Readers of my blog may have noticed by now that it is predominantly about improving productivity. A few years ago I was bitten by the productivity bug and began reading books and articles on the subject, trying out new things and watching my performance improve beyond what I could have previously imagined. I’ve certainly come a long way since I started and am proud of what I have accomplished so far.
At the moment, my sustainable level of productivity does feel pretty damn good to be honest, but I do feel like there’s an even higher level that I could also make my base level if I can just develop some more of the habits that will get me there (while still keeping a firm hold on the habits that keep me from burning out of course!).
There is one habit that I’ve seen recommended over and over again in almost every list of productivity hacks, every book, every long form article or blog post out there. Up to now, I’ve been avoiding it because I’ve felt that I didn’t need it, I’ve been pretty damn productive without it and it almost seems like following that advice could even lead to a downturn in my productivity as it would interfere with what I have felt were most most creative hours in the day.
Waking up early.
I’ve considered myself to be a night owl for a long time, taking pride in my ability to get more stuff done in the evenings after work than many people I know manage over a weekend. I’ve even written about it in a prior post. But as someone with a strong interest in personal growth, I cannot just continue to ignore the most often cited habit in improving personal productivity.
This week, my wife offered me an opportunity to try out early mornings as she had early shifts to attend at the hospital. This meant she would be getting up at 5:30am each day, which appears to be an ideal time to aim for in this waking up early game. The thing is, and a lot of the guidance and articles seem to skim over this or omit it entirely, to be up at 5:30am, you are going to need to set yourself a bedtime of around 9pm if you want to be sure you get your 8 hours in. I don’t know about you dear reader, but going to bed at 9pm feels very awkward to me indeed. It’s not like those days when you’re absolutely exhausted and just crash out early, it’s like picking the prime time for messing around and having fun in the evening, and just “nope” to all that and going to bed.
Today is the day after the first night of going to bed early, and it didn’t work for me. I had trouble settling down and ended up waking up after around 90 minutes, then stuck awake for about an hour before I finally fell asleep again. The morning felt like a real drag and I didn’t really do anything, I just felt groggy for a while, had a cup of tea, walked my wife to the bus stop and then browsed NetFlix and read some articles before having breakfast and leaving for work. It was a thoroughly unproductive morning. On the upside, I did feel a bit more alert than usual when I arrived at work and got into it a little more easily, but I’m also doing some project work right now and the human brain does love novelty, so that may be why.
Despite all that, I have enough experience with trying to build new habits that I know it can seem to be overly challenging in the beginning and like there isn’t going to be a payoff, and so I am going to stick with it for a while and see how it goes.