6 Words That Will Help You Wake Up Earlier In the Morning (& Actually Love It!)

by | BiggerPockets.com

Does anyone else out there feel like his or her brain is kind of, well, stupid in the morning?

About a year ago, after reading The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod, I made a conscious decision to wake up earlier every day. I wanted to accomplish my most important tasks before the phone calls, meetings, text messages and other distractions started. I wanted my lifestyle to emulate those stories which abound of famous entrepreneurs who wake up early and completely dominate their industry.

I could be just like them, right?

So, the night before I started my own “miracle morning,” I set my alarm a bit earlier, and with the best of intentions went to sleep. I looked forward to the morning, when I would pop out of bed and start crushing it!

But then morning happened. And my stupid brain took over. It felt as though an idiotic troll straight out of The Hobbit had emerged to make my morning decisions. “No! Back to bed now!” the troll brain shouted. And I complied. An hour later, I woke again, mentally kicking myself for my lack of self-control.

Waking up early, I’d just found, wasn’t going to be so easy. I needed to fight the stupid troll brain.

Soon after, I discovered an easy way to fight the troll brain and win every time. Within 100 days, I had written two real estate investing books, doubled my income and improved my relationship with my wife. It all came down to six simple words: Don’t let your brain make decisions.

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Those six words changed everything for me and helped me defeat the troll brain. No, I still don’t love getting up early. I still don’t “rise and shine” the way I would like. However, I do get up every morning when my smart brain wants to. I’ve defeated the stupid troll brain by eliminating its ability to make decisions.

The lesson here? The more decisions your stupid brain has to make, the more it will resist waking up. So, use your smart brain to eliminate all possible choices in the morning. Let me share four simple ways to make that happen.

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1. Move your alarm clock across the room.

The easiest way to force your stupid troll brain to stay awake is to get your body moving immediately. I’ve found that placing my smartphone across the room and setting my alarm clock has forced me to stand up and walk over to shut it off. I no longer leave the choice whether to stand up to my half-asleep body. I have no choice but to stand up and turn the alarm off.

2. Make your first task super-easy.

After the alarm goes off, the temptation still exists to crawl back into that warm, comfortable pile of blankets. But, again, I don’t want my stupid troll brain making decisions, so to help my smart brain take control, I give myself an incredibly easy task to accomplish.

The easiest task for me? Drinking a glass of water that has already been poured the night before.

That might sound silly, but drinking a glass of water has a couple of benefits. Besides quenching dehydration due to the lack of water during the night, drinking water gives your smart brain a quick win. You’ve made a positive choice.

Next, I like to brush my teeth — because the toothbrush is sitting right there. Again, it’s a simple task that doesn’t require hard work, so my troll brain doesn’t resist.

3. Set out your clothes the night before.

I don’t want to leave my wardrobe choice to my troll brain. Not that he’ll force me to wear my wife’s lingerie or anything similarly untoward, but if the clothing choice is left to him, he’ll still choose bed over getting dressed.

So, I pick out my clothes the night before and leave them in a conspicuous place that even my troll brain won’t miss.


4. Write down your morning goal the night before.

By this time in my new routine, I’ve made several good decisions, and my troll brain is feeling defeated. Now, it’s time to take things up a notch and vanquish the troll for good!

To do this, I must determine exactly what big task I’ll need to accomplish once I start my day. After all, if I don’t have a clearly defined purpose for waking up, I’ll either go back to sleep or veg out on the couch, aimlessly scrolling my Instagram feed for an hour, completely defeating the purpose of waking up early.

So, each evening before going to bed, I set my agenda for the following morning. I usually just make a short list (sometimes just one item) in my Evernote that says what I’ll be doing in the morning. For example:

  • Write 1,000 words for the new book.
  • Drive to the gym and follow my lifting schedule.
  • Send PR emails to seven real estate tech writers.

This helps me accomplish a few things: First, I am not showing up to the day unprepared. I know exactly what I’m doing, so no time is wasted. I get right to it, eliminating the troll brain once and for all.

Second, the tasks I choose are always the most important thing I need to do to take me one step closer to my goals. If I accomplish nothing else in the entire day, I can still consider this particular day a “win” because I completed my most important thing.

Waking up early, then, doesn’t take mounds of self-control, the right genes or a super power. You simply need to fight that stupid troll brain each morning and win. To do that requires those same six little words: Don’t let your brain make decisions.

[This post originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com.]

How do you make your mornings the best start to the day they can possibly be?

Let me know with a comment!

About Author

Brandon Turner

Brandon Turner is an active real estate investor, entrepreneur, writer, and co-host of the BiggerPockets Podcast. He began buying rental properties and flipping houses at age 21, discovering he didn’t need to work 40 years at a corporate job to have “the good life.” Today, with nearly 100 rental units and dozens of rehabs under his belt, he continues to invest in real estate while also showing others the power, and impact, of financial freedom. His writings have been featured on Forbes.com, Entrepreneur.com, FoxNews.com, Money Magazine, and numerous other publications across the web and in print media. He is the author of The Book on Investing in Real Estate with No (and Low) Money Down, The Book on Rental Property Investing, and co-author of The Book on Managing Rental Properties, which he wrote alongside his wife, Heather, and How to Invest in Real Estate, which he wrote alongside Joshua Dorkin. A life-long adventurer, Brandon (along with Heather and daughter Rosie) splits his time between his home in Washington State and various destinations around the globe.


