Can’t Keep Up? 4 Ways To End Exhaustion

This morning, I woke up at a record time — 7:30AM.

Record early? No, record for being so late!

Every morning, I wake up at 6AM, usually before my alarm even has a chance to sound. I wake up rested and ready to attack the day.

By 6AM, I feel more excited and fresh than most people feel at noon.

But there’s something even more amazing. Check this out:

You know that feeling you get right after you finish lunch where you just want to crawl under your desk and take a nice long nap?

That feeling doesn’t exist for me. I don’t know what “groggy” feels like anymore.

Don’t get me wrong — I’m not a freakishly energetic person. I’ve never been this energetic, but I learned because I know how important it is.

This is all a routine I learned through determined experimentation.

I used to arrive at work looking like hell, dragging my feet everywhere I went until the clock hit 10AM. Now, I feel healthy and ready to give the day all I’ve got.

I’d like to share with you how I’ve beat exhaustion — and it’s probably a simpler formula than you could ever imagine. Ready?

If I wanted to be ultra-minimalist on this, there would only be two directions to follow:

  1. Fall asleep when you’re tired
  2. Wake up when your eyes open

But, we all know life is a bit more complicated than that. How can we get enough rest and still get everything done?

The Great “Balance” Hoax

Our mornings are killer.

Whether we’re heading to early morning meetings, dropping off the little ones at school, or hitting the gym for a quick workout, it seems almost impossible to have a zen morning.

For all we might try to keep things simple, life somehow seems to get in the way. Somehow, we keep letting it — especially before 9AM.

Our evenings are even worse.

Laundry. Holiday shopping. Happy hour with friends you haven’t seen in too long. This is when we feel most free — walking out the office doors to reclaim our personal lives — but it’s when things start speeding up again to an uncomfortably quick pace.

How did it hit 10PM so quickly?

How can it all fit in the few hours we get to ourselves each day? 

As one of my favorite bloggers writes, “The days are long but the years are short.” Exhaustion seems to be a staple these days — and still we feel like we don’t do enough.

Who suffers more than our bodies?

I can quickly name many items that fall off our plates while we tend to our daily lives:

  1. Our health — who has time to plan for healthy meals?
  2. Our relationships — cuddling has to take a backseat sometimes, right?
  3. Our minds — when is there time for serene creativity when there’s so much to get done?
  4. Our future — planning ahead just doesn’t seem so urgent anymore, does it?

Wait a second — those are the most important parts of my life! You’re saying I’m sacrificing them because I have too much to do?! I don’t know how I can fix that!

Never fear. There’s always something you can do. Let’s check out how.

Resting Up — Your Action Plan

When I started experimenting with sleep patterns, I was designing my life to fit the ideal I had in my head. It wasn’t easy — I definitely received from weird remarks from friends and family when I started getting sleepy at 8PM — but it’s been incredibly worth it.

Through better rest, I got my life back. Here’s how:

1. Recognize that exhaustion hurts.

Prioritizing rest doesn’t come naturally to everyone, but it becomes priority very quickly when you start fearing the feeling of exhaustion, like I do.

Feeling exhausted makes me so uncomfortable that I unconsciously go to great lengths to avoid it.

My father tells stories about me when I was very young, disappearing sometime after the sun went down. My family would look for me all over, and I’d be cozy in my bed. They’d ask, “Marcella, what are you doing in bed so early? Your friends are still here!” I’d tell them simply, “I don’t want to feel tired tomorrow. Goodnight!”

2. Listen to your body.

A few months ago, my husband and I went to visit some friends at their home. We arrived around 9PM, and we put on a movie. Within minutes, I was sound asleep. When I awoke, the movie credits were rolling, and the entire group was gone. They had moved to the balcony, chatting and having a great time.

Well, that’s embarrassing, I thought. I guess I missed out on the fun. But my body needed it — and that’s okay.

There are times when I can go til midnight without so much as even a yawn. Other days, I’m winding down by 7PM — and within an hour I’m falling asleep on the couch. My body needs different amounts of rest each day, and I go with it.

I respect what my body needs, and, in turn, it respects me back.

3. Let the urgent give way to the important.

Have you ever noticed that your to-do list gets longer and longer each day? And then, when you come across a day with a short list of things to finish up, you’re bored and wondering what’s wrong?

Welcome to my life — or what is used to be.

For almost a year, I’ve toggled back and forth between urgent tasks and important tasks. Some days, the urgent stuff wins out — probably due to the feeling we get that the world will end if we don’t get it done.

When I separate my day into urgent tasks and important tasks, I gain clarity on what really needs to be done. More importantly, though, I somehow manage to gain an amazing amount of hours.

Doing what’s important first means everything runs more smoothly. It means my time frees up to do other fun stuff.

4. Identify your Must-Haves.

No matter what happens, I have a list of activities that are non-negotiable in my day:

  1. Spending time with my husband
  2. Spending time with my family
  3. Exercising
  4. Writing
  5. Eating healthy foods

Everything else happens around these core activities. They are the few activities that fuel my energy in a positive way, time and time again. They make me happy.

Over the years, I’ve had friends — even clients! — feel uncomfortable with my lifestyle, but the only conclusion I come to is this: anyone who has an issue with my must-have’s isn’t right for me.

Are you ready?

Your life is yours for the taking. Who wants to live it exhausted, rushed, and unaware of what’s important?

Good thing we don’t have to.

