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June 18, 2018

Small Business Advice

An early start can make you more productive each day

Jerry Osteryoung | 4/29/2013

"When it comes to business success, morning people hold the important cards. The challenge for business leaders is to bring out the best from their night owls." ~ Christopher Randler

There are many advantages of starting your day early that relate to productivity and health.

I normally wake up at 5 a.m. Many would consider 5 a.m. pretty early, but I am convinced getting up early is one factor that will really contribute to your and your business’ success.

A few years ago, a study by the University of Texas found a correlation between grade point averages and early rising. Students were asked to identify themselves as “morning risers” or “night owls.” The self-declared “morning risers” had a 3.5 point average, compared to 2.5 for the “night owls.”

The results are intriguing. Still, as with most statistical analysis, it cannot tell us why this is happening, only that there is a correlation.

Long before this study – many centuries ago when I was an engineering student at Georgia Tech – I actually observed a similar effect among my fraternity brothers. Those who were early risers seemed to do so much better than those who stayed up late.

Another study by Christopher Randler, a biology professor at the University of Education at Heidelberg, showed that morning people are more apt to recognize problems and respond much more quickly than night owls. The ability to anticipate and resolve problems is critical to any business.

Many successful people I know get up and head to the gym or run before their family is even awake. They use this time to nourish their body with exercise, and the results are more energy and better sleep. Others spend time planning their day.

For those night owls who want to become early risers, there are a few things you can do. First, set an exact bedtime, but realize you probably do not want to try to change it by more than 30 minutes a week.

Second, get out of bed immediately. You are trying to change your body’s biorhythm, so the best thing you can do to help the new pattern take root is to just get going.

Finally, sunlight really helps, so leave the curtains open and allow the light to wake you.

If you are a night owl and want to improve your productivity, commit to these steps to change your circadian rhythm. This cannot be done overnight, but keep working on it.

You can do this!

Other small business advice columns from Dr. Osteryoung are here. Note: Articles older than 30 days require registration (it's quick and free).

Jerry Osteryoung is a consultant to businesses - he has directly assisted over 3,000 firms. He is the Jim Moran Professor of Entrepreneurship (Emeritus) and Professor of Finance (Emeritus) at Florida State University. He was the founding Executive Director of The Jim Moran Institute and served in that position from 1995 through 2008. His newest book co-authored with Tim O'Brien, "If You Have Employees, You Really Need This Book," is an bestseller. He can be reached by e-mail at

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