How I Got a Jump Start on My Day
The idea of waking up early, and its effect on accomplishing more or less in a day, is explored by William Richardson. Having to arrive early in the morning to his office one day, Richardson noticed the four names above him (in the security sign in sheet) all belonged to the top five producers in the office. Dedicated and persistent, Richardson routinely showed up early and began seeing improvements in his work habits and health. As a result, he was able to run a marathon, and give more time to his work.
How I Got a Jump Start on my Day by William M. Richardson, III, CFP
Committing myself to getting up early every day allowed me to accomplish more than I ever thought possible.
When I first started in the financial-services business, I was in my late twenties and was getting up between 6:00 and 7:00 a.m. every day. I thought the “flexibility” inherent in my career choice gave me that option, and that as long as I was in the office by 8:30 a.m., it didn’t really matter.
I also thought it didn’t matter when I actually did my work, as long as I got it done. On more than one occasion I decided I could start even later than 8:30 a.m. if I had an evening meeting.
A senior advisor who was a leader in our office wanted to meet periodically with me and my mentor—at 7:30 a.m. No problem. At the entrance of our building, we’re required to do a security sign-in if we arrive before seven. One day I happened to arrive really early for one of those mentoring meetings, and I noticed the signatures of the colleagues who had signed in ahead of me.
There were four names—and all four were among the top-five producers in our office. The other top-five producer, who hadn’t signed in early that day, was probably on vacation.
The importance of early rising
That’s when I began to realize that all hours are not created equal. The early-morning hours are special. At that point in the day, things happen in the realm of preparation that separate top performers from everyone else.
Around this time, Alex Rosenblatt, a colleague who eventually became my business partner, was my next-door cubicle neighbor. Alex was in the habit of arriving early, and one day he offered to give me a ride to work. I found myself making excuses about why I didn’t want to be picked up at 6:30 in the morning. Lucky for me, he was persistent, and I agreed to ride in with him. It wasn’t a bad experience.
I had been noticing that my production level wasn’t where I wanted it to be, and with this new wisdom I resolved to start getting up at 5:30 a.m. and using the time to get a run in or simply get to the office earlier. I realized the extra hour afforded me five extra work hours per week, which equated to 20 extra hours per month or 240 per year— that’s six extra 40-hour work weeks!
I started realizing that getting up earlier was helping me make better decisions about what I did at night. With all this extra running, I decided to start training for my first marathon. That meant a 10-mile run every Thursday morning. In order to get to the office at a decent time, I needed to get up at 4:30 a.m. to accomplish that. Having a few drinks or staying out late the night before was just no longer an option.
Things began to snowball. Soon enough, getting up early became an almost unbreakable habit. Now I get up between 3:50 a.m. and 4:15 a.m. every day. I’ll go for an early run and set things up so that I’m at my desk no later than 6:00 a.m. I take great pride in being one of the first of our advisors to sign that sheet at the security desk every morning. Alex usually signs in around the same time.
At the beginning of this new period in my life, I’d spend those early hours studying for the CFP exam. Now, I never spend any time between 8:00 and 5:00 on things that do not involve seeing clients or running the business. My record for earliest arrival time at work is 3:47 a.m. During the period when I was studying for my CFP, my arrival time average was 4:17 a.m.
Things are great now. My production has increased by 150 percent, and my health has improved due to my dedication to running. Making one simple commitment to getting up early changed who I was as a person. I became the man I needed to be in order to accomplish the things I wanted to accomplish.
Since those days, there have been other things I’ve needed to change in my life. Drawing on the strength of discipline I learned in changing my work schedule allowed me to accomplish more than I ever thought possible.
William M. Richardson, III, CFP, is a wealth management advisor at Northwestern Mutual in San Francisco. Contact him at email@example.com.
This article appeared in Advisor Today.