Welcome to the inner chamber of ancient productivity secrets….
I’m going to share the ancient productivity secret of the masters…The wildly successful…
This ancient time-tested tip to, really improve your productivity, is to wake up earlier than you already do. You may have heard this countless times growing up. “Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” — Ben Franklin
How MUCH earlier? I’ll get back to that in a moment. First, a little story…
Years ago, maybe 7 or 8 to be exact, I was struggling. Really struggling with my business life, career, and all things money related. Not that I claim a total master now, but I was floundering. Too much to do, and too little time. Inconsistent focus. No matter what happened, I only seemed to barely stay ahead of the curve.
Enter my wise and wonderful wife who said, “You need to get up earlier! Every successful person I know gets up by at least 5:30am.” Ok, it wasn’t like I was sleeping forever. But typically, it was a bit after 7am. Anyway…
I believe I responded with something really witty like “5:30am — like…in the morning type 5:30am???
“That’s the one,” she said.
Hmmmm…Ok, life choice time. I can get my rear end out of bed and have a more productive life, or I can get a bit more sleep — maybe feel more human — and continue my current path of mediocrity. After struggling endlessly with myself… and it WAS a struggle… I realized that something had to change if I wanted to reach the next level. Then and there, I resolved to start waking up earlier.
Transitioning from a late-evening medium productivity person to an “early morning high-output person” took weeks of trial and effort. But I did get there…
Why so much effort?
Attitude. The fact was, I was going about the transition all wrong. I was trying to completely transform myself overnight. I should have been taking a more rational approach such as getting up 15 minutes earlier for a week or so and building up from there. But I’ve never been the gradual, “toe in the water” person. It’s cannon balls in the pool for me!
Was all the change worth it?
Oh yeah. Way beyond my wildest hopes in fact.
Here are just a few benefits I experienced waking up an extra 1 – 2 hours early (note the first two):
- Increased my productivity by at least 40%
- Increased our business income over 30%
- Increased my stamina (hard to say how much, but it definitely did work)
- Helped me beat the road traffic to and from client sites. (I lived in Southern Orange County at the time, and had to frequently commute to Los Angeles County. Folks who have tried that can relate…)
- Reduced stress in my life immeasurably
- Gave me more “me” time. More time in the morning to collect your thoughts, get ready, plan your day, fight less traffic, etc.
- Helped me take on more client projects. This ended up taking the “me” time freed up in the previous bullet.
- Allowed the addition of healthy exercise routines.
- Allowed me to work on other projects that somehow I just never had time for before.
Sounds great, right? But, what are the disadvantages?
- Many people (like me) find it very difficult to do at first.
- You’ll feel tired for a while.
- You may be tempted to squeeze more at the end of the day as well and stay up later (hence defeating the purpose).
- You may have to tiptoe around in the dark while other family members sleep.
- It’s cold in the morning (brrr……).
- Your later-night friends may be upset with you for going to bed at the “kiddie hour”.
- And, and…
Pretty lame disadvantages huh? Especially considering the upsides. As you can see from the benefits list, even one of those can bring massive change to your life.
But don’t take just my word for it. The early risers club includes famous authors, musicians, presidents, dignitaries, CEOs, and more.
Ok, But How Much Earlier?
The answer is different for everyone. As a very general rule, I recommend getting up by 5:30am. Earlier is great, but be realistic about what works for you. Over the years, I’ve settled in around 4:45am. But I didn’t get there all at once. It took weeks of trial and error.
I’m Convinced! How Do I Get There?
- Take baby steps. Try setting the alarm for just 15 minutes earlier than usual. Get used to that for a couple of weeks.
- Sleep better. Keep it relaxing at night. Turn off all screens at least 1 hour before bed. Keep lighting low and refrain from stress-inducing discussing topics.
- De-stress yourself. So much easier said than done, in our 24x7x365xGlobal “always on” world. But getting some moderate exercise, meditating, stepping away from work several times a day all help keep stress levels manageable.
- Go to bed earlier. Getting up early matches so well with getting to bed early! (As wise old Ben Franklin so eloquently stated.)
- If you need an extra morning boost (coffee, piece of fruit) just do it. Before changing to a diet of mostly raw organic foods, I adjusted to earlier mornings with a larger coffee cup and two bananas. This combo helped me keep going in the morning. But if you can, stick with green juices or fruit in the morning. They won’t give you the same “kick” as the morning coffee right away, but your energy will be more even throughout the day.
- Chart your task progress. Compare the number and type of tasks you do now, versus what you did before. Visible results really help you stay on track.
- If it’s really hard for you, try coaching or an ‘accountability app’. At the time of this writing, there is a useful little application called the “Lift App”, which is used to set goals, get accountability, and change your habits. “Lift” is an iOS application, but there are probably similar ones on other platforms.
- Eat better. The higher your nutrition levels and overall health, the less sleep you’ll need in general. For many people, better health translates to less required sleep. Stay tuned to the blog and The Corbin Links Show for lots more high-impact health and nutrition.
Share Your Story!
Are you a classic “morning” person? A late night person? Maybe one of those rare people who can work all sorts of mixed hours, and be an ultra-high achiever? Share your experiences!