For most of my life, I couldn’t stand morning people. They seemed so annoyingly happy. They got up early, they planned their day, they worked out and they always seemed to be in a good mood. I was the guy who maximized the snooze alarm, quickly got ready and rushed out the door with my extra-large cup of coffee. It was only until I tried getting up early that I learned their secrets.
“Love it or hate it, utilizing the morning hours before work may be the key to a successful and healthy lifestyle.” Jennifer Cohen
I must confess, I’m a convert. Where once I enjoyed staying up late and sleeping in, I now treasure my mornings. I understand why they are so important. Since I’ve started to get up early, I’ve had much more control over my life and I’m not the only one. According to research, morning people are more proactive and productive than night owls and tend to be more successful in their professional lives.
“On its own, waking up early isn’t a superpower or anything special. Its real power is that you gain access to the highest quality hours of the day.” Srinivas Rao
Why is that? Why is early rising a common trait found in many world leaders, successful CEOs and other influential people? Srinivas Rao suggests the main reason is that you are accessing the highest quality hours of the day. Early morning is a time when you can do deep work and focus on activities that add meaning to your life. He also points out that mornings are uniquely important in five distinct ways:
- Your willpower is at its highest
- Your mind is less scattered
- You’re less likely to be interrupted
- You increase the availability of time
- You start your day with a sense of accomplishment
“Most of the people spend their mornings running around trying to prepare for the day, and spend whatever is left of the day in much of the same way – in a rush.” Roxana Jones & Arnaud Saint-Paul
Successful people understand getting up early is essential because it sets a positive tone for the work day before it even starts. Jonathan Chan suggests this is because the entire day is in front of them. Night owls tend to be playing catch-up because most of the day is already gone by the time they get up. Instead of being super productive in the morning, they tend to be working to keep up with everything they wanted to do that day. They end up stressed, filled with anxiety and unable to fall asleep which continues the cycle.
“It’s simple: If you want to be more productive, get up early.” Ryan Holiday
I get up at 4:00 am every weekday. I know that sounds crazy but this is my favorite time of the day. Since my official work day starts at 8:00 am, this gives me four hours to prepare for the day. Here are six things I do every morning.
Serve. The first thing I do every morning is prepare the house for my family. I make coffee, I empty the dishwasher, I take out the trash and I organized the kitchen so it is neat and tidy when my family gets up.
Create. The morning is when I read the latest leadership and business articles from my favorite writers. I also write content for my blog. I find I am most creative first thing in the morning.
Think. I use the morning to visualize my week and my day. I try to think about the most important activities I need to get done.
Plan. I like to map out my day by looking at the key things I need to get done. I also know I’m most productive in the morning, so I put the most difficult tasks in my schedule before lunch.
Sweat. I enjoy working out in the morning and I look forward to my time in the gym. I have a home gym (which I highly recommend) so there is no excuse for not working out. I exercise for about an hour while watching the news. I accomplish two things through this, I burn calories and get up to speed on current events.
Learn. I have a long morning commute so I spend the time listening to leadership podcasts and audio books. I also record voice memos of the things I’m learning to journal them later in the day.
“If you’re changing the world, you’re working on important things. You’re excited to get up in the morning.” Larry Page
I have gone from hating morning people to becoming one. Since converting, I have found I am more productive, organized and focused. I now start the day accomplishing big things like thinking, writing, planning, learning and working out. I feel like I am gaining extra hours in the day. While the world sleeps, I’m up getting things done. Being an early riser isn’t for everyone but it’s a practice I will continue for a long time.
What do you think? Have you become an early riser too? How has that changed your productivity and performance? What are some things you do in the morning? Can night owls be just as productive? Do sleep habits change as you get older? Let me know in the comment section below.