Divisive post, I know, especially to a group of people that (probably) mostly consists of night-owls. Here, I’ll post your reply for you: “Shut up, Dave, I work better at night. Don’t tell me how to live my life!”
But I’m here to tell you that if you’re looking for an extra boost, that surge of productivity that’ll help you get more done than you ever have before, or if you’re finding that your motivation is at an all-time low and are looking for a way to get back on track, or (damn, this is a long list) if you just want to switch things up and feel like you’re seizing every single one of your days again… you should start to wake up earlier. Set your alarm right now. I dare you.
So let’s backtrack a little bit (for those of you with kids/families/other obligations please know that I understand you can’t change your entire day to fit your own personal schedule – just do the best you can). Raise your hand if the skeleton of your day looks roughly like this:
- Wake Up (6-7am)
- Day Job
- Gym/Happy Hour/Family Obligations/Pick Up Kids
- Make Dinner
- Try to Write
- Maybe Watch TV
- Bed (10-11pm)
Sure, make allowances in the list for special occasions like parties, going to the movies, seeing friends, taking trips/vacations. Maybe you can switch up two or three of the above. But I’ll wager that for most of us this is what our day looks like – and there’s nothing wrong with that. Now also raise your hand if you find yourself tired, physically or mentally, by the time you get through your entire work day, after-work-activity, dinner, and then finally sit down to write (or work on whatever your passion project is).
The problem is that most of us don’t account for a few specific types of fatigue that we experience throughout the day: mental, motivational, and decision fatigue. All three of these types of fatigue are very real, and they occur throughout the day as we exercise these parts of our brain: every time you use mental energy (likely at your job) you have less left in the tank; if you go to work or the gym gung-ho and throw yourself into your activities, you sap your motivation (though it can be replenished); and every decision you make, from choosing your clothes in the morning, to making bold work-related choices, can cause decision fatigue. That’s why we often find it so hard to sit down and work when we finally have free time late at night.
I mean, honestly, have you ever gotten yourself a cup of coffee early on a Saturday or Sunday morning (or perhaps on a day off from work), sat down at your workspace, and found that the words just pour out of you like a waterfall after a monsoon? That’s no fluke. It happens because you’re fresh, your mind primed, you’re ready to seize the day.
I could wax poetic about the beauty of working in the morning – indeed, it’s easy to fall in love with golden sunrises, the hush of the city or suburbs before the world wakes up, the inescapable sense that you should be tiptoeing across the floor even if you live alone – but I think we all know where I’m going with this. Go to sleep earlier, set your alarm, jump in the shower, (dare I say; grab a cup of coffee?) and start achieving the goals you set for yourself.
Even for you night owls out there, try it once or twice, just to see what it feels like. If it’s not for you, that’s fine.
To close out this post I wanted to share my favorite part about writing early in the morning: you feel like you’ve accomplished your goal before the day even starts. Writing early will impact your entire day; it will lift your mood; it will let you focus on the other thousand-and-one tasks that compete for your attention. And you’re now free to use the rest of the day as you see fit. Want to write more? Great. Want to go out with friends? Have a blast. Want to go to Happy Hour? Crush some beers (that’s what my friends and I call it, because we’re terrible people. ‘Crushing beers’). The rest of your day belongs to you. No guilt. No sense of leaving something unaccomplished.
So try it, please, even just a few times. Set your alarm. Wake up with purpose.
I won’t say it’s easy. But it’s definitely worth it.
What about you? Are you an early riser? A night-owl? When do you get your work done? Let me know below!