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Why getting up at 5 am is not going to make you a productivity powerhouse.

The 5 am Fallacy

Why getting up at 5 am is not going to make you a productivity powerhouse.

Don’t get me wrong; there are a lot of benefits to getting up while everyone else is asleep and getting stuck into your task list.

Yes, many very successful people do get up at 5 am or even earlier.

Question: Does waking up at 5 am make them successful? Or is it a result of a high-performing lifestyle that benefits from waking early?

Yet, those successful people who DO get up at 5 am aren’t just getting up at 5 am…


Getting up at 5 am is just one part of a complex and life-altering productivity regime.

Take Tim Cook.

He gets up at 3:45 am EVERY DAY… But…

He also goes to bed at 8:45 pm.

He has a full routine that he tries to stick to every day. And like all successful people, his routine is based on what works for HIM. What activities suit his energy levels at a particular time of day. Getting up at 3:45 am is a result of working out his routine based on what works for him.

If you don’t have a routine. If you don’t currently optimise your time. If you are not motivated and disciplined enough to make the most out of your time already — waking up at 5 am (or even 3:45 am) isn’t going to change that.

All you will achieve is gaining an additional hour to procrastinate and waste. And fall asleep halfway through an important meeting!

For Tim Cook, it is about scheduling his day around what works for him. It also means that he is very protective of his time. Are you?

So, should you get up at 5 am?


Does it suit your lifestyle?

Your kids?

You family?

Your work — including time zones you might work across?

Your role and ability to maintain your schedule?

What are you going to do with that time? (Are you really?)

Super successful people get up early. Very early — this doesn’t make them a productivity powerhouse; it is the solution to a problem.

It serves a purpose for them — it is a requirement.

So, what should you do IF you decide to get up at 5 am?

Maybe you are thinking, I hear you; I still want to do it.


You can’t just wake up tomorrow morning and be a superhuman productivity machine.

Where are you going to work | exercise | think | plan?

Organise your space the day before. Make sure you have everything ready before you head off to bed— any distraction will only serve as an excuse to simply waste more time.

Make sure your space isn’t going to wake the rest of the family!


Get to bed early — if you regularly go to bed late, you might struggle to get off to sleep, especially if you are thinking about getting up early!

What are you going to do?

This is the big question. What are you going to do with this time? Don’t wake up and decide what you might do based on how you are feeling. You have to have a plan.

Maybe you want to exercise?

Maybe you want to clean out your emails?

One thing you should do, regardless of what time you chose to wake up, is review your calendar for the day.

Check your meetings — do you need to be in each one? Does each one need to happen? What do you need from each meeting? What outcome do you need? What do you need to do to ensure you get your desired outcome?

Plan how you need each meeting to go, understand what might go wrong, and what you are going to do to ensure you still get your outcome.

What do you need to achieve by the end of the day? What needs to happen to ensure you get that outcome? What time do you need to set aside? What external support do you need?

Having a successful day doesn’t happen by accident.

If you are already struggling with time, then small baby steps are a better way to go.

  1. Put aside some time on the weekend to review your week ahead.

  2. Reduce your meetings -- ask yourself if you need to be in each one.

  3. Does every meeting need to happen?

  4. Make sure you have breaks between your meetings to take notes, follow up and prepare for your next meeting.

  5. Start blocking out time to complete your tasks AND defend these times.

  6. Say No more.

  7. Spend time each day to review what went well and what didn't. What can you change to make tomorrow better?

  8. Spend time planning the day and week

This is the list that I go through with my clients, and on average, it returns 10 to 15 hours a week. That is before changing their existing schedule.

To be truly productive, your day needs to be planned around you. Your energy levels and what tasks you perform best during those times.

What productivity tips do you have, or could you use before making BIG changes in your routine?

Are you being as effective as you could be now?

Is getting up early going to fix that?

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