One of the best things I’ve done for my career and life as a manager was become an early riser. I used to love the night. I liked nothing more than the sweet silence of a quiet midnight. I thought I’d never become a morning person. Now I wake up at 5:45 every day. This post is about why.
Reason 1 - I didn’t have a choice
Full disclosure - I started waking up early because I moved in with my now wife and she woke up early. I realized the benefits afterwards.
Reason 2 - It helps me exercise, which helps me do my job
Being a manager is very different than being an individual contributor. The latter can benefit from sweeping periods of inspiration, manic productivity, and potential accompanying downsides. Being a manager is about being a steady force that provides a consistent and fair environment as well as a set of rational and consistent decisions.
If you wake up early there’s no excuse not to exercise. Most habitual exercisers exercise in the morning. Exercise helps regulate and reset your emotions. Before becoming a daily morning exerciser I would carry grudges across multiple days, I would show up to work tired or sad or happy or hungry. Now I show up ready to work, clean slate. The emotional consistency and resilience I get from morning exercise is worth more than almost anything else I do to help me get my job done.
Reason 3 - It lets me live a life outside work
Work is tiring and working at a high growth startup can be especially exhausting. You bring work home with you whether you like it or not. If you get up early you can have a part of the day that is absent any influence from the mayhem that lies ahead. I’ve used the morning time to play an instrument, watch TV, watch movies (over multiple days), read, or generally just putz around. Waking up early means claiming part of your day for yourself (or at least not for the company).
Reason 4 - It helps me show up fresh
If you wake up early you get the easy benefits of avoiding standard amateurish behavior like oversleeping meetings. But more than that, if you stay up too late on a school night you have plenty of time to get your act together before work.
In conclusion, waking up early really gives you two main benefits: 1) it lets you have more time to prepare your mind and body for work 2) it lets you live part of your day outside the shadow of work. I recommend it to anyone that’ll listen.