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The Minimalists

Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus help over 20 million people live meaningful lives with less through their website, books, podcast, and documentary. The Minimalists have been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, Forbes, TIME, ABC, CBS, NBC, BBC, CBC, and NPR.

First Thing in the Morning: Why I Wake at 3:30 A.M.

I like to wake early, before the rest of the world—often as early as 3:30 a.m.

I don’t wake to an alarm clock, however: I simply follow my body’s cues. I like to fall asleep by 9 p.m., but life happens, so sometimes I go to bed later. Some nights I sleep three hours, some nights nine: I wake when my body tells me it’s rested. As soon as I’m awake, no matter the time, I get out of bed and start my day.

Getting out of bed: that’s the secret. No snooze button, no lying around, no tossing, no turning—as soon as I wake, I’m up and moving.

For the longest time I didn’t know why I enjoyed getting up so early—my days just went better when I did; during my twelve years in corporate America, one of the few things in which I found solace was my early mornings spent in solitude.

I discovered a few reasons I enjoy the morning—while there is no routine, my pre-sunrise time typically involves three activities that fuel my productivity and add value to my life:

Read. I love to read literary fiction. For me, fiction, unlike any other art form, demonstrates what it means to be human; thus, I read to better understand my life and the world around me.

Write. Writing is my passion. I write fiction to convey the feelings and emotions that can only be told through the lives and consciousness of characters within a narrative, and I write nonfiction to add value to other people’s lives.

Exercise. My health is important to me: everything I do depends on me staying healthy. Plus, exercising first thing in the morning—even just 18 minutes—gives me momentum and sets a positive tone.

Whenever I do these activities in the morning, the rest of my day flows freely.

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