Grab a coffee, because it’s time to talk about early mornings! Let’s get this out of the way first: I am not a morning person. I do not like the sound of the alarm early in the morning and I certainly wouldn’t get out of bed early if it wasn’t for the alarm. However, recently I’ve been getting up early a lot, because I’ve found that I can significantly increase my productivity by doing so.
I’m someone who has issues with productivity at times, mainly with tasks I’m not interested in. I very easily get distracted and slide into procrastination. But I also noticed that I do have these insane bursts of productivity, when I get as much done in a day as I’d usually do in a week. If that happens, I basically shut out everything and just concentrate on the work for anywhere between a few hours to a whole day. For a lack of a better word, it seems slightly “autistic” to someone who sees me while I’m in that space.
This kind of hyper-focused productive period is clearly awesome, because I get an insane amount of work done in a very short period of time. An example of this would be doing 90% of the reading for my undergraduate dissertation in a single day… And I know, you are saying that yeah, that must show on my dissertation, but it did get first class marks. In Cambridge.
The main problem is how to actually achieve this state of productivity more frequently. Because previously, I’d have this maybe once a month with things I was truly interested in. I’ve been thinking of productivity in the last one or two years or so and I’ve found that doing daily sports and my bullet journal have been great for increasing it. But still, I wasn’t achieving this kind of hyper-focus more frequently.
Now this is where getting up early comes in. When I’m working (uni or now EVS) I’ve usually stuck to a 7:30 wakeup, doing sports, breakfast and then starting my work or classes. That has worked pretty well, but it pushed most of the work-time into the afternoon, when I feel like it’s easier for things to come up and it’s easier to go off track.
So, I experimented for a couple of days with getting up at 6:30. I know, you are saying that it’s not even that early and that you have to get up at 6:00 to go to work. But I’d like to point out that I’m in Spain, where 6:30 is probably the equivalent of getting up at 5:00 in any other country because of how late everything happens the previous day. Also, I think there is an important psychological difference between having to get up at 6:30 or choosing to get up then.
Getting back on track, the important thing is not the exact wakeup time, it’s what I do after. I jump (well, most days crawl) out of bed, grab a coffee or tea in the kitchen, eat a snack and sit down straight to my computer. I’ll have already prepared fruit, muesli and yoghurt in the fridge the previous day to save time. I will also take notes ahead of time of what work I must do. But the key thing here is getting pretty much straight to work and already knowing what task I want to work on.
I’ll admit, sometimes it is hard to get up that early, but it also feels awesome to be up before everyone else around you and achieving things while everyone sleeps does put you in a good headspace for achieving more later in the day too. It is also great that in the morning, working in my room, it is highly unlikely that anyone will disturb me as long as I don’t go down the social media rabbit hole.
Of course, I don’t do this every day, since it’s mentally draining to do such highly concentrated work, plus I always aim to get 7,5 to 8 hours of sleep. Having a social life, especially in Spain where going home at 2 am counts as leaving the party early, is not exactly conducive to this habit either, but I try to make both work. Also, I often don’t have stuff that I have to concentrate on so intensely and there is no point in getting up and concentrating super hard on mundane tasks that I could just easily do later in the day.
Getting up early and jumping straight into work has allowed me to reach this hyper focused state quite frequently, multiple times a week, getting stuff done at a rate that I’ve never been able to before. I mainly use this time to work on personal projects, such as writing this blog, working on video projects and sometimes I also use it to work on some of my EVS projects. For the latter, an example is doing a 20-page travel guide for outdoors activities around Granada in record time.
In conclusion I will say that this certainly isn’t a habit that everyone should pick up, because not everyone can be productive at that hour. It’s just one of those things that works great for me and I’d thought would be interesting to share. I’ve been thinking a lot about productivity, work-life balance and habits lately, so there will be another post about my experience with bullet journals and building habits soon! If all goes well, these early mornings will allow me to write more posts for this blog and maybe there will be some video projects coming up soon too!
PS: If you are wondering, yes, I wrote this text early in the morning!