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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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Published on October 16, 2020

13 Productive Things to Do on a Sunday

13 Productive Things to Do on a Sunday

Sunday’s are amazing days. For most of us, Sunday’s are a day of rest — a chance to relax, spend time with our family and friends and step away from work. Yet, for many people, Sunday’s can be a day of gloom. The thought of having to go back to work the next day and rejoin the hustle and bustle of everyday working life creates a dark cloud over a day that should be a joy.

With the right approach, though, Sunday’s can be days of rejuvenation—a chance to recharge our batteries—and to set ourselves up for a fantastic week. It is just a matter of the way you look at Sundays.

Sunday’s give me a chance to take stock of how my week has gone and decide what I want to achieve the following week. Each Sunday allows me to step back from the everyday grind and to measure my progress against the plan I had for the week and to reset that plan to make the next week even better.

Here are 13 ways you can turn Sunday’s into amazingly productive days:

1. Wake up at Your Normal Time

I grew up thinking Sunday’s were a great day to ‘catch-up on my sleep’. The problem here is by over-sleeping on a Sunday, you often find it difficult to get to sleep Sunday night and that begins the cycle of sleep debt you want to avoid.[1]

Waking up at your normal time maintains regular sleep patterns and this helps to make sure your sleep schedule is consistent throughout the week. When you are in a perpetual sleep debt all week, your productivity will sink. Ensuring you have a good night sleep every night, keeps you in a highly productive state.

2. Start the Day With “Me-Time”

“Me-time” is time you give to yourself.[2] It’s time you can spend doing all the things you love doing without the fear of being interrupted. That could be exercise, reading, going for a long walk or meditation.

Before Google and smartphones, people in the U.K. used to wake up on a Sunday morning, take a short walk to the local newsagent to buy the Sunday papers. The Sunday papers had all sort of supplements on books, lifestyle, gardening and fashion.

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You would get home, settle into your favourite armchair and spend an hour or two reading through all these supplements. For me, I would put on some relaxing music and just relax with a nice cup of tea. It was a wonderful way to spend Sunday morning. No stress, no pressure, just me and the Sunday papers.

Decide what you want to do with your Sunday morning, make sure it is focused on you and start this week. You will thank yourself for it.

3. Do Some Exercise

Now, this does not mean you go out and do a 10-mile run or spend one or two hours in the gym. What this means is to get outside and move.

Our lifestyles today have taken away a lot of natural movement. This has become particularly prominent this year with many of us having to work from home. Those walks to the bus stop, train station and the office have gone. Now we get up, move from one room to another, sit down and start work.

Sunday’s give you a chance to move. Take that opportunity. Get yourself outside for an hour or two. Enjoy nature. Go with your family or friends and just have a relaxing hour or two in nature. This is possibly one of the best ways to reduce stress, get some healthy exercise and set yourself up for a wonderful week.

4. Plan the Day

Not having a plan for the day will leave you at the mercy of outside events. Instead, decide on Saturday evening what you will do the next day. Make sure you wake up at your normal time, indulge in your favourite morning drink and start your day.

Having no plan for the day, will likely result in you waking up late, making it difficult to get a good night’s sleep the next evening and you will waste the opportunity to make the day count.

Your plan does not have to be too detailed. Something similar to:

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  • Wake up and make coffee
  • Put on some great music
  • Sit down and enjoy coffee
  • Take a 2-hour walk
  • Read for an hour or two
  • Spend some time with the kids

Just make sure you have a rough plan for the day, but keep things as flexible as possible.

5. Watch a Sports Game

This is a great way to get yourself away from thinking about work and your troubles. I’m a big rugby and motorsport fan and even in these difficult pandemic times, there are plenty of sports events I can watch on YouTube.

Whatever sport you enjoy, take some time on Sunday to watch a game. Just getting into the game, enjoying the skills on show and marvelling at the professionalism removes you from your everyday world for a while. It’s a great way to give your brain some much-needed relaxation and provides a wonderful distraction from your everyday normal life.

