Open Thread: Do You Get Up Early to Boost Your Productivity?


Jim Citrin asked 20 CEOs and top executives about their morning routine [via Lifehacker] and 17 replied. Jim found that many of the respondents practiced certain habits like getting started early, immediately running through email, exercising every morning, and using the morning for problem solving. Wendy Boswell of Lifehacker confirms the productivity boost of getting up early: she’s been rising at 5 am every workday for the past month and says she’s “never accomplished more.” offers five tips for starting your morning at 5:00 am so you can capture some of this CEO-like productivity. My favorite is “scrap the snooze.” Once you’ve given yourself the okay to sleep just a little bit more, you’re likely to do it again and again until you absolutely must get up… when it’s already too late to spend time on special projects that always seem to get put off in the daytime rush.

Another good one is “get into a routine.” If you train yourself to get up each and every morning at 5:00 am (or whatever time you’ve chosen), you’ll stop negotiating with yourself over it. Sounds like those top executives make it a habit to get up early every day rather than making early wakeup an occasional event.

All of this is fine for the early birds among us, but what about night owls? If your best time of day to work is in the afternoon or evening, it doesn’t make much sense to set the alarm for the dark hours of the morning. It’s probably better in that case to stay up late then catch up on your sleep the next day.

What about you? Do you get up early regularly so you can get work done? On occasion, if you have an important project? Or are you a night owl?


Vadim Schetinkin

When I need to get done more I use to get up earlier about 1/2 hour. I can say I am quite productive at this time. Usually I use this additional time to develop my favorite software TaoNotes (Windows based note-taking application), to read email, some news, to save changes and write them to flash disk before I’ll go to the work. But I NOT RECOMMEND to do it on PERMANENT BASIS! It could be very exhaustive and shift your health down!!!

To Anne personally: if you’re interested in I could assist you in writing an article about my software… it’s GTD related… Thank you.

Vadim Schetinkin


Usually, the only time I would be up at 6 or 7am, is if I’m still awake from the previous night. I work more with people in Asia right now, than I do with people in the US, so that might explain it partly … though in general, I really find the night time to be very peaceful.

Also, I think I’m pretty lucky in that I don’t have any boss or ‘clients’ who expect me to be available for them at odd hours (like 10am or so!).


Look at the time of my post….

Problem is that I burn that candle on both ends, up around 7:30 on most weekdays and up till between 2 and 3 AM. Weekends I sleep even later, normally till 12, probably to make up for the lost sleep during the week. Productivity? Who can be productive with e-mail, IM and phone calls blaring during all hours of the day. The only time I get anything done is between 9PM and Midnight and I’m usually not happy that I’m working still…….

Sandi Bird

I am definitely a night owl. Don’t most normal people go to bed at 6 or 7 AM? I usually get more done when other people aren’t around. Checking e-mails, project planning, and writing are much easier for me then, and I find that I’m less distracted that way. I tried switching my routine to an “early bird” routine, but no matter how hard I try to train myself to go to bed at what others deem a normal hour, I always find things that just “have” to be done before going to bed! (Even though the couple times I’ve managed to switch myself around, I enjoyed it.) Are there any “reformed” night owls out there that could give suggestions? Oh, BTW, one of the companies for which I work requires me to be on call 24 hours a day several days a week, with frequent night-time calls. Is it possible to get into a routine of part-time early bird and part-time night owl?


My schedule is built around the project(s) and things to be done.
Therefore, it’s not some routine in stone, and sometimes it’s 48 hours with sleep deprivation, and other time it’s a long time dreamland.

The routine schedule could potentially kill creativity.
The most interesting things happen to be unplanned sometime.
If you’re on the verge of good and important discovery/findings, and the routine dictates you to go off your rails, you can miss a lot in terms of productivity and opportunity.

The assumption is that you’re never lazy if you love what you’re doing.

It could be 2-3 days with total sleep deprivation, and, still you’re excited and not even tired too much. Some days, you steep in slumber for 10 and more hours.

Why not? Why should be universal generic recommendations for everybody?

Tim Peter

I used to a be a night owl in my younger days, though I find I crash around 11:00 every night now. I’m up at 6:45 every day with or without the alarm. Getting out of bed, however, seems to be the biggest challenge from my perspective, regardless of when I wake – particularly weeks like this one when it’s 4° F in the morning.


Aided by difficulty in falling asleep with noise or ambient lighting around (and hence a whole long summer of being under-slept and grumpy year after year), I always wake up early. In college, I woke up at 4am and worked/ studied only in the mornings leaving the day free to do extra-curricular stuff after lectures and lab. At b-school, the routine suffered through group work with owls but I still woke with the larks and filled cross-words etc at breakfast. I read cases in the morning and never went to classes without a shower.. yes some of us are just great like that ;-)

Now-a-days, alternate days training and working on the draft of the PhD thesis in a neighbourhood Starbucks mean an early start to the day. I check email and write my blog while cooking breakfast, before leaving home.

A routine to look forward to is a great aid; not drinking caffeine or exercising late in the day helps a good night’s sleep too and on most days, I do not need an alarm.

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Elliott Pesut

It’s true! I have been waking up around 5 or 530 for the better part of two years and I have never been more productive. It is a wonderful way to begin the day–instead of jumping right in you have a chance to review, reflect and readjust for things before they happen. That way I am able to perform in a more proactive way (instead of reactive)–it allows me to be more effective. Plus, it’s the best time of day to get through all the GREAT GIGAOM network feeds :) I love this blog and the entire GigaOm team! Keep up the great work!!!!!

