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Productive Mornings: 12 Reasons the Early Bird Gets the Worm

Productive Mornings: 12 Reasons the Early Bird Gets the Worm
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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 July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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