More Productive Days: If You Sleep In, You Can’t Win

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The Night Owl – Less Productive

I used to be a huge believer in the night owl movement. I would stay awake until I literally could no longer function. This would cause me to either get way less sleep than I needed or sleep well into the day. This had been my pattern for as long as I can remember. I was generally exhausted, and would simply mask this reality by over-caffeinating myself. It wasn’t until a couple months ago that I started rethinking this mentality.

The Early Bird – More Productive

After years of working from Starbucks or whatever coffee shop I could find, I started working contract from an office across town. This is the first time in my life that I had a set time that people were expecting me to check-in everyday. At first, it a real chore to get up earlier than I was used to just to spend my morning sitting in traffic. It was during this time that I started listing to various podcasts. I listened to all sorts of shows, from health to education to business. There seemed to be a reoccurring theme about getting up early – you’ve got to do it. So, I thought I would give it a try.

After only a few days, I began to understand. I was able to get up and go start knocking stuff out, before my “real job” had even begun. It was amazing how much more productive I was in the morning. I looked back on all the long nights I had put in over the years and really wondered how much work was really getting done after midnight. Sure, I was there at my desk, working away…but what was actually getting accomplished?

The focus and clarity that comes in the morning is unmatched. I was now able to get up with purpose and start checking stuff off my list, before the sun was even up. The huge chunks of progress validated what all of these successful people had always preached. Getting up early really does make a difference.

Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise. Click To Tweet

— Ben Franklin

Make the Most of Your Morning

Do it the night before:

  1. Have your items laid out for the day. For me this includes having my computer packed up, clothes ready, etc. This will allow you to start taking action without having to make the seemingly “hard decisions” about what to do in the morning. I can’t tell you how many times I used to walk to my closet and just stare at clothes while my brain tried to catch up, and make a decision about which shirt to grab.
  2. If you’re taking your lunch to work, it should already be made. Same concept as #1, you want to minimize the amount of decisions you have to make early in the morning. The first 20-30 minutes of your day should essentially be on auto-pilot. This is pretty much everything that involves routine (i.e. – showering, brushing teeth, getting dressed = no decisions).
  3. Place your alarm clock out of reach. This means you’ll be forced to leave your warm, comfy bed to silence the relentless machine.

Do it in the morning:

  1. Leave your bedroom and head towards the light. This will alleviate any needless contemplation as to whether or not you’ll lay in bed for another 30 minutes. Additionally, changing your environment to some place that is full of light (i.e. kitchen, bathroom) will tell your body it’s time to get up. The faster this transition takes place the easier it is for you to start functioning at full capacity.
  2. Drink a large glass of water. This will do a few things for you. First, it will begin the re-hydration process after your long restful night of sleep. Second, it will jumpstart your system so that you will begin burning calories as you continue to wake up.
  3. Do something physical. No one ever has time to workout. But when you’re up at 5am, no one has an excuse. Doing even a couple minutes of something physical (i.e. pushups, crunches, etc) can go a long way in setting the pace for the day. Not only will this get your blood flowing, it can begin a habit that you’ll eventually gain results from.
  4. Cut the commute. By waking up early, you’ve just allowed a huge window of opportunity to get where you want to go, while the rest of the world is sleeping. I typically don’t go to work early; instead, I will head to a Starbucks to start getting stuff done. This cuts my overall drive from 50 minutes to around 15 minutes.

Don’t Take My Word, Try It

For those of you who are still Night Owls, there is hope. Try this and I guarantee you’ll begin to see the benefits. If you can’t commit to a full make-over, just start slow. Wake up 15 minutes earlier every day, until you find your sweet spot. There’s certainly a diminishing return at some point, so you’ll have to see what works for you.

Either you run the day or the day runs you. Click To Tweet

— Jim Rohn

Now that I’ve committed myself to this new ideal, I have a completely different outlook on life. Try it for a few weeks, if you don’t like it…you can always go back to the grind.