Jason Coleman

Ooh, forgot to mention that I usually wake up “naturally”, that is without the use of an alarm clock. It’s a great feeling, and I’d miss it if I went back to a 6-hour night.

Jason Coleman

Back when I was working for “The Man”, I’d usually get about 6 hours of sleep during the week (1am-7am). Now that I’m working at home I’m getting a good 8 hours (1am-9am) or more. Do I miss that 10 hours a week? Maybe.

I do feel a lot better, but it’s hard to say how much of that is due to the extra sleep and how much is do to the other great benefits of working from home (eating better, doing what I want to do). I remember a lot of sleep-deprived college months though where I would get ornery and stressed out. Sleep is important.

Maybe I’ll do a little 8hours vs. 6hours test and see which way I feel better. And like everything else, I’ll blog about it.

Ryan Stewart

For me, it’s all about the late nights. Since I’m on pacific time, if I wake up at 5:00, things are just getting rolling on the east coast and I’m more likely to be distracted by email, IMs and blogs. I like the 4:00 in the morning, wake up at 10:00ish bit. Much more productive that way.


I get up at 4:30 a.m. every day, and love it. I just started waking up early last year (see How I Became an Early Riser) and it’s been a boost for me. I’m now incorporating a morning routine (My Morning Routine), and instead of using this quiet, peaceful time to get more work done, I use it to exercise, plan my day, and work on my goals.

If you start getting up early, don’t use it to do more work! You probably already do more than enough. Use it to achieve your dreams.


I am absolutely a morning person. Once I can make the leg swing and put foot to carpet, I’m golden. Getting up pre-kids, pre-noise, pre-newspaper even, and hitting email, self-study ambitions, or an early run with no one around but the birds, is fabulous. It puts my mind at ease and really gets me off to a wonderful start. OK, what time ? Usually no later than 5am, but with a recent personal self-study project, it’s been 4 am on occasion. This allows 1-2 hrs of quiet solo bliss !


I’m definitely a morning person, but because my real office is on East Coast time and I’m on Mountain time I don’t get the bang for my early buck like I used to. I get up every morning at 5:20 and I’m in the office by 6:00 a.m. my time, but because that’s 8:00 their time, they’re already there and ready to bother me by then. The trade off is that I’m clocking out at about 3:00 my time, just as the kids come home from school, so that gives me a nice afternoon with them baking cookies and riding bikes and whatnot. But I do miss having that early-early time being really isolated and extra for my work day. Ah, well.

Mike Gunderloy

Another early bird here. I’ve always been a morning person – these days that means 5 or 6 AM, sometimes earlier if one of the kids is feeling fussy. With their computers in my office, I can get productive time in even when they’re awake early. The flip side is I’m no good for night life; midnight is as late as I can reasonably push it.

One key to productive mornings for me is to have a routine (email, blogs, web site updates) that carries me through the first couple of hours; I can do that on autopilot even when I’m too tired to make a lot of decisions. Then when other people are waking up, I am too, and I’ve already gotten a lot of work out of the way.

Of course, if I’m so smart, why aren’t I rich…?

Judi Sohn

Oh yeah, I burn it at both ends, staying up later than everyone else and getting up earlier, trying to take advantage of those quiet hours. I set my alarm clock for 6 am. My kids’ clock is set for 7 am. I love that hour. I work for the hour, get the kids put together and out the door to the bus, and then hop in the shower and get ready for the day once they’re gone.


It’s really hard for me to get up early, but I agree, every time I do I get a lot more done.

Part of it is because when I’m up early, I’m a little miffed that I’m not sleeping. So I want to make that time count.

Another reason is the rest of the world is still asleep and getting going. That means less distractions and I can operate solo.


During the week I’m awake and out of bed at 5:00 am so I can get ready for my regular day job… I don’t like it.
However, on my days off I still choose to wake up at 5:00 am. I can get a lot more done (stuff I want to do and enjoy doing) early in the morning. Of course, this part of the day is also happens to be before my son, and wife wake up.



I dream of being a morning person. I never have been but wish I could get up a 6:30 like other people and be productive. I just don’t know if I have it in me.


I have a two year old boy who takes care of making sure I’m awake at 6am but I’ve yet to transform that into productive work though. Usually I just go back to bed with him and let my wife wake me up again around 9am.

I’ve never considered myself a morning person, but I can sense that this is changing. Slowly and naturally so that’s fine. It’s been 4 years since I used an alarm clock by the way.. it’s great, I’ve always hated those.

Joey Parsons

I wake up around 6:30AM after going to bed around 11PM. I always make sure to eat a pretty hefty breakfast–helps the metabolism during the day–and run a few miles every other day. The time I spend running helps me sort through everything in my head that I need to take care of during the day and helps with creativity at times.

Definitely works well for me…

Caleb Elston

I normally wake up at 6am. I find it easier to write and get the work from the day before completed. I then get a light breakfast and relax for about an hour. This routine works really well for me. I tend to go to bed at 11pm.


tried the 8:45AM wake-up (which was early for me), but going to bed at 4AM means waking up at 10AM is the best I can do. productivity seems to get a boost in the late late night or early early morning because that’s when there’re no blogs being updated, less news, and people you normally chat with during the day are all asleep.

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