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Early to Rise Challenge: Swim Upstream

Welcome to the Early to Rise Challenge! Throughout the month of March, I’m challenging myself and my readers to make the most of their mornings. So every week day morning at 9 a.m. EST, I’m posting a short Early to Rise post. I’ll share a few of my thoughts on the day’s passage from Early to Rise, tell you what time I got up that morning, and encourage you to leave a comment to tell us what time you got up and how you’re doing on the challenge.

Swim Upstream

The Day 12 reading in the Early to Rise book was very inspirational — especially since I tend to be an “out-of-the-box thinker”. I don’t like following rules made by experts. And if you want to motivate me, tell me something can’t be done! 🙂

Early rising tends to be a bit of an “against the flow” mentality. Most people would prefer to stay in bed and sleep rather than get up and get moving at an early hour.

Now, I’m not saying that sleeping in is always wrong. If you need sleep, by all means, get that sleep. But if you’re just sleeping in out of laziness or lack of discipline, I wholeheartedly encourage you to start challenging yourself to make earlier rising a priority.

I’ll just be really honest here: it’s pretty much never fun to get up early. And I often second guess my sanity for the first few minutes after my alarm clock goes off.

But a few hours into the day, I never, never regret getting up early — even if I’m a little tired. Why? Because my day goes much more smoothly, I get so much more done, and I’m not running around like a chicken with my head cut off feeling overwhelmed and behind. Getting out of a warm bed when I still feel a little (or a LOT!) tired, is a small price to pay for the benefits I reap later on in the day.

What benefits have you experienced so far as a result of getting up early? I’d love to hear how this challenge has helped your life and about any difference you’ve seen by making an effort each morning to get up early.

What Time Did You Get Up This Morning?

Me? I got up at 5:34.

What time did you get up? Leave a comment and let us know!

Join in the Chatter!

Want to blog about this challenge? If you’re blogging through this challenge with me, be sure to leave your link to your direct post for today below. Plus, if you’d like to post your daily posts to the Early to Rise Group Board on my Pinterest page, just shoot me an email (moneysavingmom @ gmail dot com) and I’ll invite you.

Want to follow along on Twitter or Instagram? Each week day morning on my Facebook Page, my Twitter account, and my Instagram account, I’ll be posting a picture of my alarm clock as public accountability. I’d love to have you do the same or join in the discussion on Twitter and Instagram. Just follow hashtag #EarlytoRise to see what others are tweeting and Instagramming about this challenge!


Other posts in the Early to Rise Challenge series

  1. The 30-Day Early to Rise Challenge Begins on Friday (grab your ebook for just $4.99!)
  2. Early to Rise Challenge: Day 1 (Your Mindset Matters)
  3. Early to Rise Challenge: Wake Up With a Plan for Your Day
  4. Early to Rise Challenge: It's Not Always Easy (and am I the only one who thinks drinking coffee black is crazy??)
  5. 15 Things You Can Do Each Morning to Make Your Day More Successful
  6. Early to Rise Challenge: Adjust Your Attitude
  7. 11 Things to Do Tonight to Set You Up for Success Tomorrow
  8. Early to Rise Challenge: Change Your Life By Taking One Small Step at a Time
  9. Early to Rise Challenge: Find the Artist in You
  10. Early to Rise Challenge: "It's Your World, So Change It"
  11. Early to Rise Challenge: Swim Upstream
  12. Early to Rise Challenge: Focus on Other People
  13. 5 Steps to Start Your Day With a Better Attitude
  14. Early to Rise Challenge: Find What Motivates You
  15. Early to Rise Challenge: The Halfway Mark!
  16. Early to Rise Challenge: Choose Who You Will Be Today
  17. Free printable: 17 Ways to Set Your Morning Up for Success
  18. Early to Rise Challenge: Don't Live Today on Accident
  19. Early to Rise Challenge: Be Quiet
  20. Early to Rise Challenge: Face Your Day With a Smile
  21. Early to Rise Challenge: Find an Accountability Partner
  22. Early to Rise: Share Your Success (and why I have a new crazy-early wake-up time!)
  23. 11 Things You Can Do Tonight to Set You Up for Success Tomorrow (free printable)
  24. Early to Rise Challenge: You're Not Alone
  25. 5 Ways to Keep Your Sanity with a Newborn
  26. Early to Rise Challenge: Begin Your Day With Prayer
  27. Early to Rise Challenge: Don't Settle for Average!

