Is It SMART to Get Up Early?

by Amanda Russell

"It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom." - Aristotle

In my own observations I have found there to be a correlation between productivity and rising early. The question I then wondered is if being a ‘morning person’ is innate? Or can anyone become one? After much research and experimentation I believe this is definitely something that can be learned. We are all creatures of habit and products of our culture and attitude. And I have to tell you, it’s hard to become an early riser with the wrong strategy, but with the right strategy, it’s relatively easy. Since I can’t seem to ignore this correlation between success and rising early I thought I would share some tips I have learned, in order to help make you an ‘early riser’ or at least make getting up early less painful.

1. Have a good reason to get up.
I’ve found this to be the single most important element in being an early riser. Days in which I did not crystalize the reasons for getting up were more likely to result in sleep ins. Now, I make it clear the night before what it is I want to wake up early for (write them down if it helps).

2. Be productive in the mornings.
Waking up early doesn’t automatically equal productivity. If you are committed to waking up early for a reason, it is crucial to follow through. Not following through is like slow working poison. Over time, this has a cumulative effect and makes it harder and harder to rise early. So stick to the plan and be productive.

3. Get enough sleep.
Your body is trying to tell you something if you constantly feel overly tired during the day. I’ve found it wasn’t really worthwhile trying to get up early if I didn’t get enough good sleep the night before. In the short term, I might get more discretionary time because I was sleeping less, which is good for coping with the spikes in workload. However, in the long term, things generally evened out – either because I was tired and couldn’t work as fast or I was sick as a result of a weakened immune system. My advice is to ensure you get enough sleep.

4. Sleep more effectively.
The other thing I noticed about sleep is sleeping longer doesn’t necessarily translate to sleeping better. Some days I can have 8 hours of sleep, yet feel like I haven’t slept at all. Other days I can be fully alert, productive and cheerful after only a few short hours.
If you find that you are still tired after a good stretch of 6-8 hours, chances are you’re not sleeping well. Most people just don’t need much more sleep than that. Sleeping well can be attained in various ways. I find having a good mattress and pillow with some quiet reading time before bed to be helpful.

5. Banish the SNOOZE Button
I think everyone including me has two conflicting aspects to their personality. There’s the one which is good and generally seeks to self improve and be productive. Then there’s the other one – the little voice in the head urging us to sleep in for another 10 minutes. I’ve learned the hard way that this little voice rarely has anything good to say. My advice is to avoid discussion with him or refuse to indulge in anything he says! Sleeping in for another 10 mins is guaranteed to lead to another 10 mins and then another. The next time you hear that little voice, just say “No” out loud and …

6. Jump out of bed.
One trick I’ve found to be very effective in being an early riser and to stop myself from rationalizing is to simply jump out of bed instantly. My college roommate used to laugh at this notion, but I have found it to be key to my success

7. Establish a stable routine.
The body is an instrument which can be trained. I’ve found establishing a consistent routine to be a key factor in becoming an early riser. This means waking up at same time everyday, not just the days I have to. This includes weekends, which typically aren’t as busy as the weekdays. Now, my body doesn’t even remember what it was like to sleep in and being a late riser.

8. Have something to look forward to.
Waking up early can be hard work, especially when you are used to sleeping in. Having a purpose is a good start, but this isn’t always enough. I mean, come on, are you really going to get up early to work on a budget report for work? What I do in addition to having a purpose is to have a reward or other attractive incentive to get up for. It can be anything. I personally look forward to having time to check my emails in the morning, eat breakfast and drink a cup of tea.

9. Be aware of the consequences.
I’ve found that it was very effective to be aware of the consequences of sleeping in. For me, losing that extra 2 hours in the morning can have a significant flow on effect to my day and the rest of the week. This is something I clearly want to avoid, so being aware of this has been really effective in keeping me motivated when the alarm goes off.


Being an early riser is tough work, but the benefits, at least for me, far outweighed the difficulties. I’ve managed to do it consistently and the rewards have proven amazing, which is why I highly recommend it to all my friends and clients.
If you want to be early risers yourselves, try out the tips I’ve highlighted. Some of them may not work for you, but I can bet that if you applied at least a few of these, you will see immediate results. Feel free to experiment and refine the process until you find a healthy balance you can sustain.

Good luck! Let me know how you do!



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