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Productive Mornings: 12 Reasons the Early Bird Gets the Worm

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Productive Mornings: 12 Reasons the Early Bird Gets the Worm

I think we’ve all heard the saying, “The Early Bird Gets The Worm”. I’ve spent most of my life as a proud Night Owl. I was always looking for new ways to enhance my productivity; ready to put in the hours when others weren’t willing…or so I thought. It wasn’t until about 6 months ago that I began to take an interest in the age-old “Bird vs Owl” debate. Long story short, I’m now a passionate member of Team Early Bird. There’s a number of incredibly beneficial things I’ve discovered, just by choosing to rise before the sun.

It’s no secret, time is our most valued commodity. We’re all given the same number of hours, but it’s up to you when and how you spend them. By choosing to wake up early, you will experience a drastic change in your quality of life.

I Get Prepared.

Make a habit of going into each day with a list of items you will accomplish. Some say to set these goals the night before. Others claim it must be done first thing in the morning. I don’t care – just do it. The task is simple and very effective. Don’t over thing this. Keep the list short and sweet (3-7 items). Make it your mission to cross these things off throughout the day. Some say to start with the most challenging. Others say you need to start with the easiest and work your way up. I don’t care – just start it. This will do wonders for keeping yourself accountable on how your time is being spent. Believe me, it feels good to cross things off the list.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”Benjamin Franklin

I Get Creative.

After you wake up and get moving, you’ll find that the process of creation flows a bit easier in the mornings. Your mind is well-rested and ready to create. Many of us consider ourselves creative, but it wasn’t until I started waking up early that I was really able to see a difference in the level of quality that was output. Futhermore, when you start your mornings with this mindset, it will set the standard for the rest of your day.

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I Get Exercise.

A lot of people have excuses about how they don’t have time to work out. Yet all of these people spend their morning hitting the snooze button, creating obnoxious 10-minute sessions of half-sleep. You will experience a greater quality of life by choosing to workout, it’s just science. Wake up and make the time.

This doesn’t have to be complicated. Most people think to “workout” you’ve got to go buy a gym membership, a new wardrobe and a bunch of fit gadgets. Those won’t hurt, but why not start with what’s going to give you the results – the workout. Even small things can yield noticeable results.

I Get Healthy.

Start making healthy decisions in the morning and set the pace for the day. When you wake up and make time to prepare a proper breakfast (and maybe even a lunch for later), you’re much more likely to keep on track with your remaining meals. A study at Northwestern University showed that night owls consumed nearly 250 more calories, twice as much fast food and half as many fruits and vegetables than their early bird counter parts. This eventually attributes to a noticeably higher average BMI.

I Build Momentum.

When you make the choice to wake up early, you’re already ahead of most of the world. You can get more done before lunch than most people do all day.

It feels good to be ahead, even if it is just for the day. I love going to Starbucks early in the morning; I’m often the first one there. I’ll sit working for hours before the morning rush starts. I can’t help but realize how much I just got done while these people were busy dragging out their sluggish morning routine. Start each morning with purpose and you’ll stay ahead each day.

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I Get Focused.

After only a couple days of committing to these early mornings, you’ll notice a new clarity that comes to whatever it is your spending your time on in the morning. It’s fairly simple: there are typically less distractions and more silence, which means better focus. Wake up, while the world is still sleeping.

“Either you run the day or the day runs you.” — Jim Rohn

I Get Better Sleep.

We spend almost one-third of our lives asleep. Getting up early doesn’t necessarily make your days longer, just more effective. Be sure you’re getting enough time asleep, so that will make your time awake, worthwhile.

Waking up early will allow you to ultimately sleep more soundly. This can take a couple weeks to get used to, but it’s certainly worth making the adjustment. Start slowly by just setting your alarm and extra 15 minutes earlier everyday, until your find your sweet spot for kicking off your morning.

I am Optimistic.

Who isn’t happy getting ahead in life? So, why not make this part of your daily mantra. Make the commitment to get up early every morning. You will experience the continued satisfaction of being that much more ahead of everyone else that stayed up binge-watching some Netflix.

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“With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.Eleanor Roosevelt

I Have Easier Commutes.

I don’t always commute…but when I do, I leave early. You can seriously cut down your time in the car, by simply choosing to leave early. The average person can cut their commute in half by avoiding the rush hour scene. By the end of the week, those hours start to stack up.

