Does getting up early make you more productive?

Morning picture for wordpress blogWe’ve all heard the expression that the early bird gets the worm. However, maybe you’re not a morning person and don’t see the benefits of waking up early. That’s fine, and you may be better of not forcing yourself out of bed earlier than usual. But, if you’re curious about what getting up earlier can do for you then I hope you find this blog helpful. Here’s my experience with getting up at 5:30 am every day, the benefits and tips to help you.

Advantages of being an early bird

More time

One of the main reason people do it. It’s hard to cram everything you need to do in one work day. Getting up an hour or two earlier than you usually do means you have more time to get work done. Such as, cranking out a few more emails, writing that cover letter or extra time to prepare for a meeting. Just having more time to do things helps improve your productivity and sets you up for a less stressful day.

Time to work on your passion projects

Maybe you do have enough time to get everything done in your workday. But you would rather use the early morning hours to do something else. After all, it’s not exactly exciting to wake up to do more work. However, if it’s something you’re passionate about, then you might find it easier. Maybe it’s writing a novel, working on an art project or practicing voice overs. Find something that inspires you to get out of bed.

Time to take care of your health

Often I feel groggy in the morning and prefer to do exercise after work. However, that’s not always possible with social, family or network obligations in the evening. So, getting a workout early in the morning is sometimes the only time available for me. Also, maybe it’s just a placebo effect, but I do notice a difference in my mood after I workout. Don’t forget about your mental health too. Consider meditating for 15 minutes and doing some journaling before you start your day. Listening to self-hypnosis or subliminal tapes can help boost your mood as well.

Time to eat a full breakfast

Usually, because of a long commute, I don’t have enough time to eat breakfast. So, if you get up early at least, you have time to eat something. Sometimes, I’m not hungry when I wake up, but by starting my day earlier, I can at least pack a late breakfast meal to go.

Time free for evenings

The other main reason why I like to get up early is I hate doing work late at night. I’m okay with working a little bit after dinner if I have to, but after 7 pm I feel too tired. It’s harder to focus, and I know I won’t produce my best work. So, I avoid working late evenings whenever possible.

Extra time on weekends

If you can get up early on the weekend too, you’ll have even more free time available to you. I like to use the early hours to list some things on eBay, clean the house or work on a side project. The early weekend morning is also perfect for catching up on laundry. You’ll notice fewer people if you go to a laundromat before 9 am. And have an easier time finding a washer and dryer to use. Or you use the early mornings for extra leisure time. Sometimes you do have to work weekday evenings and get robbed out of your free time. However, by not sleeping in on the weekend, you can get that time back.

So, you see the benefits of getting up early, and it sounds great. But if you’re anything like me you have trouble getting out of bed before 7 am. If that’s the case, here’s some tips that have helped me wake up earlier.

Tips for getting up early

Set your alarm for the same time every day and away from arm’s reach

You’ve probably heard of this tip already and know why it’s effective, but it bears repeating. Even if you go back to sleep after you hear your alarm, you’re still training your body to take action. You may not be successful at first, but after a few days or weeks, it will become a habit.

Set many alarms

I have a cousin who sets seven alarms so he can wake up at 4 am for work. That may sound extreme, but you might find it more helpful than just relying on one. You could use one on your tablet, your phone, and a watch. For extra effectiveness, place them in different spots in the room, so you have to walk to each one.

Limit or stop drinking caffeine

If you have trouble waking up and going to sleep caffeine could be the culprit. Most medical experts recommend cutting caffeine out before 3 pm. But if you’re still having trouble you might want only to drink during mornings. Or even cut it out altogether and switch to herbal coffees and teas. Everyone process caffeine differently so you might not have a problem. However, consider how you may feel off caffeine.

Use your electronics wisely

Everyone loves their tablet, phone and TV. Unfortunately, all that blue light from screens makes it harder to fall asleep. You don’t have to avoid them entirely, but it’s a good idea to limit them an hour before bed. You can also use an app like Flux to adjust the light on your screens, so you don’t have to think about it. Lastly, use the bright light to your advantage in the morning to wake up easier. Look at your phone or tablet immediately after your alarm goes off. Then read some online articles, check your Facebook, or play a short mobile game to help you wake up.

Try working in bed before showering and eating breakfast

Mark Twain would write and do work in bed daily. You can do the same by working from your bed until your regular wake time. It is especially effective if you have pets or roommates in other rooms who you don’t want to wake. Staying in your room also means fewer distractions and more time to focus.

Use your early hours for fun

Swallowing a frog is often recommended before noon so that you can coast through the day. But that task you don’t want to do may prevent you from waking up in the first place. Why not reward yourself instead. Watch Netflix, play a video game, read a book or eat a big breakfast before diving into your usual work time.

Watch your diet and consider supplements

Certain foods can make you tired or keep you from getting a restful night of sleep. For example, eating turkey and milk can make you tired. While high protein meals like eggs, tuna and beef can keep you up. So, keep track of what you’re eating at certain times. Some other health items that have helped me are taking a melatonin supplement and herbal teas. Both can help you get a restful sleep and feel refreshed that next day.

Find your best bedtime and wakeup time

The reason I chose to get up at 5:30 am instead of 5 am is because it works best with my sleep schedule. Lifehacker published an interesting article about the 90-minute rule for great sleep. It works by planning your bedtime and wake up time around the 90-minute sleep schedule. So you feel more rested instead of feeling tired when you do wake up. Since I go to sleep at 10 pm, getting up at 5:30 am works great for me. However, 5:30 am might not be your best wake up time. So, experiment and find out your ideal sleep schedule.

Getting up earlier than usual can be a drag. But having a reason to do so and a purpose means you can make mornings work for you. Have an early rising tip that works for you? Leave them in the comments.

I’ve decided to write a two-month blog series that will cover different challenging situations many people face during a job search. My goal is to pass along all the knowledge I’ve learned in my own job searches and help those succeed in finding work they love. Thanks for reading!

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