Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise. – Benjamin Franklin
Over the years we have heard about the benefits of waking up early. How getting up early is going to change your life for the better. The fact of the matter is, it is hard to wake up early every day.
A little background and context as we get started.
For those of you that don’t know me, I am the proud father of 4. There was a time in my life that waking up early was just not going to happen. The kids woke up in the middle of the night, the baby was crying and needed to be taken for a drive, or whatever excuse was out there. I am sure that some of you can relate. Having kids is not ideal for getting a great night’s sleep. Trust me!
On top of that, I have never been a morning person. I have always enjoyed the night. While going to graduate school, I took night classes. I would come home, study, go to bed around midnight, and get up at 7:30 am to make it work.
Now that my kids are older, youngest just turned 3, I can actually sleep through the night. It is easier to get up early, but still not in my blood. To this day I struggle to get out of bed and get the day going. If I could hit the snooze button for another 15 minutes, I would.
That being said, I have found that waking up early has been very beneficial. I wake up early in the morning for 4 main reasons:
- Help focus on the day
- Move forward in life
- Focus on my health
- The power hour
Before we jump into the meat of this blog post, I want to set up my typical day for you. I think it helps you see how waking up early helps me accomplish more each day. Remember, I have 4 kids, so timelines are very slim.
5:00 – The alarm goes off
5:05 – Outside exercising
5:30 – Start writing with a cup of coffee and protein shake
6:15 – Generate the day’s to-do list
6:30 – Shower and get ready for the day
6:45 – Get the Kids up for school, make lunch, and finish getting ready for the day
7:30 – Get the kids out the door for school and drive to work
8:15 – Get to work and get started on the most important tasks for the day
11:45 – Eat Lunch with a cup of coffee while write and work on social media
12:45 – Get back to work and finish the day
4:45 – Drive home
5:30 – Eat Dinner and hang with the family
7:45 – Get the kids in bed
8:15 – Write, proofread, and schedule social media
9:30 – Go to bed with a book
10:15 – Go to bed and get ready to do it all over again.
There you have it. My typical day. The disclaimer here is that things do get moved slightly from time to time. However, the average day looks very close to the outline above.
Why I Wake Up Early
You can see there is not much time in the day to mess around or get sloppy. This is why I wake up early in the morning. I try to make the most of every day and squeeze as much production as possible. Getting the most out of the day starts early in the morning.
Enough about me, let’s get to the meat of why you are here. Here are the 4 reasons why I wake up early in the morning.
Getting up early has helped me find focus
There are 15 minutes in the morning that I need to be very quiet. These 15 minutes are when I start to put together my daily task list. These are the 5 most important things; I must accomplish during the day. Call it morning meditation, but it is my time.
Waking up early is the only time that my house is quiet. I don’t know if you have ever been in a house with 4 children under the age of 10. Trust me, it is not quite, ever.
If I do not get that 15 minutes of reflection and focus, the entire day is off and unproductive. This time before the kids are up, helps me get more out of the day.
I used to do this at night, but what I found was I would focus on the most recent items that were pressing. I found that if I go to sleep and it is still top of mind, then it is really important. If I forgot about it, the task was probably a solid medium.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you need to focus on both short term and long-term goals. On the 1st and the 15th of the month, I always reflect on the big picture and adjust the daily activities based on the need for long term results. This gives me enough time to ensure that I am moving in the right direction and adjust if needed.
I wake up early in order to focus on the things that are most important both personally and professionally.
Waking up early helps me move forward
During college, I read a ton of books. Yeah, most of them were forced in order to pass exams, but the fact of the matter is I was able to learn a lot and keep moving things forward.
After school, I stopped reading. Not because I don’t like reading, but because I was watching TV after work. I have a goal to read 12 books every year. Again, it needs to be quite to read or I will get distracted. So, the morning before the family is moving around is the best time for me to read.
We have all heard the benefits of reading, so I am not going to bore you with those details. I will say this, if you are not reading on a continual basis, you are not moving forward or even keeping up with the times.
For example, during my college years, I learned a lot about marketing and leadership. Well, now that I have been out of school for 10 years, I am really getting old, things have changed. I mean social media was just coming up as a cool new thing, not a must-have marketing channel. Don’t even get me started on social media advertising. The point here is that the world changes. Pick up a book and continue to move forward.
Okay, you are not a reader. That is fine. This time in the morning could be labeled self-development. The goal is to continue to learn and move forward, not be left in the dust. However, you like to learn is up to you.
Focus on my health
You see in the daily normal (what is normal really) schedule there is an hour after the kids are in bed to hit the gym. I know what you are thinking, who is watching the kids. This is why my parents live with us, not because they are old and need to have someone watch them (this is also true), but they can watch the kids while I and the wife hit the gym.
