My Secrets to Productivity

I’ve been kicking the Internet’s butt lately — Marshall Kirkpatrick’s words, not my own. And a lot of that butt-kicking has to do with one simple change I’ve made in my life.

Lately, I’ve been getting up at 6:30 in the morning. It’s still dark out, and I hate it with all my soul. But once I got into the habit of it, I realized I was more productive than ever before and I was running circles around many of my late-rising peers.

I don’t consider myself to be anything special as a writer. I believe that what makes a writer exceptional is the extra effort he or she puts into the work. When it comes to newsgathering and reporting, some of that extra effort, for me, at least, involves getting an early start.

Here are some of my “secrets” to maintaining a high level of productivity. All my best days run this course.


1) Wake up half an hour before anyone else.

Good lord, how I loathe waking up in the morning. If not for my constant fear that someone, somewhere is getting the jump on me, I’d never do it.

But the slightest margin of lead time has changed the way I work in a competitive environment.

The most crucial parts of most business days happen in the morning. If you work in a business that is even slightly normal, or if you’re a West Coast resident working for or with an East Coast branch, it behooves you to get up early.

The best thing about getting up at 6:30 is that I get to wipe all my email off the slate before anyone is awake to reply. Clearing out my inbox takes less than half the time it would ordinarily simply because I get to attend to every new email before the back-and-forth threads start.


2) When you wake up, WAKE UP. It’s healthy.

Because I so hate getting up in the morning, I have to trick myself into doing it. My alarm clock blurts to life with some really beautiful jazz music, I turn on the soft, white string lights that decorate the top of my four-poster, and — I kid you not, hand to God — I groggily pop the top on one of the 5-Hour Energy shots next to my pillow.

Yeah, I sleep with a 6-pack of 5-Hour Energy next to my pillow.

I know it sounds stupid, but I’ve written four blog posts, answered all my email, and it ain’t even 8 o’clock in the morning yet.

So, do whatever motivates you to not hate the morning. Rig up the beginning of your day with music, lights, and your beverage of choice so that when you wake up, your brain is immediately jolted into alertness or some semblance thereof.

As a side note, because my brain wakes up before my body does, I’ve optimized by sleeping next to my laptop (the ol’ four-poster is getting a bit crowded at this point) and hauling it open before I’m actually ready to get out of bed. By the time the battery is running down, my body has usually caught up with my brain and I can get myself into the office knowing I’ve made the best use of my time.


3) Don’t engage in conversation during the first two hours of your workday.

Call me an antisocial hermit, but talking to people — via email, IM, phone, social networks, or in person — derails me. One of the other benefits of waking up early is that no one else is around to make requests or assign tasks that might take me off-course.

In other words, I can completely focus a few quiet hours on banging out a difficult task that requires my complete attention, and I am pretty much guaranteed that time will be distraction-free unless I introduce distractions of my own accord.

I recommend banning all kinds of real-time conversation, including social chatter on Twitter and Facebook, from the beginning of your day.


4) Stop your “busy” work at noon, transition to “slogging” work.

Because most of the important business of the day happens during the first half of the day, and because I get my distraction-free time in the early morning, I am generally done with most of the high-intensity work I have to do by noon.

At that point, I switch gears to something that might not be time-sensitive but that requires slower, more careful work.

For example, I’ll do a bit of blogging and email in the very early morning, conduct some interviews around 10 or so, then around noon, I switch to actual writing — the kind that leads to big, long “think” pieces or in-depth coverage. These pieces run into the thousands of words and take days or even weeks to write and edit, and my slower-paced afternoons are perfectly suited to this kind of work.

I’m sure you have the equivalent somewhere in your workday. My recommendation is to load the top of your day with the urgent, quick tasks or those that require a laser focus, then put your longer or more leisurely work toward the end of the day.


5) When you’re done, be done.

When you sense your productivity window closing, when you’ve put in your time, when you’ve finished your tasks, put it down, get up, and walk away.

Anytime I try to squeeze in an important task when my brain is wandering and my mental resources are exhausted, I end up wasting my time. It’s important to realize when you are being productive and when you are not.

When your work is done for the day, leave your desk, your office, and your gadgets behind you. Don’t let those tasks linger on your brain. Part of being productive is being refreshed, and you can’t refresh yourself if you never pause in your efforts and do something completely unrelated to work.

In your evenings and weekends, nourish your soul. During that time, not working is your job.


6) Early to bed.

Part of getting up early is going to bed early.

I am fortunate in that a) I have fewer friendships than most, b) I don’t drink, and c) I’m past my 20s. For me, getting into bed at 10 or 10:30 or 11 at night is a pleasure and a relief.

If “early to bed” is not your wont, I highly recommend melatonin and a large measure of self-discipline.

All of life is a trade-off. If you want to be successful and productive in your career, you do have to make some personal and social sacrifices. I’m not saying you have to live a lonely and joyless life to be good at your job, but you can’t sustainably be a party animal or an all-night gamer and a fabulous worker at the same time. You must choose where your fulcrum lies and achieve your own sense of balance accordingly.