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  • I didn’t get up until just after 6am today. I’m tired out from tending to sick kids and hubby, so I decided not to try to get up earlier than that.

    The benefits of getting up early that I’ve seen so far: being more productive throughout the entire day, feeling happier, and being nicer to my family 🙂

    • Crystal says:

      You are doing a great job — and I LOVE the benefits you’re experiencing as a result of getting up early. Feeling happier and being a nicer wife and mom are always good things, as is productivity! 🙂

  • Karen says:

    When I get up later I look at the clock at 10am and feel waayyyyyy behind regarding what I like to accomplish.
    I’m a night owl by nature. It was hard retraining myself but I did it when I moved to So. Florida 3.5 years ago. I spend a lot of time in my gardens which can be unbearably hot in midday. Consequently I decided early rising was essential if I was to get the outdoor chores done happily!
    Now it is an ingrained body clock thing and I awake early all the time!

  • Sarah says:

    “And I often second guess my sanity for the first few minutes after my alarm clock goes off.” LOL. You read my mind. Every morning I have that “why did I think this was a good idea?” moment… I’m so glad that I am not alone! I tend to have visions of all these other people popping out of bed, bright eyed and thrilled to be awake at whatever particular hour the alarm has gone off, meanwhile I am contemplating crying at the prospect of leaving my nice warm bed.

    Had another rough night of sleep, so the 6am alarm was snoozed and reset and I ended up out of bed at 6:58am. Still not too bad.

    Getting up early has made such a huge impact on my days. I am able to wake up my son and get him ready for school (which allows him time to play while his daddy is in the shower), make coffee, unload the dishwasher, pack my husbands lunch and eat breakfast all before I would have been out of bed before. It really helps me to get my day on track and keep it that way.

  • Jillian Kay says:

    I was up at 5:09 today. Now that’s better!

    I’m a weirdo and waking up early has always felt good to me. Yes, my parents had some rough times when I was small and up at 5 am. It’s just the way I am.

    This challenge has made me pay more attention to my natural rhythms though. Early morning I’m good at organizing and cooking, when I get to work I’m better off concentrating on hard tasks in the morning and having meetings and handling paperwork in the afternoon. When I get home I’m beat so I spend a few hours heating up whatever I made earlier in the day when I had energy, and playing hot wheels, reading stories, and watching Curious George. After that I know I can get through an hour or so of dishes and laundry. On days when I can keep this structure things go really well, and having this challenge is making me stay on task.

    • Mel says:

      Jillian, I’m really impressed that you’ve been able to detect your ideal times to tackle various tasks. That’s something I’m trying to keep track of during this challenge so I can plan accordingly, but between DST, a cold, and now going out of town (to a different time zone) for 2 weeks…I’m thinking April might be a better time to figure that out!

  • Shelly says:

    I was up at 6:27 this morning. Well actually a little earlier than that but that is when I was able to snap my picture.

    I am amazed at how much better my days goes by just getting up a half hour before my family does. I was hooked the first day as I sat in the quiet of my home. Now that doesn’t mean it is easy for me to get up but remembering that peace and quiet of the first morning really motivates me to get up. For years I have thought about getting up early and getting a few things done but just didn’t do it. I am so glad I finally started.

  • Jen says:

    The biggest thing that I’ve noticed is the extra time it gives me. The days have always seemed to race by so quickly and I usually feel overwhelmed. Even with getting up an hour earlier, I have extra time in the afternoons and feel much more relaxed. The challenge for me has been my older kids want to stay up late and talk and I know I have to get those great talking times in when I can. I may have to have some short naps in some of my days 😉

  • I was up at 7:50 this morning. I’m shooting for 7:30, since I work evenings. Our daughter’s too young for school, so we just start late to account for my late work. I’ve gotten a lot of stuff done the last couple mornings before she gets up, which is very helpful to my day.

