Some people swear a productive day starts at 4 a.m. Others sleep on factory floors to ensure work gets done.
Not Mark Cuban. The billionaire serial entrepreneur and investor wakes up between 6:30 and 7 a.m and, without getting out of bed, spends an hour responding to emails, he told comedian Trevor Noah on a recent episode of the “What Now?” podcast. The early-morning organization helps keep him productive throughout each day, he said.
It’s partially a privilege, Cuban admitted: He was initially attracted to entrepreneurship so he could control his own schedule. His day job today involves running one of the companies he founded, a pharmaceutical startup called Cost Plus Drugs.
“The whole value of being in this position is just being able to control your time,” Cuban, 65, said. “It’s the one asset you can’t control.”
Starting your day with emails and texts isn’t always beneficial to your mental health, psychology researcher Nicola Hughes told CNBC Make It in 2018. But for Cuban, his schedule and communications are streamlined through his inbox, which helps him prepare for the day and cut down on unnecessary calls and emails, he said.
Productivity isn’t always about waking up early
Cuban is far from the only CEO who prioritizes their morning time. Some others wake up much earlier: Former PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi arises around 4 a.m, she told Fortune in 2012. Apple CEO Tim Cook reportedly wakes up 15 minutes earlier than that, and works for an hour before heading to the gym.
But those high-profile examples are statistical outliers. Only 5% of CEOs actually get up around 4 a.m., with over two-thirds waking up before 7 a.m., according to a 2022 Inc. magazine survey. That may be due to a simple fact, experts say: How early you wake up is a lot less important than how much sleep you get and how you use your time in the morning.
The specific benefits of waking up early mostly center around gaining some alone time, which can provide space to set goals, exercise or complete personal tasks without distractions. Just 20 minutes can set the tone for your entire day, psychologist Joel Dyoskin told Make It in 2022.
Sleep scientists typically recommend between seven and nine hours of sleep per night for peak physical health, mental health and productivity. Consistency helps, too — you’re likely to feel less tired if you get up and go to bed at similar times every day.
Cuban, who once said he get roughly seven hours of sleep per night, does keep his routine consistent, he told Noah. After he gets out of bed, he eats breakfast, works out and checks his email on his phone again.
“Rinse and repeat,” said Cuban.
Disclosure: CNBC owns the exclusive off-network cable rights to “Shark Tank,” which features Mark Cuban as a panelist.
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