What Do You Do at 5 AM Every Day?

Here’s a common question I get asked when people learn about my 5 AM wake up time:

 

What do you do at 5 AM every morning?

 

The short answer is: Whatever I want! And the longer, more annoying answer is: It depends. My morning routine changes, depending on what mood I’m in and what type of day I want to have.

Some mornings I drive to the beach and go surfing. Other times I snuggle up on the couch and read my book for 3 hours. Sometimes when I’m extremely hungover I just sit and stare at the wall.

5am dogpark activities

Today, as I’m writing this, I’m at the dog park. It’s 5:52 AM, nobody is here, I’m watching the sunrise, and dictating this blog into my iPhone.

 

Match your mood to the day ahead. The morning sets the tone.

I’ve been getting up at 5am for over 800+ mornings. And I’ve discovered over time that whatever activities I do in the morning end up bleeding into my day. My mood, my mindset, my motivation, and my daily happiness are all set within the first few hours of every day.

You’ve probably heard the saying “Win the morning = win the day”. I believe this is true, but I don’t think it can be the motto for every single day of life. What if your goal for the day isn’t about winning?… What if it’s about relaxing? If you’ve just had 5 days in a row of absolutely crushing it and need to recharge your batteries, I don’t believe “win the morning” is the right message.

If “Win the morning = win the day” is true, then these sayings below are equally as important to know:

 

Relax in the morning = have a relaxing day
Morning appreciation = daily happiness
Lazy morning = lazy day
Healthy & fit morning = healthy & fit day

 

My personal activities and daily experience:

Here’s a nerdy chart I made to categorize and explain what I do in the mornings and what my day is like afterwards:

If I do this in the morning… My day usually turns out like this…
Physical activities like:
  • Surfing
  • Running, walking
  • Doing a workout class
  • Hiking
  • Bike riding
I tend to stand up straighter all day with better posture. I shower, dress nicely and feel good in my well-fitted clothes. Deep breathing with my chest out throughout the entire day. I generally feel like being outside under the sun the rest of the day. Attitude is strong and optimistic.
Creative outlet activities like:
  • Blogging/writing
  • Painting rocks
  • Doing puzzles
  • Having a dance-off with myself
  • Fixing or building stuff
  • Cooking/baking/shopping
Gets me thinking creatively all day. I’m relaxed, talking a bit slower, using better sentences and good vocabulary when I interact with people. I’m in a friendlier mood and want to be around others. Problem solving is easy on days like this.
Relaxing activities like:
  • Reading (for pleasure)
  • Watching Netflix
  • Listening to music
  • Googling nothing in particular
  • Social media
  • Calling friends/family in different time zones
Generally I have a slower, relaxing day. I might not shower and stay in my PJs until the afternoon. I eat whatever is convenient and it’s a bit harder to leave my comfort zone. It’s possible that I’ll cancel plans I have set with others on days like this so I can continue to recharge my batteries. I get bored and go to bed early. Days like this don’t happen too often.
Productive stuff:
  • Work activities
  • Finance stuff/pay bills
  • Smashing to-do list
  • Clearing out inbox
  • Project planning
  • Reading, podcasts (for learning and study purposes)
  • RE Investing
  • Side hustles
Beast mode! Days like this I’m well organized, my goals are clear and time is very structured. I have appointments, I’m in a serious mood, and have a work hard/play hard attitude. I have a lot of self confidence on days like this and little room for time wasters. Can usually accomplish more in a single day than in an entire week. Will not take NO for an answer and ready to tackle any problem thrown at me.
Mental health activities:
  • Meditating
  • Reflecting & appreciation stuff
  • Writing notes, flash cards
  • Affirmations
  • Sitting in silence
  • Watch sun rise
  • Hang with my dog
I’m a happier person and pleasant to interact with. Everything starts with a smile. I tend to be more understanding and ask good questions. I call old friends for a long chat. Daydream a lot and have conversations with my wife about how lucky we are. Troubling situations don’t phase me on days like this, just roll right through the day.
When I’m in a funk:
  • Stuck in my own head
  • Stress walking/jogging
  • Unproductive thinking, eg. replaying a bad conversation from yesterday in over and over in my head.
Little things throughout the day can frustrate me. My language gets a little worse and I have to be careful around others. I tend to want to be alone and can bottle up my emotions a little.

***I obviously try to avoid days like this, but sometimes they do happen. It’s natural. The first step to bad moods is recognizing I’m in one! Then, slowly correct it and minimize negative emotions. Tomorrow is another day!***

 

Finding the balance:

Structure is good, and doing the same thing every morning is an important step to form habits. Structure is how I survived my first 30 days of getting up at 5am.

That being said, change is good also. I’ve changed a lot over the past couple years as a person, and my morning routines have changed also.

Now that I notice how influential mornings can be, I’m trying to do a little more of the things that turn me into a productive, happy, contributing member of society… And less of the things that are slowly turning me into a grumpy bum that nobody wants to hang out with.

 

Morning time is personal time.

At 5am, everyone else is asleep. Whatever you want to do is completely up to you. No one is watching, no one is judging, and there is no one to compete with. If you’re starting a 5am challenge or contemplating getting up a little earlier each day, my advice is to have some fun with it. You can do whatever you want to do.

 

Thoughts? Comments? Think I’m full of crap? → Tell me in the comments below.

 

6 thoughts on “What Do You Do at 5 AM Every Day?

  • I also notice a direct correlation between my morning activities and my day. Mindset and attitude are key! Knowing this, we can ‘hack ourselves’ and organise specific activities that help us live according to our values.

    These days, at 5am, I’m likely off to the gym or reading a book. Both of these activities set my mind up for a great day, whether I’m looking to smash out work projects for Her Future Moves, having meetings or relaxing.

    This year I began an attitude chart. I track my first thought of the day to see if it’s positive (tick) or negative (cross). Interesting to see how it affects my enjoyment of the tasks at hand. Not exactly scientific, but a great reminder that I am in control of my attitude and can change it at anytime.

    Great post Joel!

    • I like the sounds of that attitude chart with ticks and crosses. I don’t track my moods specifically but definitely feel I’m moving towards way more happy mornings than I used to have a couple years ago.

      Cheers!

  • It’s super cool to see how different kinds of activities affect how your day unfolds. I’ve never thought about it like that – especially bucketing the activities based on a theme. I’m going to pay more attention to what I do in the morning and see how it correlates to the rest of my day. You’re also inspiring me to try getting up earlier. I’ve been getting up later and later now that I work from home. Today I was in bed until 8:59am before turning on my work computer. Yikes!

    • Dude! I was exactly the same when I started working from home. I woke up seconds before I had to get on my conf calls. 🙂 But then I came up with the affirmation “I don’t get up for work, I get up for ME”, and I started inventing my own reasons to get out of bed in the morning, instead of work inventing reasons for me. I live for me!

      Yeah I bucketed the activities when I wrote the post, but honestly I do a combination of activities most days. 20 min walk, 20 min read, 100 blog words, maybe a podcast while I walk the dog. It’s good to change it up.

      Thanks for reading! Good luck with WFH and getting up earlier!

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