A long time ago, I discovered that waking up early was the best way to start my day. By early, I used to mean 5:00am. But lately I’ve taken to extreme early rising: getting up at 3:45am. Apparently, I’m not alone in this realization, as there are many stories about Tim Cook, Jeff Bezos, and many others that believe in welcoming the sun. In fact, my favorite haunt at this hour is Orangetheory Fitness—this place is packed full of extreme early risers.
Why? It’s a very productive time with the ability to determine my priorities before someone or something dictates them for me. I can own my day.
Everybody needs personal time like this, but not everyone sees the need for this to occur so early in the morning.
Here are five reasons why extreme early rising can be beneficial for you.
It improves and optimizes your performance
With email, texting, and social media, we can constantly be in touch with work and people. Technology has created efficiency in our lives, and our tendency is to take that time and pack even more into our calendars to try to make ourselves more efficient, too.
But we’re not machines. Studies have shown that multitasking hurts our performance. When we complete a task, our brain gets a hit of dopamine, the feel-good hormone. That’s what keeps us coming back for more. However, our brains are wired to do one thing at a time, and constant multitasking lowers the IQ we can apply to any given task.
Empty space is hard to come by during the work day when you’re going from one meeting to the next. Somewhere in there you might have 30-60 unscheduled minutes, but your head is too crowded with metrics and scheduling and operational issues to do any kind of creative problem solving.
Extreme early rising allows you to focus on what’s important or anything that’s been waiting for an interruption-free chunk of time, and complete those tasks effectively.
It provides no distractions
When you’re up early, your living space is quiet and it’s pitch black outside. Outside, the air is fresh and crisp, and the scene is peaceful and serene.
Extreme early rising provides the opportunity to be alone and disconnected from everyone else. This morning tranquility generates a level of physical and mental quietness that provides clarity and no distractions. With this freedom, you have the unrestricted space to get an early start on whatever you want to do, whether it be work-related or a personal activity.
It provides more time
Extreme early risers are one step ahead of the crowd: calm and collected when everyone else is rushing. Stressing out, scrambling to prepare for work, or arriving to work late—these negative feelings aren’t applicable when one is up that early.
Rushing through your day creates unnecessary inefficiencies and the likelihood of being sloppy. Being up before everyone else gives you time for planning, strategic thinking, and getting organized.
It unleashes your creativity
Extreme early rising shouldn’t just be about getting a jump on everyone else. It’s also about unleashing your creativity.
This morning time allows you to think through tough decisions in a more thoughtful manner, considering all the dependencies and consequences rather than just routinely completing tasks and moving on to the next. Your brain has the capacity to process more complicated problems and see around corners, if only you give it some quiet time.
With nobody to interrupt you to make a claim on your time or attention, your mind can roam free. This is when some of your best ideas can come into fruition.
It allows you to invest in yourself
Yes, being an extreme early riser requires going to bed early, around 10:00pm. It does create somewhat of a scarcity in your day, but that forces a rigor and discipline in your life. If you want to be better than everybody else, you have to be different than everybody else.
The goal is not to fill morning time with mundane tasks, it’s about focusing on yourself. When you’re up that early, you have the opportunity to do things that enable continued learning and growth, and it doesn’t have to revolve around work. You could spend time cooking yourself a healthy breakfast. Perhaps there’s a local gym you’ve been meaning to join and start a regimen. Or maybe there’s a critically acclaimed book that’s waiting for you to open and dive into.
Whatever your goals are, you have to make the time to invest in yourself, and this is the time.
In a nutshell…
I’ve recommended extreme early rising to many colleagues and a few have tried it. Since I’m the boss, I’ve had to make sure everyone knows just because I’m up at that hour doesn’t mean I expect others to be up working, too. I understand this isn’t for everyone.
However, I’ve come to realize that the magic is in the early morning. When the day is quiet, our minds are naturally clear, and our tendency is to focus inward. If you embrace extreme early rising, the benefits are significant. At 3:45am, your guard is down. You can be less easily distracted. You can break through logjams and receive flashes of insight. You can focus on what’s best for you.
Use this opportunity to be most in tune with yourself, so own your day.
Kurt Bilafer is Chief Revenue Officer of WePay, a company that helps online platforms provide integrated payments processing without friction or fraud. He has more than 20 years of experience in Sales, Marketing and Business Strategy. He has also served as Global Vice President of Sales at SAP.
More Info: www.forbes.com