Simple shortcuts to business success #4: Get up earlier (as opposed to early)


I’m sure you’ve read those articles sharing the morning habits of successful people and it seems they all get up at 5am each day and do heaps of useful stuff before the rest of the world emerges from their beds.

But I’m not here today to tell you it’s time to start setting the alarm for 5am. No, I’m here to make the distinction between getting up early, and getting up earlier than you have to.

Many people I know roll out of bed at a time that gives them just enough time to jump in the shower, get ready for the day, and head out the door to catch their bus or jump in the car. This means they start each and every day in a pressured fashion. If one tiny contingency presents itself:

  • Their cat’s thrown up in the kitchen
  • They discover they have no ironed shirts available to wear
  • They space out for a minute too long in the shower

Then suddenly their morning goes from rushed to frantic in a heartbeat.

What experience has taught me is this: if your morning is rushed and frantic, so too will the rest of your day pan out that way. Being rushed activates the stress hormone cortisol and puts us in flight or fight mode all the time. What does this do to our bodies and our minds? Well studies have shown consistently elevated cortisol levels can trigger:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Digestive problems
  • Headaches
  • Heart disease
  • Sleep problems
  • Weight gain
  • Memory and concentration impairment

Not ideal!

Which brings me to the concept of getting up earlier (as opposed to early)

You will be amazed what kind of difference setting your alarm for as little as 15 minutes earlier can have on your life. Instead of having to tear yourself begrudgingly out of bed and throw yourself straight into the shower each morning, you can now emerge sleepily from bed, wander into your kitchen and flick through the paper or scroll through Instagram for 5-10 minutes before heading to the shower. 

If you get up 30 minutes earlier than you have to, you can now wander into the kitchen, make yourself a cuppa and something to eat … and ingest those while reading the paper or scrolling through Facebook before heading to the shower.

This whole ‘getting up earlier’ thing has two effects:

  1. If you do have to deal with a contingency, you now have the capacity to do so without sending your blood pressure into the stratosphere.
  2. When you leave the house, you feel ready to take on the day rather than being thrown unceremoniously into the day.

How is this a shortcut to business success?

First of all, it makes you a nicer person. People like doing business with people, and they particularly like doing business with people they like. It’s hard to be your best self if you’re starting every day feeling frantic.

Second of all, it makes you a clearer thinker. When you’re thinking clearly you’re making better decisions, and are able to solve problems more creatively and effectively.

So if you’re not a morning person, how do you find your way to getting up earlier?

  1. The first thing you need to understand is that not even the most committed morning people jump out of bed when their alarms go off singing ‘Woo hoo! Let’s do this.’ No one really likes getting out of a nice warm bed in the morning. So don’t be thinking that because you’re not jumping out of bed with glee that this whole ‘getting up earlier’ thing isn’t working for you.
  2. Start small. Don’t try to suddenly become someone that wakes up at 5am each day and meditates, journals and exercises before starting their day. As I mentioned before, as little as 15 minutes earlier can make a huge difference to your day. Start with that and as it becomes habit and as you start to enjoy the positive effects of it, then extend it out longer.

And that’s it. Easy right? I have a whole bunch of ideas for getting better quality sleep during the night, but that the topic for another post and another day 🙂

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