I dated a guy in college who woke up at 5am to write his papers.
When I sent him a good morning text around 10, he responded with some snide remark on how he’s “been up for hours”.
But when I asked if his paper was done, he always said no.
I have a feeling he got up early just so he could say he did and to appear committed.
Really, all he was doing was drinking coffee and procrastinating by watching YouTube videos.
My papers were always done a week ahead of time, you tell me who’s more committed?
One of the best things I did for myself is to stop trying to be a morning person. I was trained to equate being up early with success, ambition, and drive.
While it makes sense that having “more hours in a day” technically allows you to get more accomplished, you can’t ignore the quality of work done in those hours.
So many articles suggest ways to wake up early, boost your motivation, and get more done. This sends the message that sleeping past 7 or 8am is for the lazy people.
The trouble with that is, when you’re not a morning person, you can’t be productive until around 9am anyway.
When I had a “typical 9-5” job (which, who actually gets into the office at 9? It’s like a 7:45-5:30 job if I’m being honest) sure, I got to the office before 8am. But I slowly settled into my desk, got my coffee, and made the morning rounds of saying hello to my work friends.
By the time I was sitting at my desk, doing actual work, it was at least 9:30, sometimes 10am. The surprising part of it? I was still one of the best new sales reps in the company.
When I was working, I was focused, witty, and putting energy into my work. The work I did during the hours of 10am and 2pm was inspired, efficient, and effective.
If I didn’t get much sleep and I had to drag through the day, I was distracted and disinterested. The more sleep I got and later in the day I started working, the more productive I was.
So when I measure my progress in a day, I don’t look at how many hours I worked. That’s useless. I measure how much I got done – because that’s what actually matters, right?
Tell that to my college boyfriend.
I set out to start a fresh new morning routine a few times in my life. None of them stuck.
Soon, I realized the problem wasn’t with my body – it was with the expectations of my body.
I was mentally beating myself up when I’d sleep through the alarm or hit snooze too many times. When I finally did wake up, the day already felt like I was fighting a losing battle.
So I stopped setting my alarm for 6am and waking up at 8 feeling like a failure.
That’s not a great way to start the day!
I work from home and set my own schedule. I thought if I woke up earlier, it meant I would be more successful and committed.
But starting the day with feelings of failure, guilt, and laziness drained my motivation.
Once I let go of the guilt around not waking up early, I became more productive. I embraced my nature and allowed myself to work during my best hours, not when articles told me I needed to wake up.
I wake up around 8 or 8:30 and start working at 9am most days.
Every morning, no matter what time I wake up, I don’t allow myself to criticize how much I slept.
I just tell myself, “my body needs sleep,” and start my morning.
Then I make my bed. This starts the day with a sense of accomplishment and order.
I’ve done this since childhood, I’m also a neat freak so every time I walk into my bedroom – if the bed isn’t made I feel like things are out of place.
Especially when you work from home, you see your own mess a lot more than if you’re at the office. So I walk around the house and tidy up while I get my coffee made.
Next, I do something for someone else. This one is easy because I have two dogs. I let them outside, feed them, give them treats, and remind myself I’m on this earth to help others. It gives me a sense of purpose and a little “helper’s high” right away.
If you don’t have pets and live alone, you can literally water a plant or just send a nice email or text to someone.
Depending on how much work I have that day, I’ll either sit with my coffee and journal, meditate, or do a creative writing exercise. If I have a lot going on that day, I’ll take my coffee at my desk and get a few things done before taking some time to myself.
Getting to Work
Right before I start working, I’ll go into the bathroom and wash my face. I don’t shower in the mornings, but I like to do some kind of self care routine.
Washing my face is like a physical trigger for productivity. I’m clearing away yesterday and starting fresh.
The other nice part of it is I’m taking time to myself. Especially if I don’t get in the journal time, I’m giving myself a way to prioritize my personal needs.
As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to feel pressured to be working, productive, and focused 24/7. That’s actually not good for your quality of work.
Remember that YOU are the greatest asset in your business. You deserve a schedule that supports your nature, not one that makes you feel like you’re wrong.