Getting up early is a common trait among many of the worlds top CEOs, creatives and top-performers. Jocelyn Glei, Editor-in-Chief at 99U has found this trait is nearly always present among the most productive people. If you'd like more productive hours in your day consider getting up early and working from 5-6am (which is one of my favourite times of the day). Read on to learn why getting up early is so productive.
1. Start Your Day with Purpose
Page 19's article; “The Most Harmful Thing You're Doing Before You Get Out of Bed” gives a fascinating viewpoint on why hitting the snooze button each morning kills productivity. When you hit the snooze button you are effectively saying you don't want to wake up to life. While it can deliver short-term relief, hitting the snooze button over and over gives you a sense that there's no purpose of getting up and there's nothing to look forward to in your day. Conversely, if you get up straight away and already have a sense of purpose in mind, you're much more likely to have a passionate and productive day. When my alarm goes off at 4:50am I literally jump out of bed excited to start my day. When I get into work a few hours later it feels amazing to have already accomplished so much while your coworkers are still struggling to wake up.
2. Uninterrupted Work Time
No matter where you work, it's likely that throughout the day distractions are going to kidnap you and take you off track, killing your productivity and wasting time. The beauty of waking up early is that you can tackle your most important goal for the day while there's nobody around and no phone calls or emails to distract you. This really is one of the few times of the day you can effectively guarantee that you're not going to be disturbed while working on an important piece of work. Embrace it.
3. Mental Power is Maximised
Decision fatigue is defined as the drain in mental power that you experience throughout the day as you make decisions about what to do, what to eat and even what to wear. Steve Jobs and Albert Einstein chose to wear the same thing every day in order to limit decision fatigue and focus their mental energy on more worthwhile tasks. By waking up early and working on your most important goals of the day you can increase the effectiveness of your work as you have the maximum amount of mental power at your disposal. Even if you like getting into the office early, you will have already spent mental energy deciding what to wear, making breakfast and commuting. Make sure your number one priority is the first thing you tackle each day, before anything else.
4. Get Your Most Important Goal Out of the Way
In order to maximise productivity during your early starts, it's vital to have established your goal for the morning the night before. Don't wait until you get up to decide what to do, as we now know this will increase decision fatigue. Either write down or schedule in your calendar the goal you're planning to work on the following morning. This will help give you a sense of purpose and excite you the next morning. By tackling your most important goal first you set yourself up for success. So even if you get distracted later or urgent work crops up, you can rest a little easier knowing you've already achieved the one thing you wanted to that day.
5. It's Natural
According to Dr Tracey Marks, going to sleep and waking up early syncs your body with the earth's natural circadian rhythms and is more restorative than trying to sleep when the sun is up (credit to Shawn Stevenson and his book Sleep Smarter for this insight). When the sun rises, that's basically nature telling you it's time to wake up and start being active. Fighting this instinct not only harms your productivity but your general health and the quality of your sleep as well. Studies show that we're more effective at cognitive tasks and problem-solving in the morning. Don't waste this time; build early starts into your routine and take advantage of how this time can benefit your productivity and personal well-being.
If you're not an early riser, trial early starts for 1-2 weeks and see how this impacts your productivity and general health.
- Each night determine what you're going to work on the following morning. Schedule this in your calendar or write it down on a notepad next to your bed.
- I recommend a bed time of about 9:30pm in order to get the right amount of sleep.
- Set your alarm for 4:50am. When it goes off, get up straight away. No snoozing!
- Make yourself a tea or coffee. Or jump in the shower for 2 minutes to help wake yourself up.
- Enjoy an hour of uninterrupted quality work from 5:00-6:00am.
- You can tweak these times and set your alarm for 5:50am if you wish. I prefer 4:50am as I can then workout for an hour from 6:00-7:00am before having breakfast and meditating for 20 minutes.
Remember, practice makes perfect. You might find the first few mornings a little tough if you're not normally an early riser. Stick with it and you'll soon find this time of day extremely relaxing and productive.