If you’re here then the chances are you’re looking for ways you can be more productive. And, if this isn’t the first article you’ve ever read about productivity, then I’m sure you’ve likely heard that getting up early of a morning is the secret to being more productive.
But, when it comes to the time you start your day, then does getting up early in the morning really make you more productive?
The short answer…? No.
Not what you wanted to hear? Stick around, there’s a few caveats to this answer and for some, it might actually mean you’re more productive without having to get up early.
Your Wake Time Can’t Be Compared To Others
Did you hear that Sarah wakes at 4:30am every morning? That must be the secret to her getting everything done? Or Julie who manages to get a work out in before dropping the kids off to school? She only has time to do that because she gets up at dawn…
Here’s the deal:
What you have to do in your mornings is completely different to everyone else. Therefore ‘productive’ is relative to what you need to get done and the amount of time you have to do it.
You might be the kind of person who has an evening heavy day – perhaps most of your to do’s and commitments fall at evening – late night sports training, evening yoga class, school homework, cooking meals… so many things. If this is you, then getting up early isn’t going to allow you to get more of these things done.
Compare that to someone else who has kids in swim training of a morning, knows they can’t get housework done of an evening so must do it early, and has other early morning commitments, and you can see how the two demands differ greatly.
So with that in mind, how do you work out if you should be getting up earlier to be more productive and if an earlier wake time will actually make you day easier?
Create Your Daily Routines
Routines are honestly THE BEST way to help you create a day that works for you.
Start by listing out all the things you need to do in a day. Things that come up regularly, things you WANT to do but never seem to have the time to do. Make sure you add in tasks that happen without you really giving them much thought, such as the school drop off, commute to work, grocery shopping – regular daily tasks.
Then section your day out in a way that makes sense to you.
For some people this might be in thirds, morning, day, and evening. Others might prefer to add a ‘night’ routine in there too – for me this is what I do after the kids go to bed.
Next, group the tasks that need to be done into each section. Keep in mind things such as like tasks, or tasks that require you to be in the same location (ie, school drop off is near the grocery store so add drop off and groceries into the same section of the day).
From here, you can go one step further and put these tasks into some sort of chronological order for yourself. Whatever works for you.
The key with all of this is making your day work for you, making sure your routines help you get the things done you need and want to do, and helping you feel more in control of your day.
How Does This Make You More Productive?
Imagine you’re getting up early to try and be more productive, but most of your daily work happens of an evening – you’re going to end up chasing your tail of an evening because that’s when you have the most work to do, and you’re exhausted because you’re up early – so you feel like you’re failing at being productive.
When really, you just need to tweak your day to suit yourself.
Creating these routines makes you far more productive because they’re personalized to you, you know what needs to be done in each section of the day, and you don’t have to stress about what happens of an evening while you’re focusing on getting your morning routine sorted.
Also, the practice of writing out what needs to be done each day can help you to prioritise and sort your tasks as you need to do them. Often we don’t realise just how much we get done in a day so we feel unproductive, when really we are doing so much, and we just aren’t taking note.
Whether you choose to get up early or not contributes less to your productivity levels than if you were to simply add routines to your day, and create an outline for your day that makes sense for you.
If getting up early is your jam, then by all means, go ahead. There really is something magical about being up before the sun rises and being able to drink your coffee while it’s still hot (before the kids wake up).
But if sleep is what you need, and starting your day a little later makes sense to you, then you do what works for you!