The Entrepreneur's Guide to Energy: How I Wake Up Earlier & Feel Better Than Ever : Under30CEO The Entrepreneur's Guide to Energy: How I Wake Up Earlier & Feel Better Than Ever : Under30CEO
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The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Energy: How I Wake Up Earlier & Feel Better Than Ever

| November 8, 2012 | 16 Comments

When I tell people my morning routine, they gawk at me — but it’s not for the reason you’d think.

On a regular day, I’m up by 6AM. After making a coffee and cuddling with my puppy, I fire up the computer to write and plan out the day. Around 7AM, I transition to exercise mode. I spend between forty-five minutes to an hour working out. It’s an early start, but an important one.

By the time most people arrive at their desks, I’ve gotten in a few hundred words, deflected various emails, and worked on my fitness pretty intensely.

What people don’t usually realize is that choosing to get up early to write and work out in the morning isn’t a huge shocker. Most gyms are packed before work hours start, right?

What’s shocking to people when I share my routine is this: for the rest of the day, I absolutely never feel tired. Fatigue isn’t something I ever experience.

The reactions I get lie on a spectrum between “That’s impossible” to “Wow, how can I do that?” It’s hard to believe that someone who wakes up earlier than ever before, has never worked out in the mornings, and struggled to keep a writing routine could suddenly become practically impervious to tiredness.

The ways I created this fatigue-free lifestyle are simple, and they’re probably not the ones you’re imagining. I’ll let you in on my simple tricks, and I hope you’ll share your own in the comments.

Avoiding Fatigue — Your Action Plan

1. Prize rest above all else

As entrepreneurs always vying for one more client or an exciting new feature, rest can sometimes fall as low as last place on our priority list. For those hardcore ninjas out there who put sleep last, I ask you: how good can the features be or how good can your client work be if you’re running on empty?

Executing this in real life, as we call it, is difficult, but I find that tragic memories of dreary mornings and umpteen cups of coffee keep my rest in check.

From the time I was a little girl, my guiding motto is this: There is nothing like the fear of an exhausting day to get me in bed well before my bedtime.

2. Choose fuel over comfort

Our entrepreneurial projects survive on the fuel that our staffs provide. A good project means a good staff. Likewise, our bodies survive on the fuel that our meals provide. A good body means a good meal — day in and day out.

Eating whole and healthy foods may be a bit too foreign for you to really adopt, but there are times when the body switches your taste buds on you behind your back — no effort required. When I took up exercise as a new habit, I found that my body craved healthier foods.

As a person dedicated to my fitness, I try to remind myself of this: My workouts are practically in vain if I follow it with a cheeseburger and birthday cake.

3. Measure your energy levels

Have you ever had one of those days when people look at you a little funny and say, “You look tired. What’s wrong?” When the fatigue is visible enough for people around you to notice and make a comment, you’ve got a major warning sign on your hands.

When possible, I try to set my own agenda and become in-tune with my own energy levels. I will confess this: my husband doesn’t really appreciate my 9PM bedtime, but I respect my body’s call for rest whenever it comes.

As an entrepreneur, waking up early is important to starting my day off right. My routine keeps me feeling energetic and alive all day long, even if I end the day much earlier than I used to. With so much newfound energy, my projects always feel awesome and rewarding, instead of draining.

It keeps my entrepreneurial life vibrant and successful. It helps me the best I can be.

Let’s hear from all of you, too! Are you suffering from fatigue and putting way too much energy into your projects? What keeps your energy levels from falling too low?

Most importantly, what can we do to have a more energizing balance?

When Marcella Chamorro decided to quit her job to live every day as if it’s a vacation, she turned her attention to creating a lifestyle that is both meaningful and exciting. Now (as an author, entrepreneur & speaker based in Nicaragua), Marcella guides those who want to quit their jobs, live their dreams, and live a vacation that never ends at The Perpetual Vacation.

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Category: Startup Advice

  • Brittany

    Thanks for sharing your secrets! I definitely agree that giving your body what it needs is important. I love vitamins, exercise and hot tea. Also make a list of what you want to accomplish that day and stick to it and try not to overwork yourself. Finding something you love to do is important. I notice I’m always tired when I’m doing something I dread:)

  • Denise

    This is a great article. As a writer, I have a super busy and unpredictable schedule on a daily basis – even on the weekends. Creating a plan and getting my workouts in earlier in the day would definitely keep my schedule and energy in check! :)

  • MattWilsontv

    Hey Marcella, love you work. We’re going to have to hang when I come down to Nicaragua, or maybe meet up in Tamarindo, Costa Rica in December.

