In my quest to fight procrastination and have a productive day every-freakin-day, I have probably spent hours* on Pinterest scrolling through productivity articles and infographics. At this point, I can already expect one advice the productivity experts all give:
Wake up early. Like 5 AM early. Because early bird gets the early worm, right?
Well, uh… Not all the time?
Take it from an early bird: Waking up early may not be enough.
It’s not necessarily the “abracadabra” you have to do so your day would magically be a productive one. It works on some people. But on others? Not so much.
*procrastinating, and yes the irony isn’t lost on me.
Why Waking Up Early is Not Enough
Your Biological Preferences
If you think my procrastinating-on-studies binges are counterproductive, think again. It was in one of these “I’m bored, let’s go on Google” moments that I learned about how much sleep certain successful people have.
Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, The Dalai Lama and Arianna Huffington sleeps for seven to eight hours every day. Meanwhile, Tom Ford, Angela Merkel, and Indra Nooyi are part what’s called the “sleepless elite” and get by with four to six hours of sleep (yish.) And Winston Churchill and LotR author J.R.R Tolkien usually get out of bed late in the morning.
Here’s what I took away from this:
Different people have different sleep schedules and yet they can still function well every day and succeed in what they do.
I truly believe there are as plenty of preferences as there are people. So, really, it all comes down to knowing yourself. Your strengths and weaknesses, your limits and your nonnegotiables.
Whether you need to drink coffee first to switch on your human being-ness, or simply rush off in thirty minutes like a freakin-tornado.
Your Peak Time
I know people who work best during the witches’ hour and those who work best really early — like waaay before the sun plays peak-a-boo at the east. I find I work best in the middle of the day since I’m practically a lazy potato early in the morning and a tired potato by 9 p.m.
Friend, get this: There is no One Ideal Work Time.
We all do our best work at different times of the day. Which is comforting, right? It is quite relieving to know what works best for others may not work best for you and vice versa. The sad part is the nine-to-five work day is the “regular working hours”, as if there is some kind of predictable schedule.
But creativity and inspiration and our own bodies have a different concept of time. Which is why waking up early in the morning? It may not be enough to have a productive day — not for everyone, at least.
So what can you do to have a productive day?
You could do this in different ways like:
+ Making a schedule and following it, if you’re a Type A person or simply have a knack at being organized.
Kelly Exeter, who co-host my favorite self-improvement podcast ever, has this two-notebook system which you may find interesting if you like a simple yet very efficient system to organize your life.
+ Setting a rewards system to motivate yourself into doing stuff.
+ Reminding yourself of the importance of finishing a task.
Discipline is built by deliberately doing what needs to be done and, in time, it becomes some kind of habit. For example, I mentally negotiate with myself into finishing a task and be like, “If you finish this and that now, we can have time to read that fanfic update we’ve waited for months.” That usually convinces me enough to get to work.
To learn more about how to build your self-discipline, check out this video by Thomas Frank of College Info Geek. Side note: Marcus Aurelius is like my mom, I swear.
Get to Know Yourself
You know how I mentioned about your body clock and your peak productivity time above? The whole point I was trying to say is that maybe, my fellow procastinating productivity-finding adventurer, you don’t have to look anywhere else.
The only person you have to focus on is YOU.
When you know what triggers your Super Saiyan mode or what makes you bloom beautifully like a sunflower on a bright sunny day, everything else will run smoothly.
Maybe you hit your 5000-word goal after a rigorous morning workout session, maybe you can write and schedule two months’ worth of blog post after angry-cleaning in the afternoon, maybe a midnight cake break is all you need to finish that thesis today. (I mean, let’s face it. We all need a midnight cake break at least once in our lives, right?)
The point is: you get to know yourself better and you do what works best for you.
Take everyone else’s pieces of advice with a grain of salt. (Yes, even this one.) Try one or three of them, but if it doesn’t work on you, that’s completely okay! Just try something else! Because something else is bound to work.
And when something does work for you? Boy oh boy. The world better watch out. Because you’ll be unstoppable!
How many hours of sleep do YOU need? Does waking up early prove to create a productive day for you? Share them in the comments!
Let’s be friends!
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PS: How to get through an exam week alive + Why you need to try free writing
Photos from Wonderlass and Raw Pixel