216 thoughts on “My Secrets to Productivity

  1. Best advice ever! I go in and out of this exact routine. When I’m in it, I am as productive as ever. When I’m not, the day is a drag and I never catch up. Sadly, today is one of those late start days. They key really is going to bed early…something I’m not very good at doing. Perhaps I’ll print your post out, stick it on the ridge and maybe, just maybe, it will help motivate me back to a more efficient day:) Thanks, Jolie!

  2. Great advice, Jolie! Hilariously, I get up earlier now that I’m in school than I ever did when I was working a full-time job. As you described, the benefits are outstanding. It’s great to not feel like you’re playing eternal catch-up all day long. Great point about the chatter too, whenever I started to feel overwhelmed at work, I would quit iChat, Twitter, etc. It was amazing the difference it made when that noise isn’t constantly distracting you.

    I think over time your body will adjust to the new routine & you won’t need the 5 hr energy drinks to get you going… but that’s just my guess. I used to have to take afternoon naps on days that I woke up at 6, but now I’m able to power through.

    I have to also recommend exercise for anyone else who might need help in either the ‘getting energy’ or ‘getting sound sleep’ categories. I used to have trouble falling asleep at night, but ever since I started running/cycling 6 days a week – that problem is long gone and I have way more energy!

  3. Completely agree with this. Going to bed at 10 or 11am makes a huge difference in productivity. Sadly, it’s so freaking hard! Way to go on mastering the art!😀 Disconnecting from everything and not opening the laptop “one last time” is the part of this I need to work on!

  4. I get most work done both very early, and very late. When the world goes to bed I like to put on the headphones and get to work. Of coure this is a problem because I love getting to clients before the employees do because you can a lot more done. So I just end up getting 5 or 6 hours of sleep during the week. I know not healthy, but productive!

  5. Awesome advice. I am a firm believer of getting in early and loading the first half of my day with tasks that need that “laser focus”. Also, don’t forget to work in some physical activity in the second half of your day- it works wonders on the sleep schedule. Keep up the great work!

  6. I agree I get a ton more done when I wake up before 6:30 am. Exercising even if it’s only 20 to 30 mins also help boost your energy in the morning it you want to not have to use a energy drink to get up.

    • Yes but it’s so hard! One helper I’ve found is the exercise on demand channel by Comcast. They have a ton of “morning” workouts that are quite generous and forgiving to the groggy participant (a favorite is AM abs)… but now that I’ve gotten rid of my TV, I discovered more online sources. The key for me is to not be alone in the morning misery of cardio crunch time (followed by brain crunching)—I find it much more motivating for someone else to coerce me into productivity. I give props to those who are able to rely solely on internal motivation, however!

  7. Really great post, and I think I’m going to try implementing some of the things on here. When I moved in to my apartment a little over a year ago, I banned the computer from my bedroom. But, one of things that I’ve missed is that I used to be really productive in the mornings before my body caught up with my brain. (I have a genetic disorder, and it sometimes takes a bit for my muscles to decide they want to join the party.) I think I’m going to bring in an unused mini-laptop and use that to do email and some writing in the mornings.

  8. This is great, and harks back to using Pomodoro technique. I’m so badly nowhere near as disciplined as you seem, and can only dream of being that driven. I’m gonna force my lazy ass out of bed tomorrow morning though, when I wake up!

    I just discovered a little program called SelfControl for the Mac. It basically blocks your chosen domains (facebook.com, twitter.com) for a given period. And it *really* blocks them, you can’t close this program or anything. It’s amazing. Since installing and using it, I’ve learnt tons about mathematics, Bayes rule in statistics, natural language processing, all the cool stuff I *should* be doing.

    I actually have a compulsive problem with logging into Facebook. It’s like my unconscious mind clicks Facebook without me even thinking it, it’s weird.

    Mornings are great for doing real work. Good on ya girl, thanks for the motivational tips.

    PS when’s this book coming out?

  9. Great article and great advice! The only problem I have is with this sentence: “I am fortunate in that a) I have fewer friendships than most.” I mean, if that’s how you judge your life, than I guess you’re free to do so, but in my opinion meaningful friendships are the purpose of life, and to restrict yourself from having them seems just . . . wrong.

    Also, the going the bed early thing. I guess it might help, but I partied till 2am last night at Edinburgh Castle and here I am before 7am on a workday commenting on your blog, so it’s definitely not mandatory!

    • Hi Andrew

      Having fewer “friendships than most” hardly equals no friendships at all. And actually, I believe it increases the likelyhood that the existing friendships are more meningful!

      – just a thought

  10. I keep trying to get myself to get up a half hour earlier so I can exercise or whatever, but every morning when my alarm goes off I just tell myself, “I’ll start tomorrow.” I swear, one of these days (not today), I will!

  11. The most crucial thing for me about getting to bed early was … to have a job I loved. Before, when I worked at a hellhole, going to bed meant that the next time I opened my eyes, I had ten hours of nausea and fear waiting for me. It was natural to want to put that off, which meant staying up until 2am. Now that I have a job I enjoy with people who are good at what they do (and not screaming psychotics), I go to bed at 9:30 and am asleep in less than a half an hour — record time for me.

