People who achieve success without waking up early tend to adopt these 7 daily habits

You’ve got big dreams, but you’re not a morning person.

I feel you, me either.

We’re bombarded with stories about CEOs who are part of the 4 am club, heralding it as the key to their success.

But is it really such a game-changer?

If getting up at the crack of dawn isn’t for you, then you’ll be happy to hear there’s no concrete evidence that early rising gives you a head start.

It may even do you some harm, as one study found that people who wake up earlier have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

So what can you do?

Let’s look at some daily habits to help you win in life, that don’t require setting the alarm..

1) They get enough sleep

The good news just keeps on coming.

Because not only don’t we need to wake up super early, but getting even more shut-eye could boost your productivity.

Lisa Artis, from the Sleep Council, cautions us that skipping sleep isn’t the way forward.

“In today’s busy world we’re all very eager to believe that sleeping one hour less will give us one more hour of productivity but in reality, it’s likely to have the opposite effect.

Natural sleep has restorative functions – it detoxes the neurotoxic waste that accumulates when you’re awake. Too little sleep, and this waste remains.

Lack of sleep can be dangerous in other ways: it is one of the main contributors to a burnout in top business leaders.”

Even one night’s interrupted sleep can impact your mood, attention span, and cognitive ability.

Meanwhile, research has found that consistently getting less than 6 hours a night can affect your health.

Not only do we need enough sleep (experts recommend between 7-9 hours a night) it’s best to have a routine.

If you can, going to bed and waking up around the same times every day will support your body’s circadian rhythms.

Studies suggest that’s going to help your emotional stability, your physical health, and your concentration and productivity too.

2) They work to their own rhythms

One of the things I find most frustrating about the self-help space is that it can be presented in a “one size fits all” sort of way.

We’re given so-called stats and facts, but without enough recognition that we’re all different.

We have different preferences, different lifestyles, and different genetic makeup.

That means what works for one person isn’t going to suit another.

Whilst the likes of Apple’s Tim Cook may swear by his 3.45 am alarm, to me, and I’m sure plenty of other people, that sounds insane.

Here’s another thought:

Getting up early is often praised as giving you more time in the day to get things done. But presumably, that’s just because the rest of the world is asleep.

Because there are still the same amount of hours in any day, regardless of what time you wake.

It actually makes more sense to utilize the time of the day when YOU feel at your most productive and work best.

Research has noted that night owls are more intelligent than early birds, and are more likely to be creative, so it’s not such a simple picture.

A 2009 study by the University of Liege in Belgium also noted that some people find it easier to concentrate later in the day and stay mentally alert for longer.

Meanwhile, when it comes to success there’s even evidence that people who stay up later  “have a higher propensity for risk-taking and have the makings for becoming successful entrepreneurs”.

Getting up early versus staying up later (or my personal favorite going to bed early and still getting up late) — the point is, one probably isn’t definitively better or worse.

What matters is which works better for you.

3) They eat for their brain

We’re all looking for the secret to success.

It’s a bit of a boring answer to say it all comes down to strong foundations, but it’s true nonetheless.

It’s easy to dismiss the role of our diet. But how well your body functions is what supports your entire system and the research backs this up.

I recently learned this lesson the hard way. I’d always thought of myself as a fairly healthy eater.

After dealing with extreme fatigue, brain fog, and some days an inability to even get out of bed, I was surprised to realize my eating habits were to blame.

The impact was so drastic because I was missing some vital nutrients, and my body was running on a seriously reduced battery because of it.

One study highlights how this hidden aspect can make all the difference to your success.

It noted that employees with an unhealthy diet were a whopping 66 percent more likely to experience a loss in productivity.

At the end of the day, healthier diets improve the ability to focus and get things done efficiently.

4) They prioritize daily to-dos

Time to successful people is a precious resource that requires management.

“We choose our life by how we spend our time. To change your life, you need to change your priorities.” — author John Maxwell

Here’s something that sounds fairly obvious but we often don’t do:

Start the day with the most important tasks first.

That demands knowing your priorities and what is going to help move the needle forward most. Then, taking action on it.

Many of us avoid the hard stuff and waste time on the inconsequential. Writing out a few core intentions for your day can help with this.

It’s really tempting to put off the most significant tasks because we feel overwhelmed or hesitant to tackle them. But that’s a recipe for procrastination to kick in.

Successful people are good at recognizing tasks based on importance and urgency, organizing their day, and ensuring they focus on what truly matters.

5) They minimize distractions

Your biggest distractions will most likely be slightly different from mine. But common ones include:

  • Social media
  • Constantly checking emails
  • Scrolling on news apps
  • Turning on the TV
  • Random internet browsing
  • Gossiping
  • Playing on your phone

According to research, 2.1 hours of the workday are lost to distractions, and it takes us about 25 minutes to get back into the flow afterward.

Knowing your triggers and guarding against them is important.

That can mean putting your phone in another room or locked in a locker. It may require setting certain hours in the day when you’ll allow yourself to check particular apps, websites, or your email, etc.

Having a system is important, sadly we can’t rely on willpower to keep it under control.

The extra tricky part is that we habitually turn to these things when we feel like we need a break. 

That’s why healthier habits like taking a stroll, meditating, drawing some doodles, listening to music, grabbing a snack, going for a coffee, finishing a small chore, or doing a few stretches give you a break but are less likely to pull you off track.

6) They create a positive attitude for the day

We can feel at the mercy of our mood or energy levels on any given day. But we don’t have to be.

There are some really effective habits that can help you to shape a positive mental attitude.

This directly impacts success by helping to reduce stress, keep you motivated, and make you more resilient.

A gratitude practice has been scientifically proven to make you happier, more optimistic, improve relationships, and reduce fear and anxiety.

Similarly, starting the day with mindfulness can boost your focus, energy levels, and mood moving forward.

The classic example is meditation which has a whole host of scientifically backed benefits.

And if you feel like you suck at it, don’t let that put you off. It’s surprisingly challenging to sit and do nothing.

That’s why it’s a practice says meditation instructor Dr. Eva Tsuda:

“The whole purpose of meditation is to train ourselves to be present with our experience without criticizing or judging ourselves.”

If seated meditation really isn’t your jam, other forms of mindfulness like breathwork, body scans, and mindful movements like yoga can be just as effective.

7) They read instead of watching TV

It turns out that your mom was right:

TV rots your brain.

Research has found that the more television you watch in middle age, the lower your volume in grey matter.

On the other hand, studies have shown that reading for pleasure leads to a 10% increase in vocabulary, 8% improvement in mathematics, and a 9% increase in general knowledge.

Maybe that’s why so many successful types have a dedicated reading habit.

Fiction can be just as powerful for learning as non-fiction. According to Northwestern management professor Brooke Vuckovic:

“Our best leaders are looking for ways to develop themselves, and fiction represents an often underused and incredibly powerful, low cost, ongoing, pleasurable way to develop ourselves — if read correctly,”

He suggests first contemplating characters and what drives them to develop empathy. Then consider what you may have in common or if you share any of the same strengths and weaknesses to build up self-awareness.

Louise Jackson

My passion in life is communication in all its many forms. I enjoy nothing more than deep chats about life, love and the Universe. With a masters degree in Journalism, I’m a former BBC news reporter and newsreader. But around 8 years ago I swapped the studio for a life on the open road. Lisbon, Portugal is currently where I call home. My personal development articles have featured in Huffington Post, Elite Daily, Thought Catalog, Thrive Global and more.

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