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).
Now, I'm not saying that if you don't get up early or if you prefer to work late at night that you're an unproductive person. At the end of the day, you need to do what works for you. In saying that, if you're a night owl, here are some reasons why you should reconsider your late night habits.
Make sure you head on over to iTunes and subscribe to the podcast. You can also subscribe via the RSS feed. Are you enjoying The Productivity Podcast? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below with your thoughts and ideas of things you’d like to hear about!
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're effectively saying you don't want to wake up to life. While snoozing 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.
If you get up when you're alarm goes off you have a greater sense of purpose and you're much more likely to have a meaningful and productive day. When my alarm goes off at 4:50am I literally jump out of bed excited to start my day. I love the feeling of getting a head start on the day and getting a few basic tasks complete before breakfast.[clickToTweet tweet=”‘When you hit the snooze button you're effectively saying you don't want to wake up to life'” quote=”‘When you hit the snooze button you're effectively saying you don't want to wake up to life'”]
2. Uninterrupted work time
In this best-selling book, Deep Work, Cal Newport discusses the importance of finding uninterrupted time to get into a focussed state of mind. No matter where or when you work, it's likely that throughout the day distractions are going to kidnap your attention 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. Take advantage of this and get your most important work done while there are no distractions.[clickToTweet tweet=”Getting up early is one of the only ways you're guaranteed to get work done without being distracted” quote=”Getting up early is one of the only ways you're guaranteed to get work done without being distracted”]
3. Your 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 quality of your work while you have the maximum amount of mental power at your disposal. Even if you like getting into the office early, you'll have already spent mental energy deciding what to wear, making breakfast and commuting. Try experimenting with tackling your number one priority first thing, before you do anything else.[clickToTweet tweet=”You have more mental power in the morning. Use this time to work on your most important tasks” quote=”You have more mental power in the morning. Use this time to work on your most important tasks”]
4. Get your most important goal out of the way
In order to maximise productivity during your early starts, you need to define your morning tasks 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 task you're planning to work on the following morning. This will increase your sense of purpose (as mentioned above) 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.[clickToTweet tweet=”Defining your daily goals the night before helps you to wake up with more meaning and purpose” quote=”Defining your daily goals the night before helps you to wake up with more meaning and purpose”]
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.[clickToTweet tweet=”Going to sleep and waking up early syncs your body with the earth's natural circadian rhythms” quote=”Going to sleep and waking up early syncs your body with the earth's natural circadian rhythms”]
6. More time for self-development
Another benefit of getting up early is that you'll have more time for self-development activities like journaling, meditation, self-reflection and goal setting.
Using meditation is a great way of hitting your mental reset switch each day. While journaling can help you to organise your thoughts and get more clarity on goals and next steps.
Okay, so these things are good for us, but how do we actually fit them in to our daily routines? The obvious answer is to get up 30 minutes earlier and use this time to start the day with some self-reflection and personal development.
Again, waking up to spend some time on yourself increases your sense of purpose and actually makes getting up easier each day.
Try it once and you'll be hooked![clickToTweet tweet=”Meditation & journaling are great, but how do you fit them in to your daily routine?” quote=”Meditation & journaling are great, but how do you fit them in to your daily routine?”]
If you're not an early riser, experiment with 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 9:30 – 10:00pm in order to get the right amount of sleep.
- Set your alarm (start with 6am and gradually work towards 5am) and 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.
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.[clickToTweet tweet=”I'm going to commit to getting up early from now on. Why don't you join me?” quote=”I'm going to commit to getting up early from now on. Why don't you join me?”]