    Agreed about having fewer, higher quality friends than dozens of online “friends” who aren’t. We only have so much mental space, and we shouldn’t be so cavalier about letting people clutter it. Make room for the things and the people that count.

    • Fascinating! I never connected the dots on that before, i.e., staying up really late due to dreading what’s going to happen the next day…..Let me guess: you worked in the entertainment business (screaming psychotics)? Now I remember how effortlessly I awoke early and began my day interested in the promise it held once I quit a hideous day job and ventured into life as a free lance musician/model where I was the architect of my own destiny, but alas, that was awhile ago. Thanks for sharing your insight!

  12. I SO needed to read this: I just transitioned to full-time freelance writer, and my biggest obstacles to productivity are the noon shower (can’t seem to make it to “grooming stages” before then!) and the entire morning routine. Ugh!!

    But in order to be up 30 minutes before anyone, I’d have to get up at 5. Double ugh!!

    Great post with good tips…thank you!

  13. This is really great advice. I must restrict myself on that morning conversation, I spend probably 15 minutes each morning chatting over coffee with co-workers but then again, I always finish early with my work still. Hm, I guess I need more things to do!

    – Lisa @ BitchinRants.com

  14. These are great tips! I’m going to put some of them to use. My 5-hour energy in the morning is kick-ass music. Obviously it varies on my mood, but it always helps to wake me up for the day. Thanks!

  15. Awesome, the only problem is I too dont have that many social circles, nor do I drink and am past twenties, yet somehow I cant kick it into bed any earlier than 1am!!!!!!!
    Will find a way to follow your advice!

  16. As a work addict, I really enjoy seeing #5. I, among many others, don’t know when to stop. It’s a very western concept to believe the mantra, “the harder you work, the better your results”. Often times, there’s just a point of diminishing returns and it’s a sign of maturity to know when to call it quits… Great post. 🙂

  17. Honestly I will do my best efforts to emulate this schedule… actually I already do some of the things you mention. The going to bed early waking up early trick is very good… I tend to linger in my bed more than I should, so that sometimes backfires a bit… But in essence great advice.

  18. Good Advice! I think I will consider this when registering for spring semester. Maybe if I have more early morning classes..then I will be able to concentrate and get more done!

  19. Love the advice – classic tried-and-true stuff, just need to keep reminding myself to implement these tips on the daily; it’s the only way they’ll work. Thanks for the refresher🙂

  20. Doing something you enjoy in the morning
    is great advice. For me that something is
    maintaining my terrariums. I must turn on
    the sunlights for my diurnal lizards at soon
    as the sun rises and turn them off as the
    sun sets – when I got them my shedule was
    utter caous – now my day has more structure,
    I get up first thing because the heater in the
    room makes it cozy. I’m sleepy – but look for-
    ward to enteracting with these little worlds of
    mine – and their inhabitants. The ground skink
    is shy and when I (rarely) see him, I feel the
    day ahead will be lucky.

  21. Thanks for all of the helpful advice. I, too, abhor getting up in the morning; after reading this, I am setting my alarm for an hour earlier than usual. Congrats on FP!

  22. This is great advice, thank you! I’m just starting in my career as a freelance writer, and this has inspired me to make some changes. It’s always hard when you have to self motivate – the only person holding you back is you!🙂

  23. I’ve been doing this for years. I love that time when there are no phones, conversations or distractions. I burn incense and have conversations with God before the day winds up and I and everyone I encounter during the day benefit from those hours of quiet preparation. Early mornings rock!

  24. Great and simple advice on how to increase your productivity🙂. When I completely turned my schedule around and started going to bed by 11, I can’t even tell you how much it helped to get my day started early without being groggy! It’s also really underrated how nice it is to see the Sun the whole time it’s up.

  25. I think I need to work wherever you work! I wake up, get myself together, drive 35 minutes to work and ARRIVE at 6:30. And I’m always the last one to get there. (My supervisor arrives at 5:00.) The only private time I get is at the end of the day on the occasion that I decide to go into work “late”. In my world that means 7:30.

  26. Great Post! Your right it’s all about the discipline especially for a night owl like myself. I go in and out of this habit all the time. I broke it last when I was in school burning the candle at both ends now it’s the pain of building it back up all over again. Once it becomes a habit I’m fine it’s the beginning that’s the worst, but sacrifice we must I agree.

  27. I do agree in getting up early. Even when I was unemployed I got up and ready to bike for 1-2 hrs. by 7:30 -8:00am.

    Now that I’m back to work, it’s even earlier. I get into work early and just like sliding into my work day without immediately starting work since my official start time is 7:30 am.

    I wouldn’t be like you…sleeping in same room with my computer. Bedroom really is just for rest, etc. Not work. Otherwise that would stress me more.

  28. I love the advice. To tell you the truth, despite running my own business and being a proud multitasker for years, I have never really considered the difference between Busy work and Slogging work. It makes sense to group activities into our days based partly on how in-depth our brain needs to focus on them. Funny how you get up early despite hating it. Will you ever learn to love it?

