How I Wake Up, Work Out, and Get to Work by 8am : Under30CEO How I Wake Up, Work Out, and Get to Work by 8am : Under30CEO
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How I Wake Up, Work Out, and Get to Work by 8am

| May 9, 2013 | 18 Comments

Wake Up And Seize the DayBy the time I was a senior in college, I was living on the typical college schedule and doing work until 2-3am and then waking up at 10 or 11am (because needless to say by the time I had the flexibility to choose my own classes and fulfilled all of my major requirements I didn’t schedule any classes before 11am). After graduation when I started my first job, I realized that this lifestyle was not sustainable.  I could not go to the gym at 9 or 10pm, do work, go to bed, and be at work by 9am the next work feeling refreshed and ready to be productive.

I decided that I wanted to make the most of my day and getting up early seemed like the best place to start. It took me about a month to get used to, but now I love it.  By the time most of my office gets in at 9:30am, I have had 1.5 hours to exercise (which may be a run, swim practice, or gym session depending on the day), check and respond to emails, organize myself, and dig into a project or two.

Honestly, feeling accomplished by 9am energizes me for the rest of the day.  It creates a momentum and focus that propels me forward. Now that I have encountered this feeling of productivity and exhilaration there is no going back.  Here are my tips for getting yourself out of bed and maximizing your morning:

1)    Don’t Hit Snooze

Those extra 5, 10, 20, or even 30 minutes are not going to be restful, so don’t tempt yourself.  I know this is difficult but you are up to the challenge.  Entrepreneurs laugh in the face of adversity and challenge.  I mean you defied societal pressure and pursued your own life path, right?  So try framing this as a challenge and prove to yourself that you can conquer the snooze button.

2)    Turn on the Lights

In conjunction with not snoozing, turn on your bedroom lights as soon as your alarm goes off (you may want to put your alarm near the light switch so that you have to get up to turn it off).

3)    Get the Blood Moving

While lying in bed under the covers is relaxing and cozy, you need to start moving to help your body wake up. I have a yoga mat under my bed so that I can stretch at night.  When I started getting up early to workout, I decided to do some crunches or pushups in my room before going for a run.  I noticed that if I literally rolled out of bed and did a few crunches, my sleepiness was subdued and I was ready to seize the morning.

4)    Enlist a Buddy

Two months ago I signed up for a Master’s Swimming program.  I swam competitively in high school and recreationally in college, but stopped once I graduated because it did not fit into my work schedule.  Once I moved and found out that there was a pool nearby, I knew I wanted to pick up the sport again.  Luckily, I found a friend who said he would sign up as well.  Practices are at 6am so I need to wake up at 5:15AM to get there on time. This is earlier than normal for me and was painful for the first few practices.  But having a buddy keeps me accountable.  I have to make the decision whether or not to go the night before and don’t want to let him or me down at 5:15am by hitting the snooze button.

5)    Reward Yourself

Getting up early is hard! Treat yourself to a nice cup of coffee and healthy breakfast.  When I’m working out, it’s motivating to know that I have a delicious berry smoothie or peanut butter and banana sandwich waiting for me.  Fueling your mind and body helps to keep you satisfied, focused, and at the top of your game.

6)    Start Gradually

I did not set my alarm for 5:15am the first morning I decided to get up early.  Instead, I set it for 6:45am and took a week to acclimate myself.  Then I set my alarm for 10 minutes earlier the next week, and ten minutes earlier the week after that.  10 minutes did not seem like a lot at the time, but after a month I was getting up consistently by 6am.  Baby steps are the key to changing your behavior and sticking to it.

7)    Play mind games with yourself

I was an English and Psychology major in college so I think the mind is a pretty powerful place.  Use this power to your advantage by encouraging positive thinking.  As soon as your alarm goes off, think about yourself in 2 hours: do you want to say you used that time to sleep or be productive?  Think about how you feel when you’ve accomplished a task or had a really good workout.

Waking up early was not easy in the beginning, and I still have mornings where I wonder where the last 5-7 hours went.  But, after a month of getting up early, I found that I was more productive when I got up at 6am and worked out than when I slept for an extra hour.  In addition, I felt strong and fit, which helps me make healthy choices throughout the day.  I’ve found that getting up early is a win-win for my work and my health.

How do you motivate yourself to get up early?

Cara Murphy is Editor here at Under30CEO.  She is also Associate Marketing Manager at the Juvenile Diabetes Cure Alliance and Managing Editor at Lifestyle and Charity Magazine.  She can’t live without coffee, crossword puzzles, travel, and multi-tasking. Follow her @cmurphs12 for inspirational quotes and musings.