    I’m an energy junkie, but I don’t value my rest like I should. I’m always cutting corners on my sleep, and I look / feel like it. My main problem is just shutting off my body and saying “okay I’m going to watch a movie in bed and go to sleep early”. Instead, I’m up working. My body needs 8 or 9 hours of sleep, especially when I’m on an insane workout schedule (which I’m slacking on right now b/c of travel). Timezones are killing me, (I’m in Asia) and I wake up at 7 to catch up on work. 6 hours of sleep just doesn’t cut it…

    It really comes down to what you value with your time. You are seeing the rewards from the investment in sleep. I’d really like to align my thought process with this way of thinking and making it happen… and geez… coffee and writing every morning would be great, instead of coffee and scrambling through my inbox taking care of emergency tasks.

    Thanks for the motivation Marcella.

  • Constantin

    Hey Marcella,

    thank you for your story. To summarize it, what would you say is the key factor of you being successful? Is it that you get up at 6AM, that you have a daily agenda or that you sleep 8-9 hours a day?

    Besides the getting up at 6AM part I have similar habits as you do. Since I do not need to interact with customers personally I can work until late at night on my startup. This is the time where I have the highest focus and also the best productivity. So I have to say it really depends on the area you are working in and the type of person when you want to boost your energy level.

    What is your opinion?


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  • Marcella Chamorro

    I definitely agree that it totally depends on your work flexibility! Great point. I think my agenda changes slightly day to day, but knowing I have a routine that I can follow is a great relief — much of the decision power is saved for my hard work and not for making choices like when to wake up or when to work out. Hope that helps!

  • Marcella Chamorro

    I definitely identify with your situation sometimes, Matt! When work gets hectic, it’s hard to not fall into the immediacy of some things — reacting and not responding, if that makes sense.

    I try to get the sleep even when I feel I have more to do because I find I am more able to wake up and deal with the leftovers in a more efficient way. It’s an investment and risky to say, “I’m going to bed even if I have some things to do,” but I find the return is SPOT ON each time. Hope this helps!

  • Marcella Chamorro

    Such a great point, Brittany! You mentioned something I need to get back into… hot tea! I’ll have some tomorrow :)

  • Marcella Chamorro

    Thanks, Denise! I actually worked out consistently at night for four years before falling in love with morning workouts just a few months ago. I guess it depends on your flexibility and current life state. I used to have more time at night, now I carve it out in the AM. As long as you try to do what’s best for you, it’s all good! :)

  • Glen Dakan

    I am already at my job in the military before you get up. Then I work 13 hours with no lunch break, and everyone in the job thinks it is a good deal compared to their combat tours. Long story short: hire veterans, their work ethic will astound you.

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  • Hannah Hamilton

    Lack of sleep and stress is the major reason why people feel tired right after they just got up from bed. I had experience that and it’s quite hard since I always got this insomnia but then I realized that everything was just a mindset. I tried to sleep earlier than usual and this had really made me feel better. I do agree with you, a healthy lifestyle really matters when it comes to productivity. Thanks for this good-for-the-heart post of yours.:)

  • Kris Emery

    This is fantastic. I’d have to add fresh air and stillness to my morning routine. Usually breathing exercises on the balcony and an early morning walk. I used to be a ‘can’t do anything without a cup of coffee’ kinda girl, but I’ve cut out caffeine recently. Once the initial withdrawal wore off, I was clearer and less foggy than ever. Don’t we surprise ourselves when we follow health advice and it works?

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  • OBVAVirtualAssistant

    Benjamin Franklin is quoted to have said: “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”. I too abide by the same. Generally my energy level falls after having lunch, so I generally swap from one work to other to keep myself motivated or just take a small stroll round the place.

  • YesUnder30

    “Prize rest above all else.”? I love people who post this stuff, who obviously have no kids. Believe me I do prize it, and by 8 I have fed, clothed, and packed a lunch all of my children and myself in addition to dropping them off at their separate schools. Energy was not a problem when I was a single professional, and in fact I became an entrepreneur to provide for my kids due to the downturned economy. Measure my energy level? That would be a 0.