Rising early will help your productivity

May 3, 2013 

When it comes to business success, morning people hold the important cards. The challenge for business leaders is to bring out the best from their night owls.

~ Christopher Randler

There are many advantages of starting your day early that relate to productivity and health. Getting up early, however, is not for everyone so please do not think that I think so.

I should share that I normally wake up at 5 a.m., and the only time I ever have to use an alarm clock is when I have to catch an early flight that requires me to get up at 4 or 4:30 in the morning. Many would consider 5 a.m. pretty early, but I am convinced getting up early is one factor that will contribute to your and your business' success.

A few years ago, a study by the University of Texas found a correlation between grade point averages and early rising. For the purposes of the study, the students were asked to identify themselves as "morning risers" or "night owls." The self-declared "morning risers" had a 3.5 point average as compared to 2.5 for the "night owls."

The results of this study are intriguing; however, as with most statistical analysis, it cannot tell us why this is happening, only that there is a correlation.

Long before this study -- many centuries ago when I was an engineering student at Georgia Tech -- I actually observed a similar effect among my fraternity brothers. Those who were early risers seemed to do much better than those who stayed up late on a regular basis.

Another study by Christopher Randler, a biology professor at the University

of Education at Heidelberg, showed that morning people are more apt to recognize problems and respond much more quickly than night owls. This reason alone backs up my point as the ability to anticipate and resolve problems is critical to any business.

Many early risers use the time first thing in the morning to get organized and plan out their day. Planning in advance rather than reacting to events as they unfold is also important to success.

Many successful people I know get up and head to the gym or run before their family is even awake. They use this time to nourish their body with exercise, and the results are more energy and better sleep.

Of course, I recognize this may not be for everyone, but for those night owls who want to become morning risers, there are a few things you can do to help yourself through the transition.

First, set an exact bedtime but realize that you probably do not want to try to change it by more than 30 minutes a week. This needs to be a gradual change, so move slowly.

Second, when you wake up, get out of bed immediately and do not hit the snooze button. You are trying to change your body's biorhythm, so the best thing you can do to help the new pattern take root is to just get up and start going through your morning routine.

Finally, sunlight really helps, so leave the curtains open and allow the light to wake you up.

If you are a night owl and want to improve your productivity, commit to these steps to change your circadian rhythm.

This cannot be done overnight -- it will probably take months to become an early riser -- but keep working on it.

Jerry Osteryoung, the Jim Moran Professor of Entrepreneurship (Emeritus) and Professor of Finance (Emeritus) at Florida State University, can be reached at jerry.osteryoung@gmail.com.

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