I started waking up at 6 a.m. every day — here’s what I’m able to accomplish with the extra time

caption
A few days a week, I start the day with an early workout.
source
Emmie Martin/Business Insider

For over a year, I woke up for work around 8:15 a.m., got ready in a hurry, and rushed into the office.

But after hearing friend after friend tout the benefits of an early start, I finally decided to become a morning person – and stop starting my days flustered and unfocused.

Now I get up around 6 a.m. and spend the extra time exercising, preparing for the day, and getting myself in the right mindset for what’s to come.

Read on for a glimpse into my (much more productive) morning routine.


I set my alarm for a bright and early (read: dark and cold) 5:40 a.m., but usually end up snoozing and getting up around 6 a.m. Hitting snooze is supposedly a horrible habit, but it helps me wake up gradually instead of jarring into focus right away.

caption
Crown Heights, Brooklyn, before the sun is up.
source
Emmie Martin/Business Insider

First thing, I’ll usually read and journal — and scroll through Instagram. I’m currently reading “Multiply” by Francis Chan, so I crack that open. Making time to do something cathartic like this first thing in the morning always puts me in a positive mindset to face the day. And as a practicing Christian, this time also involves prayer and devotionals.

caption
Currently reading: “Multiply” by Francis Chan.
source
Emmie Martin/Business Insider

I snack on some cereal while reading, and mentally prepare myself to go for a run.

caption
This cereal might technically be for children — but it’s delicious.
source
Emmie Martin/Business Insider

Around 6:30 a.m. or so, I head out to run. I’m training for a race in November, so making time to get outdoors has become non-negotiable. It was a hard habit to develop at first, but now getting those endorphins in early energizes me for the entire day.

caption
Yes, my iPod is from 2006.
source
Emmie Martin/Business Insider

Mid-run, it finally starts to get sunny. I love exercising before work because I not only get to explore new parts of my neighborhood, but it’s amazing to see it when everything’s quiet and just waking up.

caption
Changing leaves, the best part of fall.
source
Emmie Martin/Business Insider

After a quick post-run shower around 7:30 a.m., it’s time to get ready for work, which usually doesn’t take me very long. Just brushing my teeth…

caption
Well, this is flattering…
source
Emmie Martin/Business Insider

…and putting on a little makeup.

caption
Straight primpin’.
source
Emmie Martin/Business Insider

For breakfast, I toss yogurt, spinach, frozen strawberries, and an unpictured banana into the blender for a green smoothie. I plan to grab a more substantial bowl of oatmeal (and Nutella) at work. No matter how late I’m running, I never skip breakfast — I can’t function without it.

caption
Putting spinach in smoothies is the easiest way to feel healthy without having to actually eat salad. I recommend it.
source
Emmie Martin/Business Insider

Next, I throw together a salad for lunch. Today, it’s one of my favorite combinations: kale massaged with olive oil and topped with chickpeas and feta, with an apple on the side.

caption
Even if you smother your salad in cheese, it still counts!
source
Emmie Martin/Business Insider

I usually aim to leave for work around 8:15 a.m., but I’m running a few minutes late today — probably from the extra time I spent taking 1,000 pictures of my lunch — so I grab my backpack and head out at 8:21 a.m.

caption
This photo was totally staged. My bag can normally be found strewn across the floor of my room.
source
Emmie Martin/Business Insider

I hop on a 4 train into Manhattan, where I spend my commute reading. I always choose a novel for the train so I can get lost in the story and forget how close I’m standing to 20 other strangers. This week, Andy Weir’s “The Martian” served as my distractor.

caption
Franklin Avenue, my home sweet subway station.
source
Emmie Martin/Business Insider

I get off the train in Union Square and head into work at 9:05 a.m. Now that the sun’s up, it looks like it’s going to be a beautiful day.

caption
Clear skies in Union Square.
source
Emmie Martin/Business Insider

The biggest perk of waking up earlier is getting to work earlier — without feeling rushed. You’ll notice I didn’t check my email or Twitter before arriving in the office. By taking my time in the morning and waiting to start work until I’m physically there, I’ve been able to start each workday much more focused and productive. I’m able to get in the zone before the office gets loud and distracting.

caption
I swear I’m hard at work and not checking Twitter…
source
Emmie Martin/Business Insider

And now, time to write!

caption
Another day of list writing ahead of me.
source
Emmie Martin/Business Insider