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“Get up son, it’s time to time to do the firewood,” my dad would yell down the staircase gleefully at 6:30 AM on a Saturday morning.

You see my dad is the sort of irrationally hard worker that is responsible for building countries like Canada and the USA in the last century. He loves the idea of getting up early and getting something done. For him, it’s not even necessarily about the monetary rewards of getting in a few extra hours of work, it’s more about the intrinsic benefits of leading a disciplined and productive life – something that will give you a purpose. When I went to university I got up around 8AM most of the time since I lived right on campus. This made me a freak amongst many of my peers who didn’t realize the world started before 10AM, and certainly wasn’t to be attacked until noon for anything other than an emergency. When I came home on weekends, my dad made sure that my slothful ways were not eating away at the bedrock of work ethic he had worked so hard to instil in me. I always associated those early morning chores with physical labour that did a lot for the inner spirit, but little for the overall pocket book. It turns out that it can be both.

The Lumberjack of the Personal Finance World

It wasn’t until years later that I found someone that was able to tie together the work ethic of a lumberjack with the financial savvy of a professional wealth manager. Without acknowledging it, the guy basically became my blogging mentor – the fellow I’m referring to is Mike Heroux from The Financial Blogger. When I started blogging a couple of years ago, I thought I was working hard, pumping out a few thousand words of content in my spare time in the evenings. Then I looked at Mike’s itinerary, and I realized just how hard some bloggers were willing to work. Now I make a concerted effort to maximize the benefits of waking up early since that is my most productive time of the day. I now usually get 1500-2000 words typed up and formatted before I leave the house at 8AM on weekdays. Lately, I have been able to maintain this pace 4 out of 5 weekdays and it has given me a tremendous boost to my productivity.

Life Hacks

For me, writing is about utilizing blocks of time where I can completely focus my time and energy without distraction. After a couple weeks of training my mind to sharpen quicker than it would sometimes like to in the morning, I have found that I look forward to my morning writing sessions. It actually helps prepare my mind for the day, and I am definitely more productive at 7AM than I am at 7PM in the evening (I have tracked my natural high points for productivity over the last few months, and I’ve found my efficiency hits a peak at 10AM and a valley at 3PM). Getting up early in the morning and getting a little head start on the rest of the rat race is a real mental advantage for me.

Some people are now referring to pieces of advice like this as “life hacks”. The basic idea is to figure out unique ways to maximize your time during a day. A lot of us are fond of saying, “Well, there are only so many hours in a day,” or something similar. The fact is that if we maximized our time management skills, we could enjoy the same quantity and quality of leisure time that we currently do, while boosting our output by a fairly substantial margin.

Do We Really Know What Hard Work Is?

The thing is that most people don’t have much motivation to get up earlier and worry about building something for themselves every day. Some people are prepared to do this to help their physical well-being (flashbacks to my boxing days make me shiver), but few of us seem willing to apply the same sort of dedication to building a side business or doing something else that will benefit us in long-run. I think this is because that we aren’t exactly known for delayed gratification these days, and waking up early, sacrificing that basic creature comfort, in order to gain a little on the rest of the pack is contrary to what a lot of us have been taught by society at large. The interesting thing is that I recently saw an interview on TV where a doctor was talking about the benefits of not only sleep, but the benefits of maintain a consistent sleep pattern. Since then I have gotten up early on weekends too, and I feel that I always have much more energy throughout my day because of it (if I want to give in to creature comforts, I catch about a 30 min power nap in the afternoon).

I realize that I’m not exactly re-inventing the wheel here when I say that there are benefits to waking up early, but I think it is worth re-emphasizing. Many of us don’t mind getting up early to commute to a job, yet when we move closer to our place of work, we use the new surplus of time to sleep instead of building up another stream of income, or getting our investment portfolio in line. Kevin O’Leary mentioned in a recent interview with MacLean’s that the main thing he took away from his boarding school education was the discipline of getting up at 4:30 AM (now that’s early!). He said that he still gets up before 6AM every day. In his own weird way, I’m sure Mr. O’Leary finds great inner peace by maintaining this discipline, similar in some ways to soldiers, or monks etc. Just think about the extra productivity he has racked up over the years simply by getting up earlier.  My girlfriend’s Grandpa is a true Horatio Alger story who came over to the USA as a young man, and started his own potato delivery business (he was Irish, so what other industry was he going to go into right?).  He talks about getting up well before the crack of dawn in order to beat other suppliers and build his business.  Eventually his business grew into something quite substantial!

My dad, a successful Irish immigrant, Mike Heroux, and Kevin O’Leary can’t all be wrong can they? What’s your morning routine look like? Have you ever considered the advantages of starting your day one focused hour earlier?