No, you don’t have to go to work early, if you don’t want. Just leave home early, and consider going to a coffee shop near work. Use the extra time out of the car to do something meaningful to you. If you do go to work early, you can look forward to saving even more time by missing the rush hour coming back home.

I Have More ‘Me’ Time.

I’ve always been a fan of the “work hard / play hard” model. When you choose to start your day by accomplishing everything you need to, you’re often left with guilt-free evenings to spend the way you want. Make it your daily priority to cross everything off your list, so you can spend the remaining time each day doing whatever it is you love to do.

I Have a Fresh Perspective.

This one is a little different for everyone, but it’s definitely worth mentioning. There’s a certain energy that exists early in the morning, which helps you to see things in a new light. It’s hard to explain, but If you’ve ever watched the sun rise or been in a place that’s typically crowded, with no one around, you might get it. Grab a coffee and enjoy the view.

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“The first step toward success is taken when you refuse to be a captive of the environment in which you first find yourself.”Mark Caine

I am Aligned with Bright Minds.

As you begin to follow successful people and their habits, you’ll notice a common thread amongst this tight-knit group. Nearly all of them start strong, early in the morning, and move through their day with intension. This concept has actually been a part of some of the earlist inspirations to our modern culture.

“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” — Benjamin Franklin

It’s not just the moguls that are set on starting their day early. A Texas University study concluded that college students, claiming to be early birds, held a 3.5 GPA on average. The same class of students, that considered themselves night owls, held a 2.5 GPS on average. This isn’t a coincidence, it’s a truth that has been consistent from the beginning.

Why Do Productive People Wake Up So Early? Here’s Why.

Are You Ready To Start Being More Productive?

I know the idea of changing your daily routine can seem overwhelming. We all wish there were some magic solution to making this happen, but there’s not. The truth is, you just need to start. This might be the only thing I would recommend starting tomorrow, just because you’re already awake today. Commit to getting up early and make the most of your precious time. This may not be as glamorous as some new-fangled fad diet or experimental energy pills, but this works.

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Featured photo credit: Morning Grass in Forest by Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com

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Last Updated on October 7, 2021

Are You Addicted to Productivity?

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Are You Addicted to Productivity?

“It’s great to be productive. It really is. But sometimes, we chase productivity so much that it makes us, well, unproductive. It’s easy to read a lot about how to be more productive, but don’t forget that you have to make that time up.”

Matt Cutts wrote that back in 2013,[1]

“Today, search for ‘productivity’ and Google will come back with about 663,000,000 results. If you decide to go down this rabbit hole, you’ll be bombarded by a seemingly endless amount of content. I’m talking about books, blogs, videos, apps, podcasts, scientific studies, and subreddits all dedicated to productivity.”

Like so many other people, I’ve also fallen into this trap. For years I’ve been on the lookout for trends and hacks that will help me work faster and more efficiently — and also trends that help me help others to be faster. I’ve experimented with various strategies and tools . And, while some of these strategies and solutions have been extremely useful — without parsing out what you need quickly — it’s counterproductive.

Sometimes you end up spending more time focusing on how to be productive instead of actually being productive.

“The most productive people I know don’t read these books, they don’t watch these videos, they don’t try a new app every month,” James Bedell wrote in a Medium post.[2] “They are far too busy getting things done to read about Getting Things Done.”

This is my mantra:

I proudly say, “I am addicted to productivity — I want to be addicted to productivity — productivity is my life and my mission — and I also want to find the best way to lead others through productivity to their best selves.

But most of the time productivity means putting your head down and working until the job’s done.” –John Rampton

Addiction to Productivity is Real

Dr. Sandra Chapman, director of the University of Texas at Dallas Center for BrainHealth points out that the brain can get addicted to productivity just as it can to more common sources of addiction, such as drugs, gambling, eating, and shopping.

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“A person might crave the recognition their work gives them or the salary increases they get,” Chapman told the BBC.[3] “The problem is that just like all addictions, over time, a person needs more and more to be satisfied, and then it starts to work against you. Withdrawal symptoms include increased anxiety, depression, and fear.”

Despite the harmful consequences, addiction is considered by some experts as a brain disease that affects the brain’s reward system and ends in compulsive behavior. Regardless, society tends to reward productivity — or at least to treat it positively. As a result, this makes the problem even worse.

“It’s seen like a good thing: the more you work, the better,” adds Chapman. “Many people don’t realize the harm it causes until a divorce occurs and a family is broken apart, or the toll it takes on mental health.”

