Get To Work At Least 15 Minutes Earlier

On January 9, 2001, I asked you to figure out, on the average, what time you had been getting to work each day. Then I asked you to promise yourself that you would get there at least 15 minutes earlier from then on. I explained that 15 minutes a day multiplied by 50 weeks is 62.5 hours of extra work — which would give you more than a full week’s advantage over those you are competing against.

And it’s not just about accomplishing extra stuff. It’s about getting a jump on things. Getting in early makes you better prepared, more thoughtful, better organized, and more effective in every area of your life. In fact, if I had to pick a single thing that could make the greatest difference in your life — that has made the biggest difference in mine — it would be the habit of getting to work early.

That’s why I named this service Early to Rise. For me — as a person who had accomplished a good deal and was accustomed to working hard — it didn’t seem possible to do much more than I was already doing until I changed my schedule. For all of my young adulthood and much of my “first” mature career (the one I retired from at 39), I was a late riser.

On the average, my rising time was probably around 8 a.m. By working late — sometimes into the wee hours of the morning — I was able to write books, start businesses, and make a lot of money. But it wasn’t until I forced myself to get up and get to work earlier — and this happened only eight years ago — that I was able to achieve my most important goals. That little bit of extra time you give yourself in the morning is worth much, much more than the time you give up at night. And even from a health perspective, getting up earlier makes sense.

Studies show that people who rise earlier live longer, die older, and suffer fewer illnesses than those who call themselves “night people.” Getting up and to work early has worked so well for me that I made a radical adjustment to my schedule this December — which I’ve incorporated into my life as a New Year’s resolution for 2002.

I’m going to get up at 5:30 and start to work at 6:00 or 6:15. It’s dark when I wake up and still dark when I drive (or ride my bike) to work. But the air is fresh and the little light there is is beautiful. And by the time AK comes in for our morning briefing — at 9:15 — I’ve done three full hours of work.

[Ed. Note.  Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]