  • Shannon says:

    I woke up at 5 a.m. when my alarm went off. This is the first day of the challenge that I accomplished every single morning goal I have had since I decided to join. I read a chapter of Sacred Marriage, I read some more of Proverbs, I exercised for 30 minutes, my 15 minute walk today turned into a jog (mainly to hurry out of a pitch black area of the neighborhood) but it felt great, I drank coffee, showered, got my husband off to work, and was feeling so good my son awoke to a little morning song from me. This all just doesn’t seem real and I have to pinch myself to think I’ve come this far. The greatest benefit so far from this challenge though by far is re-aquainting myself with God and realizing that He is not mad at me for my hiatus…

  • Hi Crystal, I agree with you about feeling more “flow” and productivity throughout the day when I get up early. One of my goals this year has been to make 4 AM my standard wake-up time. I didn’t do this out of any desire to be a superhero. It’s just that I’m a morning person so I’m motivated in the AM, but usually have little-to-no motivation to get anything done after about 7:00 PM. In the evenings, I just want to chill. So by getting up early, I can maximize my motivated time and minimize my “over it” time.

    It’s really helping because it gives me time with the Lord in the morning, then time to blog, then enough time to get ready for work and out the door without feeling rushed.
    I haven’t made it every morning–this morning I was so tired I slept in until almost 6–but it’s getting easier each week, and it really helps the rest of my day feel relaxed and productive.

  • Connie C. says:

    I got up at 6:11 am. No goal was set last night, because I knew Hubs was working from home today and we would snuggle for a bit, which we did. The DST change has wreaked havoc though, I woke up with a headache and a boatload of anxiety. Both have diminished, thankfully!

  • Melissa says:

    Up at 5:02am.

    Maybe I’m going about this challenge wrong, as I’ve been getting up at (or close to) 5am every weekday morning for the past 5 years. So by continuing to do what I’ve been doing, there isn’t really a change for me. I can’t fathom getting up any earlier than 5am so that hasn’t been part of this challenge for me. Five years ago I made the decision to get up at 5 because of my long commute to work and the fact that it’s much easier to make that drive before everyone else is on the road. What I have used this challenge to change is accomplishing my 5 things that set my day up for success before leaving the house. That has had a huge positive impact on my life as it really helps my mental space to not come home from that hour drive home with dishes in the sink and an un made bed. I’m not sure why these small things help so much, but I do know that they do and that’s awesome. 🙂

  • Around 6:40am this morning. Daylight Savings and a crazy weekend still has me off kilter, but… it’s better than it was two weeks ago!

  • Amber says:

    Was up at 5:00 am.

    I’ve been writing down my thoughts on paper and slowly transferring them over to my blog. Have got Monday and today’s entries still to do but I did find my art as was talked about on day 8. That post is here or you no time to read it.. My three arts I have are writing, cooking, and photography.

  • christine says:

    still struggling but getting out of bed before 6am, and it’s paying off. Since Thanksgiving been too busy with chores or dead tired to have me time. But last night; after putting kids to bed, i actually read magazines, cleaned out my desk and watched a little tv and was still in bed by 9:30! getting up earlier has given me time to do quiet chores, get meals made, put crockpot together. seeing/feeling the progress makes me more relaxed and motivated too.

  • Theresa says:

    I can’t believe it…I woke up BEFORE my alarm this morning! I had been reading other comments on previous days about people doing that and thinking…”yeah right! 4:50am is already early enough!” Well, there it was…4:46am. I figured I was awake, so may as well get up! :~)

    And I agree…though I may be tired later in the day, my day also goes more smoothly with a great start! :~) Thanks again for this challenge…I needed it, especially with the busy month my family has! :~)

  • Lana says:

    My husband is working from home today so we had a rare opportunity to sleep until 6:15 but I am having a terrible time getting awake with it so dark outside!

  • Rachel says:

    8:12 am.

