Waking up at the crack of dawn is horribly unappealing. I am not a fan — if I could sleep until 11AM every day of the work week, I would.
And for years I did. Back when I was in the dual roles of part freelance writer, part freelance college counselor, I didn’t meet with students until 1PM or later. So I slept in, reveled in it, and did all of my writing between the hours of 11PM and 4AM. It was magical. Yet it was also horribly unproductive. I was sleeping away more than half of the day. It felt great, but I was always exhausted.
I’m certainly not alone in preferring the night owl life to the wee hours of the morning. Many of us are not, and never will be, morning people. It’s sheer torture to wake up before the sun rises, an act of terrible bad luck to have to be at work before our bodies fully wake. Yet many CEOs, world leaders, and creative workers feel differently. There are thousands of successful people out there who believe the key to your entire day’s productivity is waking up as early as possible.
Interestingly, the rationale behind waking up before 6 a.m. has nothing to do with work. Instead, the goal is to wake up early and revel in your sleepiness — essentially, to wake up early and do absolutely nothing. Paul DeJoe, one of Ecquire’s cofounders, is a staunch believer in climbing out of bed early to enjoy even more free time to prepare yourself for the day ahead.
As DeJoe states at FastCompany, once work begins, we’re forced to stay in a work-only mindset that doesn’t allow for distraction. Fidgeting of any kind is commonly frowned upon, and you’re limited in the number of breaks you can take. Without any kind of relaxing, enjoyable time to enjoy in the morning, we go straight from our comfy, cozy beds into a stream of emails, projects, and to-do lists. We start our days with work, end our days with work, and often don’t get a break.
And this is exhausting. Just like the science behind fidgeting — your brain gets bored with repetitive, dull, and simplistic tasks — waking up at the last minute and jumping into work before letting yourself truly wake up exhausts your productivity and focus fast. By the time 10AM rolls around, you’re overwhelmed by work and tired.
Instead, try setting your alarm clock for one hour earlier each day this week. Use that extra hour to lounge. Take an extra long shower. Read some enjoyable articles. Have a few highly caffeinated cups of coffee.
You won’t be alone. I recently started waking up at 5:20AM, and I can speak to the relaxing benefits of reading a few pages of a book, sipping my coffee, or just watching mindless TV before getting ready for the day. Once in the office around 7:30, I find myself accomplishing most of my tasks for the day before the rest of my coworkers finish their morning coffee (thanks to flex hours, those lazy bums stroll into the office around 9:30 or 10).
So, wake up early tomorrow—really early—and do absolutely nothing work related. Yes, it’s going to suck climbing out of bed at 4AM or another ungodly hour. But you’re setting yourself up for increased productivity and some relaxation. You’ll reap the benefits all day long.