The Life-Changing Magic of Waking at 5:15am

by Kim on December 15, 2017 · 13 comments

A few months ago I hired a life coach. This was a major stretch for me financially, but I felt stuck, spinning my wheels and disconnected from the magic of life. I was also stretched thin and desperately wanted to feel like myself again: Inspired, excited, and ready to tackle the hell out of life.

The major issue was, I felt like there was no time. I am a full-time mom to a toddler and I’m also a freelance writer. I was fitting in work while my daughter napped or when she went to bed at night, and more often than I wanted to admit, plopping her in front of the TV for hours at a time so I could half-ass whatever work I needed to accomplish. I was getting it all done, but barely, and what I was leaving behind was any semblance of me. I longed madly for those pre-kid days when open hours stretched before me. I didn’t want that time so I could work– I wanted it so I could reconnect with myself.

During the calls with my coach, I’d hear myself singing the same sad song: There’s just no time. And that wasn’t just some lame excuse I was using in order to avoid the real work I needed to do. There really wasn’t.any.time. It’s not like I was sitting on the couch marathon watching America’s Next Top Model (those were the days). Every bit of time I had to myself felt stolen and I couldn’t even enjoy it because I felt like I should be doing something else– something productive that paid the bills. When I curled up on the couch to read a book, or sat down in the mornings to write in my journal (both things happened rarely) I could only feel the guilt that I should be working.

The real irony was that, because I didn’t have any time to play (play = to write for fun, to journal, to read, to sit down with blank paper and dream big or brainstorm what my next new and exciting step in life would be– all things that I used to do regularly) I was robbing myself of the exact thing I needed to fill up, to get more creative and do good work.

But there really was no time.

“Is that true?” my life coach would ask me. (She always asked this).

“Yes,” I’d respond.

She’d remain quiet, causing me to babble in the silence. “But I need to sleep!” I’d whine. “I can’t get up at 4 am.”

“Okay. But can you get up at 5:15?”

Well, could I?

I agreed to try it. Just as an experiment. And OhMyGodYouGuyyysss it has changed my life.

The view from my perch on the couch at 5:20 am this morning

  • I feel more creative during the day
  • I have more energy because when I sit down to focus on a task I can actually focus on it. Since I now have designated work time and designated play time, I don’t feel that constant back-and-forth battle I felt before.
  • I’m happier and feel filled up.
  • Because my needs are taken care of I look forward to giving my daughter attention when she wakes up (I do still plop her in front of the TV so I can answer emails. Oh well, nobody’s perfect.)
  • Although I am not using my 5:15 time to work in any way, I feel as though I have more energy and enthusiasm to work. I’ve landed a few exciting assignments in new publications and I have better ideas overall. Plus, I’m making headway on some of the big projects I’ve been dreaming of for a while.

If you want to try your own early-morning magic hour, here are the rules I use (of course, there really are no rules. Do what works for you!):

Rule 1: I can do whatever I want as long as it isn’t work and as long as it does not come with any feeling of obligation

Rule 2: I can journal, work on the novel I’m writing just to see if I can, blog, or read. I can sit down and brainstorm and daydream. I can go to Pinterest and pin new smoothy recipes to my board. I can do whatever I want as long as it is fun and strokes my creativity.

I cannot:

  • Do work that I am getting paid for
  • Clean, do laundry, pay the bills
  • Look at social media or check email
  • I cannot, for the love of God, read the news.

Before my new 5:15 am wake-up call, I went to bed at midnight. Brian and I would spend the hours between 10pm-12am vegging on the couch watching The Great British Baking Show. It was nice to have that downtime, and I do love a good British bake-off, but now I go to bed at 10 pm and I don’t miss Mary Berry or Paul Hollywood one bit. Against all of the odds, when my alarm goes off in the morning I am thrilled to climb out of bed.

This early-waking has added so much value to my life that I’m thinking of setting my alarm even earlier, at 4:45 am, just to have a little more time to myself. If you’re feeling stretched thin (hello every parent-to-young-children out there), won’t you try rising early with me?