Because of the occasional negative issues with productivity, it’s no surprise that it is considered a “mixed-blessing addiction.”

“A workaholic might be earning a lot of money, just as an exercise addict is very fit,” explains Dr. Mark Griffiths, distinguished professor of behavioral addiction at Nottingham Trent University. “But the thing about any addiction is that in the long run, the detrimental effects outweigh any short-term benefits.”

“There may be an initial period where the individual who is developing a work addiction is more productive than someone who isn’t addicted to work, but it will get to a point when they are no longer productive, and their health and relationships are affected,” Griffiths writes in Psychology Today.[4] “It could be after one year or more, but if the individual doesn’t do anything about it, they could end up having serious health consequences.”

“For instance, I speculated that the consequences of work addiction may be reclassified as something else: If someone ends up dying of a work-related heart attack, it isn’t necessarily seen as having anything to do with an addiction per se – it might be attributed to something like burnout,” he adds.

There Are Three “Distinct Extreme Productivity Types

Cyril Peupion, a Sydney-based productivity expert, has observed extreme productivity among clients at both large and medium-sized companies. “Most people who come to me are high performers and very successful. But often, the word they use to describe their work style is ‘unsustainable,’ and they need help getting it back on track.”

By changing their work habits, Peupion assists teams and individuals improve their performance and ensure that their efforts are aligned with the overarching strategy of the business, rather than focusing on work as a means to an end. He has distinguished three types of extreme productivity in his classification: efficiency obsessive, selfishly productive, and quantity-obsessed.

Efficiency obsessive. “Their desks are super tidy and their pens are probably color-coded. They are the master of ‘inbox zero.’ But they have lost sight of the big picture, and don’t know the difference between efficiency and effectiveness.”

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Selfishly productive. “They are so focused on their own world that if they are asked to do something outside of it, they aren’t interested. They do have the big picture in mind, but the picture is too much about them.”

Quantity-obsessed. “They think; ‘The more emails I respond to, the more meetings I attend, the more tasks I do, the higher my performance.’ As a result, they face a real risk of burnout.”

Peupion believes that “quantity obsessed” individuals are the most common type “because there is a pervasive belief that ‘more’ means ‘better’ at work.”

The Warning Signs of Productivity Addiction

Here are a few questions you should ask yourself if you think you may be succumbing to productivity addiction. After all, most of us aren’t aware of this until it’s too late.

  • Can you tell when you’re “wasting” time? If so, have you ever felt guilty about it?
  • Does technology play a big part in optimizing your time management?
  • Do you talk about how busy you are most of the time? In your opinion, is hustling better than doing less?
  • What is your relationship with your email inbox? Are you constantly checking it or experience phantom notifications?
  • When you only check one item off your list, do you feel guilty?
  • Does stress from work interfere with your sleep?
  • Have you been putting things off, like a vacation or side project, because you’re “too swamped?

The first step toward turning around your productivity obsession is to recognize it. If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, then it’s time to make a plan to overcome your addiction to productivity.

Overcoming Your Productivity Addiction

Thankfully, there are ways to curb your productivity addiction. And, here are 9 such ways to achieve that goal.

1. Set Limits

Just because you’re hooked on productivity doesn’t mean you have to completely abstain from it. Instead, you need to establish boundaries.

For example, there are a lot of amazing productivity podcasts out there. But, that doesn’t mean you have to listen to them all in the course of a day. Instead, you could listen to one or two podcasts, like The Productivity Podcast or Before Breakfast, during your commute. And, that would be your only time of the day to get your productivity fix.

2. Create a Not-to-Do List

Essentially, the idea of a not-to-do list is to eliminate the need to practice self-discipline. Getting rid of low-value tasks and bad habits will allow you to focus on what you really want to do as opposed to weighing the pros and cons or declining time requests. More importantly, this prevents you from feeling guilty about not crossing everything off an unrealistic to-do list.

3. Be Vulnerable

By this, I mean admitting where you could improve. For example, if you’re new to remote work and are struggling with thi s, you would only focus on topics in this area. Suggestions would be how to create a workspace at home, not getting distracted when the kids aren’t in school, or improving remote communication and collaboration with others.

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4. Understand Why You Procrastinate

Often, we procrastinate to minimize negative emotions like boredom or stress. Other times it could be because it’s a learned trait, underestimating how long it takes you to complete something or having a bias towards a task.