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About the Author: Cara Murphy

Cara Murphy is Editor here at Under30CEO and Under30Experiences.  She is also Associate Marketing Manager at the Juvenile Diabetes Cure Alliance and Editor at Conscious Magazine.  She is blessed to be an Under30Experiences alum (Nicaragua 2013 and 2014, woot woot!) and can't wait to continue exploring new continents, indulging all of her senses, meeting incredible people, and enriching her perspective on life, love, and success. She can't live without hugs, coffee, fitness, crosswords, travel, baking, and multitasking. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @cmurphs12 for inspirational quotes, musings, and sunrise photos.

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  • Jennifer Dunn Escalona

    Such an awesome post, Cara. I’m one of those people who used to be an early riser but as let it slip. I’m totally a morning person so getting up at about 6am was perfect for me. These days I get up at 8am and go right to work, but I can’t help but feel that I waste a lot of time on weeknights when I should be sleeping (since my brain is dull at night anyway.) Great motivation. I’m going to set my alarm for 7:30 tomorrow and work on attacking the day a little better!

  • ???

    I think you missed one of the big ones, which is go to bed early. All the tricks and PMA in the world can’t drag me out of bed at 5:30 for a run when I’ve only had 4 hours of sleep. But, really great tips. Definitely going to incorporate.

  • Cara Murphy

    Thanks Jennifer!! Honestly after starting a morning routine it’s tough to sleep in. My mind is sharper and more focused in the morning so I figure it’s best to maximize my work!

  • Cara Murphy

    Getting to bed early is definitely a big part of getting up early! Someone asked me on Twitter when I got to bed and it’s typically by 11pm. But that’s because I found that I can function optimally on 6 hours of sleep. This is different for everyone so I encourage everyone to listen to their body.

  • Erick Bernard

    A good read!

    #5. Your Brain Thinks Your Future Self Is a Different Person
    #4. It Takes 10 Weeks of Work to Build a Good Habit
    #3. Your Willpower Is a Finite Resource

    #2. Your Brain Uses Progress as an Excuse for Self-Indulgence
    #1. You Prefer the Bad Habits to Real Failure

    5 Ways Your Brain Tricks You into Sticking With Bad Habits

    Read more:

  • cesar romero

    Cara, thank you very much for this masterpiece. I’ve been slacking lately on my running and workouts but after reading this I realize that all I need to do is a small adjustment that will yield big results. Waking up early is most definitely the best way to start your day because it makes you feel more productive. The road to success starts with taking care of your health. Keep calm and write on!!!! :)

  • Cara Murphy

    “Keep calm and write on” is becoming my new mantra!! And small steps do make a difference. It takes some time to get into a routine, but for me it’s what works!

  • Cara Murphy

    Thanks for reading Erick and for sending along the Cracked article. Our minds are pretty powerful places!

  • Jonathan Tavarez

    Just what I needed to motivate me on getting up earlier and working out!

  • bruno

    the good thing about an early start is that you’re always miles ahead of on average everybody, you stay easily in the lead

  • Julie Dawn Harris

    I’d experience the same situation Cara and I must admit until now I still have difficulties waking up early but I’m trying to change that. I must confess I’m guilty of hitting the snooze and the worst part is I have few late. Too bad I won’t be able to get the incentives for that but thanks for sharing this post. I’ll try these few tips. :)

  • Cara Murphy

    Hi Julie, thanks for reading! Hopefully some of my tips can help give you the push to get up early :)

  • Cara Murphy

    I couldn’t agree more! Thanks for reading!

  • Cara Murphy

    Hope it helps! Thanks for reading!

  • Cait

    Awesome post! I’m about to start my first job (well teaching internship), and I need to wake up at 5 to work out because I am in night school. I hope I can do it.

  • Joe Web Er

    I have an alarm clock on my phone that makes me answer math problems in order to snooze/dismiss it. I turn my lights on. The last bump I need to get over is just not re-burying myself in the covers once. I’m gonna have to get up and walk around the house a bit. Wish me luck.

  • Kareem Reid

    Cara, good advice. A dawn simulator alarm clock can be very helpful for anybody who wants to get up early, especially those who aren’t morning people. They are especially helpful when the days get shorter and it is dark when you want to wake up.

  • JB

    I am in a funk to get up early and moving!! The extra junk I’ve gained as a result is making me sluggish. It’s the best way to go and makes the most sense.