Boosting your Productivity with this Golden Morning Routine
Starting a business and managing it is a gratifying career choice. However, it is an extremely time-consuming and demanding process at the same time. As it is easy to get lost in everything that needs to be done and the hours seem to fly by too fast, a proper structure is essential for keeping a clear (and healthy) head. Many things influence the quantity and quality of results. However, proper building blocks always bring forward a stable and fruitful construction. As an entrepreneur, you are the building block and should thus start looking for answers primarily in yourself. One of the things that will certainly arise is the influence your lifestyle has on your business.
You do not have to change your whole life in order for your business to work. Balancing different segments is something humans are actually very good at (even though it sometimes does not seem like it). A well structured morning routine can do a great lot in reference to what an entrepreneur needs – optimal productivity and even more than that – it allows you to (at least sometimes) actually have a life aside from your business.
In the following article we will present the factual background of the benefits of an early morning routine (for productivity reasons) and the guidelines for its practical implementation through four sections: 1) Circadian Rhythm and Productivity, 2) The Early Start, 3) Routine – Why Does it Boost Productivity, 4) A Golden Morning Routine.
CIRCADIAN RHYTHM AND PRODUCTIVITY
Circadian rhythm (lat. circa dies – ‘approximately (a) day’) is the totality of processes that oscillate in the approximate time frame of 24 hours. It is a self-sustained and entrained (adjusted to the entity) biological activity in animals, plants and humans influenced by external elements of light and temperature (and in smaller amounts eating/drinking, exercise, social interaction and other). The circadian rhythm allows living beings to adapt to Earth’s 24-hour and 12-month cycles.
All people notice the variations of their energy levels throughout the day without actually questioning what it is that makes them ready for a take at Mt. Everest in one moment and the inability to move five meters without a considerable effort in the next (whether physically or psychologically). The answer is – the circadian rhythm (in a prevailing number of cases). Moreover, this biological process is most noticeably represented in the differentiation between morning and evening types of people.
The given circadian rhythm changes during the course of a lifetime – children are mostly morning types, adolescents transfer to evening types, adults and seniors change back to morning types. However, in practice, every individual builds up their rhythm through their lifestyle choices, regardless of the above-stated age-related differences.
Influences on Productivity
Following the natural circadian rhythm ensures timely usage of high energy levels in order to optimize your productivity.
The quantity of productivity one can obtain during 24 hours depends on the elements that influence circadian rhythm (these elements are called zeitgebers). Of course, productivity levels are also related to the psychological state of the individual (whether overall or in reference to a particular assignment).
However, human mind and body generally reach peaks of energy and focus in certain parts of the day – high points are around noon and 6 pm. The lowest energy point is proven to be around 3 am. From there the energy levels slowly build up over the course of the morning and reach its peak at noon. This is followed by a decrease in the interval between 1 pm and 4 pm. At this point, the levels rise again peaking at 6 pm and continue to deteriorate towards the lowest point (again, around 3 am).
Morning vs. Evening
In addition to (and in correlation with) the oscillation of energy levels, humans are substantially influenced by the exchange of light and dark cycles. This causes different characteristics of morning and evening productivity. The settings upon which our systems work respond to the light and dark cycles even on a cellular basis.
All these elements should be taken into consideration in relation to productivity. It is simply logical that, in order to use our brain’s highest capacities, we should follow our time clock. This means that waking up early synchronizes our assignments with the building up of our energy and focus. However, this does not mean that evening types are not able to be productive. Research shows that, due to various zeitgebers, evenings can be an excellent platform for creativity – due to the lower focus levels, the mind is less attached to structures and can wander off into imagination. The different opportunities are just one other proof of the beautiful balance humans are made in.
Can we Change our Circadian Rhythm?
Most definitely! Although the process of adaptation to a different circadian rhythm takes some time, it is a time well used – for our productivity, and, more importantly, for our health. Following our given inner clock is not an army-structured process, it is living up to our potentials (and actually making things easier).
