Since childhood I always had a habit of getting up early and going to bed early as well. I had a healthier lifestyle and my night owl friends were envy of me. As I went into the profession of a designer, this habit has helped me more than anything else to be more creative and productive.
I notice that my creativity quickly fades away if I don’t get a 9 hour sleep. So if you are in a habit of staying awake till 2AM and sleeping through the morning, I strongly suggest you try a different routine and notice any differences.
As great as it feels, it isn’t easy for night owls to get on track and stay on track of getting up early. My goal here is to show you how I’ve done it, so you can get the most out of your daily creative powers by getting up earlier and conquering your work free of creative block.
Make Small Gains
If you would like to get up earlier but find it difficult, you’re going to have to start smaller.
Let’s imagine you get up at 9am everyday but you would like to get up 2 hours earlier. As you’re used to that 9am start, you’ll find it difficult to make a cold hard switch to 7am without building up to it gradually.
Habit expert, James Clear, recommends making small gains in order to make it easier to form a habit.
Your motivation will fluctuate, so you need to make small increments so even if motivation is low, you can still make progress with little effort.
Track your Progress
There are 2 apps I’ve tried that I can recommend for tracking your progress. Remember tracking your progress wil go a long way to motivate you to keep going.
A great app for tracking just about anything. At a basic level, you simply create a goal and mark it as done for the day if you achieve it but there are graphs to help you track your efficiency.
Here’s my stats from Coach.me:
As you can see, I’m on a 14-day streak but I doubt I would be if I hadn’t been tracking my progress. Prior to the month of June, you can see the number of times I achieved my goal was decreasing, so I knew I needed to get back on track.
2. Sleep Cycle
Sleep Cycle is an alarm clock app that tracks your sleep, including the time you go to sleep, the time you wake up and even the quality of sleep.
It’s worth buying for the quality of sleep alone but we need to primarily use it to track when we go to bed.
It’s a shame you can’t view a graph of the time you wake up as that would save me from having to enter in notes in Coach.me, which I’m not very good at remembering.
Do Your Most Important Work First Thing
Whether you commute into a company office or walk a few feet into your own home office, make sure you get the most important thing done first. This requires knowing what your most important thing is, so the best way to end your day is to know what you need to do tomorrow. You don’t want to waste any of that important brain power trying to figure out what the most important task of the day is.
When you combine getting up earlier and doing your most important task of the day first, you get this amazing sense of achievement that can happen before most people have even started working.
Write your task on a piece of paper using this format and place it on your keyboard when you finish for the day to give yourself an easy overview of what you need to get done as soon as you approach your computer the next morning. No thinking required in order to get up and running for the day.
Why First Thing?
Think about a typical Friday. You’re looking forward to the weekend because you’ve had enough of doing work, at least most of the time. You need a break. The same applies to each day. By 4pm you’re thinking about going home or getting to the pub because you’ve been doing one thing for the entire day. You need a break.
That means one thing: you get more tired as the day goes on and your creativity fades with it. You need to do the most important tasks first, when you have the most energy and the creativity flows.
Getting Up Earlier is Like Climbing a Mountain on a Cool Morning of a Hot Day
I like to think of it like going for a hike up a mountain on an extremely hot day. You know it’s going to be very hot in the middle of the day and the afternoon when the sun is at it’s most powerful. Climbing that mountain at that time is going to require a lot more effort.
If you head up the mountain first thing when it’s much cooler it’s obviously going to be much easier. Your most important task (the mountain) of the day probably is going to be one of your most difficult, or at least most involved, so you need to use every advantage you can to make it as easy as possible to let the creativity flow.
Sure, the sun is less potent in the evening but you’ll be out of energy doing less important tasks and it’s more treacherous to walk up and down a mountain when it gets dark.
Get ahead of everyone else. Get up earlier.