Want to get more done? Get up early

Is this the worst-kept “secret” of highly effective people?

Want to get more done - Get up earlyAs Ben Franklin said, “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” And as many historians have discovered, Ole’ Ben was no fool.

What was true in his day is still true today. In fact I would argue that it’s probably truer today than ever, considering all that we’re expected to do and all the distractions we have to overcome.

The worst-kept “secret” of highly effective people?

I think the ability to get up early might be the worst-kept “secret” of highly effective people. Virtually every story you read about a successful business person or entrepreneur cites it as one of their key habits. Below are just four of many examples:

  • In an interview with Business Insider’s Aly Weisman in 2012, Richard Branson, founder and chairman of the Virgin Group revealed that he wakes up at around 5:45 in the morning, even when staying at his private island, leaving the curtains open so the sun gets him up. He does his best to use those early hours to exercise before an early breakfast and getting to work.
  • In his books “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari” or “The Greatness Guide” Robin Sharma, the Personal Development Guru stresses the benefits of waking up early. He says that this is one habit that should not be underestimated and, according to himself, he reached the conclusion that the ability to get up early, is one of the critical success factors that most great people in the world practice daily. So follow a man that knows his area and has proven the effect of being an early riser.

And it is not just successful men, there are also many examples of leading ladies that get up early and get started:

  • One of America’s favorite TV hosts is Rachael Ray, who in addition to her TV show, also runs a charity as well as writing books and publishing recipes, became an early bird in 2009 after having health problems. Ever since then, she has kept her morning routine and made it stick so bad that nowadays she naturally wakes up before 0600. That’s the power of habits.
  • Former United States Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice always woke up at 0430 in the morning in order to get to the gym before work.

In general, result-oriented people and high-achievers like Condoleeza are more prone to be get up early than people with less self-discipline. So follow the recipe for success shown over and over again.

Why Get Up Early?

The earlier you get “up and at ‘em,” the longer you have to get things done before the noisy and nosy crowds push in. Mornings are peaceful, free of ringing phones, pager beeps, and email notifications.

If you get up early, you can jump start your to do list and get the most important things finished before the rest of world wakes up. What a great way to start the day!

How to Get Up Early

But it’s not as easy as it sounds for many people. Have you tried getting up earlier by going to bed earlier? And lay there stare at the ceiling for hours, unable to fall asleep!

Some experts say “listen to your body’s needs.” This means go to bed when you’re sleepy, and get up when you wake up. Although this sounds reasonable, many peoples bodies forget to tell them to get up in the morning!

Their body says “Sleeeeeep in…” and “Hit the snoooooze button…” For many of us the best solution is a combination of both of the above.

In a nutshell, the solution is to go to bed when you’re sleepy (listen to your body’s needs) but then get up early at the same time every day—that’s right, 7 days a week. Your body doesn’t know what a weekend is, if you think about it.

For a long time, I have made it a habit to get up at 5 am every day, even though I might go to bed any time from 10.30 pm to midnight. I go to bed when I’m too sleepy to stay up. I know I’m ready for bed when I the book I’m reading starts to get blurry.

I do watch some TV at night, and every once in a while I have a look at my social media on my tablet, but I always turn it off at least an hour before I turn in.. They can both act as a stimulant, so it keeps you awake artificially. In fact, TV programming is designed to keep you watching to find out what happens next. So turn off the TV and pick up a book instead.

You may be tired the first couple of days, but I think you’ll find, as I did, it’s easy after about a week. You’ll settle into a natural rhythm.

So become an early riser by this time next week. And see if you don’t get more done!

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Till Next Time

Mike Gardner is The Time Doctor


Mike Gardner aka ‘The Time Doctor’ and is highly regarded as one of the UK’s leading Time Management and productivity specialists. As well as being regularly featured in both online and off-line media outlets around the world, he is the author of the best selling time management book, Business Owners: Your Family Misses You. He regularly speaks on topics that are congruent with his mission of helping small business owners, entrepreneurs and independent professionals to be incredibly productive, whilst still balancing their business and family commitments in a way that enables them to feel fulfilled and guilt-free. He is an avid Aston Villa fan, a Dad to Neil & Emma, a hubby to Wendy and in his role as an Officer with the reserve forces, he has completed operational tours of Iraq and Afghanistan.

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14 thoughts on “Want to get more done? Get up early

  1. All of my creative ideas come late at night therefore I keep a notepad and pen next to my bed to jot down “one liners” and I’ll often stay up and do a lot of writing through the night when the rest of the world is sleeping.

    Worry doesn’t keep me awake at night, ideas do!

    It’s good to know that many highly effective people are night owls although I may regret this in the future especially if I look 90 when I’m only 80 🙂
    Dee recently posted…The Entrepreneurs WoundMy Profile

    • I always advise people to keep a pad beside the bed Dee, the subconcious is a cunning thing, it gives us our best ideas when we are completely relaxed and if we don’t make a note of them it makes us forget them.

  2. Great article Mike. Thank you for sharing.

    I had heard some of this before and getting up early is something I struggle with as it is opposite to my wife’s philosophy. Nevertheless, I realise it is something I need to practice, so your article has spurred me on to once again try to get into that routine.

    My biggest problem is I struggle to get to sleep early, although I have just taken out a six month gym membership. Hopefully this will help me to be physically as well as mentally tired before 2am!!
    Terry Jenkins recently posted…Getting Myself Organised With EvernoteMy Profile

    • Thanks for dropping by Terry, what time are you switching off the phone/tablet/laptop etc there is lots of research around showing that blue screens can play havoc with sleep patterns

  3. I’m on vacation, so I’m not sure I’ll be rising early every day! I tend to hit the snooze button when I use an alarm. When working, I relish no alarm on Saturdays, and am not sure I could get up as early on that day. But–I’m willing to give it a try! I, too, read before bed, and when my eyes close, I quickly turn off the nightstand light!

  4. I have come to realize the importance of starting off the day early. I get up now at 5:45am, but can easily see how a little earlier could help even further. What takes me 30 min before sunrise, seems to at least twice as long later. Thanks for the added encouragement!
    Stephanie recently posted…The Best of Fit Found Me: Week 1My Profile

    • Another excellent post, Mike. The big challenge for me ever since I was a teenager is falling asleep early. I remember the days when I worked an 11:00 p.m. to 5:00 am shift and I would try so hard to fall asleep between 6 or 7 p.m. in order to carry me through the night. It was a futile endeavor.

      I set my alarm for 4:50 a.m. but find that I’m awake some time around 4:00 a.m. on a regular basis, and not by choice. Sometimes I’m totally exhausted, but it does help to plan from the night before so as to hit the ground running and knowing exactly what’s to be done.
      Yvonne A Jones recently posted…Crafting a Social Media Strategy for Better ResultsMy Profile

  5. So true! Also spending less time on facebook would help! I have just been talking about sleep and tv / computers this very evening. I dont read much because i generally feel too tired but the last 2 nights i have and had the best nights sleep in ages! Trying to stay away from tv, phone and computer late at night from now on!

  6. Unfortunately, since I was ‘downsized’ from corporate in Feb 2012, my sleeping habits have changed tremendously. I don’t know for the better or worse. I work ’til wee hours of the morning and am going to bed only an hour or two before my hubby wakes and goes to work. Then I get up about 7 am. Not enough sleep for sure. I think I need to take your advice and force myself to change my sleeping habits.
    Tammy recently posted…Body ButterMy Profile