10 reasons to wake up earlier, and 6 tips for doing so

Face it, Ben Franklin was right. But the rationale for ‘early to rise’ means nothing without solid techniques for getting your bones out of bed.

By now, most of you know that I’m an early riser. If you do some homework on the subject, you’ll find that many successful CEOs are, as well. It’s simply ingrained into us. If we want to be successful, we need to be working when others are not.

It’s like the classic running quote: “Somewhere, right now, someone is training while you are not. When you race him, he will win.”

So I get up early because I believe it’s worth it. Here are some benefits you can get from doing it, and, as a bonus, here’s how to actually do it! It’s time to wake up…

Top 10 reasons to get up early every day:

10. Learn. You can browse seven websites in a row (news, news, gossip, financial, gossip, sports, weather) without being interrupted by a single e-mail. You’re now smarter for your entire day.

9. This early, it really is all about you. You get a few minutes of pure “you” time. For me, it’s waking up and making coffee. While I’m doing that, I can pet Karma and NASA, and not in just a “scratch behind the ears once because I’m late” way. I can sit with them as I drink my first cup of coffee and enjoy the calming effect that a pet has on you. I have no doubt this helps to set my mood for the day.

8. We’re not as big as we think we are. I can watch the sunrise. We take certain things for granted. Light, air, clouds, etc. Get up one morning, and actually watch the sky turn from dark to light. It’s amazing. It changes your entire perspective from how big we are to how small we are when you realize that we’re nothing in the universe, just star stuff on a much, much bigger plane. That affects how you think, and it changes for the better how you look at things.

7. You’re automatically early. Getting up even a half-hour early eliminates the “rush” that comes with leaving the house in the morning. Get up earlier, and you’re calmer. You remember everything you need to take. You walk out without being stressed. This leads to a calmer day. Also, studies have shown that being on time is one thing that good leaders master, as well as demand. Want to be on time? Get up earlier.

6. Eat. Getting up early lets you have breakfast, which, as trite as it sounds, really is the most important meal of the day! Before you go to sleep, set out a bowl, a spoon, and a pot. When you wake up, pour some whole-grain oats and water into said pot and turn on the flame. Make your coffee and pet your cats or watch your sunrise. The oats will be done in 10 minutes. Add some fruit or whatever you like—I’m a fan of just a touch of butter and some salt. Eat your oats, and feel the sustained energy kicking into your system. Throw in two hard-boiled egg whites for protein as a side dish. (One if you don’t exercise.)

5. Speaking of exercise…When I was training for my Ironman, there were days I had to do 100-mile bike rides. Most people get up at 6 a.m., and are biking by 6:30 a.m. The problem is, most people are in the park/on the roads at the same time. I got up at 3 a.m., and was in Central Park by 3:30 a.m. I got to ride for three hours, by myself, with no distractions. I owned Central Park for three hours! Getting up early and exercising, whether at the gym or by yourself, puts you in a very small, yet very powerful group of people. Get up, get it done, and get on with your day. You know you’re not going to the gym after work, and now you don’t have to!

4. Easier commute. I don’t have a commute, but for years growing up, I did. My parents and I would ride together into the city when I went to high school, and we were always on the road by 6:20 a.m. At 6:20 a.m., we’d be in Manhattan in 10 minutes. If we left even 20 minutes later, at 6:40 a.m., the trip would take an hour. Get up early, get to the office, and your commute is done before traffic goes to hell. Easiest commute ever.

3. Be a power player. Be a market maker. Want to know who the real power players are in the business world? Try scheduling 7 a.m. breakfasts with them. I’ve been at 7 a.m. breakfasts with some of the biggest and most powerful CEOs in the world. Why? Because they know that the demanding schedule they have won’t allow for lunches. What did Gordon Gekko say? “Lunch? Aw, come on, Marty. Lunch is for wimps!” He was right. Want to meet with the power players? Egg-white omelet and coffee at 7 a.m. at the Plaza.

2. Do something you “never have the time for.” When do you think I write a lot of these blog posts? When do you think I answer a ton of e-mails? Review new software? Write my book? Yup. While you’re still sleeping.

1. Change the world. The No. 1 reason to get up super-early? Thirty minutes can change the world. Getting up early each day can truly make all the difference in your life. Imagine getting up early and just doing a few of the things listed above. Would you be more productive? Make more money? Reach more people? Get more deals done? I bet you would.

That was the “why.” Here’s the “how.”

Top six ways to make sure you get up early.

6. Drink. Keep a giant glass of water by the bed. As soon as the alarm goes off, before you shut it off, drink the entire glass of water. Water is the most awesome wake-up tool for your body ever. Drink the water, it opens up brain cells, rejuvenates your eyes, allows you to come out of sleep. Drink water! (Thanks to Lara Dalch at Dalch Wellness for this tip.)

5. Move. Set the alarm clock somewhere you can’t reach it. Get out of bed to shut it off (after you’ve drunk your water), and you’re up and mobile.

4. Feed something. Get a pet. Seriously. Feed the pet one damn time at 5 a.m., and you’ll never sleep through 5 a.m. again for the entire life of the pet. Trust me on this.

3. There is no try. Don’t think, just do. It’s amazing what we can rationalize at 5 a.m. “Oh, I’ll just sleep for an extra hour, then do the treadmill at double the speed for half the time so I can still make it into the office.” You know that’s B.S., you know you’re not going to, and you know there will be no working out for you today. Don’t think. Just get your ass out of bed. Think later.

2. Get out! The bedroom is for sleeping and sex. Once you’re awake, get your ass out of it. Go to the kitchen for your coffee. Go to the living room or your home office for your computer (see #10 above). You’ve slept. Now get out of the bedroom.

1. Sleep. The No.1 way to get up earlier? Get to sleep earlier. I know— I’m blaspheming here. How dare I waste a perfectly good night when I could go out and be a drunken idiot, or go to a boring party? I like going to sleep earlier, because I know what it’s going to do for me on the flip side. I still go out, but I limit it. Remember when you were a kid, and your parents made you go to sleep early on a school night? There’s a reason for that. Go to sleep earlier. Countless studies have been conducted showing that lack of sleep is hurting us, causing us to lose money, hell, even making us ugly! Chances are, not sleeping enough is the root of a lot of your problems.

Peter Shankman is the founder of Help A Reporter Out, CEO of The Geek Factory, Inc. He blogs at http://shankman.com and is on Twitter @petershankman.

This article first appeared on Ragan.com in January 2011.


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