    I know. NOT early. But for waking up 4 times last night with our cranky 6 month old, that’s pretty darn good since she’s still sleeping and it’s now 8:53. Basically, my goal through this challenge is to wake up before her and make that my early to rise time. If she starts sleeping through the night this month, then by all means, I’ll start getting up early. But that’s just not feasible, you know? Anyways, I am glad I can kinda join in even if it looks WAY different than the rest of you! 🙂

  • Margery Hilburn says:

    I got up about the same time as Crystal.

    I had time to wash my hair and get more chores done before hitting the homeschooling at 8:00.

    We also chose to set aside some of our regular schoolwork today to make a model of the Parthenon today out of shipping boxes, wooden dowels, and textured paint!

  • Victoria says:

    The number one benefit of me getting up early is…….I am nice to my family. I know that sounds bad but it is 100% true. I am an introvert by nature, I crave time alone. If I wake up and the whole house is already spinning with activity and the kids are asking me questions I snap! Verbally and Emotionally. Things come out of my mouth that I would never say when I beat everyone out of bed and I have had an hour to sip my huge cup of green tea and soak in enough quiet to fill up my tanks for the day.

  • Michele says:

    I got up at 5:12 this morning and I’m so happy I did! I went downstairs into the kitchen to find water all over the kitchen floor. Thank goodness it was only the water dispenser. Someone left the handle opened and all the water leaked out. My whole day would have been pushed back an hour and I would have been rushed this morning trying to get out the door on time. But, because I was up early, it didn’t have an impact on my day. Granted I didn’t get to exercise, but there’s always tomorrow morning.

  • I was up at 6:15 this morning!

    The biggest benefit for me, besides getting more done, is having the extra time for prayer and reading scripture. Not only is it helping my relationship with the Lord but I also feel more grounded and capable of facing whatever happens during the day after I’ve been “prayed up”!

  • Mel says:

    7AM! My earliest yet (and it would’ve been 6AM pre-DST. I keep making that comparison to encourage myself toward my ultimate goal of a regular 6AM wake up).

    The benefits of getting up early? They are numerous! I’m actually reading a devotional every morning, something I haven’t done regularly since I was a teenager. I’m eating better because breakfast is a conscious part of my morning routine. I’m getting so much more done during the day, to the point that last week I was looking around my house for something to clean! The more I stick to getting up early, the more I feel like I could tackle some other goals, like regular exercise, freezer cooking, getting all caught up on scrapbooking, etc. Discipline and motivation breed discipline and motivation, you know?

    One of my favorite quotes is “Wake up with determination; go to bed with satisfaction.” I finally feel like I’m starting to live that quote. It’s awesome.

  • Lucy says:

    I woke up at 7:30 this morning, but I really want to wake up at 6:00. I don’t want to make an excuse, but my husband is a night owl and we have 4 dogs, they woke me up a couple of times even I go to bed by 9:00 p.m. Yet waking up by 7:30 a.m is a big change for me.

    I am a naturally morning person, I like to get done the stuff easily can skip, like exercise, organizing home, reading. It’s changing my attitude, too. That’s was a big for me to start this challenge.

  • K Quinn says:

    I’m getting better. I woke up before my alarm. Now I just need to stop myself from going back to sleep!

  • I got up at 7:20 this morning which is pretty far from my 6:30 goal. But we were away for a week – which meant late nights for us (up till midnight and 1 am catching up with friends). So it finally caught up with me. Even though I got up late today – I am still being productive and will be getting to bed earlier tonight. So tomorrow I will get back on track hopefully 🙂

  • ClareC. says:

    So not liking this “time change” week! I’ll be glad when my body is used to it’s new time zone…

  • Amy Lauren says:

    5:45 for me, which was actually sleeping in! It was raining and I forgot to set my alarm for 5 to get up and go work out (oops- I worked out during my lunch break at work though). Still with oversleeping, I managed to start working for work early so I can get off a little early to look at homes with my husband :). Fun times!

