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Why waking up at 6 a.m. won't help you become successful and what to do instead
Why waking up at 6 a.m. won't help you become successful and what to do instead

The personal experience of a successful entrepreneur has shown that productivity gurus can be wrong.

Why waking up at 6 a.m. won't help you become successful and what to do instead
Why waking up at 6 a.m. won't help you become successful and what to do instead

Typically, productivity gurus recommend that those looking to be successful spend their mornings like this:

  • Get up at 6:00.
  • Take a cold shower.
  • Exercise.
  • Meditate.
  • Make diary entries and brainstorm.
  • Assess your progress against goals and set new ones.
  • Read news and websites on your work.
  • View inspirational content.
  • Eat a protein-rich breakfast.

Nice to-do list until eight in the morning!

I'm not sure exactly when the morning ritual craze started, but all of a sudden, meter-long task lists are everywhere. Rituals can, of course, be beneficial, but unnecessarily much attention is paid to the morning.

We are all productive at different times of the day. It doesn't matter if you are a morning person or a night owl, go for a run at 6 in the morning or at 6 in the evening, you can increase your efficiency.

To do this, you need to determine what time you work and feel the best. Self-help author Brian Tracy calls this the most rewarding time.

Your internal peak time is when you are most productive according to your biological clock.

Brian Tracy

It took me 12 years for my JotForm platform to grow from a small idea to a company with 100 employees and 3.5 million users. I worked by following my natural rhythms (which I discovered through trial and error), and this formed the basis of growth.

When I do the most important work in my most rewarding time, I don't lose motivation or feel overwhelmed. And most importantly, I still love my job. Every day I gladly go to the office and I want you to feel the same.

Identify your most productive time

Scientists have been researching the body's biological clock for a long time. You've probably heard of circadian rhythms that affect sleep-wake cycles, body temperature, and hormone levels. But during the working day, we encounter ultradian rhythms. Their cycles are 90 to 120 minutes long, and explain why you start a task upbeat and motivated, and two hours later, hit Instagram and look for something to chew on.

The ups and downs of energy are inevitable. Therefore, it is important to identify your own rhythms and work in accordance with them, and not against them.

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For this, a simple three-week experiment is advised. Rate your energy, concentration, and motivation level at the end of each hour on a scale of ten. It sounds tedious, but you will quickly notice repetitions. Eliminate those days when you haven't got enough sleep or were sick, and your daily productivity cycles remain.

Engage your body and brain

It's not a fact that a morning ritual that helps some productivity guru will save you too. Take me for example. In the morning I eat a light breakfast and go to workout. It doesn't matter if I'm motivated or not, I come and do what my personal instructor says. About 20 minutes after starting the class, I feel energized. My heart is beating fast, and I try my best not to drop the weight on my leg.

When this hour of useful agony is over, I shower and drive to the office. I take coffee and start working. Honestly, this is one of my favorite moments of the whole day. I feel fresh and vigorous. I am happy to be in the office and my productivity is at its peak.

I open a new document and start writing down thoughts about the problem I want to solve that day, or just what is spinning in my head. Such recordings often begin as a stream of consciousness. But after about five minutes I start coming up with new ideas. In this chaos, I gain clarity.

I write until my thoughts run out, and then I convert those notes into a usable format.

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For example, draft letter, meeting plan, discussion points, team presentation. I work like this for about two hours, and this is the most productive part of my day.

Make a suitable schedule

There are two types of workday arrangements: a manager's schedule and a creator's schedule. "A manager's schedule suits executives," says entrepreneur and investor Paul Graham. - It is embodied in a traditional business diary, where each day is divided into hourly intervals. If necessary, you can set aside several hours for one task, but by default you change activities every hour."

Writers, developers, designers, and other creative professionals need a creator's schedule. He divides the day in two. It is difficult to write or think when you need to meet the hourly interval. Especially if you have appointments before and after.

Overworking leads to the day being divided into unusable chunks, and this kills productivity.

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“I know it might sound like a bit too much, but if you’re a creator, remember your own experience,” Graham continues. - Doesn't your soul sing at the thought that you can work calmly all day and not be distracted by meetings?

I've thought about this a lot. Entrepreneurs are usually both creators and managers. They need to meet and collaborate with employees, contractors and suppliers, and think strategically. If a company works with technology or content, you also need to do the work yourself. It all comes down to the word build. If you are building a business or a team, then you are working as a creator.

Therefore, I divide my day into two parts. In the morning I work as a creator, and since lunchtime I hold meetings and conferences and work as a manager.

Don't forget to rest

I am an ardent defender of relaxation. I don't work on weekends and I believe in taking regular vacations. Once a year I go to collect olives with my family. It's amazing how time away from the office fills my body and soul with energy.

On Sundays, I spend time with my wife and children. We go to the playground, have lunch or have some active fun. And when the children are put to bed and I am relaxing on the couch, new ideas inevitably come to my mind.

Relaxation fosters creative thinking, which is why brilliant thoughts so often come after fiddling in the playground or when we lather a washcloth.

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In 2016, psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman conducted a survey and found that 72% of people visit creative ideas in the bathroom. I am one of them too.

When we let go of wandering thoughts, non-linear thinking is often triggered. “Find a time and place to be alone,” advises Kaufman. For example, go for a walk every day to rewire your brain and take a break from the work you've been doing for the past couple of hours. Or go to a room where you can hang out in the clouds and drown out the internal noise."

Although we do not yet have such a room at the company, we believe in the importance of paid vacations and remind employees to use them. We also encourage everyone to work at the most productive times. And a flexible schedule allows you to come at a convenient time.

Protect your most productive time

These few hours are invaluable. Set clear boundaries and defend them with all your might. Use this time to tackle your toughest, most creative, and stressful challenges. Do not schedule meetings at it and do not be distracted.

Habits will also help keep your most fertile time safe from encroachment. For example, I sort mail in the evening. My team knows that I will not reply to their messages immediately, but I will definitely reply within one business day. Having clear expectations helps me to better control my time.

Determine what half of the day your most productive hours are. Track your natural rhythms and make a plan that works for you. After all, the most fruitful time is your secret weapon. Use it wisely and your productivity will increase dramatically.