How I stick to waking up at 5am

Building an early bird morning routine


I've been getting up at around 5am on almost every weekday for a few months now (except the Christmas and the New Year holiday of course). Whenever my friends hear about this, they are almost always astonished about my persistence and curious about how I manage to stick to the habit. So I thought I would share my secrets with them and whoever is also considering to be an early bird.

Choose your triggers —

Sunrise outside my window

Waking up early during the summer was much easier because it’s warm and bright when you need to get out of the bed. It becomes much more difficult as we enter the winter when the sun doesn't start to rise until 8am here in London. Even if I was able to push myself out of the bed in the dark, I often felt exhausted and unmotivated to do anything productive.

After doing a lot of research, I decided to invest in these Philips hue smart lighting system that we then programme with the huerray! mobile app to mimic the sunrise. The light itself isn't really enough to wake me up though, so I paired it with the Gentle Alarm mobile app to play music that gradually increases in volume. This made a big difference for me. Instead of waking up abruptly and feeling exhausted, I now feel fully awake by the time I open my eyes.

Create your routine —

The first things I do right after I get up is to drink a glass of water while making coffee. Instead of a coffee machine, I buy roasted coffee beans directly from a local roastery Coffee Plant.

Every morning I would grind the beans, pack them up in my espresso coffee maker, and then let the coffee brew to fill the room with its aroma. This routine marks the beginning of the day in my brain before I settle down to start working with a delicious cup of coffee.

Claim your rewards —

After working for couple hours, I always have a healthy breakfast packed with protein before I leave home for office. This also gives us a chance to relax and share what we've each accomplished in the morning.

As I use the morning to work on my own side projects, to keep in touch with family and friends, to connect with new people on Twitter and to learn new skills, the progress and connection I make are also extremely rewarding over time.

Few more tips that work for me —

Admittedly that’s my mountain bike, not my commute bike :p

Despite of the not-so-favourable road condition for cyclists in London, cycling 10km into work every day is still one of my favourite things to do. I try to push myself quite hard physically while cycling, which really helps me refocus my mind before starting to work in the office again.

I do yoga in the evening after cycling home rather than in the morning to give myself more time in the morning to work on my personal projects.

Weekends are crucial. I don't usually wake up at 5am on weekends, but I never wake up later than 7am or sleep more than 8 hours. Because if you have drastically different schedule on the weekends, this makes getting back into your healthy habits much more difficult. What helps me to keep this up is my 8am swimming routine on Saturdays (having one of the best swimming pools in the world nearby also helps!).

The other thing I would absolutely recommend is to tell all your friends as soon as you decide to create a habit. It often makes me feel quite proud whenever I tell someone I get up at 5am; therefore, I feel even more committed to stick to it (even more so now I've shared it with you here now!).

Is there a good habit that you would like to create? What has worked for you? I'd love to hear your experience. Or if you have any questions about mine, feel free to leave a comment or tweet me at @julietchen

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