I’m sure you’ve seen some of the many articles about all the successful people who wake up at 4 AM. I’ve seen them too and they bother me. Primarily because for the last six months, I’ve dragged myself out of bed at 4 AM every weekday and it hasn’t magically transformed my career into Tim Cook’s.
Changing my working hours didn’t supercharge my productivity, but it did teach me all the pitfalls of an early wake-up time. Before you commit to reconfiguring your schedule to match a business trend that’s not actually a one-size-fits-all solution, here’s what you should know.
Why People Choose to Wake Up So Early
When these articles started circulating right before New Year’s, I saw a lot of people posting about how they intended to set their alarms earlier this year to get more out of their days. It’s not a bad resolution. Laura Vanderkam, author of What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, says most people enjoy increased discipline, energy, and focus in the morning.
But the successful people cited in this genre of articles aren’t getting up at 4 AM to write their novels or work on their passion projects. Most are CEOs or high-ranking executives with incredible demands on their time. Some are getting up early to work without interruption or to align their schedules with associates working in different time zones. Others are rising early to exercise and spend additional time with their families because they know that if they don’t prioritize their personal lives, they won’t get to enjoy them at all.
The problem is that some of these articles seem to imply that what works for a small sampling of people will serve everyone. Some people are morning people or billionaires with empires to run, and some—like me—have jobs that require unorthodox start times. There’s nothing wrong with starting your mornings early, just make sure you’re doing it for a good reason.
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