  • Bethany says:

    Even though I’m not a morning person and I HAVE to have much caffeine, I LOVE getting up early just to prepare for the day. I’ve been trying to go work out 3 times a week and that is the only time I can squeeze it in. Its so peaceful in the mornings — really kind of sets the tone for my day. Although I have to laugh of all the months to keep it up, Daylight Savings Time has been a little rough on me.

  • Brooke says:

    I woke up at 6:31 without an alarm clock! However, I was working on a project late last night and I went back to sleep for 30 more minutes because I needed it. Still had a great morning and I am simply loving this challenge! 🙂

  • Susan says:

    I got up at 6:15 AM, but quickly realized that I had not just been feeling jet-lagged due to the time change. Instead, I was a little under-the-weather. So, I went back to bed for some more sleep and when I got up, I cancelled the two out-of-the-house events for the day. I am so glad that dinner for tonight was already made and waiting in the fridge!

  • I missed getting up early on DST day and regretted it the WHOLE day long as the day was crazy! I went right back to rising early for this challenge and experienced so much more peace in my days. I may be a little weird but I find it easy and enjoyable to get up early now. It only took 1 week before my body started waking naturally at 6 or 6:30am and now I don’t even need to use Fred if I don’t want to. I look forward to waking up early for that quiet time so much that I even woke up at 5 am this morning, but realized I could sleep another hour so I did! If I go to bed on time it doesn’t feel torturous at all to wake up early. If I stay up late reading, then it’s hard to get up early but it’s still less torturous than rising to the sound of kids screaming, fighting, or begging for breakfast! =)

  • Kate says:

    I have to say, I find it gets easier as the time goes on. also, if you go to bed earlier!!
    I woke up at 6 today, which was originally my goal, but I like having time so much in the morning I am now shooting for 5:30!


  • Sue says:

    My husbands alarm always goes off at 4:25 AM, so I’m out of bed by 4:30 at the latest, even if I get up at midnight to get some Midnight Swagbucks (its easier to get goal if I get up then) for an hr. and then back to bed. Getting up in the morning is so, so much easier for me than staying up late!

  • “I’ll just be really honest here: it’s pretty much never fun to get up early. And I often second guess my sanity for the first few minutes after my alarm clock goes off. But a few hours into the day, I never, never regret getting up early — even if I’m a little tired.”

    I agree wholeheartedly! 🙂

  • I’m glad others are posting their different approaches to this challenge. I am pretty much doing the opposite and challenging myself to pay off my sleep debt. For so many years, before kids and once my kids were sleeping through night, I cheated myself from so much sleep. I was good for getting about 6 hours of sleep each night, to maximize my alone time while everyone else was sleeping. I slept 12 hours Sunday night!!! Once I pay off the sleep debt, I plan to give myself a bedtime like I do for my kids and start getting up early in the mornings! 🙂

  • Melodie says:

    I was up at 6:15 this today! Ironically, I was thinking just this morning that I’m so so glad you’re doing this challenge (wasn’t able to get the book so didn’t know what today’s topic was!). I love having time to enjoy my breakfast and get ready for work without rushing. After I’m ready for work I sit down for my devotion time…..and it’s been such a change in my workday to start out that way. Definitely been more productive and in a lot better mood throughout the day….more patient with the patients 🙂

  • I was up at 5:15.

    Besides having more time in the morning for myself, I have more time for my children. I feel that the day runs smooth when I am able to get up instead of rushing around.

  • 2 days in a row I have gotten up at 9. We are SO SICK here that we NEED the sleep. I am REALLY hoping tonight is going to be better. The last 2 nights I have been up with sick children. “sigh” They end up getting up early and asking to snuggle because they are so miserable. We have been so SICK this year. I am so DONE with the sickies.

  • Katie says:

    5:23. But only because my husband “turned off” his alarm with the snooze button and then got in the shower…

  • Andy Traub says:

    LOVE this Crystal – “it’s pretty much never fun to get up early”

    I make it very clear that even as the guy who wrote the book that I HATE getting up early. BEING up early is amazing though. It’s a small price to pay. And I am tired during the day sometimes too but it’s worth it. Great job friend.

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