Can setting your alarm clock change your career?

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I’ve written before about how personal habits like exercise, posture, and organization can impact career success. Here’s how changing the time you wake up can impact your productivity and world view. Inspired by reports that successful CEOs routinely wake up very early in the morning, Filipe Castro Matos, a Portuguese entrepreneur, set a goal of waking up at 4:30 am every day for 21 days. Why? In part to prove that a life could be changed dramatically by changing small habits. He chose 21 days because of research suggests it takes 21 days to establish a new habit.

A few of the lessons from this experiment:

  • Find support along the way
  • Get rid of your obstacles
  • Healthy life with good diet and exercise habits leads to good sleep
  • Changing seemingly small habits can give you a new world view

As someone who regularly gets up at 4:30 am, I can tell you that I don’t always love it. But I do love having quiet, uninterrupted time at the start of the day for thinking and writing. In fact, this time in the early morning is when I get most of my long-term planning, as well as my current work, done. My productivity from 4:30 am to 11 am dwarfs my productivity for the rest of the day.

Too many of us suffer from being busy without being productive. Carving out — and protecting — some uninterrupted time is critical to change that.

Here’s Matos’ “How waking up every day at 4.30am can change your life” at TEDxAUBG (American University in Bulgaria). If his accent and speaking style poses a challenge, just turn on the closed captioning.