How Waking Up at 6am Everyday for 2 Weeks Changed My Business Trajectory

By Sean Ogle •  Updated: 05/01/18 •  10 min read

How Waking Up at 6am Changed My Business TrajectoryI first wrote this post way back in 2014. At the time, I struggled to get through two weeks of waking up at 6am every day.

Well, what a difference a few years make, now my 6am wake up is pretty much standard.

I want to share how I got started on the road to actually become a morning person, how getting up at 6am changed my business (f0r the better), and a few tips on how you can start waking up earlier.

Let’s do this!

How I Finally Became a Morning Person

For years, I had an item on my bucket list that I found harder than running a marathon, moving to a tropical island, or speaking in front of a large audience.

It’s was so hard, in fact, I’d never even gotten closer than 1/7 of the way towards achieving it.

My mom has said numerous times to me “why don’t you just do it? It’s easy.”

But it’s not easy.

That goal? “Wake up at 6am every day for 2 weeks.”

I know I’m most productive in the mornings. I lose focus in the afternoons, and on a typical day after 5pm pretty much all work goes away.

So I know if I’m going to get stuff done, the earlier I get up the better.

Well despite my constant attempts to wake up before 6 on a regular basis – it’s just proved too difficult.

Until one fateful trip.

As expected, when I returned from Scotland, I was hit with jet lag. Every morning, I found myself wide awake at 6am, so I figured, what the hell, let’s get up and ride this out.

I was already motivated to get down to business due to the month(ish) long vacation I’d just experienced.

It’s pretty ironic, but that’s all it took. A few days of jet lag, and it got me up around 6am every weekday morning for two weeks. The result has blown me away.

In fact, they were so good, I decided to keep the schedule going.

So, What Happened? The 6am Challenge Results

The gist of the story is that during this first two week period of waking up early, all the projects I’d been wanting to push over the edge for years started to finally fall into place. All of those “business growth” projects and tasks that had been pushed aside in favor of maintenance or fun were finally getting the time they deserved – and the feeling was spectacular.

One day, in particular, stood out. I was up early, I got two blog posts written, all of my emails responded to, and I played 18 holes of golf – then was back at my desk by 9:58 for a meeting.

I decided right there and then, yea, I could get used to this.

So what changed, and why has this period of time been different than all the times I tried to wake up early? Here are four big successes.

Inbox Zero

Well first off, I changed my email habits.

You may know that I’m a huge proponent of spending time personally responding to emails – it’s one of the biggest reasons for myself, but often I get swamped in it.

So what did I change? Well, I still made it first priority, and I still try to respond to everyone (Liz helps with the Location Rebel Academy emails), but I made inbox zero much more important than it had ever been in the past.

Usually, I’d respond to maybe half of my emails in any given day. So after a week or two, I’d have a few hundred unanswered ones sitting in my inbox. These emails would taunt me, and stress me out. I was worried I’d look like an ass for not responding sooner.

After a binge on that first day of responding to all my emails and getting to inbox zero, I made a point to keep it that way.

Twice a day, once first thing in the morning, and once in the afternoon. I’d respond to everything in my inbox. Because there was no build up, it’d only actually take me about 20 minutes each time.

By not having it hanging over my head, and not taking up hours of my day, it formed the basis for all of the other positive changes.

A Clear To Do List

I identified one of the biggest reasons I had trouble waking up early. Want to know what it is?

Because I didn’t have to.

There was nothing so pressing in my life that I felt like I had to get up early to accomplish it.

For quite a while I hadn’t been good at preparing a clear to do list the night before, so whenever I did wake up I usually stared at my computer or spent an hour wasting time on checking out YouTube videos (you can find the LR channel here!) before I found something productive to do.

Since I knew I had to get to inbox zero early in the day, the night before I created a list of “must dos” for the day.

What was funny was once I started doing this, and waking up early, most days the list would be complete by 9am. It didn’t take long before I started being a bit more ambitious with my goals.

Oh, and having the list on an actual piece of paper, rather than my “reminders” app made a big difference as well. Those little tweaks helped me create a system for waking up earlier and being ready to go.

Strict Writing Schedule

For years there were various bloggers I knew who adhered to a strict “1,000 words a day” schedule. Setting up a daily writing practice was something I’ve always wanted to do and more than once I’ve declared it as a goal for the year. But never followed through.

