The New Habit Challenge: Wake Up Insanely Early

Suggesting you rise before the sun is even up may seem a little mean. So we’ll wake our groggy selves up, too, for some extra motivation.

The New Habit Challenge: Wake Up Insanely Early
[Image: Flickr user Susanne Nilsson]

Editor’s Note: This story is part of 5 Habits Changes You Can Actually Make In 2015. Check out the full list here.


There are so many proponents out there for starting your day early, it’s kind of hard to ignore this advice–though for my entire life I’ve always preferred shrugging the idea off and hitting the snooze button more times than I can count.

“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” Yeah, okay Ben Franklin, I’ll take that under advisement.

But it seems like almost any successful person you can think of starts their morning insanely early: Square CEO Jack Dorsey rises at 5:30 a.m., Virgin Group founder Richard Branson wakes around 5:45 a.m., and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz gets up at 4:30 a.m. every morning–good thing he has an infinite supply of coffee at his disposal.

Advocates for rising early aren’t suggesting that you can create more time in the day–surely if you rise early you would also go to bed early.

But when you rise before everyone else, it creates a time in the day that no one can force their expectations onto you, says Paul DeJoe, CEO of software company Ecquire. He rises at 4 a.m. every day and says his early-morning routine leaves him better able to appreciate the tasks at hand and think creatively.

Others suggest waking just a half hour earlier than usual to jot down your thoughts and ideas before even getting out of bed. The idea behind this is that in the first moments after waking, your mind is less inhibited and restricting, making it easier to come up with creative ideas.


For the next week, I plan to put our advice to the test, and I hope you’ll join me.

I intend to wake at 6:30 a.m. instead of my normal rising time, 8:30 a.m., so I can get in a morning workout and arrive at the office by 8:30, well before the masses start pouring in.

But what you define as “insanely early” is up to you. If you usually wake up at 8 a.m., then perhaps 6 a.m. may seem like an ungodly hour to try and get anything done. Or maybe even a half hour early seems an impossible task.

Challenge yourself to wake up what you consider insanely early and tell us what you loved and hated about it, if it worked or totally bombed, and we may feature your response in an upcoming Fast Company story. Responses must be submitted to by end of day Thursday, August 7, 2014.

About the author

Rachel Gillett is a former editorial assistant for’s Leadership section. Her work has been featured on,, and elsewhere.