Daily Date – How waking at 5am boosts my performance

 

I’m very excited to share a guest post from another 5am Rockstar, Jemma Martin. Jemma is KILLING IT in both her business and personal life. She goes on a daily date – with herself – each morning that helps her plan, execute, and live life by her own design. 

 

Daily Date – How waking at 5am boosts my performance

 

You’ve heard it before. Waking up at 5am can change your life. But how? Can changing the time you begin your day really make that much of an impact in your personal and professional life?

For me, the answer is simple: HELL YES.

I’ve been waking up at 5am for years, but not consistently. I’m not gonna lie, I go through ebbs and flows like everyone; times of peak motivation and lows of burnout and stress.

But through it all, this has remained a constant truth: My ability to wake up at 5am is a key indicator of my daily performance.

When I wake before the sun rises, I achieve more. I’m clearer, more focussed, produce better work and achieve far superior results than when I arise even 1 hour later, at 6am.

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty and discuss why this 60 minutes makes such an impact on my day:

 

1) The Discipline Muscle

Rising at 5am takes discipline. As a child growing up in an adults’ world, we exercised our discipline daily by following guidelines created by parents and teachers. That’s why we run amok when we move out and make our own rules. We’re finally in control.

But over the years this lack of structure can result in a lack of self-discipline. We drink too much, spend too much and make mistakes. How do we grow out of this phase? With self-discipline.

When I wake up at 5am, before the sun naturally wakes me up, it’s a sure-way to do a rep on my discipline muscle. I find this makes my decision-making muscle much stronger, particularly later in the day when I need it most. It helps me skip the afternoon cookie or not watch an episode on Netflix when I don’t really have the time.

 

2) Priorities – the Stress Indicator

Whatever action you first take in the morning, is your number one priority. It’s the nasty-truth we pretend isn’t real, but deep down we know that our first cognitive attention is going somewhere we place an enormous amount of value. We then build habits from this action.

When you wake up, are you checking emails on your phone – or kissing your love-ones good morning?

If I wake up and grab my phone before hugging my husband, it’s a clear indicator that I’m under an unhealthy amount of stress. If this happens, I listen to my body and cut back on any unnecessary tasks that week.

 

 

3) Produce Great Work

Our brains are clearer in the morning. At 5am we have less mental clutter clogging our creativity. This is a terrific time to achieve what we really want most. This will change over time – and that’s a good thing.

A couple years ago, getting into great physical shape was my primary focus. I was at the gym by 5.15am every day. It was the most important task on my to-do list. My mental and physical energy went into my
workout routine.

This changed when I began studying my MBA at university. I would get up at 5am and open my textbook immediately. This was now my primary focus and by the time I rolled into my office job at 9am, I had a few serious study hours under my belt.

Now I’m an entrepreneur and my most important goal is creating quality content for my community. I still study at university and I still hit the gym almost daily, but my peak mental energy is reserved for my most important task: my business.

Your brain is fresh at 5am. Devote your ‘peak thinking time’ to your most important task and reap the rewards.

 

“My ability to wake up at 5am is a key indicator of my daily performance.”

 

4) Follow through on commitment

We’ve all made promises that we haven’t lived up to. We make commitments to friends, family and colleagues, but it’s likely that the promises we fall short on are the commitments we make to ourselves.

When I tell myself, ‘I will wake up at 5am tomorrow’, I actually do it. When I give somebody my word, I honor it as a vow, and I show the same courtesy with myself.

This has a tickle-on affect in other areas of my life. When I promise myself that I will finish writing anarticle or send an email by a certain time, I don’t sit around doing fake busy-work. I execute my time towards the goals I have set for myself and follow-through with my intentions.

 

What has this surmounted to?

Looking back over the last 6 years, waking up at 5am has ultimately lead me to complete several tertiary qualifications, lose 39lbs and found a social enterprise – in addition working full-time, getting promoted and generally just loving life.

I see 5am as a daily date with myself and the world. It’s a place where I choose where I’m going and execute the tasks that get me there, with intention and clarity.

 

Do you wake up at 5am? Have you noticed a difference in your performance?