Part of that is lack of planning.

For me, when I write, I want there to be a purpose. I’m not someone who has hundreds of draft articles that will never see the light of day. Usually, if I think a topic is worth sitting down and writing about, I’ll get it published (this probably makes me a terrible writer).

That said, all too often I sit down (and in a similar manner to when I don’t have a to do list), I’m not sure what to write.

Now, we have an editorial calendar set up for Location Rebel. I know what needs to be written and what videos need to be shot in advance. I also have a clearer idea of content I need to create for other projects because I’ve set timelines around those projects too.

You’re probably thinking, “Isn’t this own a business 101? Be organized?” – and to that I say, hey, we all have our strengths and weaknesses 🙂

Now at any given time I have 5 to 10 things I know I need to write. That makes it much easier to bang out my 1,000 words a day.

A Clearer Vision for the Future

As I’ve touched on a bit in this post and others, taking some time away to travel has given me a lot of time to think about the future of the business and where I want it to go.

It’s tough to make a bunch of big, forward steps if you aren’t sure where those steps are leading.

Well, now I have a much better sense of what path I want to be on, and where I want all of this to go.

Location Rebel has always been about two things:

Now I’ve been doing that, but I haven’t been doing it as effectively as I’d like. Different people respond to different types of content and styles – so we’re broadening that, and being more consistent with the message.

My point with this one is that if you don’t have a clear vision, you have no reason to get up early to work on it.

When you can see the bigger picture of where things are heading, understand the steps you need to take to get there, and finally start tackling them, well that’s when things get really exciting.

Keeping It Going

Those two weeks were the start of something huge for me.

It kickstarted making more forward progress on the large scale business plans than I had in a long time.

I created a ton of new content, including some new courses. I’m feeling more energized during the days. And with every big to do item accomplished I’m even more motivated to knock off the next.

There’s been next to no change in my social calendar either. I still golf a few times a week and hang out with friends at night – I just try and go to bed a little bit earlier.

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How to Wake Up at 6am

Have I convinced you that getting up at 6am is totally worth it?

If not, check out this video:

In it, I share my three best strategies for waking up earlier.

But here are a few more tips:

1. Decompress before bed: Put away your phone and your laptop and chill. I like to read a book or watch a movie with my wife, anything to make sure I’m not thinking about business.

2. Get in your exercise: I love to golf, so I do that a few times a week, and I also try to hit the gym on other days. When I’ve gone out for a run or worked out, I always have an easier time falling asleep at night.

3. Do something positive first thing: Most people think waking up at 6am is a chore, but plan to do something you enjoy first thing. Maybe that’s meditation or yoga or reading or making an awesome fresh cup of coffee.

4. Go gradually: If you think telling Siri to wake you up at the crack of dawn is too much, go slow. Try going a half hour or hour at a time over the course of a few weeks. Then it’s not such a shock to your system.

5. Move the snooze button: It’s really easy to roll over and hit that snooze button. So, make it really hard. Move your alarm clock or phone across the room so you have to get out of bed.

Bedroom Sunrise wake up at 6am

6. Take a minute to enjoy the view: I mean, you can’t really beat this sunrise, right?

So, what are you waiting for? Give it a try and see what it’s like.

If you don’t find yourself feeling super productive and getting things done, then by all means, go back to sleeping in. 🙂

Do you wake up early? How do you do it? Let us know!

Sean Ogle

Sean Ogle is the Founder of Location Rebel where he has spent the last 12+ years teaching people how to build online businesses that give them the freedom to do more of the things they like to do in life. When he's not in the coffee shops of Portland, or the beaches of Bali, he's probably sneaking into some other high-class establishment where he most certainly doesn't belong.
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36 comments on "How Waking Up at 6am Everyday for 2 Weeks Changed My Business Trajectory"

  1. Congrats on getting another item checked off the bucket list Sean. Not only is it another check, but such a productive one in the right direction it seems….awesome! I do wake up early every morning to get in my workout. Exercising first thing in the morning gets me feeling energize and productive right out of the gate. When the alarm goes off at 5:30am, it sucks, and all I want to do is lay in bed longer. It does get a bit easier the more I do it. What doesn’t suck is when it’s only 10am, and I’ve already exercised, spent some time chatting with my girlfriend about our week and weekend ahead over coffee before she’s off to work, returned all necessary calls and emails, completed a “must complete today” item off my Daily Action List, and wrote a new blog post. No better way to start the day feeling great and productive. Looking forward to seeing all that’s to come here at Location 180…. Cheers!

