Open any book on the topic of productivity, business or financial success and you will find it. Successful people wake up early in the morning. Since I am a morning person, that is music to my ears. Waking up early is a key strategy for succes! Hurray! But why? I listed four reasons why waking up early in the morning works for me.
Leaving my phone or email alone for the first (at least) couple of hours of the day used to be a challenge for me. I knew I would start my day on better terms if I did not check my WhatsApp messages, Instagram DMs or emails immediately upon waking. And I knew leaving my phone on airplane mode would prevent me from useless scrolling on social media. But still I would feel the urge to check everything. Because what if I missed something important? Leaving airplane mode on only made me feel anxious. And I missed out on the benefits of it entirely.
That was the case when I woke up at 8 or 9 and started working at 9 or 10. Now I wake up at 6. And through a challenge hosted by Dutch ‘structuurjunkie‘ Cynthia Schultz I once woke up at 5, for five days — loved it. I promise, you will have no problem leaving that phone on airplane mode when you feel like it is still the middle of the night and nobody else is awake anyway. You will not miss out on important messages. And people do not expect you to send any. This will give you at least two hours of totally undisturbed time. Perfect to work on that difficult task, your personal goals (here are mine), or whatever it is you need peace and quiet for.
I am most productive in the mornings anyway — naturally. But having no distractions will boost anyone’s productivity, whether you are a morning person or not. And if you are not, but you do manage to get out of bed early, you are not going to sit around and WASTE that precious time, are you? You did not get up early to procrastinate. This thought empowers me as well on days I am just not feeling it.
But usually, as soon as I wake up, I am ON FIRE. I know this is not the case for everyone, but when I am out of bed, I have no desire to dive back in. I am not tired, my brain is fully functioning, and I am ready to rumble. In fact, as soon as the clock turns to pm, I feel like my day is over. After lunch I cannot get shit done anymore. Easy, fun tasks like brainstorming a strategy for a future project? Yes. No-brainers like email and social media? Yes. Doing research and writing a paragraph for my book? Hell no. My concentration is at its best in the mornings. So I also get my best work done during the mornings.
This lack of concentration in the afternoons is not due to the fact that my brain gets tired after a morning of deep work. If I would wake up at, let’s say, 11am (it happens sometimes, don’t tell anyone ;)), my ability to concentrate is already on its way out. This is probably a psychological thing, entirely between my ears, a total brain fart, but midday signals the end of the day to me. After 12 or 1pm, I feel like my time simply becomes pretty useless.
The good news is that this effect works the other way around as well. If I wake up at 9, I will have a few productive hours until lunch time. If I wake up at 6, I can add three more hours to that time. It is not like that makes me tired three hours earlier as well. So, the earlier I wake up, the more I benefit from my concentration peak in the morning.
Unless I have an important deadline to finish, I use my early mornings for a self care routine. Self care is my number one priority and leaving it to the end of the day is a recipe for skipping it. Besides, I like my self care routine, so it functions as a way of getting my ass out of bed too. My routine changes every now and then, but right now, it looks as follows: breakfast, reading, making coffee, journaling, writing down ideas or notes for blogposts, Instagram posts or projects, planning out any concrete ideas that might come up, and doing yoga. As you see, my current routine is very much focused on creativity (a clear extension of what I learned in 2019). If I do not take time for these types of things in the morning, I will not take time for them at all — such a shame.
Waking up at the same time every day (also on the weekends!) helps keeping these routines in place. I do all parts of my routine at roughly the same time every morning. Therefore, I notice it when a task is taking too much time and when I need to proceed to the next. I can then also consciously decide to extend the task at hand and skip the next, based on what I think is important that day. This makes keeping a routine extremely effortless. You do not have to use valuable morning brain space to think about how you are going to start your day, what you are using your time for, and for how long.
I think even the night owls will agree that late afternoons and evenings are the best time for relaxation and fun. Even though I always proclaim to belong to Team Sunrise rather than Team Sunset, there is nothing better than a stroll on the beach, a glass of wine on my terrace, or a run on the paseo with sunset. Here in Spain, most social gatherings take place in the afternoons or evenings anyway. How delicious it is to be long done with work, to have some time to freshen up before leaving the house, and to arrive fully relaxed at the cafe or restaurant to meet up with friends or family.
Going out until the early hours however, does not work well with an earlybird schedule. Now I am not too fond of late night partying anyway. But if you are, you can obviously get your weekly dose of partying in by choosing a day to skip that early morning. I do so too, sometimes. But since the next day as a result pretty much always feels like a day wasted to me, it has become easier and easier for me to say no to late-night parties. And my health and wallet are thanking me for it.
I like to state that I am a morning person by nature. But the more I have been diving into all things personal growth, the more I start to doubt that statement. I hate my alarm most of the time just as much as most people. I could easily stay in bed until twelve like most people. Running the risk of sounding like a broken record here, I think being (or becoming) a morning person has everything to do with habit, mindset and adopting the right belief system.
Many people occupy their minds and bodies with sports, food, drinks, parties, or Netflix until after 9 or 10pm. And then complain they cannot wake up easily in the morning. No, if I would do that, I would not be able to either. Many people proclaim they are simply unable to wake up early, because ‘they are not a morning person’. No, if I would tell myself that, I would not be able to either.
I believe anyone can become a morning person. So if you really want to, change your routines and your beliefs. How to do that will be the topic of a future blogpost. Meanwhile, you might be interested in my blogpost on how to achieve any goal you set your mind to. It deals with similar ideas about behavioral change.
Coffee tastes best early in the morning too.