In order to change ones circadian rhythm, it is necessary to gradually and simultaneously move the hour of waking and going to sleep backward. It is as simple as that. Ideally, this would come to a 6 am or 7 am waking point. Most people need six or seven hours of sleep to function properly (kudos to those who need less); therefore, going to bed should not be later than midnight (preferentially around 11 pm).
THE EARLY START
Getting an early start can be a detrimental productivity factor in matters of quantity as well as quality of the work which is being done. Upon waking up one should tend to smaller assignments and gradually, as the focus rises, attend to the most significant and complex parts of work that needs to be done on a particular day. According to our circadian rhythms this type of work should be done somewhere between 11 am and 1 pm. This way one can complete a substantial amount of demanding tasks relatively early in the day, while simultaneously having enough time left to attend other assignments (without the ‘major’ issues hanging over one’s head), rest and even have some leisure time.
It is no wonder that people who wake up later have a feeling that half of their day is gone (in matters of optimal productivity it actually has) and accumulate stress over work that has to be done (and their productivity levels are starting to decrease immediately upon waking up). A continuous repetition of such behavior leads not only to smaller success rate but also to health deterioration.
Is an Early Start Important for Entrepreneurs?
In addition to the overall perks stated above, most entrepreneurs virtually cannot run a successful business as night owls. Majority of the business world operates on a 9 to 5 schedule. While the creative parts of entrepreneurship can be constructed anytime, managing a business must be synchronized with certain time intervals. Most communication and transactions must be attended somewhere in the course of the work day. It is crucial to coordinate assignments timely in order to maximize productivity. Ways in which this can be achieved will be discussed in the following sections of the article.
ROUTINE – WHY DOES IT BOOST PRODUCTIVITY?
There is a major difference between a rut and a routine. A rut emerges as a result of continuous repetition of unproductive elements in one’s life. It leads to apathy and lack of interest (sometimes even to depression). It is a mainly passive approach to (and perception of) life and is consisted out of maintaining a status quo which does not provide any sense of accomplishment or change (and these two factors are essential for growth and development which are necessary for leading a quality life). Ruts are something every person should fundamentally avoid (entrepreneurs even more so).
A routine, on the other hand, is a qualitative process one can incorporate to his/her life in order to boost productivity and balance out the diverse factors which constitute everyday life. It consists of repetition of a sort. However, this repetition is flexible and carefully constructed so as to improve abilities of dealing with obligations. Moreover, routines serve more as a helpful attachment not a guiding principle.
Routines as a Factor of Productivity Optimization
According to a number of studies, well structured routines balance human willpower in an effort to reach highest productivity levels. It is clear that one cannot be at the peak of productivity all day long. However, routines can induce optimal productivity throughout the day because they target maintenance of self-control and focus.
Regardless of the given energy levels caused by our circadian rhythm (that is, our lifestyle), willpower is a major element which determines productivity. As we wake up, our willpower to work and accomplish things is extremely high. This has beneficial effects on the quality and quantity of our focus and self-control allowing us to tackle obligations optimally. However, as the day proceeds, the willpower begins to diminish – because it is being used. There is almost nothing more difficult than to make oneself do something one does not feel like doing.
However, routines tend to help maintain sufficient levels of willpower (consequently, they are beneficial for productivity). They provide a structure within which assignments and obligations are attended. They work as a psychological system of recognition which emerges from and is controlled by the individual. Stability arises from arranging the ‘what I need’ and ‘what I must’ properly. This means that routines usually embody and balance various elements in order to achieve an appropriate level of contentment necessary for adequate work ethic (hereby we are addressing the work ethic induced from the individual – not by implementation of external authority).
A GOLDEN MORNING ROUTINE
In this section we are going to address the practical employment of all of the information we have presented above. As it is with all things, knowledge is useless if it is not applied in some way. Therefore, we will begin with a few tips on how to create a productive environment (as this is also important in relation to our quest) and proceed to the construction of a Golden Routine which will skyrocket your productivity!
