I'm a visual creative (read: messy), I can find what I need in a couple of seconds, and smash my deadlines. But what to do when organising hits the...
Chat to my mother-in-law and you’ll hear stories about my good husband as a sloth of a teenager. She’ll laugh while describing their family early morning routine where said husband would quite literally have to be dragged out of bed each day – weekday and weekend alike. After 17 years of marriage, I can attest that for the majority of those years nothing much had changed; well nothing until I needed to run an experiment.
The experiment: Could die-hard ‘sleeper-inners’ change their ways and if so, how would this impact their productivity?
Since masterminding this mission some five or so years ago, I’ve now challenged myself and many of my busy clients to rise with the birds as a way of maximising output and getting more of the important stuff done. The results are astounding; however with each challenge comes the same initial reaction: a series of emotions ranging across horror, fear, adamant denial, shock and vehement rejection. Excuses like “I just can’t think straight before 11am”, “I do my best work at night” or “I’m just not a morning person” creep in by way of justifying the teenage-like hissy fits. Until they succumb to the challenge, usually under great duress of the short-term pain which only the promise of the long-term gain and an accountability buddy seems to dissipate. And the reward for every client that gets this right is ginormous. Honestly, a mammoth impact on their output of meaningful work or goals reached, double, and in some cases triple turnover and the bonus of creating what feels like the equivalent of an extra workday every single week. Eventually we have a way to find/buy more time, and it’s so easy once you make it through the initial hurdle.
What productivity lies are you telling yourself?
PRODUCTIVITY LIE #17: You are not an early riser
So, sure you might not be the most accomplished early riser right now. I get that you likely go to bed a little bit too late and habitually hit the snooze button on waking. If the results of my experiment have not quite convinced you yet, why not try it out for yourself? The proof is in the pudding and all that jazz!
The 3 things you can do right now
- Shift things just 15 minutes at a time
I’ve asked around and I am not the only one that struggles with fatigue when I have more than one midweek late night in a row. I’ve also discovered that bringing your bedtime earlier in 15 minute increments until you reach your desired bedtime, works better than chopping a whopper of time off your day all in one go. Note: while some experts insist that an eight hour sleep is what you should be aiming for, you know well enough just exactly how much sleep works best for you. Whatever number you decide on, that’s the number of hours you are aiming for.
- Plan today for tomorrow
Now waking up earlier requires a purpose. I’ve tried, and failed, many times before to implement an early morning wake-up ritual without planning for it the day before. Without the pre-planning, hitting snooze becomes justified. You’ll tell yourself “I’ll sleep in just this once”, “I’m not that busy at the moment, I don’t need the extra time”, “It’s too cold/dark out there” or “I’ve been working so hard/long/late, I deserve a sleep in this morning” which really is nothing more than a self-sabotage strategy. While these thoughts might persist, set your alarm for the actual time you want/need to get up and when it sounds, still your thoughts, sit up and start your day.
Why you shouldn’t plan in the morning
Let’s get this straight; you are waking up earlier why? Either to exercise, meditate, read, walk the dog or tackle those critical tasks that require your full attentions, sans distraction.
You are choosing to do this in the morning vs. later in your day why? Despite great planning, you’re likely forced to be reactive by the afternoon; you get tired later on in the day, distracted or interrupted and then before you know it, it’s too late, you’ve run out of time and you haven’t yet got to that important thing. Using this peak morning time for ‘taking action’ means you start your day off on a winning wicket. Do the planning when you are tired i.e. later on in the day, to really maximise your early morning.
- Get some help
The clincher in human motivation is finding someone else to help you stay accountable. I know you shouldn’t have to, you might not even want to, but if you are not able to make this happen entirely on your own, find someone else to help make it happen with you.