ritual experiment 1: early-ass waking up

I'll wake up by 4:30 a.m. every Monday through Friday. I'll wake up by 5:30 a.m. on weekends. Note: this necessarily means going to bed earlier.

30 days

I started getting up at 5:30 a.m. to walk and write a year or two ago. It stuck and then it didn't. I tried again when I started a new exercise program last year. My husband started getting up then, too, and that has stayed around. Then, three people in a row recommended that I read The Miracle Morning. Eventually, my turn came in the library hold queue. The Miracle Morning is pretty self-help-y and sometimes it made me squirm, but it had the morning routine components I was looking for. And I decided: screw it. This is the push I need to try something that sounds crazy as hell and see if it works for me. I'm doing these mornings as Hal Elrod describes in his book. (I'm not getting paid in any way to talk about this. It's just the tool I'm using so I want to be open about that.) I was tempted to change it, tweak it, leave out some parts that sounded kind of goofy to me. And then that seemed like another obstacle, another reason to delay. So, here's what I'm doing for one month, almost exactly as he describes:


  1. Get up at 4:30 a.m. (5:30 on weekends)
  2. Brush my teeth, wash my face, change into workout clothes, and drink a glass of water.
  3. Do 3 to 5 minutes each of: meditation, affirmation, visualization, and reading.
  4. Write for 15 minutes.
  5. Do 30 minutes of exercise.
  6. Get myself completely ready for the day (shower, work bag packed, lunch in the cooler) before my daughter wakes up at 6:45.


Day 1: Monday: Getting up wasn't hard this morning. Maybe beginner excitement? It took longer to brush my teeth and stuff than I expected, though. I felt good.

Day 2: Tuesday: A bit harder to get up. I'm surprised to have enjoyed the affirmations. I thought I would hate that.

Day 3: Wednesday: Sweet mercy. Past iterations of me would have cried looking at the time when I woke up this morning. 4:30 a.m. That's still night, for fuck's sake. Even my phone thinks so. When I plug in my phone after I wake up at that time, it gives me a "good night, sleep well" screen. Holy crap. I wanted to go back to sleep SO MUCH.

Day 4: Thursday: I got up, and I did everything. But I did the meditation, affirmation, visualization part lying down on the den floor instead of sitting up.

Day 5: Friday: That first 15 minutes is hard as shit. And then for the rest of the whole day, I'm glad I did it.

Day 6: Saturday: Today was awesome. But I have big plans with friends tonight. I hope I can stay awake for them. I plan to skip tomorrow because of said big, once-a-year plans.

Day 7: Sunday: I missed doing my stuff today, but I'm happy I didn't try. Big once-a-year plans were way worth it.

Day 8: Monday: It was not as hard as I thought it might be to re-start after skipping a day. Maybe because I had already planned to skip it instead of it being a spontaneous decision? Also, we're on a maintenance week with the exercise stuff, so I'm using my exercise time to go for an early morning walk. It was COLD. But I felt really joyful during that 5:30 a.m. walk. I'm sort of weirdly embarrassed to say joyful. But it was actually joyful.

Day 9: Tuesday: Again, the cold-as-shit walk was joyful. Like, I was practically skipping home. Very strange.

Day 10: Wednesday: I was a little crunched up today because I lay awake in the bed for about 15 minutes before I got up. Usually, I lay there for 5 minutes.

Day 11: Thursday: My writing is starting to feel better again. I've got my blog post ready for tomorrow. That feels good to me. I'm struggling with the visualization part. It feels weird, and I don't really have a good plan for it.

Day 12: Friday: I'm finding that the transitions between things take longer than I thought they would, so I'm mostly doing 3 minutes of stuff. I only did 2 minutes of reading today, and I thought that wouldn't be enough to be worth doing, but it was.

Day 13: Saturday: I wasn't sure I wanted to commit to the weekends, too, but this was actually awesome. I think I was more fun with my family and our out-of-town guests than I would have been if I hadn't done it.

Day 14: Sunday: Same as yesterday. Last day of maintenance week, so I won't be doing the walks for three more weeks. I've loved them so much that I'm trying to figure out if I can get up at 4 a.m. so I can do those, too. I can't figure out how to get to sleep any earlier than 8:30, though, so I think I'll just do as planned for now.

Day 15: Monday: I thought I would be really sad about missing the walks, but it was nice to have my husband join me at exercise time. Still wonky on the visualization. Also, I'm reading a book I love that makes fun of affirmations and visualizations, so I'm feeling kind of dumb about that today. I'm sticking with it though.

Day 16: Tuesday: Stuff is starting to move in my life. Several new possibilities have opened up yesterday and today. Maybe it's coincidence. Very interesting.

Day 17: Wednesday: Writing was hard today.

Day 18: Thursday: Felt like cement getting up today. I finally felt better around writing time. It's now 2:45 in the afternoon, and I'm glad I did it then.

Day 19: Friday: Got up right away, but was tired as crap. Did most things lying down. But I got a chunk of writing done about something that's been eluding me, so I'll feel happy about that for the rest of the day.

Day 20: Saturday: A good morning. We've got a big day, and I'm glad I don't have to be thinking about fitting in my writing later.

Day 21: Sunday: Last night, as I was getting into bed at a friend's guest house after midnight thanks to an amazing (and rare) dinner party we attended for work + fun, I decided that I would sleep in today. And even though I really missed the morning routine, I think it was the right call.

Day 22: Monday: My husband did bedtime with our kiddo last night, and I went to sleep at 7:45 last night to help with that late night we all had on Saturday. Really, my brain didn't have a lot of choice in the matter. My body was insistent. And I'm glad because it was back to 4:30 a.m. this morning, and I felt good. I did have a rough time in the meditation. My thoughts were thinking thinking thinking. But the writing went really well. Hard but good. 

Day 23: Tuesday: I am so glad I wrote this morning. I never would have written that later in the day.

Day 24: Wednesday: I had a Board meeting last night, and I'm always kind of jacked up after those. I stayed up until 10 p.m., and this was the first morning I almost said, "Screw it," and went back to sleep. Being public about this experiment was probably the only thing that stopped me. I dragged myself through the first parts, and then I was glad I had done it by the time my kiddo got up.

Day 25: Thursday: I'm having trouble in meditation. The thoughts are piling on. But today's writing opened up even more.

Day 26: Friday: I stayed up later than usual making a birthday banner and cleaning up from frosting-making. Getting out of bed was a slog.

Day 27: Saturday: I did it. Whew. And it did give me more energy for the birthday celebrating.

Day 28: Sunday: I took today off. On purpose. I woke up at 6:30 instead.

Day 29: Monday: This was almost the only time I had to myself today, so it was treasured.

Day 30: Tuesday: I cannot express how glad I am that I got up this morning. Our kiddo ended up staying home from school sick, and I was way less frantic about that reconfiguring work stuff than I would have been otherwise.

The short version: I'm going to keep doing this for the foreseeable future. It's been good for me and my family and my work and my creativity in a bunch of ways. I am stunned.

The long version: I'll be publishing 5 short posts about this the week of March 12. Come back and check it out then.

letting go: do you want to be a morning person?

five minutes of misery

how to go to bed earlier


10 tips if you wanna try it

results q&a post

Check out some other experiments.