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How You Can Use Habits to Wake Up Early Like Tim Cook

It’s not easy to follow in the footsteps of someone as iconic and impactful as Steve Jobs. However, it’s fair to say that Tim Cook has done a solid job as CEO since the Apple co-founder resigned in August 2011. Cook, formerly of IBM and Compaq, moved to Apple in 1998 and was an integral member of the team that took Apple from a declining position to being the largest company in the world with a current market cap of $872 billion.

With an estimated net worth of $625 million, Tim Cook has certainly done well during his time at Apple, but he is also known for his philanthropic efforts and has pledged to give all of his wealth towards a range of charitable means.

Tim Cook’s sleep routine and habits

Cook has historically kept his personal life well out of the public eye. As a result, outside of Apple, there’s not much we know about this CEO. However, there is one aspect of his daily routine that he is renowned for: being a very early riser. He wakes up at around 3:45am PT every single day. He’s tweeted “Got some extra rest for today’s event. Slept in ’til 4:30.” which puts into perspective just how much he advocates an early start.

Tim sees his early rising as an opportunity to catch-up on what has been happening in Asia and Europe that day and uses the extra time to get ahead of emails, which he likes to do first thing in the morning. He also uses this time to practice his fitness routine by getting a workout in: a common practice of many early-risers with busy schedules.

However, as he points out, waking up early and starting the day before everyone else doesn’t feel like a chore:

“The thing about it is, when you love what you do, you don’t really think of it as work. It’s what you do. And that’s the good fortune of where I find myself,” said Cook.

How to build sleeping habits to wake up early like Tim Cook

1. Establish a sleep routine that you can repeat every night

Repetition is key when attempting to build a habit so it’s important to realistically consider what your sleeping routine could be. If you’re a night owl and enjoy staying up late you’re unlikely to suddenly start sleeping from 9pm until 4am. It has to reasonable based on your work hours, family circumstances, and lifestyle. You may need to trade some of this evening time for morning time so make peace with that now.

Pick a time that you’d like to wake up and set incremental targets to slowly shift towards that time. For example, set yourself two targets like:

“Move your alarm forward 5 minutes every night over the course of a month ”


“go to bed 5 minutes earlier each night”

This ensures that whilst you’re waking up sooner you’re still getting enough sleep by going to bed slightly earlier – it’s important not to sacrifice your sleep length just to wake up at 6am.

Note: of course this is a habit that you’ll only need to maintain until you reach your desired wakeup time.

2. Know what you’re going to do when you wake-up

As practiced and suggested by Tony Robbins, planning what you’re going to do after you wake up before you go to sleep not only puts your mind at ease, but it also means that when you do wake up, you’ll have a clearer thought process. You can start small by selecting one thing to do as you get out of bed, like:

“<task to do> as soon as alarm goes off”

This doesn’t have to be a difficult task, rather it should just act as a trigger to kickstart your day, or as an indicator to yourself that you’ve now woken up and your day is officially beginning. This task could be as simple as making the bed or packing your bag for the day.

3. Remove electronics and devices from your room before bed

We covered this in our post about the sleep habits of Arianna Huffington. This ultimately serves two purposes:

  1. it compensates for using your devices earlier in the day )i.e. you’re doing more work earlier in the day rather than later at night.)
  2. it helps you associate device downtime with bedtime. You’ll be able to build a habit of going to sleep a period of time after putting away your devices for the day.

One way you can achieve this is to:

“Activate airplane mode 10 minutes before bed”

You can do this in-sync with sub-habit (1) above or you can choose to do this separately.

One thing to note is that although Tim Cook chooses to wake up at 3.45am, it doesn’t mean you have to do that as well. He has found over time that it works for him based on his goals, lifestyle, and profession. You might find that waking up at 6am or 9am actually works best for you – and that’s a much more effective approach to success than simply replicating someone else’s routine. The key is to be thoughtful about how you set up your routine and not just operate on autopilot.



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