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What’s so Great about this “Early Bird” Anyway? How You Can Slay the Snooze Button (and Your To-Do List, Too).

2 minutes Read

Early birdThere’s no doubt that creating good habits makes for good business, but there’s one habit most entrepreneurs agree is a game changer. You may not like it, but there’s no denying it: waking up early makes you more productive. From sneaking in a workout, meditating, eating a healthy breakfast or getting a jump on the day’s emails, adding even just an extra hour to your day can provide the jump start you need to do some uninterrupted thinking and work towards long term goals.

Now, don’t worry—you don’t have to wake up at 4:30 every morning because Michelle Obama and Disney CEO Robert Iger do it, especially if you normally start stirring around 8 or 9 a.m. The key to any kind of habit change is making small, incremental, sustainable shifts until you’ve reached your goal. If you make the changes small enough, one day you might find you’re waking up early without even thinking about it.

Creating time

Today’s back to school lesson is to teach you to get a few extra hours in your day. Simply set your alarm for 15 minutes earlier than your normal waking time. Fifteen minutes doesn’t seem like that much time, but once you get used to it, set it for another 15 minutes earlier, and keep going until you reach your optimum time. Some find simply getting up at 6 instead of 7 is enough to kick-start their day; find what works for you.

Waking up early doesn’t necessarily mean you cut out all activity in the evening and go to bed as soon as the sun starts setting. It just means to turn the phone and TV off, and turn in a little earlier than you normally would. And make sure you get enough sleep—don’t go to bed at your normal time of 1 a.m. and then try to get up at 5 a.m. That’ll end up making you tired, cranky, and above all, unproductive.

Make it happen

Now comes the hard part: actually getting up. Some have the habit of lying in bed for a period of time after they wake up. If you’re one of them, it’s time to break that habit. Get up as soon as your alarm goes off. Once your eyes are open and you’re aware of your surroundings, get up, get dressed and start your day.

Sunlight is almost like a natural alarm clock. It has a strong effect on your body’s natural rhythms, so get some natural light as soon as possible after you wake up to send the signal to your brain that it’s time to start your day. Though it may seem like a harsh way to ease into your new habit, opening the curtains and letting the bright morning light into your eyes is a key tactic in fighting the urge to go back to bed.

Stick with it

As with any habit, repetition and routine makes it easier to succeed. Every morning, make a routine that you follow, whether it’s working out or sipping coffee and catching up on the news. And if you miss a day? Keep trying. It may take a month or two of concentrated effort before you start feeling like a real early riser. But it’s worth it in the end for any busy entrepreneur to know they’re in control of one of their most valuable resources—time.


Photo credit: Sari ONeal/