I Woke Up at 5am and It Increased My Productivity

With finals and the end of the semester coming up, we can all agree that now is the most important time to be productive when we sit down to work. Whether you’ve got a semester’s worth of reading to catch up on, a mountain of papers to write or finals to frantically cram for, upping your productivity can have a huge impact on your stress levels during these next few weeks.

When I, an avid over-sleeper, read an article published by the Entrepreneur.com about the benefits of waking up at 5 am, I was sceptical to say the least. With finals coming up, however, I’ll try anything to make sure all my studying won’t happen the night before my exam. I spent a week struggling (and I mean struggling!) to wake up every morning at 5 am to see if it could whip my unproductive self into shape just in time for finals. Here’s what happened:

Day 1
Since it’s already a struggle getting out of bed after the weekend, I thought “why not add to that torture and start on a Monday?” So I did, and as predicted, it was brutal.

As someone notorious for starting every study sesh by spending at least half an hour checking emails and other important updates (staying on top of my Prince Harry Google alerts are a priority), I was able to get that out of the way right when I woke up. Later in the day, when I sat down between classes to get some work done, I didn’t even bother to check them. 

One of the big focuses of the Entrepreneur article was that working out earlier eliminates the ability to make excuses or put off going to the gym later. Although Minto doesn’t open until 6:30, I still got an early-morning sweat session in and I felt great. While I go to the gym regularly, I definitely noticed that when I worked out in the morning I had more energy than when I went after classes or work at night.

Recap: While waking up at that ungodly hour was NOT easy, I did manage to accomplish most of my daily tasks before my classes so that breaks between classes and the evening could be used to catch up on reading or finish assignments and notes.

Day 2
It was a little easier getting up today, and by ‘easier’ I mean I didn’t cry like Kim K when she lost her diamond earring in the ocean.

I managed to get through the day without taking a nap and flew through my to-do list, feeling very motivated to get everything done. Plus, I finished my stats assignment in record time and, may I add, a week early (which never happens).

When my evening classes rolled around, I was definitely feeling the affects of being up for more than twelve hours that day. I was tired and (sorry to my psych prof) didn’t make it through my three hour 7 pm - 10 pm lecture.

Recap: Productive but exhausted by 3 pm in the afternoon. I did get to the gym again though!

Day 3
Day 3 started off fantastically! I got all of my notes and reading done before my two classes, hit the gym, and ate breakfast, which is a rare occurrence when you typically wake up half an hour before your class starts. I don’t think I’ve been that alert in my 8:30 class all semester. I felt so motivated after my two classes that I actually wanted to start writing my study notes for the exams. I did cave and had a forty-five-minute nap around 3pm (I’m only human) after getting a decent amount of notes done.

Recap: This could actually be worth continuing…at least until December 22nd.

Day 4
I think by now, by body is a little more used to getting up this early. Obviously, it’s still not a piece of cake getting out of bed when it’s pitch black outside, but it felt more normal. I had a solid six hours of free time to study today. While I did take an hour long break, most of my time was spent working productively. I made it through all of my classes and didn’t feel as tired as yesterday and I didn’t take a nap.

For the first time, I also noticed that other things were starting to fall into a similar pattern; I’ve started eating at the same time each day and I’m less hungry later in the day since I’m eating dinner early too.

Recap: I have to say, I definitely used my big gap between classes today for something more productive than binge-watching the Gilmore Girls revival.  

Day 5
TGIF…sort of. Today, I had no classes but a full day of work. I got a few hours of studying and notes done in the morning (when I’d usually be cuddled up in bed debating whether the paycheck is worth the work). On my first break, I felt tired and managed to get through a whopping 2 whole pages of my reading. By my second break, I was so tired I started imagining that I was back in my bed under a mountain of blankets and pillows.

Safe to say, when I got home around 4:30, I went straight to bed and took a nap (it’s also safe to say I fell asleep on the bus ride home).

Recap: I did get things accomplished in the morning, but I was burnt out that night. Side note: I will be sleeping in all weekend.

Final Thoughts
Waking up at 5 am is not easy. Did I enjoy doing it? Absolutely not! Was it worth it? Yes. I compared what I’d accomplished this week to the week prior and there was a definite difference. Not only had I spent more time focused on school work, I completed much more than I had the week before, I went to the gym every day and felt like I had the energy to push myself, and I was able to eat breakfast more than I usually have in the past. While I doubt that I could maintain this habit every day, I definitely felt like there was a positive impact on my focus, productivity and health.

Waking up earlier will not magically make you more productive; you have to push yourself to do it and I definitely failed a few times that week. However, giving yourself more time in the morning and more time to work out, work without distraction or take care of other things that get in the way of studying and school work, you can increase your chances of being more successful and productive when you do hit the books.

We challenge you to try the 5am wake-up challenge for 5 days! Tell us how you feel after you’ve conquered it on Facebook or Twitter


Sources: Cover Photo