Regardless of the exact reason, we end up doing busy work, scrolling social media, or just watching one more episode of our favorite TV series. And, even though we know that it’s not for the best, we do things that make us feel better than the work we should do to restore our mood.[5]

There are a lot of ways to overcome procrastination. But, the first step is to be aware of it so that you can take action. For example, if you’re dreading a difficult task, don’t just watch Netflix. Instead, procrastinate more efficiently,y like returning a phone call or working on a client pitch.

5. Don’t Be a Copycat

Let’s keep this short and sweet. When you find a productivity app or technique that works for you, stick with it.

That’s not to say that you can’t make adjustments along the way or try new tools or hacks. However, the main takeaway should be that just because someone swears by the Pomodoro Technique doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for you.

6. Say Yes to Less

Across the board, your philosophy should be less is more.

That means only download the apps you actually use and want to keep (after you try them out) and uninstall the ones you don’t use. For example, are you currently reading a book on productivity? Don’t buy your next book until you’ve finished the one you’re currently reading (or permit yourself to toss a book that isn’t doing you any good). — and if you really want to finish a book more quickly, listen to the book on your way to work and back.

Already have plans this weekend? Don’t commit to a birthday party. And, if you’re day is booked, decline that last-minute meeting request.

7. Stop Focusing on What’s Next

“In the age when purchasing a thing from overseas is just one click and talking to another person is one swipe right, acquiring new objects or experiences can be addictive like anything else,” writes Patrick Banks for Lifehack .

“That doesn’t need to be you,” he adds. “You can stop your addition to ‘the next thing’ starting today.” After all, “there will always be this next thing if you don’t make a conscious decision to get your life back together and be the one in charge.”

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  • Think about your current lifestyle and the person you’re at this stage to help you identify what you aren’t satisfied with.
  • By setting clear goals for yourself in the future, you will be able to overcome your addiction.
  • Establish realistic goals.
  • To combat addiction, you must be aware of what is going on around you, as well as inside your head, at any given time.
  • Don’t spend time with people who have unhealthy behaviors.
  • Hold yourself accountable.
  • Keep a journal and write out what you want to overcome.
  • Appreciate no longer being addicted to what’s next.

8. Simplify

Each day, pick one priority task. That’s it. As long as you concentrate on one task at a time, you will be less likely to get distracted or overwhelmed by an endless list of tasks. A simple mantra to live by is: work smarter, not harder.

The same is also accurate with productivity hacks and tools. Bullet journaling is a great example. Unfortunately, for many, a bullet journal is way more time-consuming and overwhelming than a traditional planner.

9. Learn How to Relax

“Sure, we need to produce sometimes, especially if we have to pay the bills, but, banning obsession with productivity is unhealthy,” writes Leo Babauta. “When you can’t get yourself to be productive, relax.” Don’t worry about being hyper-efficient. And, don’t beat yourself up about having fun.

“But what if you can’t motivate yourself … ever?” he asks. “Sure, that can be a problem. But if you relax and enjoy yourself, you’ll be happier.”

“And if you work when you get excited, on things you’re excited about, and create amazing things, that’s motivation,” Leo states. “Not forcing yourself to work when you don’t want to, on things you don’t want to work on — motivation is doing things you love when you get excited.”

But, how exactly can you relax? Here are some tips from Leo;

  • Spend 5 minutes walking outside and breathe in the fresh air.
  • Give yourself more time to accomplish things. Less rushing means less stress.
  • If you can, get outside after work to enjoy nature.
  • Play like a child. Even better? Play with your kids. And, have fun at work — maybe give gamification a try .
  • Take the day off, rest, and do something non-work-related.
  • Allow yourself an hour of time off. Try not to be productive during that time. Just relax.
  • You should work with someone who is exciting. Make your project exciting.
  • Don’t work in the evenings. Seriously.
  • Visit a massage therapist.
  • Just breathe.

“Step by step, learn to relax,” he suggests. “Learn that productivity isn’t everything.” For that statement, sorry Leo, I say productivity isn’t everything — it’s the only thing.” However, if you can’t cut loose, relax, do fun things, and do the living part of your life — you’ll crack in a big way — you really will.

It’s great to create and push forward — just remember it doesn’t mean that every minute must be spent working or obsessing over productivity issues. Instead, invest your time in meaningful, high-impact work, get into it, focus, put in big time and then relax.

Are You Addicted to Productivity? was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton.

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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