Factors which must be taken into consideration when creating a productive environment are basically the same for most people. Firstly, one must bear in mind that interruptions are one of the biggest enemies to concentration. If it is possible in any way, your workplace should be secluded (but not isolated) and proactive. This applies especially for those who work at home – other members of the household must be aware that work hours are work hours.
Further on, the workplace must have a substantial amount of light as it ensures attention and concentration. Ideally, the light should be natural. However, if artificial lights are necessary, it is important to make sure their intensity is not too strong or too weak. You do not want to manage yourself (and your employees) as chicks in a chicken factory (constantly kept in an invasive state of alert) or provide an ambiance of a nargile cafe in Istanbul.
Additionally, temperature of the workplace should be mild (not too cold or too hot). As every person has different thermal preference, heating or cooling devices can come in handy.
Whether you are working alone or with a group of people, try to keep a positive, uplifting, caring attitude (towards yourself and towards others). A good flow of positive energy can do wonders for productivity.
The Golden Routine
What needs to be reinstated before we proceed to the construction of an early morning routine which will surely boost your productivity is that routines are flexible. People are different and employ a myriad of preferences. These preferences should definitely be incorporated into individual routines. One has to feel comfortable and in sync with oneself with his/her routine because that is the only way optimal productivity can be achieved.
However, certain elements should definitely be a part of your routine (because they work!) and here we will present a list of ‘mandatory’ building blocks:
- Waking up early: Your alarm should go off from as early as 5:30 and no later than 6:30. It sounds like we are talking about rising with the dawn (actually, we are!). Your body clock is currently in the process of continuous increase, and you should take advantage while you can.
- Water: Many early birds accentuate the importance of drinking a larger amount of water upon waking up (somewhere around half a liter of water would be perfect). The water will give your body a kick start and awake the sleepy cells. Moreover, many people forget to drink sufficient amounts of water over the course of the day and this way you can take care of at least a part of it. Mix in some lemon juice if you want – it will be a tasty, refreshing and uplifting drink.
- Coffee/tea +To Do’s/ Low Intensity Work/Assignments: Prepare a cup of coffee or tea and contemplate your obligations and objectives for the day. Write them down as a rough to do list (it will help stay focused later in the day). Tend to low intensity assignments such as preparation of materials for work, answering and writing e-mails and updating business social networks (if you have them). Finishing these will allow clear concentration while you are attending to the more complex work later in the morning.
- Activity/Exercise: Choose some kind of activity or exercise to empty your head and energize your body. It can be 30 minute walk, yoga or a high intensity workout – the options are literally endless.
- Breakfast: Have a balanced meal before you start to use your grey cells. Whole grain cereals, fruit and yoghurt are an excellent breakfast choices, however, if they do not work for you, opt for something else.
- Complex Assignments: Now that you are fed, relaxed and energized, start doing the ‘hard work’. This is the prime time of your concentration and productive capability. Use it well and finish as much as you can before you start feeling your focus and energy decrease.
- Rest, Low Intensity Assignments, Creative Work: If you have followed the routine more or less precisely, it is 1 pm and you have done massive amounts of work already (including the most important ones). Bear in mind that some people have yet to wake up. Now you can commit to rest, other assignments (or finishing touches) and creativity without the dark cloud of obligations and stress above your head.
Entrepreneurs have a multitude of responsibilities – ranging from creativity and management to the overall self-investment into their business and projects. Productivity is a non-negotiable necessity. As we have stated in the article, the circadian rhythm can influence energy levels immensely. On the other hand, good focus can be instigated and maintained through implementation of a routine. Consequently, a combination of the two can boost productivity significantly. Our Golden Routine guidelines should make a good starting point for maximization of results – professional and private likewise.
You get to work on a Monday morning and as you prepare to get busy, a colleague passes by your desk, …