So far, I’ve mostly failed at waking up at 5:30

by | May 22, 2013 | Productivity Experiments

Takeaway: Waking up early is hard, and I’ve failed at my productivity experiment to wake up at 5:30 every morning a lot of days. But I’m experimenting with a bunch of ideas to fix that.

Estimated Reading Time: 1 minute, 53s.

Go away, 5:30.

I’m a part of a weekly meditation group, and every week we get together for a group sitting meditation, walking meditation, and then listen to a dharma talk (a talk about Buddhism). One of the things that Jack Kornfield said during his prerecorded talk last week surprised me – that he’s going through a divorce. How the hell could a world-renowned meditation teacher, of all people, be getting divorced?

The thing I loved the most about his talk was how he wasn’t afraid to present an authentic, vulnerable version of himself to whoever happened to be listening. If you flip through the pages of Men’s Health, People, Fortune, or even through a book written by a “self help guru”, you might assume that those people are perfect at what they do. That every person in Fortune is rich, every person in Men’s Health doesn’t struggle to stay fit, and every person in People is effortlessly beautiful.1

Unfortunately, though, vulnerability doesn’t sell magazines.


I obviously don’t consider myself a “productivity guru” – sure, I’m obsessed with this stuff, but I’m just 23 and I struggle with productivity every day. That’s one of the reasons I created this project.

So far my productivity experiments have gone swimmingly, with the exception of waking up at 5:30 every morning. And I’m trying very hard at it, too. This morning I woke up at 6:45, after hitting snooze a bunch of times. Yesterday I woke up at 5:45, but I was so tired that I needed to take a 45-minute nap at around 9. And this pattern has repeated, backward through time, since the day I started the experiment. I’m going to struggle with this experiment a lot, but that’s okay.

Over the next several months I’m going to be experimenting a lot with waking up earlier, and writing about what I find. I’m going to try things like:

  • Rewarding myself for waking up at 5:30
  • Creating a nighttime ritual so I can get to bed on time
  • Shutting off my electronics an hour before bed
  • Exercising earlier on in the day
  • Cutting off my consumption of caffeine past a certain time

And of course,

  • Keep trying and experimenting every day until I succeed

It’s going to be a fun ride. And you better believe I’m going to be honest about what works and what doesn’t.

Image sources: 5:30.

  1. The only exception to this, of course, is Eva Longoria, who is sexy regardless of how her day is going. 

Written by Chris Bailey

Chris Bailey has written hundreds of articles on the subject of productivity and is the author of three books: How to Calm Your Mind, Hyperfocus, and The Productivity Project. His books have been published in more than 40 languages. Chris writes about productivity on this site and speaks to organizations around the globe on how they can become more productive without hating the process.

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