Why Successful People Get Up Early

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Why Successful People Get Up Early

Words by Mr Jamie Millar

31 October 2016

Follow the lead of many a prominent figure from Mr Mark Wahlberg to Mr Tim Cook and set your alarm in the early hours for a more productive day.

To celebrate the launch of The Art of the Everyday, our new capsule collection with COS, we at MR PORTER decided to muse upon a few simple quotidian habits that can vastly improve the quality of a man’s life. Below, early riser and Men’s Health contributing editor Mr Jamie Millar explains why every man should aim to wake up at dawn as much as possible.

They say that the early bird catches the worm. To which most of us reply, “Just 10 more minutes…” But it turns out that by snoozing, we really are losing out on a host of benefits that those high-achieving people – at whose boundless productivity we marvel – are busy reaping.

It’s at this point that you insist that you’re not a “morning person”. It’s even possible that you’re genetically predisposed to night-owl-ness. But it’s also possible – likely even – that any individual with a vampire-like aversion to dawn is also coming home late each night, bodily exhausted, before collapsing into bed, a broken man. That’s no good. While it might sound counterintuitive, moving your alarm forward can actually stop this vicious cycle, eliciting a profound shift in how you feel physiologically and psychologically. By front-loading your day, you’ll have more time left at the end for socialising with friends and family. (Remember them?). If you need any further convincing, scroll down for three reasons that an early start is the right start.


“Carpe diem” is no mere idle platitude: seizing the day really does make you feel like you’ve got things in hand. Biologist Mr Christoph Randler has discovered that early birds are generally more proactive and less reactive, associating themselves with statements such as “I feel in charge of making things happen”. That’s partly because they can spend time strategising, which makes them more successful in the long run. Plus they can pre-empt problems instead of feeling like they’re just constantly firefighting – and burning out. Apple CEO Mr Tim Cook does an hour of e-mails when he first awakes at the ungodly hour of 3.45am, hitting send to his slumbering underlings before hitting the gym.


Getting up early gives you time for exercise, which in turn increases your energy for doing other things and reduces your stress about getting them done. Actor, producer and entrepreneur Mr Mark Wahlberg, who recently graced the cover of both the UK and US editions of Men’s Health magazine, rises at 3.30am every day to train. (A tad excessive, perhaps, but then he also squeezes in a round of golf.) Mr Jack Dorsey, multitasking CEO of Twitter and Square, stirs at 5.00am to meditate and work out (not at the same time, mind). While you might think you’re losing sleep by setting the alarm earlier, physical activity improves the quality of your shuteye, as does synching your body clock to dawn and dusk. To 3.30am, not so much.


Early morning is a golden time before the e-mails and meetings start (unless you work for Mr Tim Cook). According to behavioural economist Mr Dan Ariely, you have around two hours of peak alertness and memory each day, which normally kicks in around one to two hours after you wake up. Far better to use this precious resource for “deep work” on the most pressing or complex tasks on your to-do list, rather than waste it on e-mails and meetings, AKA things that other people want you to do. Tackling your priority jobs head on, undistracted, at your sharpest, also disinclines you from grinding late into the night, when your has pace slowed and your output nosedived. You’re up to 30 per cent more productive during those peak morning hours; that juicy worm could be a third longer.