Some of my bookmarked articles that I most often refer to are those discussing the daily routines of some of the most successful people on earth – Apple CEO, Tim Cook; General Electric CEO, Jeff Immelt; Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey; President and former Presidents – Donald Trump, Barack Obama, George Bush, and so on.
The one thing that nearly all of these people do consistently is wake up early. Yahoo! Finance studied the daily routines of 17 CEOs and found that the latest any of them woke up was 6 a.m. Almost 80% of them woke up by 5:30 a.m.
So what do some of the most high-performing people in the world do in the early mornings and why?
- Exercise. Exercise is extremely important for maintaining and strengthening physical health. A lack of physical health is correlated to many health issues such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and stress. All of these things can shorten your lifespan and will cost you money in the long-run. I think exercise is even more important for maintaining and strengthening mental health. Mental health can impact so many aspects of your life including relationships, work life, family life, and social life. So why exercise in the morning though? For one, most other people are sleeping so you have the gym to yourself and you don’t have anyone bugging you (no family, friends, or coworkers). Second, exercising in the morning burns more calories because your body stays in calorie-burning mode throughout the day. If some of the busiest people on earth can find time to exercise in the morning then I think we can too. Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey wakes up at 5:30 a.m. to meditate and jog 6 miles!
- Schedule for the day and clear emails. Many high-performing people set their schedules for the day ahead in the morning. This allows them to have a clear vision for the rest of the day. Many others, such as Apple CEO, Tim Cook, also check their emails. As we all know, our email inbox can fill up from the evening before and overnight. Checking emails before everyone else is awake allows us to clear our inboxes and send emails for the day. This allows us to focus on more important tasks throughout the rest of the day.
- Spend time with family. Some high-performers spend time with their families before heading off to the office. They exercise and/or check their emails before their families are awake. Then they have breakfast with their families or take their kids to school. This provides a great opportunity to build family relationships because you may not be able to pick your kids up from school or be home for dinner on time.
- Creative or personal projects. Mornings are also a great time to work on creative and personal projects such as blogs, websites, novels, and business ventures. Many successful people have noted having more creativity in the morning. This is probably because our mind is fresh in the morning. We have maximum will power in the morning. Our will power generally wears down throughout the day as we use our energy. That’s why we often find it difficult to do things such as exercising and maintaining diets in the evenings. Therefore, working on a personal project in the morning might be a good idea since we are full of energy.
- Eating! Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Yet many people skimp on food at breakfast or skip it altogether. However, if you eat a solid breakfast, you won’t binge eat at lunch and dinner. By waking up early, you have time to eat enough food. Waking up early also allows you to eat healthier foods since you have more time to prepare your food. This will give you the energy to focus on the tasks at hand during your morning. You won’t be distracted by a growling stomach.
Yes, some people are night owls and like to get their work done in the evening. But there’s a reason why the highest-performing people in the world wake up early – well before everyone else is awake. It allows them to get ahead of everyone else. It allows them to be super-efficient.
It’s hard to flip a switch and just start waking up at 5:30 a.m. or 6 a.m. I find it easiest if you start waking up earlier in increments. For example, if you wake up at 7 a.m. now, wake up at 6:50 a.m. the next day. Keep doing this until you get to your target time. Fill your extra hours with useful activities such as those listed above. This doesn’t mean you should deprive yourself of sleep though. I just find that I’m not productive in the evenings so I’ve been sleeping earlier to make sure I still get enough sleep. For adults, 7-9 hours of sleep each night is recommended but we need to find our own sweet spot in this range. We all have different sleeping patterns. I wouldn’t recommend depriving myself of sleep just to wake up early. Sleep is absolutely crucial. However, I think the morning can be filled with more productive things than the evening which is why I favor waking up early. This is also why so many high-performers do as well (I’m not one of them).