6. Make Sure You Do Something Different

Doing the same things day after day will eventually turn every day into a grind. You want to be looking forward to your Sunday’s. Plan to go out for a drive in the countryside, or a walk in an unfamiliar park, or go to the cinema or an outside concert.

Do anything that breaks up your routine. Like watching a sports game, it takes you away from the normal everyday life you lead and gives you something refreshingly different to enjoy and experience.

7. Clean Up

I know, most people hate doing house chores but having a clean, ordered home does wonders for your overall mental wellbeing. I love ending Sunday with a beautifully clean home, knowing everything is in its place, the floors are clean and all my laundry is put away and ready for the following week.

It can be hard to find the time to stay on top of all the cleaning during the week, so setting aside some time each Sunday to do a cleanup leaves you feeling refreshed, energized and ready for whatever the following week will throw at you.

8. Prepare You Clothes for the Following Week

This may seem a bit excessive, but it saves so much time and cognitive overload. All it takes is one bad night’s sleep and you wake up and find yourself rushing around trying to get yourself ready for your first appointment.

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In that state, trying to decide what clothes to wear in another decision you just don’t need. It’s far better to make a rough plan on a Sunday what you will wear for work and have all these clothes ready, washed and ironed.

It also prevents discovering the shirt you want to wear for the early morning meeting is still in the laundry basket when you need it. Plan ahead. It saves so much time and stress.

9. Do a Weekly Planning Session

I’ve experimented doing a weekly planning session on different days but by far, the best day to plan is Sunday. I find that Sunday evenings are the best times to open up my calendar and to-do list, and to plan for the week ahead. It sets me up for the week ahead.

It also helps me to sleep better on Sunday evening, knowing exactly what I need to accomplish the following week. I can start Monday morning without wasting time trying to figure out where things were left the previous Friday.

What I am looking for are where all my meetings are, which days I can focus on my deep and project work and to make sure I have everything processed from the week before.

10. Clear Out Your Email

What? Doing email on a Sunday? Yes. Why? Because the worst thing you can do is start the new week with an inbox full of last week’s unreplied-to emails.

For most of us, Monday morning is likely to be the one day in the week we do not have a lot of email in our inboxes, so we can begin the day on our most important project work. If you spend an hour or two cleaning up your email from last week, you miss a tremendous opportunity to start with a clean slate.

We don’t get a lot of email in on a Sunday, so you can process your inbox and actionable folders to make sure when the new week begins, you not only have a set of outcomes you want to achieve that week, but also begin the new week with no hangovers from the week before.

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11. Do Some Work on Your Side Project

Now, this does not mean work. This means your own personal projects. It could be a DIY project, doing something in your garden, restoring an old car or writing your book.

Sunday’s give you incredible opportunities to do all those things you dream of doing but never seem to find time to do them. Just getting on and doing these side projects removes you from your everyday work, and allows you a few hours to do the things you love doing.

12. Read a Book

During the week, it can be hard to read a good book. We get up, rush out the door to get to work (or move to our home work station and start the computer). When we finish the day, we are exhausted and just want to vegetate in front of the TV.

Don’t waste Sunday’s. They give you a great opportunity to spend time with the books you want to read.

13. Prepare You Meals for the Following Week

This is a great one for those of you who are following a healthy diet and exercise plan. Preparing meals for the following week not only saves a lot of time, it also encourages you to eat healthy on those exhausting days when all you want to do is eating pizza and flopping down on the sofa.

Having a set of pre-prepared meals reduces the temptation during the week when your willpower is at its lowest. It’s quick, healthy and easy to do. It makes sure you are sticking to your diet plan.

Bottom Line

I am not suggesting you try and fit all these things into Sunday. Just pick a few that resonate with you. Do those that will give you the biggest benefit and most joy.

Sunday’s need to be restful, relaxing and give you a chance to do those things you do not normally have time to do. It’s an incredible day, so don’t waste it laying in bed watching endless episodes of your favourite TV series.

More of What You Can Do During Weekend

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

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