These steps really helped me enjoy my daily life so much, and I hope these tips help in some way.

It may sound crazy, but, if you go to sleep earlier and wake up earlier, you may just end up enjoying this holiday season more than you ever expected.


When Marcella Chamorro decided to quit her job to live every day as if it’s a vacation, she turned her attention to creating a lifestyle that is both meaningful and exciting. Now (as an author, entrepreneur & speaker based in Nicaragua), Marcella guides those who want to quit their jobs, live their dreams, and live a vacation that never ends at The Perpetual Vacation.

15 Responses to Can’t Keep Up? 4 Ways To End Exhaustion

  1. Part of our problem is those pesky alarm clocks. I hate those damn things! I love the summer months when I wake up to the birds chirping just before sunrise. I’m up around 4:00AMish and in bed 8:30PMish. I go months without using my alarm clock at all and feel great.

    But come the colder months and daylight savings time, that natural pattern gets thrown out of whack and the exhaustion sets in. Coupled with burning the candle at both ends by working my full time job while trying to build a blog and days can get pretty tiring. Something’s got to give, and it usually just means less sleep. Not good.

    You give good advice. I hope to be able to apply it someday.


  2. When I wake up in the early morning (which used to be quite challenging) is now sometinhg like a gift! I fell like up before than most of the people do. I feel like being first in the finish, but on the other hand the first on the start.

    As Trevor stated, colder months the longer sleep is needed. But warmer, even few hours are enough to feel well and relaxed. 

    I really have to endorse Muste-haves that are important for Marcella. It’s now one of my new inspirations to look for. And I really love your statement that who doesn’t like your must-haves isn’t the right one for you.

    Be selective with who you ‘play’ with, to be more happy, efficient and well relaxed. The right people arround you is great part of your everyday attitude towards life.

  3. The best part of this whole post was step 4. Making a list of the things that are most important to you is a great idea. That alone can save you time and money. And of course keep you from being exausted.

  4. GLOBALMESS65 says:

    i’m exhausted all the time lately, it’s not depression.  I feel physically sick.  I have a new cold every two weeks since Fall.  I take so many vitamins…nothing helps.


  5. Rotem Cohen says:

    You say you take “so many vitamins”, but do you eat well? Do you exercise? Do you spend time in the sunlight (very important)? You say “it’s not depression”. OK, but are you happy? Do you have inspiring goals or at least a good reason to wake up in the morning? (and don’t say – “yes, I’ve got to go to work”. You know what I mean :)

    By the way, try to remember if this happens every year at about this time of year. It may be allergy. I myself have to use nose drops to open up my nose twice a day for the last couple of weeks.

    I’ll be happy to reply back (I’ve subscribed to this thread).

  6. Anis Ahmed says:

    My actual problem is when I awake up, I usually don’t know what I should do or feel boring . But after being fresh, I feel that I have a lot of work which need to be accomplished. Sometimes, I ask myself, Is Life running or Me! Thanks for your pro-active tips. I will try to maintain obviously. Because, I need to manage my time at any cost.

  7. Rotem Cohen says:

    This sounds very familiar :) What I suggest is that you spend 5-10 minutes right before you go to sleep and make a to-do list for the next day. That’s the minimum. A better idea is to have a list of goals – short term and long term goals that you go over or rewrite every evening before bedtime.

  8. Usually it gets worse and worse. The more tired you are, the longer it takes to finish your chores, the later you can finally fall asleep, and the more tire you’ll be the next day…

  9. Anis Ahmed says:

     Thanks Rotem for your kind advice.
    I usually do it. But most of time, these don’t help me! I have written a lot of plan, goal and more. What should I do in this situation ?

  10. Rotem Cohen says:

    Anis, I don’t know enough about you to say for sure, but it sounds like you suffer from “low drive”. Maybe your goals don’t inspire you, maybe you don’t believe in yourself strongly enough, maybe you are consumed by fear of failure. 

    If I had to give you one ‘tip’ it would be this – lower the bar… seriously, give yourself a chance to succeed, by setting just one or two small goals that you can achieve quickly, then build up further.

    Do you see what this does?  You’re kind of training yourself to accomplish your goals and plans. You create the habit of taking action, and you slowly gain momentum.

    Makes sense?

  11. Rotem Cohen says:

    Yes, that’s another common mistake. You have to “start the evening” as early as reasonably possible, so you don’t end up with sleep deprivation.

    By the way, who is Dr Cohen? I know it’s not me…

  12. Jorge Blanco says:

    This is just what I needed. The end of the year is here and tasks have been piling up. I really like the part about recognizing your priorities. I have found that when you finish what’s important first before focusing on the urgent matters, you become less stressed and worried about all the other activities on your to do list. In addition to that, because you’re at ease, you could still squeeze in some time to finish the urgent tasks as well. I also like what you said about listening to your body. If you’re body wants to shut down, you shouldn’t force it. I’ve tried to do that with coffee and it still didn’t work. I still fell asleep and felt exhausted because I didn’t get enough hours on the bed. Thanks for this wonderful article, Marcella.

  13. Glynis Jolly says:

    I agree with your strategy on all points. Even so, what does one do when he/she must work for someone else to make ends meet and MUST go by that schedule even though the natural pattern does not jive? This is how most exhaustion starts.

  14. Jake says:

    I would like the idea of this, but what about school? I would love to just wake up when my eyes open, but what If that makes me late for school?

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