    1. Sean says:

      Thanks Mike! I haven’t quite built the exercise habit into my morning routine – but I’m working on it. Was up early again today even after the 2 weeks had past 🙂 Loving it!

  2. I just started waking up earlier too and it’s such an awesome feeling! One thing that’s helped me is setting a strict routine for the first three hours of my day. The less time I spend making decisions, the more energy I can spend on getting shit done 🙂

    1. Sean says:

      Totally agree. When my to do list is set, I get right down to it. When I have to think, on even what is a seemingly easy decision, its hours of wasted time!

    2. Jo says:

      I have been trying to wake up earlier for the last year and can never make it consistent and production BUT I love your idea Stephanie of having a strict routine of the first three hours… that might do wonders for my tendency for overwhelm and procrastination. Thank you!

  3. Mike Rioux says:

    Sean, great post! I’ve always found myself to be more productive in the mornings than the evenings much like yourself. I need to make that push to make it a more consistent factor in my daily workings. I still have a Monday thru Friday, 9-5, internet marketing job, so the time spent in the morning is “my time” that allows me to build more of my Location Rebel’esque lifestyle and business. Thanks again!

    1. Sean says:

      Totally get it. I still remember when I was in Bangkok and trying to get my business off the ground, there were times I’d be up until 2am working on my first products or blog posts. All totally worth it, but now I try and keep the nights to a minimum by working earlier in the morning.

  4. Michael Karp says:

    Great stuff Sean. I usually set my alarm for 9, but I love waking up an hour or so earlier ready to go. It means I finish everything I NEED to get done an hour earlier, leaving an hour extra to work on the fun stuff. It’s always nice to get an insight into how you do things. Looking forward to what you have in store for the site!

  5. Joe says:

    I totally agree with the benefits of waking up early.

    I try and get up at 5am to get a few hours in when I’m my most productive.

    However, for me it never gets any easier and after 5 days in a row of getting up at 5am, I’m just as likely to sleep through the alarm on the sixth day as I am on the first.

    If it got easier over time I think it would be the perfect way to get more stuff done.


  6. Tomas says:

    It’s quite a bit scary to read about the person who I never met who has the exact same problem with scheduling and productivity. Thanks for the tips Sean! Start to using it from NOW 🙂

  7. Jan Koch says:

    Hey Sean,
    interesting insights!

    I’m not that kind of guy who can wake up at 6am in the morning at any given time. Instead I try to make sure that I get at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night. I normally get up at 6:30 – 7:30, which also leaves me a good rest of the day to get things done.

    Emptying my inbox was a gamechanger for me as well. I handle it pretty much the same as you, and it lead to me delivering way better services to my clients.

    However, I’d like to know how you balance your writing against other projects. I’m a web designer and I’m usually involved in 2 – 5 projects at a time, which leaves me only little time to write. When I write I do it without distractions and very focused, but I don’t write daily (yet). Do you have a tip how I can prioritize my editorial calendar as high as my client work, without neglecting either one?


  8. Howie says:

    Great! Recently I’ve begun waking up at 5 am everyday for the past week or so. Totally unintentional but, like you, I just kind of rolled with it instead of lying there staring at the ceiling for another hour like normal.
    It’s a great feeling to be productive knowing that most of your peers aren’t even awake yet. It’s especially fulfilling to me since I’m not working on something I’m passionate about it so it gives me a chance to do something for myself before the official work day begins!

    Keep being awesome,

  9. I am such a huge proponent of this. I often tell people the exact same thing, that since I have started getting up early, my business has propelled forward.

    I get so much done by noon it’s not even funny. Then, if I choose to get outside, go to the gym or go have some fun in the afternoon, I’m never upset about it because I’ve been crushing it for 6 hours already.

    I often times still end up working in the afternoon, which ends up just leaving me with this massive increase in work product for all ventures I am working on.

    I get pretty excited for early morning coffee as well 🙂

    Great Article. Cheers!

  10. Scott Asai says:

    If there’s one commonality that you’ll hear most successful entrepreneurs share it’s getting up early. You accomplish more and somehow you just have more energy. It’s just one of many habits to adapt and benefit from long-term!

