Waking up early

Ever since I got back to Seattle after Christmas, I’ve been waking up early.

Not, like, super early, but 6-6.30 am. This is a big deal for me; I’ve never been able to really drag myself out of bed until around 8 or so.

But suddenly (probably thanks to jet lag) it started clicking. 1

I’ve settled into a little routine: wake up at around 6am, set up the coffee machine while I jump in the shower, then spend until 7am catching up on emails and reading. I work on freelance or side projects until 8, at which point I either go to the gym or write for an hour. By 9am I’m back at my desk, with breakfast (a smoothie or a protein bar because I’m still lazy) and I feel like I’ve accomplished a half a day’s worth of stuff already.

I’ve always loved the idea of being a morning person, but was never able to make the switch. For me, being a morning person was dichotomous with being a night person, and I cherished being a night person. I was my most creative, relaxed, and productive self at night.

And, you know what? I still think that’s a little bit true. It’s weird to have your day be over at 9 or 10. 8pm used to mean that I had a couple solid more hours of life and ability before I needed to think of winding down: now, 8pm means that I have to finish up what I’m doing.

I also get exhausted in the evenings. When I used to wake up at 8am, the end of the workday was basically a halfway point: I’d go for a walk, make some dinner, and still have a bunch of energy to do whatever I wanted with the remaining night. Now, by the time I go for a walk and make dinner and take a bath and hang out for a little I’ve pretty much spent all the energy I have for the day.

But even with all of those drawbacks: this is the first time in my life I’ve been excited to get up in the mornings. Falling asleep used to mean putting away whatever I was doing: now, it means getting myself ready for another awesome day. Yes, it’s a silly and largely arbitrary distinction – the number of hours in the day aren’t changing – but it’s improved my outlook nonetheless.

I don’t want this essay to be prescriptive, because I’m not sure how universalizable my methods are and the biggest hurdle most people face (committing to waking up early) sort of just happened, so I can’t offer any actionable advice.

So if I have general advice, it is this: find the times and places where your world is calm and crystalline, and build around them.


  1. “Clicking” is perhaps not the right term. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say “I stopped falling sleep at my desk.” [return]
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Justin Duke is a writer and developer in Seattle.
He likes good, practical things.
(And writing in the third person, I guess.)


@justinmduke
me@jmduke.com