Enough about the personal stuff, when I am regularly working out and exercising, I feel better about myself, increasing my confidence, but I also have way more energy. The benefits of exercising have been documented, so again I will let you do your own research.
For me, the only way I am able to get to the gym is if I get things done in the morning. I know what you are thinking, going at night has nothing to do with getting up at the butt crack of dawn. Well, it has everything to do with getting up before the rest of the world.
If I did not get up early, prioritize my day, and move myself forward by reading, I would probably still be working once the kids went to bed. So, I wake up early in the morning to be able to go to the gym at night. Totally backward I know.
So, get to the gym, get outside, and take care of yourself.
The power hour
I start the day off with my most important tasks. I purposely block my calendar at work from 8:30 to 9:30. There are no phone calls, no meetings, no interruptions. I put the headphones on and get more done in this hour than my counterparts get done all day.
Again, this goes back to getting up early and prioritizing my day. Once I hit the office, grab another cup of coffee, and put the headphones on I am able to focus on the tasks and items that must get done. If the rest of the day blows up because the sales team comes in and starts chatting about, who knows what, I am able to get my stuff done. I am not the a-hole that hates sales and locks myself in my office while they are in town. Remember, marketing and sales should get along, right? Side note: Our sales team rocks!
The hour of power is the most important hour of my day. Without prepping for it in the early hours of the day, I would be lost. I would not be able to get as much done as I do. The “department of one” would need to be a department of 2-3. So, use your hour of power to do good, not evil.
Side story. At my company, we have been using Salesforce (not recommended for smaller companies) for 8 years. We have never set it up correctly and this has been causing pain. In one week, I was able to use the hour of power to reconfigure, create multiple sales pipelines, and fix our reporting to actually make sense. So, the hour of power is no joke. With great power, comes great responsibility.
Wake Up Early Tips
As you can see waking up early helps me get a head start on daily tasks, life and sets me up for a productive day. Over the years I have struggled from time to time getting out of bed. I have intentions of getting up but end up hitting the snooze button.
So, over the years I have used a few things to help me get out of bed. Here are my 15 tips to wake up early.
Do It Gradually
Just like smoking, if you want to fail at waking up early, then do it cold turkey. Just get up early and let your body tell you how bad of an idea it was. Your body is going to take time adjusting from a night owl to an early bird.
When I was in my late 20’s I was a night owl. I loved staying up to midnight or longer and sleeping in. True, this was before having kids, but it was a way of life.
So, as I started to learn the importance of getting that hour of power, I gradually changed my wake time. Every week I would wake up just 15 minutes earlier than normal. This allowed my body to gradually adjust over time.
Think of it this way. I live on the West Coast, Phoenix, AZ, just came back from Tennessee to attend a conference. The first day I woke up at 6 Eastern, 3 Pacific. The first day it was okay, but the second day hit me like a freight train. My body was not ready for the shift.
As you try to wake up early, do it over time. Do not attempt to just wake up 2 hours earlier than normal. Do your body a favor and set yourself up for success.
Prioritize Your Sleep
Studies show that you need 6-8 hours of sleep, I need 6 and a half, in order to function. Knowing this, my bedtime is 10:15. This does not mean that I go to bed, check my phone, and watch a YouTube video or two. I go to sleep.
If you are going to succeed in waking up earlier and see the benefits of waking up early you need to make sure you get your 6-8 hours. It is not going to work if you are only getting 5 hours a night of sleep each day. Your body will say enough is enough.
Again, this is going to be a gradual transition. Don’t try to do this in one night.
Here is my tip to get to bed earlier. As I was trying to transition it was hard to just go to bed. I would lay there, tossing and turning. It was frustrating and counterproductive.
So, I would go to bed earlier with a book. I would read before bed. This is something that I do to this day. It serves two purposes. 1, it helps me relax. 2, it makes me read, something we should be doing anyway.
Work on The Most Important Task
This wake-up early tip helps get you out of bed in the morning. It should motivate you, engage you, and get you ready to jump out of bed.
When you get up, know what you are going to work on. Work on the most important tasks for the day first. When you work on the most important items, you will feel more accomplished and more productive.
When you focus on the most important tasks, the reward is getting things done and allowing you to use your time during the day wisely. Start the day productive and it will become easier and easier to get early in the morning.
My most important tasks are improving my health, writing for the blog, and developing my daily task list.
Give Yourself A Reason to Wake Up Early
“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” – Proverbs 29:18
Do you know why you are getting up early? Are you trying to be more productive? Do you want to get up and exercise? Are you looking to start that side hustle to make a little extra money?
