Is Waking Up Early Necessary for Productivity?

Wake Up Productivity(Estimated Reading Time: 3 min)

You’ve probably read somewhere that because some “successful” entrepreneur or creative person wakes up at 5 am, that you should too.

Yes, there are things we can learn from the routines of others, especially people we admire, but anytime someone tells you that you “should” do something, start by being skeptical before you consider what they have to say.

One of the pillars of this blog is:

What you do when you wake up is more important than when you wake up.

Focus on the what and let that decide the when.

What is something you would love to do in the morning that you aren’t currently doing? Meditation? Exercise? Journaling? Writing? Reading? Going for walk? <Fill in the blank>?

Knowing your what is important, but let’s take one more step back.

What’s your Why?

Why do you want to exercise, meditate, journal, write, read or <Fill in the blank>?

In Simon Setek’s book Start with Why, he illustrates how great leaders always start with why to drive forward their vision. Although Setek refers to businesses, this also rings true for individuals. This doesn’t have to be a grandiose ‘what’s my purpose?’ type of vision. Rather, it’s a direction we want to head.

For example:

  • I want to be healthy and weigh no more than 175 lbs because I want to look and feel good
  • I want to wake up each day and not feel rushed because I’m tired of being stressed every morning
  • I want to spend more time reflecting on thoughts and ideas I have because I enjoy the creative process
  • I want to be a better son, daughter, mother, father, friend or partner…
  • I want to run my own business one day because it’s always been a dream I’ve had

Knowing our why creates space for us to make decisions about how we can level up our lives right now.

Once you are clear on your why, you can get more clarity on your what.  Once you are clear on your what, you can get more clarity on your when.

Your result may be one that motivates you to wake up earlier, or it may not.

Personally, I developed a groin injury a few years ago that limited me from doing most physical activity, including playing the sport I love – ultimate frisbee.

I was motivated to get better so I could play again – my WHY.

In order to play again, it was clear that physiotherapy was necessary – my WHAT.

I tried to do physio in the evenings, but I’d often be busy or tired which meant it didn’t happen every day. My original WHEN was in the evening, but that wasn’t working for me, so I tried a new WHEN – in the mornings. It worked and was the reason I first started to push earlier the time I woke up at.

Why leads to what leads to when

Often, we start with what, but forget to track back to the why. It’s important to be clear on all three components and be willing to experiment with the when.

Of course, there are clear benefits to waking up early – more time, quiet, a rested mind that hasn’t reached decision fatigue, and a sense of accomplishment early in the day. As I converted to being a morning person over the past 6 years, I have gradually become more and more of an early bird. The benefits of waking up early have been transformational for me.

But, that may not be best for you if your when works better at a different time of the day. You don’t NEED to wake up early to be productive. You’ll fare better if you get clear on your why and act with intention on your what and when.

Maybe that will make you an early bird, or maybe it won’t.

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