 

Jemma Martin loves to inspire people to think differently, create innovative solutions and take action for their professional future. She is the founder of Her Future Moves, a social enterprise creating accessible and affordable Women’s Professional Development. Jemma is an avid learner who enjoys traveling, connecting with new people and going out to brunch. Your can connect with Jemma on LinkedIn and find out more at Her Future Moves

10 thoughts on “Daily Date – How waking at 5am boosts my performance

  • There’s something magic about early mornings. The thing I’m most proud of this summer is that while we were working out of town this summer, the hubs and I got up at 6.30 to get to the gym each morning. While this was somewhat dictated by necessity (the summer hours of the gym made it impossible to work out later in the day), it put us in a great mood and ready for work. I’m trying to re-design my mornings to be calmer and more pleasant- thank you for the article.
    I do wonder- outside of the 9-5 reality, is there a magic hour that would still achieve all of these boosts? There are periods at work when I am there until 11pm, so waking up earlier than 8 doesn’t feel beneficial. Any advice on how to deal with changing work schedules?

    • Congrats on the workouts with your husband – it’s terrific you have a good accountability partner. (My husband is a night-owl!)

      In regards to a changing schedule; it depends on why it’s changing and how often (eg, a week of late nights or one late night a week etc) and if it’s a choice or necessity.

      If you’re working late because you’re ‘in the zone’ getting lots done, it’s a choice. You can train yourself to stop and pick it up the next day. You might not want to, but then you’ve got to decide which is the bigger priority. Your 5am goals or accomplishing all your tasks before bed.
      A necessity example is if you’re a doctor and you get strange shifts throughout the week. If this is the case, I’m not sure the 5am lifestyle is right. 🙂

      In my experience, working late and sleeping in the next day has proven to be counter-productive. My body responds better to waking up at the same time everyday, despite going to bed late. After a late night, I don’t feel like getting up at 5am, but I do it anyway as my day is better than if I succumb to snoozing for a few more hours. I find it easier to push through and go to bed early that day, then sleep in and perpetuate the cycle.
      This also keeps me from making plans that are late in the day. Not only will I not be at my best, but it’s affects my ‘tomorrow’.

      Sometimes I make a rule that I can choose to do whatever I want at 5am – as long as I show up. I often find that after watching 2 YouTube videos I’m feeling super productive and ready to work again. I’m always happy I exercised discipline.

      The last point about another ‘magic hour’, I’ll give you 2 examples; me (Early Bird) and my friend (Night Owl).

      Me: I have had times where my magic hour was 11pm at night. Eg: During an assignment period where I had 2 Masters topics whilst working fulltime. I needed a quiet time without noise, when the world was silent. Admittedly, I was drinking way too much coffee! I got everything ‘done’ but the lifestyle was unsustainable. This assignment period was only for a fortnight and I didn’t go to the gym at this time. My life was really about study and work. But I ticked everything off, got great grades and a promotion.

      My Night-Owl Friend: Currently goes to bed very late every night (1-2am). He gets up early (6-7am) and heads straight into work. She’s working on a big project now, but has been for several months. However she still gets heaps* of sleep because she usually takes a nap around 8-11pm, then gets a whole lot of work done in the middle of the night. It’s definitely her most productive time.

      The takeaway really is that nothing is going to be right for everyone. It’s great to try new things, but when you know what works best for you, go with it with gusto! 🙂 The relationship you have with your schedule is dynamic and you can revisit it anytime.

      *heaps = a word we use here in Australia. It means ‘a lot’.

  • Hey Jemma, great article! Nothing like eating that frog first thing. Just wait till you have kids that hear you get up to eat that frog and decide to come play.

    • Haha, I guess there’s that balance between the relationship with your children and the commitment/relationship with yourself. Must be tough! 🙂 Something I have not experienced, but I imagine it’s tough to implement (or negotiate) boundaries with little ones!

  • I’m glad that you mentioned that you have ebbs and flows with your wake up time. I started waking up at 5:30am (haven’t quite made it all the way to 5am yet) a few months ago and was absolutely loving it. Then I traveled out of the country and jet lag got the best of me. It took awhile for me to get back on track. Then mercury in retrograde hit and I was off the early morning wagon once again. I really value waking up early and love it when I do it, but there are sometimes that it just doesn’t happen for a few days or weeks at a time. Good to know that it happens to others as well.

      • Absolutely!
        It’s great to have routine, however it shouldn’t stop us from experiencing life to the fullest!

        So, no – I’m not a robot who wakes at 5am everyday (because sometimes I’m up late out to dinner with friends or doing something else crazy-fun!).

    • It DEFINITELY happens to me!

      I also find that when I fall off the 5am band-wagon, it’s either for 1 day, or several weeks! Momentum is a powerful thing! Knowing this, I try extra hard to not let the odd late day here-and-there derail me.

      I try not to think of waking 5am as something I “have to do”, but instead focus on the positive outcomes. 🙂

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