If you study the life habits of some of the most successful men and women in the world, certain habits seem to repeat themselves. Regular exercise, a dedication to reading, getting 6-8 hours of sleep each night, scheduled time to unwind each day with the family, etc...But one habit that can be found in almost all schedules for these individuals is the habit of waking early in the morning to start their day before anyone else. Let's take a look at a few well-known people and their morning schedules:
Tim Cook (CEO of Apple): Wakes each day at 3:45 am and immediately gets a jump on his email inbox, followed by a trip to the gym.
Jeff Immelt (CEO of General Electric): Wakes at 5:30 am each morning to work out, read the newspaper, and watch the morning news.
Jack Dorsey (CEO of Twitter & Square): Wakes at 5:00 am for meditation and a 6-mile run.
Mark Zuckerberg (CEO of Facebook): Wakes before 6:00 am and has been known to work through the night talking with Facebook employees.
So what are the benefits of setting an early alarm? If you're someone who has dedicated yourself to improving your life, you might ask yourself why you should wake up at 5:30 am each morning. What can be gained by losing an hour or two of sleep each day? The reasons are plenty, but here are my top five:
1. Small Steps Add Up:
What could you accomplish in an hour's time? If you've decided to take steps to improve your health, your career, or your overall quality of life, waking up at 5:30 am instead of 7:00 am each morning gives you an extra 90 minutes to accomplish your goal. Spend this time working on whatever it is that you've set out to accomplish. Do you want to lose 30 pounds by your birthday? Go for a run in the morning. You're less likely to encounter cars on the road or other runners, and the quiet can help you clear your mind for the day. Are you determined to get your Master's degree within the next few years? Use the extra time to work on coursework, or to research potential job openings once you have your degree. Or if you simply want to catch up on your favorite hobbies, read during this time and think about how you can use the knowledge from your reading to improve certain areas of your life.
The extra time you spend each morning will make a lasting impact on your overall success. An extra 90 minutes each day builds up over time, accumulating to more than 10 hours each week that you have over others. Use this time wisely to improve yourself, and you'll be amazed at the results.
2. You Eliminate Excuses:
The biggest excuse that people give when they are asked about pursuing their goals is, "I don't have the time". You hear it every day, don't you? When asked about exercising, going back to college, travelling the world, or starting a business, people simply spew the first excuse that comes to their mind. "I don't have enough time". But those same individuals will turn around an hour later and tell you about their favorite television show, the one that they watch religiously each week. Or they will go on and on about some celebrity in the news that just got a divorce because her husband was cheating.
Lesson to be learned here? We all have the same 24 hours in the day. Bill Gates doesn't have the ability to extend his days by a few extra hours because he binge-watched Orange is the New Black instead of working on a new program for Microsoft. He has to prioritize his day to maximize his results. By waking up at 5:30 am, you have the ability to get the work done that you put off each day. The To-Do list that always gets ignored can now be tackled with enthusiasm. The "Life Wish-list", those goals that you've always dreamed about, can be accomplished, and you will have no more excuses as to why you aren't successful.
3. It Improves Personal Awareness:
The time you gain by waking at 5:30 am does not have to be used on work. Many successful people choose instead to focus on meditation, exercise, or reading during their early mornings. These tasks help set a calm and relaxed tone for the day, while also allowing the individual to gain personal knowledge and understanding. Excluding the health benefits of all three tasks, using your early morning to eliminate stress and to focus your thoughts can be incredibly useful in increasing productivity. Create a daily To-Do list that helps prioritize certain tasks, thus eliminating that helpless feeling that people often encounter throughout their day.
4. It Creates a Good Impression
Now, I'm not insinuating that you should set your daily habits based off of other people's opinions, but if your superiors start to notice that you're returning emails before 6:00 am and that your tasks are being completed early, good things will start to happen for you. This is your opportunity to get ahead of your peers, and if that time you gain each morning is used productively, people will begin to notice a change in your performance, your demeanor, and your overall appearance. Few people ever take the time to improve their lives, so rising each day to do just that will set you apart from others around you.
5. You'll Feel Accomplished
After a few weeks of 5:30 am wake-ups, a list of completed tasks should start to immerge. Maybe you've made headway on that terrible research paper that's due at the end of the semester. Or maybe you've finished reading two books that have been collecting dust on your shelves for years. Regardless of what it is, you will have accomplished things that otherwise would have gone unfinished. For that, you should feel proud and you should use that sense of pride to push forward onto new and exciting projects.
Waking up at 5:30 am each morning can, at first, seem daunting. You may consider yourself "not a morning person". But if you can find the self-discipline necessary to get out of bed, you'll find that the benefits of early rising far outweigh that extra out of comfortable sleep you would have gotten otherwise. Because in the end, no individual has ever experience self-growth from staying within their comfort zone. So wake up early, tackle your day, and experience greatness!
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