My family are all up by 6.15 and out the door by 7.15, getting up at 5am would only give me an hour, is that enough to make a difference? Katy

    • Good question! I do think an hour is still enough to make a difference, but if you’re able to maybe try 4:30 a.m. to give yourself a little leeway? Experiment and see what works!

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  • Lana the Redhead

    she looks about 12.

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  • mahnoor abbas

    Lovely post ! I’ve been binge reading your posts and they’re are all great 🙂 I’ve always felt most productive early in the mornings but never really made an effort to change my sleeping habits to facilitate waking up early.Your post definitely has me convinced , thank you for the tips.Also, I know this post is from four years ago but i still felt inclined to comment.

  • Leo Furnivall

    I started getting up at 4 around 6 months ago… since then I’ve been promoted, ran a half marathon and am in the process of finally going to university to study something I’m passionate about!!! The most important tip is, as Jessica says, GO TO BED EARLIER! How productive are the last couple of hours before bed? Really?! I meditate for half an hour,study for 1-1.5 hours then exercise for 30-60 minutes. Best change I’ve ever made in my life!

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  • Linda

    Hi Jessica,

    It’s a very useful article with good advice how to actually do it!
    There are different kind of sleepers in us: some need less hours sleep and some just don’t get out of the bed no matter how much they sleep. I have read similar type of post get up earlier I have been wondering is this really so or is it just something we are used to? I used to be someone who liked to sleep a lot, but through some circumstances there was a period when I actually slept about hour less than I was used to and guess what: I felt, after a while, much more energetic! So I think there is a very good point and idea in your writing! And the text is easy to read and your way of writing is very nice.

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  • Jeniffer

    The article is very good. I can totally see how it can be helpful to get up early. I even tried it but I have been a night person whole my life.. so i tried it out for few days but then eventually jump back to staying up late and night as usual. Can you please help as at some point you were also a night person

  • Faith Klingensmith

    Hi, I am 13 years old and I have to wake up at 5 sharp every morning. It takes me a while to get ready and I only have an hour to get ready. I have asked my dad if I can wake up later because it is killing my brain. I am not allowed to drink coffee and I don’t go to the gym. And there really are no benefits to waking up this early. I have tried drinking tea, going online and looking at bright colored pictures, persuading my dad to wake me up later and everything fails. My dad wonders why my grades are going down. The answer is plain and simple I need more sleep. He just won’t let me. I go to bed around 8:30 every night NEVER over a minute after nine. HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!