If you really want to spark a lively debate at your next dinner party or corporate gathering, tell a group of people that early risers are more productive or successful than their late rising counterparts. People who aren’t early risers are incredibly offended by statements like these. It’s as if they subconsciously feel guilty about their decision to enjoy a few extra minutes or hours of sleep.
While I’m not here to guilt anyone into waking up earlier than they already do – in fact, sometimes I’m jealous I can’t make myself sleep in on the weekends – I am going to tell you how waking up an hour earlier has transformed my freelancing career and turned me into a more productive writer.
My Personal Case Study
I’ll start by saying this: I’ve always been somewhat of an early riser. Even in college I enjoyed getting up a couple of hours before my first class so that I could enjoy a cup of coffee, read a book, and catch up on work. So, to say that I suddenly made a conscious career decision to become an early riser would be a little bit of an exaggeration. I’ve always had a proclivity for waking up early – I’ve just finally made it a serious priority in my career.
During my first year of being a full-time writer, I usually woke up around 6:30am and started work by 7:00am. I enjoyed the feeling of starting work a couple of hours before the average nine-to-fiver. I felt productive, energized, and zoned-in.
However, something happened as I entered my second year of being a full-time writer. I began to take on more writing assignments that required more focus and an increased attention to detail. While I certainly could have extended my hours by tacking on an additional hour or two of work time at the end of the day, I knew that wouldn’t work. I was already so mentally exhausted by the end of the day that the quality and integrity of my work would have suffered.
Instead, I came to the conclusion that waking up earlier would benefit me the most. Instead of waking up at 6:30am and starting work at 7:00am, I decided I would wake up at 5:30am and begin writing at 6:00am. To some, that sounds insane, impractical, or confounding. Other people doubt that an hour can make that much of a difference.
Well, I’m here to tell you that waking up an hour earlier is not only practical, but it also has had a profound impact on my productivity and quality of work.
5 Benefits of Waking Up an Hour Earlier
Everyone is different, but waking up one hour earlier each morning has allowed me to enjoy the following five benefits:
- Zero distractions. Ernest Hemmingway has a famous quote about waking up early that reads, “There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write.” For me, this is the greatest part about waking up when it’s still dark. It’s totally quiet and peaceful. Even my dog refuses to start her day until 7am. There’s no need to block out distractions – there aren’t any to begin with.
- More productive hours. For me, my brain starts to spin in a dozen different directions after lunch. I don’t know if it’s the food talking, the tantalizing lure of the end of the workday, or some level of mental fatigue. Whatever it is, it keeps me from producing my best work. If I can carve out an additional hour in the morning, and remove one from the end of the day, my work benefits.
- Better sleep. It may sound counterintuitive, but I’ve actually found that I get more sleep the earlier I rise. Because I know I have to get up at 5:30am, I no longer stay up until midnight. I’m much more inclined to go to bed at 9-10pm and get a solid eight or nine hours of sleep.
- Opportunity for a midday break. Sometimes getting up earlier doesn’t mean I finish work any earlier. Instead, it gives me the opportunity to take off an hour during the middle of the day and recharge my brain. I may hit some golf balls in the backyard, work on a project around the house, or walk the dog. This hour away from work reinvigorates me and allows me to push through the second half of the day.
- Frees up afternoons. Being done with work at two or three in the afternoon is fantastic. With so much daylight left, I’m able to do yard work, run errands, and accomplish things that most nine-to-fivers have to wait until the weekend to take care of.
Conquering the Alarm Clock
I’m not going to pretend like I’m a psychologist or sleep doctor – so you’ll have to figure out how to conquer the alarm clock on your own. Ultimately, it comes down to your self-control, diligence, and willingness to wake up early. Don’t decide you’re going to wake up an hour earlier because you read my blog post or heard some guy at a party talking about how great it is to be an early-riser. You’re an adult – you should make decisions on your own.
I will, however, give you a few quick-hitters that you may find helpful:
- The snooze button is your friend. It doesn’t matter if you’re a morning person or not. I typically enjoy a couple of seven-minute snooze sessions before getting up. Factor this in when setting your alarm and you’ll be much more successful.
- It’s a good idea to have a plan for your morning. Review your agenda the night before and identify a couple of projects or assignments you can tackle in the morning.
- If you’re a coffee fan like myself, take advantage of your coffee maker’s timer feature. Get things set up the night before and have your coffee waiting for you when you wake up. At least for me, this provides some added incentive to get up.
- Finally, don’t get down on yourself when you sleep in. There are days where I spend a few extra minutes in bed and it’s not the end of the world. The important thing is that you stay in a habit and avoid skipping multiple days in a row.
Waking up an hour earlier has transformed my career by making me more productive and creative. If you’ve never given the early morning routine a try, it’s something worth considering. It could be the spark your career needs to get back on track.