  11. I’m completely the opposite! I work best in the afternoon and evening, so early wake-up calls force me to wander around tired and grumpy until my brain finally clicks on around noon. I had a similar experience of clarity as you did when I *stopped* trying to wake up at 6 a.m. and accepted that my body and brain are wired for a shifted work schedule.

    1. Sean says:

      Excellent point, I was waiting for a night owl to show up! I think the most important thing is recognizing what works for you and planning your social and sleep schedules around that.

    2. Becci says:

      Mallie thank you sooo much for your input here. I am not a morning person at all, and the more I try to force it, the worse I feel. I do get tired of everyone saying how you have to get up early to be successful. More likely, it is best to work when you are at your best. For me Mallie, I too am tired and grumpy until noon. I think Stephanie from the comments above, has a fantastic point about setting the first 3 hours of your day’s routine. Even as night owls, there is absolute value in setting ourselves up for a productive day.

  12. Chris says:

    This post definitely motivates me a bit more to keep doing what I tried for the last month 🙂 I started waking up at 7am instead of 8am (I start working at 8:30am). An improvement for sure, but I think that for us “fools” still on a full time job, that’s not 100% in our control. Not denying my responsibility, but when you have family, friends, passions and hobbies and you combine your full time job with a side job, it’s really hard to wake up at 6/7 am consistently after you go to sleep at midnight or 1am certain times. Keep grinding Sean, looking forward for the regular posting!

  13. Linda says:

    Great article, Sean .. I have to agree, I have been getting up before 6am for about a month and have found I am getting so much more done that I was, which is actually allowing me to take care of the other responsibilities I have and enjoy my evenings! Thanks for sharing!

  14. Virgin Dave says:


    So the trick is just to mess up your biological clock so that you naturally do it? I should have thought of that sooner. I absolutely cannot wake up early. I also tend to get a lot of stuff done late at night and in the wee hours of the morning. I think maybe it’s because that’s when I have the longest continuous block of uninterrupted time. Since I work a 9-5, the biggest benefit to getting up that early would be to get my workout in first thing, so I would have even more uninterrupted time after work. Even with thought in mind, I’ve had trouble following through. Do you think it has anything to do with having something to wake up excited about?


    P.S. I still want to do that interview with you for my site. I’ll follow up on our emails soon.

    1. Sean says:

      The trick is to mess with your biological clock to give yourself a head start 🙂 After a couple days it’s up to you to keep it going.

      I also think having something to be excited about makes a big difference. It’s like how come on those days were I have a really early tee time, a flight to catch, or I’m going skiing – is it so easy to just hop out of bed?

      I think having direction in your work and personal projects can have the same effect.

  15. That’s it Sean, you’ve challenged me to get up an hour earlier than I do right now – 5am starts, here I come!

    Congrats on ticking that off the list – I bet it feels awesome. 6am starts were always a norm for me and the few mornings where I’ve woken up even earlier than that… well, let’s just say that I’ve got a ton more done and felt way more productive than on a ‘normal’ day.

    So my pledge is this, from 13 October, I’m going to start waking up at 5am! I’m sure my hubby won’t be too happy about it, but he can just roll over and go back to sleep 😉

    Thanks for the push to try this too!


    1. How are the 5am starts going Lise?! 😉

  16. Ashwin says:


    I started waking up every morning at exactly 6 for the last one year and I can testify to the power of the early birds. Just like you, my writing also is best done in the mornings. In fact, I pack so much into my mornings that almost 90% of my work is done by mid-day. I lose focus during the noon too, and I take a nap.

    It all felt so “me me”, this post 🙂


  17. Fernando Biz says:

    Great article and inspiring tips Sean. Since reading that become an SEO in 48 hours, my life changed and worked from Asia for a month this year and now planning to work at different European city every other month for year form mid 2015.

    Thanks for the great articles.

  18. My Dad always said two things:

    1. Failing to plan is planning two fail
    2. Achieving something great is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration

    If you just expect something to happen without clear plans and goals, it will either be rushed and done crappily. Or, it won’t get done at all. And – things take WORK.

    I’m kind of happy I’m a bit of an organization freak, I just sometime get too involved in busy work XD. Always things to improve on.

    I’ve been doing a lot more organized planning with goal documents and it’s REALLY helped get a lot stuff done. I’m also like you – most things get done earlier in the morning, slug along in the afternoon, and then after 5/530PM I’m done. I might try a 6AM for a week experiment with goals on paper – I usually use Word and ASANA.

