If you’re committed to a productive, successful day, then you need to follow a set morning routine that starts early. Why? An early start means you have plenty of energy, conviction, and direction. These, in turn, mean your life will be full of success, happiness, and fulfillment. By the same standard, if you start your day behind the eight ball, you’ll struggle more to optimize your health, wealth, and mental capacity.

The perfect day—and the perfect life—starts with one thing: getting up early.

And if we’re honest, early rising really starts the night before.

I’ll show you what to make this happen in a moment, but first, a word of WARNING: Don’t go from a wake-up time of 7am to 5am overnight. Your body can’t handle that.

Sure, the first couple of mornings might seem exhilarating, but so does an affair (from what I hear!), and that’s bad news.

But there’s a flip side. Getting up too early, too quickly will induce “jet lag.” You’ll eventually crash, have regrets, and say, “Oh this getting up early thing is a stupid idea.”

But it’s not. Getting up a little bit earlier is one of the keys to success.

So just start 5 minutes at a time. That’s what I did back in 2006, going from 7:30am to 7:25am, and eventually getting up at 5am without a problem.


SUGGESTED READING: The Ultimate Guide to Morning Routines


Here’s how to do exactly that, starting with a little trick for the night before and a plan for getting the best night’s sleep possible:

1. Set a reverse alarm

You’ll set this for 60 minutes before bedtime. This is just as important as your morning alarm.

When the evening reverse alarm goes off, you’ll start your wind-down routine. An hour before bed, you should shut off all devices (i.e. no more screen time). Take a long shower, brush your teeth, put your sleep clothes on. Add whatever steps you want to this, but every step should serve one purpose: preparing for bed.

This routine will, over time, cue your body to start feeling tired. That’s exactly what you want.

2. Get the best night’s sleep possible

How? It’s actually pretty simple:

  • Stop using all electronics, email, iPad, iPhone, etc. 1 hour before bed (mandatory)
  • Make your lunch for the next day (optional)
  • Take a bath (optional)
  • Read to—or talk to—your kids
  • Catch with spouse/partner
  • Read a real book or magazine (outside of the bedroom) to make you sleepy
  • Snuggle with spouse/partner

3. Supercharge your sleep

This starts with practicing the best sleep hygiene practices. Use these guidelines for creating the ideal bedroom environment:

  • Use blackout shades to shut out unnecessary light
  • Keep the room temperature cool (65-67 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Keep the room as quiet as possible
  • Use an eye mask and/or ear plugs (optional, but highly recommended—especially when traveling and sleeping in hotels)

Lastly, remember: Your bedroom is for TWO things only! Enough said.

4. Every morning, pull back your wake-up time by 5 minutes

Do this until you hit your desired wake-up time. Don’t make dramatic changes overnight, and don’t set ridiculous goals for yourself. Be realistic about what you want/need to accomplish in the morning and set aside just enough time for it.

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This is how you slowly become an early riser and, with dedication, a high-performance machine. These changes don’t happen overnight, so don’t force your body into it. Acknowledge that the early rising routine takes time to get used to, and slowly add steps to your routine every night until you’re getting to bed on time.

For more tips on increasing both your energy and productivity, watch my 10-3-2-1-0 Formula.

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Craig Ballantyne

Craig Ballantyne is the author of The Perfect Day Formula: How to Own the Day and Control Your Life. Craig has been a contributor to Men’s Health magazine for over 17 years. Today he teaches his gift high-performing entrepreneurs how to squeeze more out of their days, increase their income, and make more quality time for their families in his Perfect Life Workshop and Work-Life Mastery programs. Craig used his own advice to overcome crippling anxiety attacks in 2006, and he’ll teach you his 5 Pillars of Success so you can increase your income, decrease your work time, and live the life of your dreams. Learn more about Craig at craigballantyne.com