When running a business, it may seem like there are never enough hours in the day. Tapping into the power of mornings, a time of day when there are less demands, might be the key to increasing your productivity.
For 15 years, Starbucks President Michelle Gaas has set her alarm for
4:30 a.m. to go running. Gretchen Ruben, popular author of The Happiness Project
(Harper Perennial, 2011) wakes up at 6 a.m. and works for an hour
before her family rises. Here are a few benefits to getting out of bed earlier.
You are less likely to get distracted in the morning.
An entrepreneur's day fills up fast. If you wait until the afternoon or
evening to do something meaningful for yourself such as exercising or
reading, you’re likely to push it off the to-do list altogether. “There
are going to be reasons why you can't tackle a personal priority at 4
p.m. -- things have a lot less likelihood of coming up at 6 a.m.," says
You have more willpower early in the day. Even if
you aren't a morning person, you may have more willpower in the early
hours than later in the day. "Willpower is like a muscle [that] becomes
fatigued with over-use," says Vanderkam. During the course of the day as
you're dealing with difficult people, making decisions and battling
traffic, you use up your willpower, leaving you feeling depleted toward
the end of the day.
Mornings give you the opportunity to set a positive tone for the day.
If you've ever slept in past your alarm clock or forgotten your kids'
lunches on the counter, you know that starting off the day with a
failure can bring down your mood and affect your productivity at work.
Vanderkam says waking up earlier allows you to start the day with a
victory and set the tone for a happier and more productive day.
What Successful People Eat for Breakfast
If the thought of waking up at sunrise makes you cringe, Vanderkam
recommends these four steps to transform even a habitual night owl into a
1. Keep a time journal. Vanderkam says one of the
reasons people say they don't like mornings is that they stay up too
late. She recommends keeping a time journal for a week to show where you
may be using your time inefficiently. Vanderkam finds when many
self-professed night owls look at their time journals, they often find
they aren't spending their evening hours productively or doing anything
2. Imagine your perfect morning. Imagine what you
would do if you had an extra hour in the day. Would you exercise? Read
the newspaper rather than simply skimming the headlines? "[Getting up
earlier] isn't about punishing yourself. You will not get out of bed if
you don’t have a good reason to do it," says Vanderkam.
3. Plan your morning. Once you have decided what you
want to do with your extra time, plan how to execute it, and set as
much up as possible the night before. For example, if you want to
exercise in the morning, lay out your clothes the night before, or
gather the ingredients for your breakfast.
4. Build the habit slowly. Vanderkam says you will
likely hit the snooze button and sleep in if you try to switch your
habits drastically. So instead of setting your alarm for 5 a.m. when you
normally get up at 7: 30 a.m. set the alarm for 10 minutes earlier each
day. To make sure you don't lose sleep, go to bed 10 minutes earlier
each night. If you have trouble hitting the sack on time, set a bedtime