    Looking forward to the new stuff on L180, Sean!

  19. Badda Bing Badda Boom!

    This mirrors our email exchange from a few weeks ago – really glad you decided to post about this.

    I have nearly the same struggle. Namely:

    1) When I wake up early (between 6 and 7am) consistently, I feel GREAT – and can’t stop preaching about how every entrepreneur should do this.

    2) However, if I don’t have anything scheduled for the early morning (especially something emotionally compelling) I will hit the snooze bar and keep dozing…sometimes as late as 11am…yuck.

    3) Then, instead of getting right to work on something productive, I instead choose to mentally beat myself up for not living up to my own values…and the vicious cycle continues.

    Talk about setting myself up to fail!

    I think I’m gonna try to schedule more morning calls and meetings, consistently. I’ve always responded strongly and most consistently to not wanting to let other people down, especially people that know me and hold me to a higher standard.

    Great (and timely) post, Sean.

    1. Sean says:

      I’m the same way. Generally speaking, I’m one of the more punctual people you’ll ever meet. And if I’m late, I feel bad about it. Thats why the early morning meetings, at least for me, can be a great way to build that habit.

      The real trick for you though is learning not to take it too hard when you aren’t successful at some of the things you want to do. We have a lifestyle like this for a reason, if you occasionally want to sleep into 11, great! Do it, because you can 🙂

  20. Sean, this is a serious achievement.

    When I am waking up at 6 every day I am at my best on all levels.

    I find it hard to stick at it for more than a week, I usually lose it at the weekends and fall out for a few days, then try to get back on it.

    I may take you up on this 2 week challenge!!!

    … after DCBKK 😉

    Seriously though, great work.

    – Russ!

  21. Sarah says:

    That’s powerful stuff! Are you going to continue waking up at 6 AM?

    I wake up at around 5:30 AM each day, because I am still at my day job and waking up early gives me the opportunity to work on my freedom project before going to work. It’s important enough to me that I insist on doing it.

  22. Adrian says:

    Hi Sean, another great article. FYI – Congrats on Scotland golf trip, EPIC!

    I have now landed in Thailand to work on establishing location independence business (Chiang Mai for now). Will be here for up to 6 months (Yes – i did bring my golf clubs! And yes many have said i’m crazy).

    Won’t lie i didn’t read all comments above so apologies if this is repeated but single best tip i’ve discovered this week for waking up early:

    SLEEP WITH THE CURTAINS OPEN – discovered by accident this week. Woken up last 3 days between 5-6am naturally with no alarm. Seems the sunlight coming through sparks the body to wake up; as we all know waking up naturally rather than with an alarm is much less stressful 🙂

    Despite waking up early i still was not overly productive as i didn’t have clear idea of what i was going to do first. Decided i’m going to make exercise priority No.1. As i haven’t done any for a while i’ll start with climbing stairs in my apartment building for 20 mins while listening to business podcasts such as TMBA. Progressing in time to sprints up the stairs .

    Hope it helps some folks. Regards

  23. re: “I know I’m most productive in the mornings. I lose focus in the afternoons, and on a typical day after 5pm pretty much all work goes away.”
    I’ve also found early mornings through to lunch time easier to work productively and afternoons difficult. I think it can depend on several factors such as heavy lunches, poor sleep patterns and also your Circadian Rhythm.

    One of my tactics is to pack-up the laptop and head to the local Library. I find it more of a work environment than my study – plus, it has study-type work stations where you can work interrupted. As soon as I setup I immediately start working productively, every time.

    1. Sean says:

      Great call on getting out of the house early. I dont do the library, but I do go to coffee shops a lot. I found that a little background noise is a good thing for me.

  24. Abhishek says:

    early to bed and early to rise makes you healthy and wise.When you wake up early you are always ahead of those who are sleeping, for a student it works wonder

  25. This was a good read.

    After listening to both Jordan Peterson and Tony Robbins about making a calendar and plan your life, I figured that the first step for me was to wake up earlier. I then searched for a bit, trying to see peoples experinces and as I thought: People are really getting things done!

    I have 2 kids and normally I set the alarm to 7am, but if I had that one hour more in the morning, I would have the time to ride the bike for 30 minutes and prepare breakfast. We will see how it goes.

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