Waking Up at 5AM Everyday

Software Engineer / Veteran’s Perspective

I started waking up at 5AM every single day. Why? As cheesy at it sounds, I originally got inspired by watching YouTube videos of ‘successful’ businessmen ie. Tim Cook (3:45AM), Howard Shultz (4:30AM), Richard Branson (5:45 AM) etc.. I wanted to find out the mystery of what waking up early and they all had in common.

I’ve mentioned this in another article before, but I read somewhere that the most successful people in the workplace were the ones that worked 10% earlier and stayed 10% longer than their peers. Now, I do not spend a ton of time doing that, but I definitely do hop on early to review my tasks and mentally prepare myself for the work day. I’ve found that journaling and meditating before work kept me grounded and calm throughout the day. I have “self-diagnosed” ADHD (lol) so getting my thoughts and some energy out in the morning keeps me level.

Apart from the mental benefits before work, I also found myself in a familiar and comfortable place from my past. I was in the US Army for 8 years and honestly, the best physical and mental state I had been in my life was during my training, where we’d wake up between 4:30–5:00AM. We would all wake up, wash up, and go outside for morning PT (physical training). We’d then finish, shower and get dressed, then go march to breakfast. Same routine, every single day. I did not realize how much I missed it.

The first week was pretty brutal, I did not have my peers waking up with me who were all motivated toward the same goal. I found myself staying in bed way too long, sometimes falling back asleep after browsing social media. Other times, I’d actually get out of bed and just sit there thinking, “why?”


I quickly learned that simply waking up early won’t do much without a purpose in place. I had to rearrange my schedule and change my lifestyle to maximize the time I had early in the morning. I used to work out in the evening around 7PM which caused me to fall asleep around 1AM thanks to the caffeine from the pre-workout supplements. Most of the hours between 10PM-1AM were wasted on mindless things because I was tired of work, house chores, and the gym session. In the same way during my first week, I spent much of the first hours doing mindless things, but this time because I had zero plan or structure. I changed my structure to this:

5:00AM - Wakeup 5:30AM - Actually get out of bed (lol) 6:00AM - Gym 7:30AM - Wash up 8:00AM - Journal & Prepare for work (review tasks/notes) 9:00AM - Get online for work

I honestly think I could even divide them more productively, but this simple structure has worked so far. I’m not sure why it is, but having these productive hours before work starts has given me more energy and alertness during my work hours. I’m more motivated to “get after it” and my mood is uplifted


It’s been a while since I’ve maintained this schedule and my original goal to be the next ‘Richard Branson’ has changed. I think having a goal with inherit factors that I cannot control is unhealthy. I’m now more focused on what I actually have control over and live day by day.

“What can I do to make myself better by 1% every single day?”

Improving little by little each day adds up and matters. Waking up at 5AM and making myself more motivated and productive each day matters, to me. Instead of wasting hours in the evening doing useless things, I’m taking advantage of the hours at the crack of dawn to grow each day.


It’s not for everyone. People disciplined by practice definitely make their hours productive regardless of the hour of the day. Elon Musk is known to wake up at 7AM and work throughout the entire day until 1AM. Insane! I think something this extreme works for me because I found discipline in the military, where this bizarre type of schedule became second nature.

I’m not sure how long I’m going to keep this up but I don’t ever see myself wanting to stop. Wanting to be productive and motivated has become nearly synonymous with waking up early and getting a sweat in. I feel like gears have shifted in my brain and I’ve come back to what was familiar to me those many years ago.

If you haven’t tried anything like this before, I’d give it a shot. The first week is the hardest but you can do it. If feel guilty for being unproductive each day, I’d also give this a shot. Like I said, it isn’t for everyone, but you won’t know until you try!