  29. I’m impressed with how much you got done before 8am! And I love you for saying “a) I have fewer friendships than most, b) I don’t drink, and c) I’m past my 20s”. Once you’ve mastered these, then time is your ally and getting up early has always been an easy companion for getting a lot of writing done. Looking foward to reading more of your work.

  30. Excellent advice! I have found that staying up late is an easy rut to get into and it totally messes up the next day. Technically one’s morning routine begins at bedtime the night before – not only getting to bed at a decent hour, but planning the next day, laying out clothes, placing items you need where they’re ready to go, even getting your lunch for the next day prepared. When you get into this kind of routine it makes it easy to get up early and get going long before other people have even thought about it.
    There was a time when I refused to start anything before 9am on principle (“We shouldn’t have to start work before the business day has technically begun!”) but at the end of the day, this is the way the world works. And gettng going earlier can often mean you can leave the office earlier at the end of the day to.

  31. This is so true… Starting your day 30 mins earlier than normal makes an ocean of a difference in your day, in your life. Doing something you love at the start of the day gives you that little extra to keep you going through the day.. And if you include some meditation and yoga – Your productivity will jump almost 100% more simply because your mind is in control – concentration and focus are excellent…

    Do check out my blog posts on
    Self Discipline @ http://nipmu.blogspot.com/2011/09/self-discipline.html
    A Daily Dose of Inspiration @ http://nipmu.blogspot.com/2011/10/daily-dose-of-inspiration.html

  32. I follow pretty much everything, and it does make you very productive. Being a college student, I can finish all my homework early and still have free time plus work time. The only difference is that I guess I’m like Napoleon in the sense that my biological clock is 4-5 hours of sleep a day. Anything more and I’m really tired throughout the entire day. So my typical sleep schedule runs from 1AM-5AM.

  33. Great advice! We’ll I have to admit that I’m overworking myself and I feel tired during the days. I think I must practice the habit of sleeping at least 11 and waking up early. Thanks for the idea!🙂

  34. What a timely post! For the past several weeks, I have been struggling to force my schedule into some sort of configuration that will allow me to get up early (hopefully 0630, or even 0600), so that I can be sure to get the absolutely critical cornerstones of my life taken care of and have quiet time to focus intensely and produce quality creative output before I am at the mercy of everyone else’s demands, and have not yet succeeded on any sort of regular basis. My biggest challenge in that effort is wrenching free from my husband’s M.O. Nevertheless, your post inspires me to fight the good fight and maximise the great opportunity of the time shift occurring this weekend. Thanks also for the reminder about the fatigue factor, i.e., no point in trying to produce when you’re tapped out for the day – just give it up and get some rest🙂

  35. Hmm, I’ve tried it many times myself, sometimes I can’t seem to drag my lazy carcass out of the pit though, especially at 6am, even though it is the most quiet time. I work better at weekends, but try to be flexible. Good plan though, I guess my excuse is the 2 hour commute to school, get to read a lot of books though!

  36. Love to see so many people understanding that productivity is a way of life, not just some mumbo jumbo you say you practice at wortk.

    Great post

  37. I really agree with ” When you’re done, be done.” There is more life outside work. You can’t just continue working all day or merely focus in advancing your career. As a mom, I make it a point to not leave my office job at the end of the day and nourish my family life. I have a husband and a lovely daughter to go home to and oftentimes they can be a handful, work has no room left once I’m with them. Afterall, they are my priorities and the reason why I’m working.

  38. Great post. I am also far more productive in the morning and the lack of distractions although sometimes it’s hard to resist the temptation to check my social networks first thing. Whenever I do though, suddenly I look up, two hours have gone by and the phone starts ringing = day gone.
    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed.

  39. You sound like a machine, is this schedule working all the time for you?
    I tried something close, to what you’re describing above, doing it for several months; … it lead me to mental exhaustion.

    Funny enough, afterwards, I’ve discovered that sleeping only 5 hours per night (get in bed at 2:00, woke up at 7:00) is the most productive cycle for me. And I don’t need any coffee or energy shot. These will only accelerate the death of your brain cells, leading to Alzheimer or memory loss when you’ll get older. Aaa and don’t forget the long weekend sleep 12 hours recovery…

    I agree with doing the essential work in the morning and the meditative (thinking, writing, analyzing, etc) in the afternoon.

    Another point that is worth mentioning here is to have a working cycle of 6 weeks work 1 week vacation. This will increase your productivity as you will allow enough time for your brain to recover.

  40. I agree with you its very important to getup early in the morning. I getup bit earlier than 6:30 because its the best time to do meditation, which makes me feel very nice for the hole day.

  41. Thanks for this post. I’ve found the mornings when I am one of the first at work to be my most productive days. Just getting into that concentrated headspace first thing, rather than arriving in the general morning hubbub, makes a huge difference to the rest of my day. I tend to do the ‘thinking’ tasks first and then the more ‘braindead’ tasks after lunch. It is hard if you’re not naturally a morning person, but like you say the benefits make up for it…

  42. I totally second this. All the points mentioned above actually make a difference. I am also in an attempt to bring my sleeping and getting up times in discipline so as to be more productive and manage various areas of my life well.

