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Join the 5am Club – I Dare You

I’m sure you’ve been told it before: many of the most successful people are early risers and get up with the birds.  For those of you who know Steve Farlow, it’s no surprise that his running shoes or bike tires are hitting the tarmac no later than 5:30am.

If you’ve tried to get up early, you know it can be rough and hardly motivating.  I’ve tried to do it, but fallen victim to the ol’ snooze button if there isn’t an important reason (like a trip to Mexico…) for me to be awake that early.  Like you, I enjoy my sleep.

Photo courtesy of Lcius Kwok

Photo courtesy of Lucius Kwok

The first few days of starting any new habit are the toughest and require the greatest discipline.  After occasionally giving the early morning wake up a chance with mixed results, I decided to jump in with both feet and commit to waking up at 5am for two weeks straight. I wanted to test if this daily habit worked for my body and resulted in an improvement in focus, productivity, and my overall well-being!

After 2 weeks of early morning coffees (plural..) and hanging out with the birds, this is a habit I’ll be adopting long term.  Here are some of the benefits I have noticed personally:

Play Offence, Not Defense.

Nothing is worse than feeling buried in to-do lists or an inbox busting from the seams.  As an entrepreneur there’s no doubt you have lots going on, but not taking control of your projects leaves the risk of being in a reactive state; playing defense.

This transition from being reactive and playing defense, to taking action and playing offence is the single greatest benefit I’ve noticed from waking up at 5am.  By clearing out my inbox and nailing my to-dos before anyone else is awake allows me to avoid being victim to falling behind BlackBerry notifications and communications with customers, team members, and most importantly friends & family.

Playing offence and asking yourself mid-day, “Ok, what’s next!” is a great feeling, and one you can’t get when you’re on your heels playing defense.

Goals & Priorities Become Crystal Clear

Getting your daily goals and priorities dialed in before the rest of the world wakes up sets the tone for your day.  This is the first thing I do every morning – after making an Americano of course!  Doing this eliminates distractions and mitigates the risks of overlooking tasks that are important to your goals.  This focus translates throughout my entire day.  I feel like my compass is calibrated and I know exactly where I’m going.

You get to spend time with arguably the most important person in your life – YOU!

This is something I think we all undervalue.  Each one of us is constantly pinged, sending emails, in meetings with clients, or collaborating with team members.  Sure all of this is instrumental to success, but what about dedicating time to just thinking?

Having 5am-8am to myself every morning has been magical.  Prior to this experiment I have done yoga to benefit from the mental relaxation and separation from the daily grind, but waking up at 5am has taken this to the next level.

Albeit rather intangible, I firmly believe this sense of internal connectedness and self-awareness pays off dividends in every aspect of your life.  Allocating time for this in the early morning has enabled me to be present all day.  Being present and in the moment is crucial for making the right decisions throughout your day, and not being distracted about that client meeting you had yesterday, or the big presentation you have in a week.  I have been more disciplined and accountable to my goals by being present.

You Get S#!% Done.

By waking up at 5am I often have the 1 or 2 major tasks on my to-do list crossed off before the world wakes up.  This feels AWESOME!

Waking up this early has helped me identify my most productive hours of the day are between 6am-9am. I now get high priority and creative tasks done in a fraction of the time, and with better quality.  What are your most productive hours of the day?  If you haven’t already, discover them.

The bonus of having these productive hours between 6am-9am is that I don’t have to fight the temptation to react to incoming emails or phone calls.  Like I said earlier, because of this I now play offence during the day, not defense.

It’s way easier to make fitness a priority.

Making fitness a priority in my life has always been difficult for me (as a Kinesiology grad this is horrible, I know), however waking up at 5am has made it much easier.

After nailing a good chunk of my tasks first thing in the morning I don’t feel guilty taking 2 hours of my afternoon to run over to the Athletic Club and take care of my health.  I can now make it a priority in my life and I get to reap the incredible benefits of exercise: boosted energy, decreased stress, and trimming off a few lbs 😉

Overall, adopting this habit has yielded incredible results thus far, and has been a catalyst for adopting greater discipline.  It’s remarkable how embracing one habit can affect multiple aspects of your life: health, productivity, and work-life balance.

Join the 5am club – I dare you.


Screen Shot 2013-04-24 at 12.06.10 AMDave Inglis

Entrepreneurship Community Coordinator & LaunchPad Instructor