This is a question I get a lot out in the offline world when people hear that I consistently get up early: How early should I be getting up before work? Seriously, they can never seem to help themselves when it comes to that question. Therefore, I figured it would be useful to answer it online, too.
If you’re looking for a specific time or a specific number of hours prior to your work shift starting as my answer… Well, that would be ridiculous and inaccurate for me to specify. How early to wake up before work is NOT a one size fits all solution! I do, however, recommend you start by going to bed 15 minutes earlier and getting up 15 minutes earlier than you do now.
The ultimate answer is going to depend on you and what you plan to accomplish by getting up early. Let’s dive deeper, shall we?
I recommend only moving your wake up time in 15-minute increments so that your body can more easily adjust to the change. This will make things so much easier for you. Being drop-dead tired isn’t going to do you any good.
For example, if you currently go to bed at midnight and get up for work at 7:30AM, start by going to bed at 11:45PM and getting up at 7:15AM for a whole week. Then go to bed at 11:30PM and get up at 7AM the following week, and keep moving your bedtime and wake up time back by 15 minutes each week until you’re satisfied.
Why Get Up Early Before Work?
Yup, you not only need to ask yourself how early to wake up before work, but also, why you should wake up early before work. Ask yourself both of these questions every night before going to bed. It’s even better if you write down your answer rather than just answer the question silently in your head.
Why exactly are you looking to get up early before work? Do you have a specific task or project you want to make time for before rushing off to the office or wherever you place of work is?
Or are you simply looking for a less rushed morning that gives you time to exercise, meditate or have uninterrupted Me Time?
How long do you think is ideal to do these things? How long does it take you to wake up, do bathroom stuff, and (most importantly) become alert enough to coherently begin your Me Time, exercise routine, or projects?
Another thing to keep in mind when pondering this crucial why question is that you need to be realistic. If you are someone who has never risen early a day in your life and then suddenly want to, start small. Don’t shoot for 2 or 3 hours earlier than usual unless you plan to go to bed 2 or 3 hours earlier, which is unlikely. Maybe even 1 hour is too ambitious, who am I to say?
Ease into this routine and make sure you are still getting plenty of sleep so that you can function at your job! Most everyone needs 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night regardless of whether they are a night owl or morning lark.
No one knows you better than you know yourself, so tap into that knowledge when doing your morning routine planning.
Don’t Fall Into This Early Riser Beginner’s Trap
One fact I know for certain is this: We tend to overestimate what we can accomplish in a day and underestimate what we can accomplish in a year.
Start small and unambitious in the beginning with your pre-work early rising, and before you know it, you’ll look back and realize you have accomplished more than you ever imagined.
On a daily basis, it might feel you’re not doing anything great, but it’s the baby steps that quickly compound. Small, everyday wins like getting out of bed even just 15 minutes earlier than you have to can transform your life in a year’s time. In fact, 15 minutes earlier than your current wake-up time is how early to wake up before work.
Trust me, that 15 minutes will likely inspire you to keep pushing your wake up time back. Eventually, you might make that 2 or 3 hours earlier a reality.
Finally, don’t get up early and then have absolutely nothing planned for this time. You know why? Because if you wake up early and become bored, you’ll probably just go back to sleep!
Then you’ll defeat the whole purpose of getting up early (AKA you’ll feel like a failure) and you’ll probably also be groggy when you wake up later for work because you will be waking up in the middle of a sleep cycle!
If you’re getting up early before heading off to work, commit to it. Don’t be wishy washy.
My First Pre-Work Morning Routine
At minimum, plan to make some tea (or coffee if that’s your thing, but I don’t recommend caffeine – especially the heightened amount in coffee) and take a brisk walk or sit on a porch or balcony to breathe in the fresh morning air and wake yourself up. This mini morning routine is what I did for about 15 or 20 minutes prior to getting ready for work when I started waking up early.
Even though this routine is seemingly “nothing” – it is actually something and you won’t be bored if you’re enjoying the quiet of the morning and taking some time for yourself before work. Usually, mornings are just rush, rush, rush – and this quick 15 to 20-minute leisurely routine is great for combatting the morning craziness.
I knew I had to do something that required minimal effort and that was enjoyable. I happen to love tea and appreciating the morning solitude, so that become my one and only plan in the “early” days of my early rising journey. It was easy to accomplish and I felt so proud of myself for the month or so that I did that particular routine. I went into work happier and felt more accomplished before the workday even started.
That same basic morning routine inspired me to build upon it and eventually, it blossomed into the more elaborate morning routine I effortlessly undergo now.
Why did this work for me? In the beginning, I didn’t yet have the enthusiasm and drive I have now to do my writing and make badass breakfasts. I was simply going through the motions in hopes of the early rising habit sticking. And stick it did.
Find Your Why (Your Reason to Get Up Early)
OK, story time real quick…
The habit of getting up early eventually stuck with me because I was fed up with myself. I had been wanting to get up ealier for many years, but could never quite get myself to do it. I was at a point where I felt like I had no self-discipline and was going nowhere in my life.
During the workday, I only had time for my job and was tired and useless in the evening, so I became depressed thinking about the fact that I was stuck in my life with no time or energy for growth. This depression was the catalyst for my change. That, and a Tony Robbins quote:
Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.Tony Robbins
Apparently, at that moment I reached my threshold and couldn’t take it anymore. The relentless desire that I had over the past 10 or so years to get up early finally sprang into action. One evening I just decided I was going to get up early the next morning and that was that. I’ve been doing it ever since.
Honestly, now that waking up early is such an engrained habit, it’s easier for me to get up early than to sleep in – regardless whether I’m working that day or not. Waking up early has become part of my identity.
Wake Up Early Before Work – for You
How early to wake up before work is one of the first questions you must address on your early rising journey, but it’s certainly not the only question. Asking yourself why in addition to how early to wake up before work is going to help you continue getting value out of waking up earlier each morning.
The point here has not been about me, but hopefully, the fact that I shared some of my why (my reasons for choosing to wake up early) has been helpful.
It’s really about you, however. Find your why and everything else will fall into place.