My Journey By Michele Herenstein

By Michele Herenstein

It’s 8 a.m. and my day is done.

I woke up before five in the morning, closer to four. I was wide awake and hungry, so I got out of bed to eat breakfast. After finishing a yummy meal (pancakes with syrup and Greek yogurt), I made my bed. Yes, I am that strange person whose bed needs to be made before 5 a.m. Then I checked my iPhone and returned texts.

I started laying out my clothing for Pesach, since I was traveling to Florida. So I walked from room to room, trying to find things on my list and pile them up on my guest bed.

Between packing, I read Tehillim and two chapters of Living Emunah. I felt really good about this.

I did a plank, and I showered.

By 8 a.m. my day was more than halfway done. But I still had so many hours to contend with.

On, there is mention of nine famous people who were/are early risers: Benjamin Franklin, Tim Cook, George W. Bush, Rachael Ray, Robin Sharma, Condoleezza Rice, Napoleon, John Grisham, and Ernest Hemingway.

For Tim Cook, Apple CEO, a new day begins at 4:30 a.m. “Apparently sending out some company e-mails right off the bat gets him started. And after keeping fit at the gym, which is a must for the high-pressure work of a CEO, he always aims to be the first one at the office in the morning. But that doesn’t mean he’s the first one off. No, no. Being the last one out is equally important to make sure he leads by example.

“The energy level of Tim Cook has been said to be tremendously high throughout the day and he never seems to lack discipline and strength. Being an early bird is a major part of his success story.”

Women’s Health magazine discusses five health benefits of being an early riser. “One is that early birds are less likely to blow off a workout.”

“Early risers are happier and more positive than people who wake up late,” reports the journal Emotion. “They’re more proactive! They eat healthier. They may be at less risk for depression.”

Katherine Skiba wrote in the Seattle Times, “First Lady Michelle Obama shuns cable television. She’s an early riser who e-mails aides before they’ve arrived for work in the morning. And she misses her trips to Target.” has morning quotes that are inspiring:

  • “I never knew a man come to greatness or eminence who lay abed late in the morning.”
    —Jonathan Swift
  • “When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive — to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love — then make that day count!”
    —Steve Maraboli
  • “I wake up every morning and grab for the morning paper. Then I look at the obituary page. If my name is not on it, I get up.”
    —Benjamin Franklin

I love getting things done in the early morning, especially walks around my neighborhood, approximately 2–5 miles. In warmer weather, the walks must be done early, before the weather gets too hot to go outside.

My best writing, my favorite activity, is done at its quickest early in the morning. My mind is open, I have no distractions, and my computer gives me fewer issues than in the afternoon or evening.

My best exercise is done in the morning. It seems I have the most energy in the early a.m.

Ciara Conlon mentions time in her article, “This Is Why Productive People Always Wake Up So Early” on the website Lifehack ( “If you were to get up just one hour earlier each morning you would gain 15 days in a year. Scary when you put it like that. How many days of our lives do we waste sleeping? I don’t know about you, but I have too much I want to achieve to waste my life in this way. If you are time deficient, sleep less. We only need six to seven hours a night. Any more is wasting life.”

Many famous people who wake up early:

  • “Sergio Marchionne splits his time between Turin, Italy, and Auburn Hills, Michigan. When in the U.S., he gets up at 3:30 in the morning to deal with the European side and still have time for everything else,” he told 60 Minutes.
  • Indra Nooyi (PepsiCo CEO) wakes up as early as 4 a.m., telling Fortune that, “They say sleep is a gift that G-d gives you … that’s one gift I was never given.” In a speakers’ series at Pepsi, she revealed that she’s at work every day by no later than 7.
  • “The first Bush would get up at 4 a.m., go running, be in the office by 6 a.m., and stay up until 2 a.m. He was a horror,” said a former White House nurse who had to try to keep up with him.
  • The second Bush kept a similar schedule, going to the office by 6:45 a.m. and often holding meetings at this ripe hour, according to the NYT.

So we see that many successful people start with an early rising.

In the early hours of the morning, I have clarity, focus, concentration, enthusiasm, and motivation. These slow down as the day passes.

I like going on early-morning walks in Florida, before it gets super-hot. I even try to get some writing done. It feels great to go for breakfast after some writing, a walk, and dressing right for the weather (hat, sunglasses, etc.).

I hope those who wake super-early get clarity and motivation out of their day and pass it on to others.

Michele Herenstein can be reached at


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