As 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!
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Till Next Time
Mike Gardner is The Time Doctor