By Scott Vollero
Millions of Americans wake up each day to alarm clocks, probably swearing mildly at being awoken from slumber. But some highly-productive people are leaning into early rising. Can you imagine waking up before the sun rises, say at 4 a.m.? Sound impossible or a certain way to kill your social life? You might reconsider your 6 a.m. wakeup time after reading this article.
The Wall Street Journal and several other sources are claiming that some of the most productive people are doing their best work when everyone else is asleep. The reason they cite for why getting up before the rooster is awake is such a productivity boost? No distractions. At those hours, there are no people around to bug them, no new emails coming into the box, no flood of social media messages.
It’s Not Just for Business…
It’s not just business productivity that improves when there are no distractions. Personal productivity is also improved. Some of the greatest entrepreneurial minds stick to an early schedule, including Tim Cook, head of Apple, who actually gets up at 3:45.
Does it kill your social life? Perhaps, but it also prevents people from making evening mistakes that could rob quality of life, like going out drinking or eating too much after dark. And for the people who are early risers, most are surrounded by people all day in high-pressure jobs. Reclaiming two hours early in the morning before anyone can reach them is like getting a mini-vacation all to your own every day.
So what do these people do during the wee hours of the morning? A popular early morning activity is hitting the gym or spending quality time with family before the work day hits. Some work on their most challenging work-related tasks to free up the rest of the day for lighter work. Others spend time on personal projects like learning a new language, personal reading, or mastering a skill. When you’re up super-early and you’re alone with your thoughts, the things you’ve been neglecting to do for yourself can bubble up to the surface.
Scott Vollero’s Tips on Rising Early
How do you become an early riser? First, you need a reason for doing it. Even if it’s just curiosity. Remind yourself of why you want to wake up early before going to bed. Place the alarm clock well out of arm’s reach. A good place is on the way to the bathroom because that’s where most people go when they get out of bed.
Keep your shoes nearby the bed and put them on as soon as you wake up. Most people find it very hard to go back to sleep with their shoes on. Also, don’t forget to eat. You’re going to need energy in the early morning. Make it something simple that you can grab, like overnight oats.
It’s also best not to yank your sleep schedule back two hours at once unless you have the space to deal with the sleep issues. For a gradual stepping into the early hours, set your alarm back 15 minutes each night until you reach 4 a.m. Know that you’re going to need to sleep earlier as you do this, so schedule your day so you can get in the bed earlier than you’re used to.
What you do with your newfound time is up to you. Even just sitting with your thoughts can be a very restful thing to do. Most people only get a few moments for themselves when they are on vacation or on an airplane, and that’s if they don’t fill up the time with distractions. Try purposefully putting yourself into a non-distracting environment by waking up early. You may find that you really enjoy it and the productivity boost.