We've all heard how successful entrepreneurs wake up well before the crack of dawn and get a metric ton done before 5 a.m.
However, as a successful entrepreneur who struggles with mornings, I wanted to let the late risers out there know that there is hope for you, too. So, I spoke with a variety of millionaires who wouldn’t even think of waking up at 5 or 6 . . . or even 7 a.m.
Here’s our best advice to be successful when the snooze button is your best friend.
Know what works for you
Getting proper sleep is more important than waking up at a certain hour. And, if you are more productive at a late hour, that should be your priority.
Millionaire serial entrepreneur Bryan Clayton, now CEO of GreenPal, gets out of bed between 8 and 9 a.m. He says, “While building my last company, I tried as hard as I could to get out of bed at 4 or 5 a.m. After forcing myself for over six months to crack dawn every morning, I realized that I was half as effective as I was when I was getting 8 to 9 hours of sleep every day.
"It's better to accept the fact that you need a good night’s sleep to be the best at what you do than forcing yourself to be something that you're not.”
Ross Andrew Paquette, founder and CEO of Maropost, has a nine-figure net worth. He wakes up between 9 and 9:30 a.m. He says, “I go to bed when my ideas are exhausted, not when I am. The early morning is overdone. If your best ideas come at night, work at night. Take sleepless nights as a sign you have something worth working on, then take those sleepless nights to work on it.”
Paul Koger, who is a self-employed millionaire trader and owner of Foxytrades, regularly gets up at 9:15 a.m., just 15 minutes before the markets open. He advises that if you like to sleep in, you can be successful if you tackle more difficult tasks when you are more productive and take it easy in the morning.
“Many successful people have been promoting lack of sleep, getting up early and working crazy hours, while it is actually more important to recognize what works for you and optimize workflow accordingly,” says Koger.
Be ready to work when you wake up
Craig Wolfe, a multi-millionaire and president of CelebriDucks andCocoa Canard, says, “I actually get up between 8:15 and 9 a.m., but since I manufacture in different time zones, I usually have to work into the night. To be successful, no matter how much time you have and when you start and end work, you have to come up with set times throughout the day where you are 100 percent available and also times when you are committed to handling different aspects of your day-to-day business needs.
"For instance, I may sleep in, but when 9 a.m. comes, I am taking calls no matter what. To be most efficient, I have set blocks of time when I work on proposals, when I return calls and when I do public relations. It's all a matter of scheduling your time and sticking to it to maximize your efficiency. This includes even a block of time in the evening where I devote time to my factory overseas. You can be a late riser, but you better be a master of setting priorities and being disciplined with how you schedule your time each day and night.”
Schedule, schedule, schedule
Regardless of the time that you wake up, a key secret to success is managing your schedule. Being more productive during your waking hours trumps getting up early and not being productive.
Natasha Nelson is a multi-millionaire who recently sold her Yogurtini business to the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and now owns the toy company Kauzbots. She wakes up between 8 and 9 a.m. regularly.
She also gets ready for the next day the night before. “I plan out my next morning as the last thing I do at the end of my workday,” says Nelson. “I don’t have to take time to get organized and start making my to do list that morning. Since I do get emails and texts in the evening that are unavoidable, I always add them to my to-do list that I look at immediately when I wake up. There is no lapse in time from getting out of bed and work starting, and I don’t have to spend a half-hour or so getting my day organized.”
Scheduling for success also means that you are acutely aware and focused on high-value activities. This also means prioritizing your work.
Brittani Nelson, a millionaire “business matchmaker” who wakes at 8 a.m., blocks her entire day, from tasks to sales, follow-up to marketing and more, making sure to balance current clients and new client activity so that her pipeline remains full.
She also is disciplined about secret time-wasters. She says, “I avoid logging onto Facebook or social media unless it is scheduled time for marketing online. I avoid checking emails and phone calls I am not expecting until it is time to check email and return phone calls.”
And, Brittani is decidedly old-school about it. “I use my paperwork worksheet that I created for time blocking. No apps or electronic calendar.”
I personally attribute my own millionaire success to scheduling, as well. When I can get away with it, I sleep in until 8 or 9 a.m. and try my best not to schedule early morning meetings. But, my schedule is pristine. I use my calendar to schedule everything and set alarms for moving from one task to the next, always prioritizing important tasks that move my business forward and revenue-producing activities over busy work.
Create strong systems
Being successful means having the right systems in place to make the most out of your time, regardless of what time of day the clock says.
Michele Scism, a millionaire and business consultant with Decisive Minds, regularly awakens between 8 and 9 a.m. She says, “With systems and a great team you can sleep in and know things are being taken care of."
You also have to know what is worth working on to get your business to the next level. GreenPal’s Bryan Clayton says, “I attribute much of my success to spending time on high-leverage activities and less on the day-to-day grind of whatever it is that I'm working on.
“For instance, when you catch yourself doing a repetitive task, ask yourself five times why that task has to be done until you get to the root cause of the problem and then implement a solution to prevent the problem from happening again.
“Spend more time on high-leverage activities, such as strategic planning, networking with mentors, fundraising from investors, and generally speaking, tasks that are important, but not necessarily urgent.”
Take care of yourself
Having a later-skewed schedule can make it difficult to find balance with things like self-care, family and more, but it is critical for your success. I can attest that getting in a workout 4-5 times a week is not only critical for my health, but allows me to clear my mind and give the best of myself to my work. I wouldn’t be able to be successful without it.
Whether it’s doing small meditation breaks throughout the day or using your lunch break or finding time later in the day to have some quality down-time for yourself and with your loved ones, finding some semblance of balance is definitely key to success.
So, late-risers, there’s no need to wake-up when it’s still dark outside. Just make the best use of your time and that million-dollar success can still be yours.
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors.