Updated November 27, 2014

Why Rich People Wake Up Early

Feel Like You Never Have Enough Time? Here’s One Way to Get an Extra Hour Every Day

Perhaps the most common complaint is the number of hours in a day. We use it as an excuse for why we don't exercise enough (there's just never enough time) and it's also a go-to excuse for why we can't seem to get ahead in life or in work.

Become a Morning Person and Change Your Life

morning mist
morning mist © JP Lies (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr

However, it really is just an excuse. And it’s one that many successful people have completely overcome. They are the ones who do find time to hit the gym, who feel healthy and refreshed, and who get their work done. The secret to their success?

They get up early. While everyone is still snoring or hitting their snooze button, early risers are out and about. We’re not just talking about high-ranking management figures at large corporations who have to catch a plane or an early commuter train. We’re also talking about professional athletes, celebrities, and small business owners who have made a conscious choice to get a head start on a daily basis.

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Why an Early Alarm Clock Matters

According to Christoph Randler from the University of Education in Heidelberg, Germany, research has long supported the notion that early risers generally "get better grades in school, which gets them into better colleges, which then leads to better job opportunities."

The bottom line: If you’re an early riser, the morning is an opportunity waiting to be grasped and here’s why.

What Time Do Rich People Wake Up?

Max Nisen and Gus Lubin at Business Insider asked 29 CEOs what time they typically woke up, and while the responses varied — ranging from 3 a.m. to 7 a.m. — the common thread is that these top execs get up well before their competitors (and even their colleagues) to make their way into the office.

The rich and super successful say the exact moment you wake up isn’t nearly as important as what you’re doing after you wake up. It’s often about time management and making the most of every moment.

Here are some things rich people do in the morning, and why they do them.

  1. Work out. In addition to just being healthier, research has shown that a good workout or jog in the morning is a good way of preparing your body for the day and limiting your stress later in the day. Early risers who go straight to the gym find their energy there and keep on going throughout the morning.

  2. Tackle personal projects. Some of the most successful CEOs in the corporate world dedicate their early mornings to personal projects that they don’t have time for during the day. These projects make them happy, which in turn frees up their enthusiasm for the hard work that’s ahead of them during the day.

  3. Spend time with family. The traditional, sit-down, family-style dinner has become a rarity in modern culture, with many families scattered and on the run during the 5-8 p.m. timeframe. The morning has become the new time for catching up with your significant other or spending time with the kids before you go your separate ways. People who create this balance are more balanced at work, according to research.

  4. Network. One CEO described her morning as one of the only opportunities she has to really sit down and connect with people. This is a time to meet with potential clients, associates, friends from the industry you work in, or anyone else who may prove to be a valuable connection. Everyone appreciates an offer for a free coffee meet-up. Plus, you won’t feel nearly as rushed as you would making “lunch plans,” when work can potentially delay or interrupt a meeting.

  5. Read the news. “You can’t change the world if you don’t know what’s going on in it first,” and that really couldn’t be any more accurate. Put your smartphone to good use by catching up on the news in the morning. You will be in the know throughout your dealings with people during the day.

  6. Plan the day. Do you always feel rushed by the time you get to work and in a go-go-go mode? Do you have a to-do list that is never ending, with items rarely crossed off? If you get up early, you can have some time to plan out how your day will go and realistically plan what you can do. Give yourself some deadlines and timeframes (say, for example, you will spend only an hour on that project that isn’t due until next week and dedicate three hours to the one that is due tomorrow). When you can take some time to plan in advance, you’re more likely to have an effective day.

  7. Work on a high-priority project. If you’re a morning person to begin with, you’ll be at your sharpest to tackle that challenging and time-sensitive project in the a.m. The most successful people in the world sometimes wake up early to work on various high-priority projects while they’re fresh — but most importantly, when they won’t be interrupted by coworkers or employees.

  8. Email. Some have suggested that pushing email off until later in the day is more beneficial — but this one is split pretty evenly down the middle. The powers-to-be actually suggest that the best practice when it comes to email is checking it first thing in the morning — even before you have your coffee or do anything else. Skim through your inbox if it’s stuffed full, prioritizing from most important to least important. And focus on crafting any long, detailed emails over breakfast.

There are a lot of benefits to waking up early. It shouldn’t be a surprise, though, that the individuals who have the longest and most responsibility-heavy jobs (and pay grades) are the ones who often wake up earliest. Even more impressive is that they rarely take weekends off, and their days are often super-scheduled. Meaning, every moment — down to when they fall asleep at night — is carved out by a schedule. Beginning with their early rising.

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Comments about Why Rich People Wake Up Early

  • MoneyMiniBlog from Oklahoma
    on November 11, 2014 2:50 PM said:

    I am a huge fan of waking up early! I usually get up between 4:30-5:00 to write for an hour before hitting the gym to lift weights. Then I take the kids to school, lift weights and head in to work. I get more done before work than most people do in a day. I'm not special, I just choose to get up early. Great article! It's so important!

  • DPSD from New Jersey
    on January 6, 2015 1:11 PM said:

    I agree that if someone is genetically made to be a morning person, then he/she can get a lot done. But so can those who are predisposed to be night-owls... we just work at night. Why the prejudice? Most people operate this way, but many simply can't. I am one of those persons. I go to bed when this author says it's ideal to awaken. I cannot help it. I have been this way my entire life. Since the world is basically designed this way, it is horrible for me, but there is nothing I can do to change it. There are many in my boat; we are second-class citizens. My best hours are from 4 PM to 4 AM. It'll always be this way, world without end, Amen. And yes, I have tried everything. What I have is called Delayed Phase Sleep Disorder; it is a recognized disorder that unfortunately, doctors don't really know how to treat. Light/Darkness therapy and melatonin help but little.

    However, there have been famous people who were night-owls: one was a scientist named Schrodinger (with an umlaut); when he was asked to do a morning lectures series, he responded to the effect that he "didn't do mornings". I thought that was great; gave me hope. This author is very prejudiced. Who is he to say that working early is better, or that such people really get more done? No, it's just that more things are OPEN then. So, those of us who are second- class citizens must learn more creative ways to get our tasks accomplished. We really are the ones to be commended!

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