Do you need to get up early to be successful?

You’ve probably read an article or two that espouses the need getting up early in order to be successful.

Get Up Early

Studies are regularly released that seem to confirm this theory and various experts are trotted out to speak about the importance of getting a jump on the day.

Most psychology of success blogs at some point will deal with the topic of rising early and its relationship to success.

And most will agree with what many entrepreneurs are saying: that there is a direct link between those who rise early and those who are successful.

Well, I hate to add fat to the fire, but I think the benefits of rising early are both over-stated and over-rated.

Here’s why:

It ignores science

It was early riser Benjamin Franklin who famously said, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise”.

But a ground-breaking paper, published twenty years ago in the British Medical Journal, proved him wrong.

The study analysed a national sample of men and women, of which there were 356 larks in the group (early risers) and 318 owls (late risers).

The study found that it was the night owls who had larger incomes than the morning larks, although the two groups scored roughly the same on a cognitive ability test and showed no obvious health differences.

Lots of studies have followed that show the benefits of being a lark, but very little attention is given to this earlier study, or any others, that show the benefits of being a night owl.

We’re all different

Grouping people into night owls and larks and then claiming that one is more productive or successful than the other is a pretty simplistic way of look at human beings and human behaviour.

Night Owls

It also places people into a cookie cutter mould and, in my experience, the most successful people are those that break the mould.

This kind of thinking also encourages companies to apply a one-size-fits-all approach to staff, too, because let’s face it, the world is tilted heavily in favour of the early risers.

But the best businesses understand that staff are all different and it’s the work that matters.

Whether that work gets done at midnight or 6am, should be neither here nor there.

It makes people feel lazy

Here’s another problem with praising the lark lifestyle: it makes night owls feel ashamed for rising later or coming in slightly later to work.

It doesn’t matter that they were working at 11pm when larks were fast asleep, there is still a sense of shame attached to “sleeping in”.

In fact, let’s stop using the term “sleeping in” to describe night owls’ bed patterns. If they work until 1am and wake up at 8am, that is a good night’s rest and not a sleep-in.

It has nothing to do with the psyhology of success

Business People Climbing A Flight Of Stairs, Stepping Up A Stairway Career Ladder With Idea Light Bulb On A Top

But worst of all, the lark-versus-owl debate ignores the number one factor in determining success and that’s the daily habits of each person.

You can be up as early as you want, but if you’re not using this time to be creative, to develop your business, to get ahead, then it makes no difference whatsoever.

So be a lark or be an owl.

Go with what works best for you and focus not so much on when you work but how you go about it.

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Mark Creedon


Mark Creedon is Director of Metropole Business Advisory and business coach to some of Australia's leading entrepreneurs - each who call him their "unreasonable friend"
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'Do you need to get up early to be successful?' have 1 comment


    November 12, 2018 Oie

    That makes me feel so much better. I’ve always been a night owl.


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