I have noticed that I am more productive on days when I wake up early (5am) than I am on days when I “sleep in,” which for me means 7-8am. It’s decadent to lie in bed and pull out a book – or to be honest my cell phone – and aimlessly scroll through my Twitter feed, then bounce to Instagram, then to email. Before I know it an hour has gone by, and I am still in bed, and I feel like a slug most of the rest of the day.
I justify this by telling myself, “Everyone needs unstructured time” and “I don’t have any place I have to be – I need sleep!” Yet, I notice on the days that start off without a wake up plan I am almost always regretfully unproductive.
The Best Part of Waking Up
On the days when I wake up at 5am, I head out to exercise with my running or biking group. There is a deadline – a meeting time – so I have to be on time. This means I pop out of bed and get going without distraction. Usually, when I get home, I shower, eat breakfast, walk my dog and meditate before starting my work day plans. However, on the days when I don’t have a plan, I often waste time on the internet and email, and before I know it two hours have passed and I haven’t showered or done any of my “pre-work day” tasks.
I love the feeling of waking up early, and it increases my chances of being productive. I am a “morning person,” and it feels good to me to get a jump start on the day. But does that mean that waking up early causes productivity? No.
Make a Plan
Night Owl or Early Bird – the key to productivity is not when you wake up (although the amount of sleep you get is important!). The key is having a plan and a routine to your day and sticking to it. For me, planning to wake early, exercise and do all of my routine things so that I can be focused at my desk by 9am feels good. When I feel good about myself and when I feel in control of my day, I am more productive.
So whether you wake up at 5am or 11am, you should have a plan for how you start your day, and then for how the day should unfold. The key is planning, not what time you wake up.