  43. This makes so much sense to me because this is what I DO, except for the energy pills! and the laptop in bed. i get up at 5.30 when it really is dark. and write until sun-up. Then the cows start calling! But i go to bed really early so i am sure it all works out I was interested in the switching gears after the noon hour, this would work for me too.. thank you and have fun! c

  44. I love these, thank you. I really need some tips on productivity right now, as my exams get nearer and nearer and I sorta maybe haven’t gotten around to reading all the required reading material just yet.

  45. Excellent post! I cracked up when I read you have a 6-pack of 5 hour Energy on your nightstand. After much kicking and screaming, I’ve gotten used to starting my day early and when I’m in the groove, it’s all good. Then there are days like today, that started way TOO early (couldn’t sleep) and I can’t seem to get it in gear. Guess I’ll just let it be what it is until tomorrow.
    Thanks again for the great reminder!

  46. I can see that if productivity at the cost of all else is your goal then you are on to a winner… But the alarm bells started ringing for me when you mentioned the energy shots. If you need them, you probably actually need rest. Besides that they are not healthy. They create an unnatural state of alert for your body and mind and your body demands more and more energy in that state. (It isn’t any wonder you crash later in the day if you are coming down of those energy drinks..) Your body is a bit like a machine.. if you work it on overdrive it will soon go wrong or burn out. This may take the form of a terminal disease, nervous breakdowns, stomach ulcers, a heart attack or such. And there comes a time when you can’t fix it anymore. Is your productivity really that important to you?

    I write this asking challenging myself over the very same issue.

    Producity v.s ones own health and that of the planet.. I am sad to say that productivity seems to more important these days. :0(

  47. Very nice post. Waking up, and getting up, early is definitely a key secret to productivity, success and a healthy psyche.

    My favourite line is this: “You must choose where your fulcrum lies and achieve your own sense of balance accordingly.” – beautiful🙂

    Thank you, and much blessings.

    namaste

    mús

  48. I got rid of all my friends, but it didn’t help. Threw away the televisions and cut the cable. Nope, didn’t help. Sold the cats. Sold the girlfriend. Cut everything to the bone. Hurt like hell. I’m gonna have to go back to bed and think about this some more. I hope to hell I didn’t sell the bed.

  49. Great post! It’s a pain for me to get out of bed too, at any time of day it is, so I will start using your music, light and a glass of tea for me (I can’t drink energy drinks as I get massive migraines) techniques for getting my body going in the morning.

    Thanks for sharing and wonderful post! 🙂

  50. My favorite was not having a conversation in the first couple of hours. It’s too bad we’re conditioned to think that is anti-social, but it’s really about protecting our time. The other bits were great. Thanks for reminding us about the value of the morning.

  51. One thing to consider: some people are more productive in the morning (perhaps most); some are more productive later in the day. One problem is figuring out whether you think you’re more productive in the afternoon is only because you like to sleep in.

    But once somebody’s found that productive time, stick to it the way you do.

    Ben Franklin might have said what you did in fewer words, but he would certainly agree with you wholeheartedly.

  52. I think I may try implementing waking up early and going to bed early into my schedule. Not only will I be less tired through out the day but my productivity will definitely sky rocket. Thanks!

  53. brilliant advice. this is mostly a common sense but no one never seems to realise! lots of people my age (twenty something) has been moaning about their so called “insominac”, THAT is because they are jobless, lacking productivity and on facebook or any other particular sites, wasting their lives away. they are bound not to be able to sleep!!

    i am a total opposite. i have 9-5 job, i work hard and quickly. i sleep early, fairly! and get up once i opened my eyes despite how difficult it always is. it gets easier and easier over time innit?

    brilliant blog, lady! xo

  54. This was actually a good idea. I have been staying up late so no one bothers me, but I suppose getting up early is much more socially responsible. I would have to have a coffee maker by my bed, but I guess that could be arranged.

  55. I totally agree about the friend thing. I have had the same handful of close friends for years and we are all across the country. Many of us are in the writing field and other than my family that’s all the social interaction I need. I however, do some of my best writing at night. Great post.

  56. RIGHT ON! You read my mind. I’ve got some personal projects/goals I’m looking to accomplish and been banging my head trying to figure out WHERE the time was coming from (busy like we all are). I had told myself start the day before the sun rises. Your post is confirmation. You rock!

    Peace,

  57. Thanks for sharing your advice! While I’m not a fan of the “early to bed, early to rise” doctrine, I really like the way you’ve structured your day. Note to self: “…do whatever motivates you to not hate the morning.” Haha. Also, you’re completely right- life is a trade off, and if you don’t put hard work into life, you’re not going to get what you want out of it.

  58. I definitely have to agree with the early to bed early to rise idea. One of the best tips I’ve heard about getting ahead in life is just waking up early and start working on what you love. My blog could use that kind of commitment. Thanks for the tips.

  59. I found this so refreshing , replete with old worldly and grand mother-like charm. In my life’s journey as I have moved from one commercially complex situation to another one, I have finally found that going back to the basics, the simple things of life usually work best. Be it a normal work pace or taking time out to appreciate stuff where one’s energy lies. Being happy and stress free leads to more creativity and initiative taking ability.