  1. sid yanamala

    I listened to Hal Elrod’s podcast. what an amazing guy and what an amazing concept. I also need to start practicing this miracle morning thing. I am doing those things but I am not regular. Great article Brandon. it’s good hear that someone got succeeded with this concept.

  2. Daniel Ryu

    Hope all is well. I’m now back in CA and I’m the one Skyping into Korea ^^
    Here’s how I implement your strategy – Time block everything on my calendar. Have it set the night before (at least). And then tell myself, if it’s on the calendar, it has to get done. No second guessing the next day.
    It’s definitely improved productivity.

  3. Luke Piper

    Thank you Brandon. This is a great post. I have been getting up at 4am for the past 5 years to work on my writing. I found that I’ve been doing everything that you mentioned consistently except the glass of water and brushing of my teeth. I’m going to start that immediately! Great tip!
    I’d like to add, that if you have someone you’re accountable to, preferably a spouse to literally kick you out of bed, then that’s a big motivation too!

  4. Kyle Hipp

    I work shift work at my “day job” so a tuesday is the same as a Saturday for me. Also I have found that skipping sleep all together allows you to get a ton done. Yes your productivity might fault at hour 14 on the 6th day of 16-18 hour days but to be pushing forward with so many hours, one can’t deny the progress. Mind over matter.

    I recently had a sleep study done as the wife thought I had the apnea (turns out I’m normal, with a mild to moderate snore :)) and I went in after being awake for 30 hours. Slept like a baby 🙂

  5. Mike McKinzie

    My dad always said that to be successful, all you have to do is work a half day, and it doesn’t matter which 12 hours you choose. Talk about the mornings, we could play 18 holes, have breakfast in the coffee shop and be in the office BEFORE 9:00 AM. Since I retired, I’ve gotten lazy and I need to change that, thanks for a great article Brandon.

  6. Cody Bacon

    Great article Brandon, thank you. I find that if I’m excited about something that I tend to have an easier time getting up in the morning. I will definitely try the alarm across the room and glass of water very soon!

  7. I love getting up early. Still working on making it a regular thing. I already do the first step. Working on doing step 4 as I feel like that helps immensely. Will have to give 2 and 3 a shot, too. Thanks for the info!

  8. Dagart Allison

    Great article! I read the Morning Miracle and it was what catapulted my fitness and my overall well being. Went from a 8am riser to a 6am riser. Some added advice to those out there who want to try but are scared of failing. There have been plenty of mornings recently where I have not risen at 6am, but I don’t let that keep me from trying and over the past two months the number of mornings I do wake up at 6am have become easier and more abundant. The key is to keep trying. I am a terrible sleeper and some nights I can’t fall asleep until midnight, those mornings I may not feel good at 6am, then I snooze til 7am and feel good. Whereas before I never felt good, even at 8am. Even if you miss a few mornings here and there keep trying, because when you can you will still see the benefits.

  9. Karl B.

    ‘Troll Brain’ sounds like the name of a 1990s Seattle punk band. 🙂

    I’ve found if there’s something I procrastinate on (like writing a book) I need to merely sit down and begin writing. The key is to begin doing it.

    And when I do it multiple times a week it becomes much easier to begin and keep focus.

  10. ananth ramasamy

    I do yoga breathing exercises (pranayama) while in bed to help me wakeup. I take a deep breath to fill my lungs and hold it in for 5 to 8 seconds then exhale it as slow as possible. Do this 3 to 5 times. If this doesn’t do the trick you can try the following. This time inhale and exhale quickly. Take a deep breath quickly to fully fill your lungs and exhale with a force by pulling your stomach in. Repeat this a few times.These two exercises will pump so much blood through your body and brain that it is impossible to go back to sleep.
    I read “The Miracle Morning” after listening to Hal’s podcast on BP. I was glad that I was already practicing two of the 6 recommended. I wakeup 5:30 to 6 am and once I am up I brush and do half hour of meditation followed by 20 minutes of yoga stretching exercises.

  11. Mike McKinzie

    An update, since reading this blog and downloading Hal Elrod’s book, The Miracle Morning, I have woken up EVERY SINGLE DAY, did my walk and got my day going earlier. WOW! What a difference. I thought being retired meant NOT having to get up early and boy was I wrong. IF I want to enjoy my retirement, why in the world would I sleep it away?? I can sleep when I am dead, but as I am still living, I want to LIVE. The bottom line is just FEEL BETTER each day, having gotten it started early and with vigor! Thanks for the book recommendation Brandon.

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