Just like anything in life, if you are going to get up early make sure you have a reason to wake up early. Don’t just get up early because you read this blog post and thought it was a good idea.
When you have a purpose and a reason, you can do anything. So, ensure that you have a purpose to get up early. I have gone to the extreme and written my purpose on the bathroom mirror. I see this every day and it reminds me why I am up at 5:00 am.
Allow One Day to Sleep In
Sunday is known as “sleep in day”. We all work so hard during the week, giving it our all, we all need one day to just relax.
For me, Sunday has always been a day of going to church and hanging out with the family. So, Sunday is also the day that we rest and sleep in. This is a day that I am able to catch up and sleep and get ready for the week to come.
“The seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns, so that your male and female servants may rest, as you do.” – Deuteronomy 5:14
It is important to give yourself one day to sleep in. In fact, it makes the other six days easier to get up early. So, figure out what day it is going to be and mark it on the calendar. Just don’t use it as an excuse to stay up late and get off your routine.
Make Your Morning Result-Driven
One of the reasons I started blogging again was to show how productive and rewarding early morning can be. The goal of the website is to set specific goals and achieve them. This has made my mornings super productive and result-driven.
I suggest that you write down one specific goal. The morning is to work and achieve just this one goal.
This could be to lose 15 pounds, find a new job, build that side hustle, or work on an important project at work. Whatever it is, it will be easier to get up in the morning if you are working towards a results-driven goal.
Making your morning results-driven will give you the purpose needed to wake up and get excited. Write these goals down and make progress every day.
Move Your Alarm Away from Bed
This next tip to wake up early has nothing to do with productivity, goals, or purpose. It is actually very simple. Move your alarm clock away from your bed.
The simple act of getting up out of your bed to turn it off your alarm clock will get you moving in the morning. By moving your alarm clock away from your bed, it makes you get up, unable to hit that snooze button.
Super simple, right?
Never Hit the Snooze Button
How many times to do you hit the snooze button before you actually get out of bed? Well, if your snooze button is anything like mine, that is another 7 minutes of sleep. Sounds great right? Wrong. My experience is that if I hit the snooze button once, I will hit it a few additional times.
According to studies, hitting the snooze button may actually be doing more harm than good. When we hit the snooze button, we are interrupting our body’s natural wake up routine. By doing this we could feel drowsier during the day.
The snooze button might actually be doing more harm than good. So, as you are trying to get in the routine of waking up early, stop hitting the snooze button and give yourself a chance.
Find Your Morning Drink of Choice
When I first started getting up early, I thought I needed coffee to wake up and I did. Now, I enjoy coffee and drink it throughout the day. I try different coffees to keep it fresh.
Here is my real secret, I do not just fire up the Keurig and throw any coffee in a cup and start drinking. My coffee of choice is slow drip coffee that is freshly ground. I make sure to use purified water for great taste. If I am feeling like I need something extra or a little more motivation, I will do a French Press.
Maybe coffee is not your thing. The point here is to find something that you will look forward to. Coffee, Tea, soda, or whatever your morning drink of choice is, brew it and enjoy it.
Currently, it is 5:40 am. I just got back from a short morning run. I have found that one of the best ways to get up in the morning is to get outside for exercise. Yes, here is Phoenix the current temperature is almost 80 degrees but getting outside to nature helps me get going.
This totally makes sense. Research has shown that sunlight triggers a response to your body to stop producing melatonin, the body chemical that helps your body sleep. By getting outside and letting the sun hit your face, you are telling your body it is morning time and you need to get moving.
If you are serious about getting up early, get outside. Grab that cup of coffee, your book, or even better get out for a quick run.
Exercise in The Morning
I am sure you have heard of endorphins; they are the body chemical that is released during exercise. Endorphins help pain and discomfort and lower your stress levels. Getting up early and exercising helps release this chemical helping you start your day feeling great.
The national sleep foundation has also found that people that exercise in the morning fall asleep faster and sleep better throughout the night. I am going to second this statement. I notice that when I regularly exercise in the morning, I sleep better. When I exercise after work, I find it harder to fall asleep. Probably because of those endorphins.
Getting up in the morning, getting outside, and exercising is a great way to start your day. I know it can be hard to get out of bed and get going, but it is worth it. Make it a habit of getting up early and exercising, your body will thank you.
Don’t Get Too Comfortable
Have you gotten up early, laid on the couch and fallen back to sleep? Yeah, me too. When you are trying to get up early and be productive, don’t get too comfortable. It is counterproductive.
