7 habits to help get your butt out of bed

Red alarm clock on a white background.Running a business can take its toll on your time. The constant juggling of priorities can leave you deflated at the end of the day, wondering what the heck you actually accomplished?

There is a way for you to have time just for you: no interruptions or distractions. It’s called getting up early.

According to a recent article in The Guardian, most top executives set their alarms somewhere between 5 and 6 am. These three incredibly successful women take that a step further and get up at 4:30 am:

  • Michelle Gaas, Starbuck’s President
  • Gweneth Paltrow, Actress
  • Michelle Obama, First Lady

The simple truth is this: Rising early means fewer distractions. Fewer distractions increases focus. Increased focus equals higher productivity. Tweet that!

So what is a night owl who gets up at 8:00 am to do?

Here are 7 habits to help you wake up and stay up early.

1.  Go cold turkey. Don’t expect to ease yourself into waking up early by taking it slow. Commit to waking up early and just do it.

2. Work backwards. How much uninterrupted time do you need? If it’s 2 hours and you usually get up at 7:00 then set your alarm for 5:00 am.

3.  Get enough sleep. Getting up early doesn’t mean you carve 2 or 3 hours off of your sleep time … that would be counterproductive. If you commit to rising early, you have to go to bed earlier.

4.  If you snooze you lose. The snooze button makes it too easy to cheat. A good trick is to place your alarm across the room and set it to a volume that is sure to rouse you from sleep.

5. Get moving. As soon as you wake up, get up … and stay up. It’s too easy to find the quickest route back to your bed. Turn off the alarm and go straight to into the washroom. Splash some cold water on your face, do some stretching and the next thing you know, your brain turns on and you’re ready to go.

6. Set a goal. Ask yourself, “Why do I want to get up early?” Is it to catch up on reading, exercise, write your blog? Whatever the reason, make it your goal and your motivation for getting up early.

7.  Plan it out. It’s so much easier to get started in the morning if all your tools are ready and waiting, so plan and prepare the night before. Let’s say you want to exercise in the morning. Lay out your clothes so there’s no wasted time searching for your sneakers.

There is no doubt, waking up early will be hard at first. But anything worth doing is hard. I leave you with these wise words from Michelle Obama in an interview with O Magazine:

“I just started thinking, if I had to get up to go to work, I’d get up and go to work. If I had to get up to take care of my kids, I’d get up to do that. But when it comes to yourself, then it’s suddenly, ‘Oh, I can’t get up at 4:30.’ So I had to change that.”

You can change too.

Now it’s your turn.

What time do you get up? When you wake up do you leap out of bed immediately? What time are you typically at your desk? Share your insights below and let’s continue the conversation.


  1. I’m actually dealing with this now, Valeri! I used to be an early riser. For a long time I got up at 3:30am and I loved it. But then a long bout of insomnia got me off track. I’ve tried going back to my regular schedule, but it’s really challenging when I’m not able to fall asleep at night. I tried Melatonin, but using it too frequently makes me foggy the next day. Now I’m so turned around I’ve been staying up until 3! How do I go cold turkey when I’m so far off my game? Plus…I think I’m struggling a bit with the “why” because I can be really productive during the wee hours after everyone’s gone to bed. I would like to get back on an early schedule, though. Help!

    • Great question, Pepper. In your case, going cold turkey will be a challenge. To be productive, you need a good night’s sleep, which for most is 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Because your sleeping schedule is out of sync with your family, I’d suggest easing into your early morning rising time. This will help to gently reset your internal clock. Think about what time you would ideally like to get up and work back from there. If you would prefer to be up a couple of hours before everyone else has risen, then count back 7 hours from there and that’s your “new” bedtime. Like you, I used to feel like I was more productive at night. But when I tracked what I actually got done in the evening I was surprised to see that I was busy, but not necessarily productive. Try keeping a work journal for a week and write down what you’ve accomplished and note the time. If you still see the evening is your most productive time and you’re happy with it, then so be it. But if you really want to move to an early morning routine, move your alarm back in 15 – 30 minute increments until you reach your desired rising time. In your case, because of your sleep challenges, ensure that you stick to your “new” bedtime. Stay away from anything with a screen 30 – 60 minutes before you go to sleep. Digital screens actually stimulate our brains and make it difficult to get to sleep. I always read a book (with paper pages) to help me relax my brain. Let me know how this works for you!

      • Thanks Valeri! I think I’m slowly coming around. It’s helping to stay away from digital screens. It also helped to set an appointment early so I was forced to get up earlier and shift my schedule a bit. I like the idea of keeping tabs on exactly how productive I am at night vs. during the day. I’m going to look more closely at that. I appreciate all your great advice. I’ll keep working on being consistent with it.

Join the Conversation