  60. Goooooood Reminder!! (obviously I use Google search alot, usually late at night, waaayyy late).
    Anyways, well written and timely. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!
    Come visit; johnbrianshannon.com
    Regards, JBS

  61. Yes getting up earlier to steal more of the day means hopefully you can get more out of it!
    as i am a landscape gardener i am up at 5am monday to friday, but unfortunately as my passion is poetry i have to fit it in when i am tired at the end of the day.
    Anyway the more you fit in life the more of a life you live, you are doing well!

  62. This is something I would recommend to a lot of people in my office since we work in a flexi-time schedule. A lot of them procrastinate before their daily deadlines since they come to work at about 10 in the morning.

  63. Great tips here! I’m going to employ some of these, especially the sleep early and rise early ones, and see if i get my productivity meter up. And if they don’t work, I want my money – er, time – back.

    Kidding aside, I think being productive is simply a matter of self-discipline and time management skills. And you seem to have a lot of both. I, on the other hand, am not quite the ninja at both. But, to give myself some credit so I don’t sound like a complete loser, I can say I’m trying – really. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to prepare myself in trying some of your “secrets” to make myself more productive than I’ve ever been.

  64. Great advice! Thank you for crystallizing timeless productivity principles into a practical checklist we can implement right away. I fly to Paris often and my body’s way of adapting to the time zone difference is to wake up naturally at around 4 am when I return to Utah. I then maintain this schedule by going to bed early. Result: waking up is a pleasure! I fire up the laptop, flip up the switch on the fireplace and sip a delicious warm drink while reading a few blogs. I am then ready to attack the day. I really like your suggestion to segregate tasks before and after noon depending on their intensity. I will try that! Thanks!

  65. This is weird, I feel refreshed right now because of Daylight Savings starting (or ending I cant never remember which), I got up at 5:30. I had some posts I wanted to work on and after logging on your post is the first thing I’m reading here at the butt-crack of dawn. God must be telling me something smh LOL. Thanks for the advice you’ve echoed all the things my dad told me about productivity.

  66. As I sit here at 5:30 A.M….I get it. Two points worth reiterating. Create an environment that makes you happy (iTunes…Adele…running in the background). The environment helps you overcome your reluctance to change by influencing your feelings (I borrow this from Kristin Lamb’s [@kristinlamb] book, Are You There, Blog? It’s Me Writer)…feelings LIE. It’s like going to the gym when you are exhausted…you always have more energy coming out. Second, don’t touch social media unless you are doing research. i can always find an interesting Tweet, Blog, Wall posting, etc to distract me from i should be doing. Thanks for your thoughts. Good luck with jounalism and technology.

  67. The theme to all of these is self-discipline. I agree that you can’t do effective work if you’re trying to do too much; I work as a writer alone at home and know for many people the challenge is figuring out how best to use your time — with no one there watching or monitoring your productivity.

    I like your clear boundaries between work and life. I guard my weekends jealously from intrusion and if I have to work a weekend day, always take a hooky day during the week to make up for it.

  68. Your strategy is simple, but it works! The key, as you rightly point out, is to make the waking experience more pleasant by adding agreeable stimuli (e.g. being awoken by jazz). It’s probably best not to ‘jolt’ the brain into alertness by exposing it to a loud, obnoxious alarm tone every morning. That callous droning noise does nothing to “welcome” me to the morning. Who wants to begin the day with a sound that evokes the feeling of something cold, mechanical and lifeless? Banish the alarm tone!

  69. I used to get to work an hour early, for quiet, thinking and working time. Then…I got fired. Boy, does that free up your day! I still love those early morning hours–my most creative time is before nine am.

  70. Such a refreshing blog to read! I’m trying to get back on my productivity swing these days- after a summer of light work, followed by an intense early fall, I found myself getting a bit lazy at times. Great to hear the advice that I know I’ve needed for awhile come from someone else (and not my guilty conscience)!

  71. I completely agree with you! I feel weird if I don’t get up on time because that means I get caught up in everyday traffic and miss out on that one silent hour of commute with my book and music. Thank you for reminding me how much that matters🙂

  72. Some great advice to put into practice! I would have to agree with the majority of what you have shared. Productivity is an essential that many folks have a very hard time keeping consistent, and that is very important.

  73. Yap yap yap you hit it right mate! This blog is none other than the famouse adage “early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy and wise” which is what mom has been hammering in my system eversince. And this is not just a good thing for a sound mind and a healthy body but more importantly for the soul as well.

  74. Thank you for this…what a breathe of fresh air. I’m a self-starter that can end up running in circles because I don’t know when to call it quits. I’m calling it a day and starting early tomorrow!
    Thanks for the great advice! 🙂

  75. Every single word you wrote inspired me. As an illustrator, I tend to waste most of my time thinking and not working. I promise myself to wake up early, which wont be a problem since the pet birds I have start screaming and dancing the moment a sun’s ray hits their cage.

  76. Great advice Jolie, I think it’s good to know yourself and pay attention to your body. I’m more of a morning person so I know I need to get as much done before I crash, which is usually 2 p.m. After that time I move like a turtle and coast for the rest of the day.

