How a simple rule helped this writer develop a more productive morning routine

Want to get more done in the morning? Writer and productivity blogger Jason Gutierrez swears by what he calls the 50-30-10-10 rule.
Young man lying on bed using laptop, partial view
The first step in becoming a morning person is to figure out what’s really going to motivate you to get up early.Westend61 / Getty Images/Westend61
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By Julie Compton

Getting up early is 50 percent determination, 30 percent preparation, 10 percent execution, and 10 percent luck, according to productivity blogger Jason Gutierrez.

He calls it the 50-30-10-10 rule.

Gutierrez, 30, founder of The Monk Life, a blog about anxiety, health and self-improvement, is a writer by morning and engineer by day.

Being a writer was always his dream, he says, but he was too exhausted to write after work. So he developed a routine to get himself up at 5:30 a.m. every weekday morning to work on his writing.

Gutierrez, who lives in Greenville, South Carolina and writes regularly for Medium.com, says the rule has helped him author hundreds of articles for his blog, which he started in 2016. He says the blog evolved over time, and now includes email subscribers and tutorials.

Here’s how the 50-30-10-10 rule works:

50 percent determination

“I really loved writing,” Gutierrez recalls, “but I was struggling to find time to do it consistently, and after a long bit of reflection, I realized that I just didn’t want it bad enough.”

Gutierrez realized that half of what it would take to get up early was sheer determination.

“I think the biggest thing I learned from implementing this method into my life was really wanting it and just making the time to do what I needed to do,” says Gutierrez.

30 percent preparation

But Gutierrez was used to staying up late, and knew that waking up at 5:30 would require undoing some poor habits.

So he developed a new rule: no TV or social media an hour before his 10 o’clock bedtime.

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He also developed some good habits to prepare himself for an early bedtime, like going for a walk, reading a book, and having a cup of chamomile tea in the evening.

“Basically, it’s just unplugging from the world, doing some things to get my mind in relaxation mode — then I lay down until I fall asleep,” he says.

He says he also writes down everything he needs to get done in the morning, which helps motivate him to get out of bed.

I think the biggest thing I learned from implementing this method into my life was really wanting it and just making the time to do what I needed to do.

10 percent execution

Gutierrez has a no TV or social media rule an hour before his 10 o'clock bedtime.Courtesy of Jason Gutierrez

When the alarm goes off at 5:30, Gutierrez doesn’t hit snooze or dillydally on his smart phone — he gets right out of bed, makes himself a cup of coffee, and starts writing.

He says going to bed early and getting a good night’s rest makes getting up at 5:30 a.m. a lot less painful.

“Assuming you’ve done everything else up front, actually getting up should be the easy part,” he says.

He also gives himself something to look forward to in the morning as motivation to get up.

“For me that’s usually my cup of coffee or tea,” he says.

10 percent luck

After determination, preparation, and execution, the rest is luck, according to Gutierrez.

Right around the time Gutierrez started implementing the 50-30-10-10 rule, he adopted a new puppy. Coincidentally, the puppy needed to go outside early to urinate.

Having to let the puppy outside helped Gutierrez ease into his new morning ritual.

“For me it was a little bit of luck,” Gutierrez says, “because it happened to be really good timing that we had the puppy. But you can make your own luck by having some sort of accountability, and I imagine there are quite a few ways you can do that, whether it’s a buddy who wants to get up with you or some other method you choose to use.”

Getting started

Gutierrez says it can take time to adjust to the 50-30-10-10 rule. His best advice is to figure out what’s really going to motivate you to get up early.

“You really have got to want it,” Gutierrez says, “but at the same time, you really don’t know what you want until you go after it.”

His tip: Choose a goal and start doing it.

“And once you start doing it, give it time to actually work on it to find out if it’s what you actually want to do, and if it is, then keep going, and if it’s not, try to find something else,” says Gutierrez.

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