Get up at 5 a.m. and be happier, healthier and more successful? That sounds like a big lie to all of the night owls among us. But what Robin Sharma introduced into the business world with his 5 a.m. club is much more rooted in other cultures than in ours. In Alberta Canada, for example, a country where temperatures can reach -35 degrees in the early morning hours, you will deal with the coldest of days. Though employees are prepared for the winter months with their coats and boots, it can still affect their productivity in the office.
Since temperature is not the only factor affecting the mood of your employees on extremely cold days – it’s also the lack of sunlight. Winter days are shorter, and when your employees wake up to a dark sky to arrive at work and leave to a dark sky to head home, their mood will be glum. The productivity throughout the sunlight hours will generally be unaffected, but once the sun goes down after 5 p.m. Most employees will be rushing to head home. Productivity geniuses like Apple boss Tim Cook or Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour also swear by getting up early and starting the day with a head start.
Should we all overcome our inner bastard and get up at 5 a.m.? Even though we are continually being told that getting up early is the only solution to all productivity problems, early rising does not work for everyone. Studies have found that getting up early increases your productivity, especially when the top of your productivity curve is actually in the morning. To find out, I suggest you experiment with your morning routine yourself. If you find out that getting up at 5 a.m. is simply not for you, you can lie back comfortably afterwards.
Your morning human experiment
If you are impatient and want to know what you can learn from it, skip this guide.
Contrary to what most people think, you are not necessarily born a morning person, and you can train yourself as a morning person to a certain extent. Whether you have to do that is, of course, absolutely up to you. But if you are ready to try it yourself, I recommend the following steps:
For the best results, I recommend that you also carry out the experiment during weekends. If you are sure that this will not work, it is, of course, good enough during the week.
Step # 1: Set your alarm clock to 5 a.m. every day. Use at least one alarm clock, especially for the first week.
Step # 2: Think about what you want to do with your new morning time. Do you want to start working right away? Alternatively, you can use the first hour of the day for a workout or learn a language. Pick something that will make you feel good.
Step # 3: Go to bed early. Of course, there is no point in just getting up earlier. Then, in the end, you are tired, restless and moody. Make sure you still get your 7 hours of sleep.
Why routine is important
According to current studies, you make about 35,000 decisions throughout the day. Assuming you sleep 7 hours a day, that’s more than 2000 decisions an hour, and it’s a lot for your brain. In the course of your life, you have already acquired a variety of routines that you no longer think about. Whether you brush your teeth before or after breakfast, make coffee, get to work, all of these processes have become habit routine over time. The beauty of a routine is that you don’t have to make a conscious decision because you do it unconsciously. The more routine you integrate into your everyday life, the freer your brain is to deal with other, more important topics. The less of your resources you waste on unimportant decisions, such as the colour of your shirt or which cereal to eat for breakfast,
Steve Jobs, therefore, had a whole set of t-shirts that looked the same. You don’t have to go that far, but you can improve your morning routine in just a few steps:
- Plan your morning the night before. What are you going to wear, what are you going to have for breakfast and what tasks need to be done?
- Have a to-do list ready to start the day right away. If you have to plan in the morning, you’re wasting valuable time that you can better use.
- Plan your workout the night before. If you arrive still sleepy at the gym, it will be difficult for you to choose good exercises and push yourself. Alternatively, a personal trainer can help you optimally structure your workouts.
Why you can do more in the morning
What usually interrupts your day’s workflow is perhaps the meetings, emails and notifications, an employee who asks for advice or the intern who needs to be assigned tasks. If you get up at 5 a.m., nobody will bother you with the usual problems. Instead, you will have time to work on your tasks at your own pace. Use the morning hours for essential tasks. The full inbox can wait until everyone else is awake.
When you perform essential tasks, there is also a feeling of superiority. When the rest of the world is slowly taking its place at the desk, you’ve already run and made half of your to-do list. What feels incredibly useful for the first few days will, in the long run, become a habit that increases your productivity and takes you forward. You can almost go home before the first midday low.
Another advantage is that you don’t have to rush. Slowing down everyday life a little and being able to take your time in the morning is extremely important. You manage to tackle tasks that are important to you with time and calmness and, at the same time, work ultimately without external interference.
Tip: Look at your tasks for today. If you could only accomplish one task today, which of the tasks would still make you feel like you achieved something today? Start with this task.
Getting up at 5 a.m. every morning is something that not everyone can do permanently. It requires a level of discipline and willpower that will help you in other areas as well. Discipline is especially necessary when your actual motivation wears off. It helps you to carry out tedious organizational tasks and not lose your drive even in long periods of stress. Few of us like to write tax returns, pay bills or take out the trash, but the less time you waste on such tasks, the better. And even if you stare stupidly at your tax return for three hours, it still has to be done in the end.
Discipline is like training a muscle to be trained again and again. Every morning, if you’d rather stay in bed and still get yourself up, you’re teaching yourself a vital lesson in self-discipline. At the same time, you start your day with something you can be proud of. You did it again! And you do it for yourself, and nobody else.
More time for your private life!
If you do more in the morning, you will have more time for your private life and your family later. How this can be integrated into your day-to-day work naturally depends on how flexible you can organize your working hours. If you can organize your working hours flexibly, it can be a great advantage for you to get up at 5 a.m. and start early in the office. Because, of course, that means being ready early. You have the advantage of an absolutely empty office and pleasant silence while you already have the most important tasks off your desk and can go home earlier in the afternoon. If you’re less flexible, you can use the morning instead to learn something new, pursue a hobby, or maybe even spend time with friends or your partner.
Regardless of whether you are personally a fan of the idea of getting up at 5 a.m. one should not try to wake up tired while the chemically stressed body refuses to move. Discipline and motivation are essential to get you out of bed and start your day. Your early morning wakefulness is a great habit you can develop and will serve you well for many decades. Coping with the morning will set the mood for the whole day. Once you find out how good it feels, you will never want to go back.