How to Get More Hours in the Day

by guest blogger Maya Rodale, writer of historical tales of true love and adventure

The dog made me do it. Every morning at precisely 6 a.m.—on the dot—little Penelope yipped in her crate, letting me know it was time to get out of bed and take her for a walk. Twenty minutes later the dog had been walked and the coffee was hot. Now what…? Wide-awake, and with nothing else to do, I got on with my work and discovered that there really was a way to get more hours in a day.

The key is productive hours. After I converted The Husband to my 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. sleep schedule, he noted that he got more done, even though he was awake for the same number of hours. The difference was that after 10 p.m., he wasn’t doing much other than watching TV until 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning. These days, we’re often up early to bike before work. I use the quiet time to write or make my to-do list for the day. It’s my favorite time to reply to emails because no one writes back immediately.

Getting up wicked early basically feels like a head start. I’ve become hooked on the feeling of having accomplished something before 9:00 a.m. That way, no matter what the day throws at me, I’ve gotten something important done.

Here are my tips for turning yourself into a morning person, so you, too, can have a more useful day:

For lord’s sake, go to bed early. Give yourself eight hours of sleeping time. Expect a few nights of tossing and turning as your body adjusts. If I have a late night, I can’t get up early. (Well, I can, but it’s ugly.)

Put your alarm on the far side of the room. Having to get out of bed to turn it off is a mean but effective trick. While you’re up…

Pour some coffee and sit on the couch. Because you have time to wake up slowly and quietly. This is my necessary luxury.

How do you get yourself out of bed?


Maya Rodale is the author of multiple historical romance novels, as well as the nonfiction book Dangerous Books for Girls: The Bad Reputation of Romance Novels, Explained. She has a master’s degree from New York University and lives in Manhattan with her darling dog and a rogue of her own. Her latest book is The Tattooed Duke. Learn more at



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12 Responses to How to Get More Hours in the Day

  1. Nikki August 24, 2012 at 6:18 am #

    Install a dim light in the kitchen. Bright lights are too harsh for early morning. A nice soft light for while you are drinking coffee (or tea in my case) is perfect.

  2. maya rodale August 24, 2012 at 9:17 am #

    Great tip Nikki! Super bright lights first thing is a jarring way to wake up. Especially in winter, that soft light must be nice!

  3. Jodi August 24, 2012 at 9:36 am #

    I live in Mexico, but teach English classes in Spain via the internet. There’s a 7-hour time difference, so I start work at 5am and work until 3pm with a break from 8-10am. I need to be out of bed by 4am at the latest. I’m about to buy a treadmill, so I’ll start getting up earlier to start my day with exercise. I have alarm clocks in the bedroom, the bathroom, and the living room. When I turn off the alarm in the living room, I turn on the computer and the cup warmer. I have a cup of tea by my side all day, and refill it constantly. By 7pm I try to be on my heated massage bed (Ceragem). The automatic session with the jade rollers and all is 40 minutes. I often fall asleep. My husband wakes me up, eventually, and I go to bed, already relaxed and warm.

    The first two months I worked with this online school I started work at 3am. That was tough!

  4. Marji August 24, 2012 at 11:23 am #

    My sleep schedule gets coordinated with meal consumption schedule. For example, fruit & caffeine not after 4:00pm, no snacks after dinner, stay hydrated with water, chamomile, and maybe a drop of cherry juice mixed with water. If there will be an evening social activity, I try to take a nap in the afternoon. (hard to do for those who work outside the home). Wake up in the a.m. and start all over again with my list for the day.

  5. Stranded Treasures August 24, 2012 at 1:37 pm #

    Your article is so true! I am so much more productive going to sleep early/waking early. I love the early morning hours when it’s quiet and no one else is awake. I find it to be such a peaceful (and productive) time for me. I run a f/t business from home and it allows me to get my to-do list together and get organized with what I need to get done for the day . … And I love that moment when the sun is rising and you start to hear the birds chirping. It’s the little things!

  6. Craig Sams August 27, 2012 at 10:25 am #

    My lifestyle in a nutshell, Maya, but with one twist: after a good night’s sleep a little bit of exercise is enough to get your juices flowing and there’s no need for a coffee or tea. I have a tea in late morning or early afternoon and this takes me through the rest of the day. A cup of coffee first thing is a habit, but can leave you tired and in need of another not long after. Nothing hard and fast here – I had two cups of Assam this morning, but as often as not a mint/lemon verbena/chicory coffee is enough.

  7. Diana Mendez August 27, 2012 at 7:55 pm #

    Ganoderma coffee is best for waking up and giving you that edge for the rest of the day! And yet no raciness just smooth sailing and energy all day, and a nice wind down at the early evening enough for a great next day!! Email me if you’re interested

  8. Sara August 27, 2012 at 10:18 pm #

    Just a wild guess that no one commenting above is a single parent business owner 😉

  9. Annie Sisk (Pajama Productivity) August 28, 2012 at 10:59 am #

    Great post, Maya. My friend Nathalie Curabba shared this with me. I too get up early (4 AM for me) and go to bed early, because that works for me. It doesn’t, however, work for everyone. Some folks truly are wired for greater productivity later in the day.

  10. Joanne Cocivera August 28, 2012 at 4:13 pm #

    Re: ‘how to get more hours in a day’. Several months ago I was waking up at 5:30 AM. Not wanting to start doing anything at that hour, I made a bowl of cold cereal or yogurt, fruit, and nuts with a cup of coffee and returned to bed-made cozier with several pillows to prop me up. I wrapped myself up in my blanket-making sure my feet were warm! I found myself ready to get up more quickly with more energy after that relaxing time with “breakfast in bed”- a luxury usually reserved for Mothers’ Day or vacations. Why not every day?

  11. Laura August 29, 2012 at 4:44 am #

    Great post! I can completely relate to the latest hours in the day being the very least productive. I think I might have a new mission for my mornings…establishing a positively luxurious, slow, thoughtful, yet productive start.

  12. Ernest September 25, 2012 at 9:32 am #

    One way a friend of mine guarantees that the day will start out in a positive way- years ago she began setting her alarm at a much softer level (she is a very light sleeper, but also her hearing is much more sensitive than the average individuals-this trick may not work for those that are heavy sleepers), and a ringing tone that appeals to her- she says that an alarm that is jolting or irritating can start the day start out on a bad foot, and it makes it very frustrating. She does not-well, actually-cannot drink coffee because of the many extra heartbeats, and the episodes of flopping the caffeine causes- so it is not a matter of getting that caffeine to get going in the morning… she does not even do tea or sodas (not even decaffeinated, because it still has a small amount)… Ever since she made the adjustments to her alarm, she seems so much happier and is better able to deal with multiple issues, however problematic they are.

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