Article comments

Juan says:

Getting up early really does have great benefits. I know that I always feels very rested when Im buy atlest 6 am, though doing so on the weekend doesnt normally happen 😛

I recently started waking up an hour earlier than usual and it’s been awesome, especially for my blogging. I usually write the majority of my posts at night and spend that hour in the morning with final editing as well as reading/commenting on other blogs. I also have so much more time to get ready for work that I don’t feel as frazzled once I get there!

Teacher Man says:

I’ve got the opposite schedule, I write every morning and on weekends, and most of the time at night I do all the other blog-related stuff. I am always pretty mentally wore out from work (hanging around teenagers all day will do that to you) so I prefer to do smaller tasks that require less focus in the evening.

I’m just not a morning person at all. For several years, I got up at 6 AM to go to work, and no matter what I tried, I was never productive until about 10 AM. I am just a natural night person, most of my best work happens in the evening of late at night. So for me, there are financial benefits to staying up late 🙂

Teacher Man says:

I know a couple different people that swear by this as well E and M. For me, my focus is so scattered at night, that I really have to bear down to get serious work accomplished (mental tasks that is). I’m fine to function in terms of manual labour etc. I’m glad you’ve found the schedule that works best for you.

felicia says:

You are so right! I love the dark and quiet of early morning. However, it was only after I started going to bed one hour earlier that my getting up one hour earlier really started to pay off!

Teacher Man says:

Interesting insight Felicia. So you’re saying then that without the proper sleep, you didn’t get much productivity gains anyway?

Great points about being more productive earlier in the day. After years of being a night-owl, I’m slowly shifting my schedule to get up earlier, even on the weekends – which was considerably difficult for me at first! I’m getting better at it, but then again, having a child who likes to wake up at the crack of dawn sometimes doesn’t leave me much choice 🙂

Teacher Man says:

Yes I hear that children will quickly make you an early riser. Hopefully that will be one of the easier adjustments for me if I ever choose that path.

My schedule varies, but I find that if I wake up and do something right away, it sets my whole day up better. I’m more likely to get more things done if I start out productive, regardless of the clock hour.

Patrick says:

Yes I have also started to wake up earlier, I find it a great way to get things done before others have gotten up. But I wonder if you are waking up at 6 or so in the morning, what time are you sleeping? That has been my problem, I wake up earlier, and go to bed same time (11 or 12) and hard to cut back.

Teacher Man says:

Sleep is a major consideration for me Patrick. I’m so jealous of people that say they can operate consistently on 6 hours or less of sleep. I shiver at the thought of how many more man hours of productivity they will have over me in their life time. I usually go to bed at 11. Two days a week I allow myself to sleep in until 8AM, and this recharges the battery. I think for each individual, their productivity cycles are unique. The name of the game is finding little areas to eek out an hour or so of time where you can intensely focus on something on a consistent basis.

Jenn says:

Great post. I like the idea of life hacks as it gives people an idea of what kind of

Teacher Man says:

Blogging is great to me because it’s so flexible. I know I could make a lot more money on a per-hour basis doing another job, but I’m addicted to the interaction and flexibility that comes with blogging.

krantcents says:

I find I am most productive in the morning hours too. I get up early every day. I like to go to work early so I can do things before school starts. I have been that way all my life.

Teacher Man says:

For me, I figure one hour in the morning gives me roughly the same productivity as 3 or so in the afternoon/evening, but I know that everyone’s different.

You couldn’t be more right about this! A few years ago I decided to try fiction writing (as an English lit major, I knew I loved books but wasn’t sure I could write one). Every day I got home from work to write, but nothing would come of it. Then my mom came to visit me in my new city and every morning we’d go to the cute little coffee shop on the corner to catch up while my dad slept in. I enjoyed those early morning quiet hours at the coffee shop so much that after she left I kept going. I only woke up 30 minutes early and spent that time writing and within a few months I had a first draft of a novel. Now, just 1 1/2 years later, I have two novels completed and am sending queries out to try to publish the second one! If I hadn’t changed my schedule to wake up earlier and spend mornings writing, this would never have happened!

Teacher Man says:

That’s a great story Shannon! Would you mind sharing the titles? I’ll check ’em out on Amazon. I’m the same way in terms of how much more I can get done in the wee hours as opposed to trying to re-focus after a day at work.

Thanks! I wish I could but they’re not published yet :(. The first one I decided wasn’t quite good enough and I’m in the process of trying to get the second one published. Some authors (even really famous ones) get rejected up to 50 or more times before they get published – so I expect a long road ahead.

Teacher Man says:

Well good luck Shannon, keep waking up early and getting pen to paper!

Up by 0430 during the week to be at work by 0600. On weekends I sleep in till 7. The gf wakes up at 5 and is at work by 8. More time = more productivity

Teacher Man says:

Atta boy Dave! I’m very fortunate to have a very short commute to work, and a flexible work day as a teacher.