Over the years I’ve tried a number of approaches to mornings to try and be more productive. I’ve tried getting up at the crack of dawn. Having green tea. Not having green tea. Exercise. Skinny dipping. Everything. Most of it did little more than make me feel like a prat. And worse, a tired prat.
But after much experimentation, I’ve finally cracked it. I’ve figured out a morning ritual that actually works!
It’s called sleep! That’s right. To hell with waking up earlier and trying to start every morning with a workout, a smoothie and a smug and braggy social media status.
Like you, I have been shamed by the dozens of articles online that tell us that all successful people get up at the crack of dawn and do more before 9am than most will do all day. Screw ’em. It doesn’t work.
When I pull myself out of my lovely warm bed at 5:30am, it guarantees one thing: by 4pm I’ll be so tired I’m barely able to support my own head. So I haven’t actually lengthened the day. It just starts earlier and then finishes earlier. How does that help anybody be more productive?
In much the same vein as Rihanna records and lactose, me and mornings just don’t get on. We never have. And, by my age, I don’t expect we ever will. So it doesn’t make sense to continue pursuing a strategy that yields so little in terms of results. Whether it works for Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos is of little relevance if it simply will not work for me.
So unless I have an appointment, I rarely rise before 10:30. That way, when I do get up, my brain is online and working. And when I sit down at my desk, tasks tend to get done very quickly. And I often work long beyond 6pm. I also regularly put hours in on Saturdays and Sundays.
And that’s my method. And it works. But not every day. Because some days, let’s be honest, it’s just not happening. Some days, for whatever reason – I’m not in flow state or whatever – work is a drag, even if the project is fun. And on those days, if there are no deadlines looming, I give myself permission to finish early because it doesn’t make sense to keep pushing at a task when it’s not coming easy, if completion is not imminently vital.
This means that some days are short and some days are very long. But I’ll bet that the overall rate of progress in a week is roughly the same as it would be if I forced myself to work 8 full hours, 5 days a week.
And this approach is in line with the Smart & Slick philosophy: Do what works. Do what gets results. Play to your own strengths and rhythms. And realise that what works for one person or client, might not be the best approach for another. There isn’t always a one-size-fits-all solution to a problem.
Whatever your current challenge, do what works for you.