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Productive Mornings: 12 Reasons the Early Bird Gets the Worm

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.

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

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

3. Move Your Body

A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

4. Connect With Another Person

Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

5. Use Your Imagination

When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

Final Thoughts

Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

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Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

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