You’ve heard it before: The early bird catches the worm. But if you’re anything like me, you’ve probably resented the idea when it came time to listen to your crowing alarm clock. But your alarm clock isn’t the bad guy. Rising early is a key asset to anyone looking to boost productivity.
Morning productivity has a lot of things going for it, but these are three of the best:
Morning peace. Rising before the day is charging forward at full steam lets you fly above the chaos, even if it only lasts until the rest of the world wakes up. The morning hours are quiet: nothing new is pouring onto your desk, no one is around to interrupt your thought process, and no one is open for business. If you struggle with derailing distractions, the morning hours are for you. The morning hours are also great if you need a clear head. All the hurry of yesterday gets fuzzy—maybe even erased—during your sleep, so first thing in the morning you can focus on the task at hand.
Breakfast time. When you get up early, you have time to not only catch an early-worm breakfast, but you have time to eat it too. Health experts agree that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. The energy and nutrients from your breakfast fare help keep your mind sharp and your creativity flowing. With early rising, you not only have time to eat breakfast, but you have time to eat it on purpose. Instead of snatching whatever happens to be handy, you can eat what you need for the day. If it will be a long time before lunch, eat some protein-filled eggs to keep you feeling full; if you need some fruity sunshine in your morning, blend yourself a smoothie filled with berries. Whatever you choose, an intentional breakfast with help you stay focused on your work tasks instead of your baseline, survive-until-lunch needs.
Time to spare. When you’re up with the sun (or earlier, if the sun is sleeping in), you have the time you need—plus a little extra—to gather the things you need and get where you need to be. Maybe you need a head start to beat the rest of the morning commuters; maybe that project spread over your desk will take a little extra time to piece together. Whatever extra thing you need time for, rising early helps. And when you’re ahead of the rush hour, you can stay calm, relax, and keep your mind on more important things than how to squeeze between that bus and that truck so you can be in the left lane before you need to turn.
Those benefits are great and all, but how do you go about joining early bird flock? Maybe you’re a night owl, or just someone who struggles to hit the snooze for less than a half hour. How do you get these and all the other morning productivity benefits?
Put your alarm clock across the room. It’s an old trick, but it’s also tried and true. Instead of keeping your alarm clock within arm’s reach, put it across the room from your bed. Then to turn it off, you’ll have to get on your feet and stumble through the dark to find it. Your sleepy, sluggish bloodstream will start moving a little faster and make it easier to be alert. Then even if you hit snooze and get back in bed, you’ll still be that much more alert the next time the alarm goes off.
Hydrate. As soon as you’re awake enough to hold a glass without spilling, drink a pint or so of water or juice. You’ll start to replace the fluids that left your blood stream during the night, the taste and temperature will wake up your mouth (and the rest of your head), and you’ll have a great start on your daily recommended eight glasses of water. Staying hydrated keeps your body and mind running smoothly.
Prep the night before. Before you go to bed each night, tie off the loose ends of your day and do a little prepping for the morning to come. Some recommend setting a reminder on your watch (or phone, etc.) for 10:00 p.m. or so. When the reminder goes off, start bundling up the day and get started on the next. Plan your breakfast, pick out the things you’d like to work on during your morning peace, or lay out your clothes for the morning.
Make the change slowly. Changing your wake up time from 7:55 to 5:30 all in one go is, quite frankly, insane. Try making the change from your current bugle call to an earlier one in bits and pieces by waking up 15 minutes earlier every day or two until you’ve hit your early-bird ideal. This will give you time to adapt to the change and figure out what works best for your new-and-improved, more productive morning.Image by Suvro Datta, via FreeDigitalPhotos.net.