The 4AM club
Waking up early can bolster your personal productivity as well as your general state of mind and health. Here’s how to get an early start.
the evidence is in: The early bird does catch the worm. A number of recent studies have confirmed that waking up earlier can have a profound impact on everything from career achievements to your waistline.
Early risers are more proactive. German research showed that people who like to wake up early are more inclined to anticipate problems, and try to minimise them, than night owls. They are also more likely to set long-term goals for themselves.
A 2012 study published in the American Psychological Association’s journal Emotion, found that those who go to bed earlier are generally happier and healthier than those who stay up late. The study also found that morning people are more determined, agreeable, conscientious, and cooperative.
Another study, published in 2010, also linked a preference for “evening activity” with greater rates of depression.
A 2014 study by the University of London showed that evening people tended to drink and smoke more, and reported higher stress levels.
Scientists at Northwestern University also found that earlier risers generally have fewer problems with their weight than those who go to bed later (who have ample time to raid their fridges).
A study by DePaul University in Chicago showed that evening people are far more likely to be procrastinators.
Many of the world’s top business people get a very early start to the day: Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz (4:30AM), GE CEO Jeff Immelt (5:30AM), PIMCO co-founder Bill Gross (4:30AM), Virgin founder Richard Branson (5:45AM), PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi (4:00AM), Apple CEO Tim Cook (4:30AM) and Disney CEO Bob Iger (4:30AM).
They know that waking up early can have a transformative impact on your time management and personal productivity.
It allows you to work without being disturbed (no-one is around to email or call you, or divert your attention with small talk or a funny video on Facebook), and you can get a lot of meaningful work done while you are still fresh and focused.
It also gives you the time to properly plan your day, and make sure that you know exactly what you want to take care of, says Stephen Beukes, a life coach and early riser in Cape Town. He gets up at 4AM every day – a habit he picked up from life at boarding school. He uses the time to exercise, draw up a plan and agenda for the day and see clients before they start their working day.
But getting up earlier won’t come naturally for at least half of the population between the ages of 30 and 50. The world is divided between two so-called chronotypes: those who prefer evenings, and those who like mornings. This will change over your lifetime: Most teenagers and younger people prefer the night time, but by the time you are in your fifties, most people will start to pivot towards mornings. While your chronotype is partly determined by genetics, it is believed that the majority of people can be trained to become morning types.
Here’s how to become more productive in the mornings:
Do it gradually. Don’t suddenly set your alarm clock two hours earlier and expect
Stephen Beukes Life coach and early riser