My Low-Tech Secret to Getting Up Early Every Day



I mark this calendar every morning after working out.  April was a good month.


I skipped my 6:00 AM workout this morning for only the 3rd time since December 21, 2013.¹  I’ve been ruthless these past 6 months about getting up early and getting a workout in.

Consistently getting up early will change your life.  But, it’s difficult.  Here’s my secret:

I take a black marker and mark an “X” through that day’s square on my calendar every morning when I return from my workout.  It is surprisingly satisfying to make that mark each day, and to look back and see the series of “X’s” earlier that month makes me feel as if I’m really accomplishing something.

I get up every morning between 5:00 and 5:30 AM; some (most?) mornings, I’d much rather roll over and go back to sleep.²  But, knowing that the day’s calendar will lack a fat “X” through it if I don’t get up and go has given me the motivation to overcome the desire to go back to sleep.

This technique will work for other things, too.

Want to give up Coke?

Pray every day?

Stop watching The Bachelor?

Try the calendar technique and let me know how it goes.


¹I have a bad shoulder and needed a rest day today.  Still, part of me wishes May 22 had a big “X” through it….

² I get up early on Sundays, too, but I don’t workout on Sundays, and so I don’t mark through the day.  Plus, I like making Sundays different, set apart.


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

16 thoughts on “My Low-Tech Secret to Getting Up Early Every Day

  1. Don’t break the chain!!! Reminds me of some other Jerry-inspired wisdom you shared way back in Juarez… “Your pretzels are making me thirsty!”

    • I love that line. Yeah, there is something about keeping the streak going that really helps you get up when you would rather go back to sleep.

  2. Ashley Young suggested I do this for working out and it worked for me too! I only made it two months, but I think it’s time to bring it back.

    • 2 months ain’t too shabby. Part of my motivation these days is that I really don’t want to go back to the days when I didn’t get up as early. And so I’m always afraid that I’ll quickly give it up–I know how easy it is to lose momentum.

  3. I am reading your text at this early hour for the obvious reason…I too get up early every morning. I agree that there is something really satisfying about marking something as done or checking it off a list. The calendar thing can be a further motivator as you realize there are only so many days in your life calendar…

    • Exactly. When you don’t get up and workout or do something else valuable, you never look back and say, “That was time well spent.” All it was is that you stayed up too late watching tv, and that doesn’t add any value to your life.

  4. I have tried several times to start an early morning workout routine. Never fails, I fail. I have also tried several times to start a consistent bible reading program. Never fails, I fail. So, I combined the two. I subscribed to the daily audio bible program on my cell phone (one time $1 charge) and now I listen to the DAB while I do my early morning workout. Hardly missed a day since January 1. I found combining two things I really wanted to do resulted in twice the desire, twice the benefit, twice the determination and twice the chance of success. Kind of pitiful that it took twice the determination to get something done that I needed and wanted, but if that is what it takes, at least I figured it out.

    • Paul, I love this strategy. Basically, the human always tends towards indolence; it takes a greater desire to overcome the desire to be lazy. So, you’ve built in a desire greater than your desire to sleep in. I think that’s wise.