The simple wake up early can be a very simple and effective productivity technique. In fact, it is one of the best approaches in my arsenal, explanation follows.
Draw from Willpower
It's 8 am, some would say not exactly early, but it is saturday and for me this is the proverbial "stay in bed"… Normally I would wake up at 6 am, despite my job doesn't require my presence before 9 am. At this hour I can deal with something for which normally, in the evening I would not have the mental energy for, like writing this post.
The most beneficial aspect of the early rise is circumventing the decision fatigue mechanism; many studies show that we have a finite quantity of willpower each day, willpower that we are able to replenish thanks to sleep. It is at the highest on awakening and consumed throughout the day.
By fully exploiting the morning we can employ our willpower toward our goals, things that really matters to us and, frankly, mostly never gets done. Energies gests deducted from the end of the day where it is anyway biologically better to stop activities in preparation for sleep.
Treasure the Morning
The morning can be endearing: the clear sky, the clouds with tints of dawn's nuances, life that slowly awakens. Morning is quiet and energy.
Some things I really appreciate of my mornings:
- devote energies to care of the necessary
- don't fall prey of distractions
- the gym is undercrowded
- find small moments for meditation
- save from 10 to 20 minutes of car commute in traffic
- treat myself with a "state of the art" cappuccino at the café
Build the Habit
I know the task can be daunting, and if not sufficiently fueled with motivation, there are a big chances for giving up soon. Below some suggestions that might help in smoothing the transation.
Exploit the evening
It's chance in order to prepare for a top morning: prepare bags, suitcases, dedicate to personal hygiene, take a brief moment to recap next day commitments. The morning is meant to be dedicated to produce value, not to be spent on maintenance!
Set an alarm for bedtime
It is key to enjoy all necessary hours of sleep—6-9 depending according to preference—therefore becomes vital not postpone bedtime. Set an alarm to remind you of sleep time. My fitness tracker vibrates—a Fitbit HR— each evening at 10 pm.
It wouldn't be fair to to expect ourselves to succeed immediately, in an habit that can seem very unpleasant at first—but becomes less discouraging with experience, in fact building habits requires time, months. It's important to patient, not take it personally. It's the circadian rhytms, our comfort zones that will resist the adjustment.
If on one hand waking up early may require sacrifices, social interaction, evening outs, TV shows... On the other hand it can lead us to an active part on your life, who wouldn't like that? I personally like to think of it as a long term investment.