The Real Reason Waking at 5:00am Makes You Successful

Photo by Emma Simpson on Unsplash

Disclaimer – I might be writing this to myself. I might be trying to make myself feel better about getting out of bed in the cold and dark and I’m already awake because my husband leaves for work at 5:30am. I also sometimes sleep in until 6:00.

Either way, I have a little time before my routine starts at 6:30am.

Many of you have heard of The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. It’s a great little book talking about how to rise early and set up your day for success. It’s inspired lots of other books and articles and podcasts. Everybody who’s anybody seems pro-5:00am these days.

But if you’re a mom, it’s very likely you’re already getting up way early just to make sure the bare minimum happens. You might even laugh at the idea of 5:00am being early! I know how it feels to realize that if you don’t get up at 5:00am to take a quick shower, you won’t be getting one that day. And even worse, you have to plan it a day ahead. Crazy.

So, I used to be a little annoyed at some of this advice. Because on top of already getting up early, you’re barely getting enough sleep. You need that extra half hour and it can make the difference between functioning and falling asleep in the car. And if your kids aren’t school age yet, don’t pay a bit of attention to this post.

Now that my son is in school, though, and sleeping through the night (mostly), and no pets have to go outside in the middle of the night, I can actually get enough sleep to wake up early. I finally get it now (just in time for our schedules to change entirely next year with a new school!). It’s not so much the earliness of the hour, it’s the time before the rest of your life starts moving.


Getting up at 5:00am gives you some time to yourself, hopefully, before you have to jump into the must-do tasks. It gives you a bit of time to do what you need to set up you up well for the day. But, this is only if you’re getting decent sleep.

If you don’t start the day rushed, everything else seems to flow much more smoothly. Scrambling around used to make me feel important, but now it mostly just puts me in a bad mood. And leaves me negative most of the day. I never get good work done on those days. 

When schedules and health allow, I like to exercise early in the morning. It charges me up and I feel more awake and sharp and ready to take on the world. Lately, though, I’ve had some injuries and it’s working better to do my physical therapy later in the day. I’ve switched to a more calm morning.

I feels good to have time to make a healthy breakfast instead of grabbing something that may be pretty marginal. I’m sure that’s better for my body and mind. I eat some breakfast and read right now. I know some folks who journal and I’ve been putting that off, but I’d like to start. Some people meditate, do yoga, pray, intentionally plan their day. 

Whatever is going to put you in a calm, but alert state of mind will work. If I wake up late on the weekends (and that means after 7:00am – my kiddo gets up around 6:00 – 6:30am every day, even the weekends), I find I miss that quiet, alone time. I’ll take my tea & breakfast outside for a bit just to make sure I start the day with a clear mind. 


So building the right mindset and intentions for the day can be super helpful and productive. But, it all goes to crap when first distraction of the day hits. I’m not talking about social media or video games or chores – I mean unavoidable distractions. Like when your neighbor calls to tell you your dog got out of the backyard and is terrorizing her toddlers (not what you think – the pup is just big and wiggly and like to lick sticky kid faces). You have to deal with those distractions right as they come up.

In the quiet of the early morning, you’re able to knock out a few important tasks before anyone starts pestering your or causing major distractions. Successful people put their most important tasks early in the day so that they’re sure to complete them. They know they could be thrown off-task at any time. The chances of that go up exponentially too, if you’re a mom, right?

Right now, I’m working on building a writing habit. Most days, I don’t do any writing in the ultra-early morning, but if I can, I do write first thing after the kiddo hops on the bus. So, from 7:00 – 9:00am, I schedule my writing. I say “schedule” because I do sometimes procrastinate or start something else. But it’s definitely a morning activity. This way, I know that more often than not, it will actually get done.

Even if you don’t start work extra early, getting up early and setting the right mindset lets you jump right into your tasks when you do start work. I remember when I used to roll into the office around 9:00am (traffic – it was Atlanta!), take a bit of time to make tea, review emails, think about my day, and maybe start work around 9:30 – 9:45. That’s 45 minutes of time that I could be derailed! Now, I just jump right in to my task and so far, I’m making it happen because of this.

When I do get distracted, if I’ve had time to set my intentions and get my mind right, the distractions don’t derail my whole day. Just now, as I’m writing, I got a call about a surgery bill that slipped through the cracks. With insurance notices and 42 different bills for one surgery, I guess I missed one. No big deal, I handled it. But if I had already been in a rush and scrambling to get things done, this would have been too much stress and would have upset me so much that it probably would have derailed my day.

It wouldn’t work if everyone does it

I know that if everyone got up at 5:00am, then people would start calling and texting each other before dawn and the whole thing would fall apart. The good news is that unless you’re really reaching for some goal or you have a grand plan, you won’t have the motivation to get up early. Most people don’t seem to. And the ones that do protect that time.

You may have to go to bed a little bit earlier. My husband and I are still working that out – we like having a little time to chat after our boy goes to bed. But as he gets older, he’s staying up later. As a mom though, I’m used to the changes. Just as soon as I get used to one schedule, another one evolves as he grows up.

Having that time in the morning to myself helps me roll with those life changes, as well as distractions during the day. These days, I’m rarely derailed for the entire day, unless we end up at the ER. No amount of me-time can prepare me for that. I did zero work that day. But, if I hadn’t been up and awake, I’m not sure I could have properly navigated that 6:45am injury and the resulting ER adventure. Thank goodness I had gotten up at 5:00!

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