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The Minimalists
The Minimalists are Emmy-nominated Netflix stars and New York Times–bestselling authors Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus. Alongside their podcast cohost, T.K. Coleman, this simple-living trio helps millions of people eliminate clutter and live meaningfully with less. Learn More.

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.