How to Get Up Early and Be More Productive
Apple CEO Tim Cook is known for sending company emails at 4:30 in the morning. Lexy Flunk, chief executive of Brooklyn Industries, is usually up by 4 a.m. And Virgin American CEO David Cush wakes up at 4:15 to send emails, read the paper and work out at the gym. They are just a few of the legions of CEOs and small-business owners who start their days early, seeking an advantage over competitors who sleep in.
If you’re not a “morning person” and still need convincing, time-management expert Laura Vanderkam offers several compelling reasons to tap into those early — and often most productive — hours of the day.
1. You have fewer distractions. Getting up early gives you an opportunity to focus on the day’s to-do list before the inevitable interruptions begin.
2. You have more willpower. People generally have the most willpower in the early hours. As the day goes by and you grapple with pressing issues and difficult people, your resolve can be depleted. “Willpower is like a muscle [that] becomes fatigued with overuse,” Vanderkam tells Entrepreneur.
3. You can start the day on a positive note. Completing a few tasks early — as opposed to oversleeping and then rushing around to get everything done — helps set an upbeat tone for the whole day.
How to Be a Better “Morning Person”
If being an early riser doesn’t come easily, here are some tips to help you get up and going.
Say no to caffeine and alcohol. Caffeine affects people differently, but it’s widely known that its intake disrupts sleep patterns and can linger in the body for as long as 10 to 12 hours after consumption. For people who are sensitive to caffeine, it’s a good idea to stop drinking coffee after lunch or at least six hours before going to bed. Alcohol can also disrupt your sleep. Recent research indicates that while a nightcap might make you drowsy at first, it may also cause you to wake up during the night and leave you feeling sleep-deprived the next day.
Think positive thoughts. Getting to sleep is difficult when you feel anxious or stressed-out. Try thinking three positive thoughts (or think about three things you are grateful for) right before going to sleep. This puts you in a more relaxed frame of mind.
Go to sleep earlier. The amount of sleep needed differs from person to person. If your goal is to become an early riser but you still need a full eight hours of rest, call it a night earlier.
In the Morning
The Snooze button is not your friend. What’s wrong with hitting the Snooze button for a few more minutes of precious sleep? The fact is, an extra 10- or 15-minute snooze time produces no beneficial REM sleep and often leaves you feeling groggier than when you woke to the first alarm. It’s also habit-forming, which makes it easy to keep hitting that button again and again.
Put the alarm clock out of easy reach. There’s a huge difference between turning your alarm clock off while you’re lying in bed and having to get up to silence it because it’s ringing across the room. Once you’re up, you’re less likely to go back to sleep.
Wake up to daylight. It feels good to wake up to the sun. Leave your drapes or blinds partially open to let in the morning rays. If that’s not practical, set a timer on a lamp to illuminate your room at the desired hour.
Drink water. When we first wake up, we're at our most dehydrated. Drinking an eight ounce glass of water gets your body systems moving and ready for the day ahead.
Start doing stuff! An active early-morning routine builds momentum for the rest of your workday. To get your blood flowing, do some stretching or jumping exercises. Walk to the local coffeehouse. Feed your dog or cat early, after which your furry friend will remind you every day when it’s time to be fed.
Lee Polevoi is an award-winning business writer specializing in the challenges and opportunities facing small business. He is former Senior Writer at Vistage International, a global membership organization of CEOs.