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The Minimalists

Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus write about living a meaningful life with less stuff for 3 million readers. As featured on: ABC, CBS, NBC, BBC, TODAY Show, NPR, Forbes, The Atlantic, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and National Post. They live in Missoula, Montana.

First Thing in the Morning: Why I Wake at 3:30 a.m.

Waking Early

I like to wake early. Often as early as 3:30 a.m., before the rest of the world. Not every day, but often.

I don’t have an alarm clock. I follow my body’s cues. I like to go to bed by 9 or 10pm, but life happens and 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 immediately and start my day. Getting out of bed—that’s the secret.

For the longest time I didn’t know why I enjoyed getting up so early. Even when I worked in the corporate world, I didn’t know why I liked the mornings. I just knew that my days went better when I did. In fact, during my twelve years in corporate America, one of the few things that gave me solace was my early morning time in solitude.

After reflecting on it for a while, I discovered three reasons why I enjoy my early mornings. While there is no routine, my early mornings typically involve three things I’m excited to do, three things that make me feel productive, three things I enjoy immensely, three things that add value and give meaning to my life. I didn’t realize this until recently.

First thing in the morning, as soon as I wake, I do one or more of the following:

Read. I love to read literary fiction. For me, literary fiction, unlike any other art form, has the ability to show us what it means to be a human being in incredibly complex times. Thus, I read to better understand my own life.

Write. Writing is my passion. I write fiction (like my short story collection) to convey the feelings and emotions that can only be told through the lives and consciousness of characters within a narrative. I write non-fiction (like the essays on this site) to add value to other people’s lives.

Exercise. My health is incredibly important to me. Plus, exercising first thing in the morning—even if it’s for 18 minutes—starts the day out right.

Whenever I do any of these activities in the morning, the rest of my day tends to flow more freely.

Do you have anything you’re excited to get out of bed and do?