  77. I’m currently an unemployed recent college grad who wakes up around 7AM everyday, just to feel productive. The job search is a job in itself!

  78. I’ve always appreciated the irony in the fact that we are a very busy country, yet we can’t seem to stay focused or else we look to productivity self help books for answers. Congrats on getting ‘pressed’.

  79. And why I love daylight savings time, in a nutshell, is that I can get up earlier and at least FEEL like I can accomplish more in the day… At least until next week when I get used to the rhythm and realize there’s no real “extra hour” anywhere… Hah!

  80. My greatest and most productive thoughts come late at night and I tend to get alot done in a short period of time. Music sets the tone and key words or phrases that I hear, lights a mental fire and I have to force myself to sleep. Leave me the heck alon in the morning!

  81. Getting to bed early and getting up early is very beneficial to your health and productivity. I am adding mine a little exercise which help my body to produce a happy drug before I start up my day. I totally agree except the energy drink part. This is a very good advise.

  82. Good article. If anyone has trouble going to bed early, make sure you eat nothing after dinner, and get lots of fresh air exercise that day. You may not be able to switch over from the midnight cycle right away but stick with it and you will! I often get up between 5 and 6:30 am and go outside and it is such a beautiful part of the day🙂

  83. I really appreciate this post and your advice. I set up similar goals for myself to increase productivity too. My rules were Life comes first, Feelings lie, and Wake up early. Shorter versions of what you already revealed. It is a fight to wake up and get moving somedays, but when you do I absolutely get more done too. With that said, sometimes “life comes first” and work or family or other emergencies occur, and you have to take it day by day and not beat yourself up for what’s out of your control.

  84. Great advice! I would love to follow it as a writer, but I’m out the door by 6:30am most mornings (I teach), and already in “slog” mode by the time I get back. I’m still trying to work out a rhythm that allows me that precious focus time at a different hour of the day. Those mornings when I don’t have to go in to work and I’m still up several hours ahead of everyone else are magical, though. LOVE the quiet hours of the morning. I’ll keep your advice in mind for my next summer break – maybe I’ll actually get that novel written!

  85. Great advice for maximizing productivity. I agree wholeheartedly that all of life’s a trade off. Am so going to wake up extra early every morning, sleep early too and be selective on what I’m gonna spend my energies on. No more useless idle chat on whats’app!

  86. I have been struggling to find a schedule for years. Between insomnia, anxiety, SADD, crazy school schedule, being in my 20s, drinking – yeesh.

    This might actually help me, or at least inspire me to do some good and be a little nicer to my body!

  87. This post will definitely help me when I’m going to start writing on my Bachelor project. I’ve been at it for about 2 months so far, but I haven’t used my time properly. Now, with your guidelines, I don’t have any excuses. Thanks for sharing!

  88. This is a good read. The solitary hours in the morning are when you are one with everything else in the world. Points three and four I will take to heart. Thanks for a great post!

  89. Great tips that I do almost of it. I think that if you do all like other people you will the same. But if you do a little different in many things, you will special and get some advantages.

  90. Great advice, I have just left full time employment to go full time self employed as a nutritional therapist and looking to find ways of energising myself in the morning (motivation – it’s different to having to get up and be sitting at a desk by 9am). I will now get up earlier and start yoga practice! thank you 🙂

  91. Good advice. I think most of us need to continually examine our daily routines in order to progress in the things we would like to accomplish. Some of us also need to examine our organization (or lack of such)! I guess it comes naturally to some people.

  92. I love this advise. I am anti-energy supplements after a near death experience, so I won’t be sleeping with a 6-pack of 5 hour energy’s next to my pillow.

    One suggestion that I find helps me get up extra early, is to put your alarm somewhere out of arm’s reach so that you have to get out of bed to turn it off. I live on the east coast and have to be at work at 8am every morning. I used to get up at the last second, just early enough to get dressed, brush my teeth, and arrive at work by 7:59am.🙂

  93. Some great thoughts here! I’ve always held to the “don’t make your home a workplace as well” philosophy, and I’ve noticed that I do better when I portion my day according to when my brain works best. Hopefully, a ton of people read this and choose to apply these rules. Heaven knows we’d all get more done!

  94. These are all excellent ideas, especially your #3. I’m a morning person for sure, but I don’t really like talking to people for the first few hours I’m up. This is when I feel productive and just want to focus! I always appreciate time management tips, so thank you for sharing!

  95. I often find it hard to corral my energies into one task and get distracted by pretty much anything. Thanks for the great advice! Congrats on being posted on FP. These are simple but very effective tips.

  96. Brilliant. I do this as well, but you are a bit more disciplined than I. I need to force myself to NOT log onto Facebook and get involved in trivia until Noon😉

  97. This is the kind of advice I tell myself all the time, but rather seldom follow. I’ve gotten into really bad sleep habits that I’m trying to break–I know that I’ll be so much more productive if I do.

