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January 1, 2016 // 8:30 AM

The One Habit to Develop Above All Others in the New Year

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I hate waking up. All my life I’ve been able to stay up late and sleep until noon -- no problem. It was a habit I fell in love with because working or studying until 3 a.m. made me feel productive.

Today, there are more goals keeping us up late than ever before, whether it’s work, relationships, or side projects. I see more friends tweeting at 2 a.m. than I do at 7 a.m.

However, I’m constantly reading about the success of early birds. There are hundreds of blogs referencing studies that scream getting up early is the right thing to do … but to me, working late and sleeping in is just, well, easier.

Have you read those blog posts but still struggle to get up early like me? I’m here to tell you it’s time to commit to waking up early. Being an early bird is hard but studies show the benefits outweigh the struggle.

Let me tell you why.

Early birds are more productive.

Did you know that there’s a best time of day for your brain? As it turn out, mornings are when our brains are firing on all cylinders and we can reach max productivity. And if you identify your most difficult task and tackle it in the morning you’re more likely to get it done, according to LifeHacker. 

So go ahead and swallow that frog -- just make sure it’s one of the first things you do.

Early birds crush it at work.

There’s also some evidence that early risers are just flat out better at their jobs. Laura Vanderkam, author of What The Most Successful People Do For Breakfast, studied dozens of people and found that the ones experiencing the most career success were committed to an early-morning routine.

Early birds have more time in the day.

By getting up early, you gift yourself more time in the day to accomplish those important goals. Chris Winfield refers to these morning hours as “extra time.” These are the hours you would have spent sleeping, but can now use to be productive. You just juiced more value out of your 24 hours.

Early birds are happier.

While there are some theories that night owls have more fun, a multitude of studies say early birds are in fact happier. According to Psychology Today, one study found that early birds are generally happier because they were able to get more done in a given day than their night owl counterparts.

And we’ve learned that being happier also results in being more productive. According to a study from the Social Market Foundation and the University of Warwick’s Centre for Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy, happy employees were an average of 12% more productive than less-happy employees. That’s a virtuous cycle we can all get behind.

Early birds set better goals.

A study from biologist Christoph Randler found that early birds are better at setting long-term goals. He surveyed 367 students and discovered early risers agreed more with the phrase “I spend time identifying long-range goals for myself” and “I feel in charge of making things happen” than late risers.

Early birds are more persistent and agreeable.

Another study from Randler found that early risers are more persistent, cooperative, agreeable, and proactive than people that stay up late. And these traits can help you get more done when you’re working because you’re less likely to give up on a task and more likely to ask for help and assistance when you’re stumped.

With all this data in mind, making the case for becoming an early bird is easy. But actually getting up earlier every day? That’s a more difficult task.

Remembering that forming a habit takes an average of 66 days, I challenge you to set your alarm for an hour earlier for the next two months. Rearranging your waking schedule will likely improve your day-to-day in a multitude of ways.

Any other questions? Shoot me a note. I normally check my email around 6 a.m.

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