For me, this is one of the reasons that I get up and exercise. If I get up, find my favorite spot on the couch, I will be out again. So, when I get back from running, I sit at the kitchen table. The chairs are just enough to get me off my feet, but not comfortable to go back to sleep.
When you get too comfortable in the morning, it makes it easy to fall back to sleep. This is counterproductive to your goal of getting up early.
Listen to Music
Before you start telling me about the podcast that rules your life, or the audiobook that you are listening too, hear me out. I prefer music in the morning. I was raised on pop-punk and to this day gets me going. The faster the band plays, the more it gets me going.
I love podcasts and audiobooks, but first thing in the morning, I find that music helps wake me up. Give me the energy of the band I will get up easier. Get up, throw on the headphones (be mindful for the rest of the house), and rock out.
Keep an Early Morning Routine
They say that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. We also know that it is very hard to do something over time. However, if you want to get up early and be productive, you must develop a habit.
For example, when I first started getting up at 5 am, it was hard. I put it off, I tried to sleep in, I did just about everything to sleep just a little longer. I continued to make sure that I got up and it became easier and easier.
If you are going to make getting up early part of your life, you are going to need to make it a habit. So, start now building the habit to get up early in the morning. The more you do it, the easier it will become.
Waking Up Too Early
Okay, I know you want to get up early and dominate the world. Why else would you be reading this monster blog post?
In my experience, waking up too early is actually counterproductive. If you are getting up too early you are not going to be your best the next day.
Remember the example earlier about traveling to the east coast? Well, I am going to let you in on a little secret. If we were not at a tradeshow with massive amounts of excitement, I probably would not have made it.
Waking up too early will be counterproductive, this is why I believe that the sweet spot is at 05:00 am. Find your sweet spot and make sure you are not waking up too early.
Wake Up Early Motivation
I hope that this blog post has been beneficial to you. But, like most blog posts, this is all rah, rah, motivation, how to stuff. I want to get real for a minute and really dive into the reason why I get up early in the morning.
When I was in my late 20’s I was fired from my nice corporate job. It was a life-changing experience. At the time I was a husband, father of 2, and 1 on the way.
My entire life was flipped. How could I provide for the family? How could I provide for this unborn child? How was I going to keep a roof over our heads? There were so many questions.
I had a mortgage, car payments, and student loan debt. The savings was only going to last for a short while. These life changes were not things they taught in business school.
As I assessed my options, I decided that whatever happened, I was going to be in charge. I was not going to let the fate of my family be held by the highest bidder.
So, as I looked for work, interviewed, and tried to generate some cash flow, I also tried to figure out how to start a business (it was hard). It was the hardest thing I ever did. I took it to the early morning to get this done.
I knew that I needed to get a job. I knew that I needed to do something quickly. Here was reality. Work was hard to find. I found more contract jobs and side jobs than permanent placement. Blame the economy, the job market, skillset, whatever, it was hard finding a job (I thought marketers with an MBA were in high demand).
So, I kept at it knowing that in order to keep the house and food on the table I needed to ensure that I found work. I started networking, blogging, and using social media to help market myself, all before 8 am. This gave me time to work on contract work, develop business, make phone calls, do the books, and whatever else the day brought my way.
It worked. For 6 years I took to the morning to market myself. I was able to generate enough cash flow to keep at it. It took me 6 years to develop a habit of waking up early.
Sometimes it takes a drastic change to change your behavior.
So, as I write this blog post, I look back. Waking up early has become a way of life. It has helped me drop 25 pounds, it has helped me develop the skill needed to run a marketing department, it has given me the motivation to continue to help others find purpose.
The morning has become my time to work on side projects and focus on my health. I hope that this helps you understand why I believe it is so important to wake up early and start the day productive.
This is not just another blog post telling you to do something. I live it, I love it, and it is my life. I believe that it takes talent and effort to achieve your goals. My effort starts early in the morning.
Next Steps to Wake Up Early
So, now you know why I wake up early in the morning. But here is the more important question, why do you want to wake up early? What are you looking to accomplish by getting out of bed before the sun is up?
You made it through this entire blog post, so I want to give you some actionable items to help you start getting out of bed early. So here are your next steps.
- Commit to waking up early by leaving a comment below about why you want to get up early.
- Right now, grab your phone or alarm clock and set it for 15 minutes earlier than normal. Every week adjust your alarm another 15 minutes earlier until you hit your desired wake up time.
- Tomorrow morning when you wake up, use these extra 15 minutes to write down your 3, 6, 12-month goals.
- The following day, use your extra 15-minutes to start to plan and strategize how you are going to achieve your short-term and long-term goals.
- Use your plan and strategy to motivate you to get up and actively work on your goal.
Here is to the morning. I hope to see you there.
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