  98. Thanks for the post and reminding me what I love about the morning. My perfect day begins by waking up before the sun rises and being at my desk or on the trail as it peeks over the horizon. I feel like half my day is lost if I’m not up before 7…not in hours, but definitely in productivity. So my conundrum is do I use that extra early productivity time in creativity and communications (reading, writing, email) or an early morning workout? I love, love, love being at my desk with a home-made latte and reflecting on some interesting post, following up with email (as mentioned, early enough that there’s no back-and-forth to divert you). I also love, love, love getting an early morning workout: 6 am spin class, body pump, or run in fair weather. I try to alternate days so I can have the best of both worlds. Getting to bed earlier is the key. I have to try the melatonin as I find I’m usually not sleepy until about 11 and that doesn’t give me enough rest to feel refreshed all day.

  99. Very nice post. Waking up, and getting up, early is definitely a key secret to productivity, success and a healthy psyche.

    My favourite line is this: “You must choose where your fulcrum lies and achieve your own sense of balance accordingly.” – beautiful!

    Thank you, and much blessings.

    namaste

    mús

  100. Just wanted to say your writing is excellent. I was looking for ways to improve my life in little ways, and waking up earlier sounds like something I should try. Thank you.

  101. This is such simple, easy to follow advice- and it can make an immense difference. Thanks for sharing! I recently became a work-at-home mom and have been trying to fit my writing around my baby schedule. And I love tip 6: I’m in my late 20s, I also don’t drink and I enjoy being in bed by 10:30 or 11 pm!!

  102. Thank you for these needed tips! I found it very useful to utilize couple of apps on my Android which keep track of the habits I want to acquire (i.e going to bed by 10.30/11.00 and getting up early) . The apps are called Routinely and Habit Streak.
    I also wanted to share what a friend of mine, a Naturopath and Herbalist from Italy tod me: Sleep after midnight (for people like me, requires about two more hours. If I go to bed by 11 , I need eight hours of sleep, if I choose to be up till 2 AM I will not be naturally awake until noon! This thought shocked me (I don’t want to sleep my life away) and is a good incentive to get to bed at a ‘decent hour’…as Flylady says. Lastly I wanted to add that it is not recommended to go to the gym after 7 PM if you want to get to bed early, for working out could have a stimulating effect. I also gave up coffee and drink the occasional tea, and now I am naturally tired and sleepy by eleven, something that *never* happened before: I have been a night owl since elementary school.
    Be careful of sleeping with electronics next to you (put them on your nightstand) and of the five-hour energy drink…eventually you are shooting to be awake, rested on your own. Hugs to you!!

  103. Hey! you are on FP, but I had to be creative to get to your page, because if I just press the link from FP page it says the site is dangerous and so on.

    You are not alone. Another blogger on the same FP page is yours has the same problem.

    I hope the support team can help you with that.

  104. I loved this post… Just what I needed. I am always trying to get a boost here and there of productivity insights. I fall off the wagon quite a bit. When I’m on I’m on. But, lord help me if I’m off. It takes a bit to get back on. But now, when I’m on, I’m on. And reallyyyyy on.
    Great suggestions!

  105. Great article. I’m inspired that you were very intentional about making time work for you in a way that fits what you know about yourself. I wish I could do #3 better: seems like everyone around me in the morning seems to see me as their launchpad for questions and ideas. So actually, I have to wait until they all wear out, then in the afternoon I can be focused while they are “slogging”.

  106. Great article. I’m inspired that you were very intentional about making time work for you in a way that fits what you know about yourself. I wish I could do #3 better: seems like everyone around me in the morning seems to see me as their launchpad for questions and ideas. So actually, I have to wait until they all wear out, then in the afternoon I can be focused while they are now “slogging”.

  107. I hate getting up in the morning, too, but I love your ideas for making mornings a little more enjoyable. I know I’d be so much more productive if I got up just a bit earlier. It would also do me some good to leave work at work when I come home. Great post!

  108. Great advice and much of it I follow.🙂 The only thing I do differently is drink Advocare Spark instead of the 5-Hour Energy drink; did a bunch of research and the Advocare stuff is waaaay better.

  109. In my youth, I used to shoot a film per week, good, bad, or indifferent. The key was to work by formula, and to ruthlessly chop away any distractions. Long hours also contributed. There’s plenty of time to be artistic and creative later, after you’ve learned your craft.

    • Ray Bradbury’s advice to writers: Write a story every week. At the end of a year, you’ve got 52 stories – at least one of them is going to be good.

      Your addition is great: at the end of the year, you’ve learned a thing or two about writing – or filmmaking.

  110. I must say, you are totally on point! Some of the advice you put up here are part of the things I do and I am hoping to give myself to other things that I find myself lacking. Thanks. This is worth sharing.

  111. LOVE. And I also don’t like talking in the morning, though quite the socialite later.
    About sleep: so right–I often wonder if there’s a Nightaholics Anonymous, because so oft I tell myself: Tonight I’m going to bed early. Tonight I’m going…
    FYI if you want to be ahead of the US markets/biz, go to Europe or beyond! Even if you wake late you’ll be ahead of their game. Blog from the Riviera or Mediterranean.

  112. I stumbled onto you after seeing 2 of my fb friends subscribed to you posts. Which led to my spending the last 2 hours reading your posts, blog and tweets.. awesome, mezmerizing wonderful stuff !

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