I am a big fan of getting up early. It’s one of those productivity hacks that added hours to my day in a meaningful way. A little early-morning quiet time can make a huge difference in our ability to get things done.
I am an entrepreneur. One of my favorite perks of working for myself is the ability to set my own hours. And for five days, I ran an experiment. I decided to get everything done before noon.
This included all of my tasks. By 12 pm, I was done for the day.
Doing the math, this means I only had seven hours to complete all of my work. And at first, I anticipated a reduction in productivity. Naturally, fewer working hours means less gets done, right? To my surprise, that’s not the way it worked.
I realized three important things during this work experiment.
1: Getting up early makes me more productive
It is amazing what crawling out of bed at 5 am does to the workday. Instead of starting the day at 7 or 8 am and getting done at 5 or 6 pm as the sun goes down, starting early means that your workday is done much earlier, too.
But, I also saw a remarkable improvement in my work productivity.
When I begin my workday before everyone else wakes up (spouse, kids, dogs, etc), the quiet time makes me ultra-productive. I can blaze through tasks much quicker than usual. It allows me to focus and, without distractions, I can enter phases of productivity much easier, and also stay in those phases for longer.
This means work gets done much faster.
2: We don’t need as many hours as we think
Getting up early also taught me that we don’t need as many work hours as we think. Have you ever heard the phrase “There are only so many hours in the day…”?
That’s true, but here’s a more accurate version of that statement when it comes to productivity: “There’s only so many hours of productivity in the day.”
To get more done, we don’t need more hours. What we need is more time being productive. More time without distractions. More opportunity to focus on our work without getting interrupted by phone calls or coworkers asking questions.
By noon, I truly was done with the large majority of my work for the day. The key was finding a way to add more productive working hours to my day, and I did that by starting my day at 5.
3: Sunlight is a wonderful thing
Finishing my workday at noon had another unexpected benefit: I got outside much more than I had before. According to WebMD, sunlight boosts a chemical in our brains called serotonin, which is responsible for giving us more energy and focus. That energy made me noticeably happier during the day, promoted a more restful night’s sleep, and also helped me to hit the ground running again the next day, bright and early.
Just after 12 pm, I would take a walk outside knowing that my work was finished. The fresh air and sunlight were wonderful additions to my day.
Not everyone will be able to control their schedule to this degree. But if you can, starting your day early and ending it around lunchtime is a great way to boost productivity and improve your health through more sunlight and Vitamin D.