When I first started this blog, I didn’t follow a schedule or anything like that. I’d tried on and off throughout these 3 years to stick to a consistent schedule with little to no success. Follow-through has never really been my forte. But as of 2021, I’ve worked on this website every day, and posted to the site nearly every day as well. There’s been one major change responsible for skyrocketing my productivity in just one month.
I’ve been more productive than ever before, but I’m also working more hours than ever before, as well. I’d never worked full time before December 2020, and that’s less-than-coincidentally the same time that my productivity skyrocketed. But how? Wouldn’t I have less time to work on the blog since I’m working more?
How I Increased my Productivity in 1 Month
There was one big, major change that coincided with my increased productivity. It sounds easier than it is, but the one change that I fully believe is responsible for skyrocketing my productivity is waking up before dawn.
That’s it. Seriously.
The one major change that skyrocketed my productivity has been waking up before dawn.”–
Earning my degree didn’t make a difference, moving across the country didn’t make a difference, neither did living with different people or getting an easier job than the cruddy retail job I was working last year.
We Don’t All Have the Same 24 Hours
Sure, there are 24 hours in everyone’s day, but there are a number of factors that affect how we’re able to utilize those hours each day. For example, I lose around 2 hours a day to public transit, whereas if I had a car I would probably only spend 40 minutes going to and from work each day. Those 2 hours lost to transit are gained as 2 extra hours of reading, though! 😉
Now, I didn’t start waking up before dawn because I wanted to. When work starts at 6am and the bus ride takes an hour, you do what you gotta do. But since then, I’ve been more motivated than ever before to work on Freshly Stale, and on my hobbies like painting, and playing ukulele!
Do I go to bed a little earlier now that I have to wake up at 430am? Yes, but not very much earlier at all. Not enough to make a difference, at least. The midnight hours I would have spent laying in bed scrolling through Facebook have been happily exchanged for productive hours in the morning and a better night’s sleep.
A Break Down of my 24 hours
These days, I’m awake for around around 16 hours. Here’s a breakdown of where my time goes:
- 8 hours asleep
- 8 hours at work (mindless scrolling through social media, writing, reading, working on Freshly Stale)
- 2 hours in transit
- 1 hour on personal care (shower, dental hygiene, tidying up, etc.)
- 1 hour for dinner/ordering out & clean-up
- 1-2 hour for hobbies (painting, playing ukulele, etc.)
- 2-3 hours for Freshly Stale outside of work (writing, social media, design, research, etc.)
After work, sleep, and the time on the bus, I’m left with 6 hours. Add in an hour for personal care and an hour for eating and that goes down to 4 hours. I will say that I’m so incredibly lucky to have the job that I have. It’s a job that allows me to work on personal projects while on the clock, which I recognize is extremely rare.
But I have reason to believe that this sort of workplace freedom doesn’t contribute to my productivity as much as waking up early does.
Before this security job, I was checking temperatures in the Facebook buildings. Basically, it was the exact same thing that I’m doing now, except it was part-time. Even though I worked that job from July to November 2020 and was able to bring a tablet/laptop with me, I wasn’t nearly as productive as I am now. I spent most of my time at work dilly-dallying and chit-chatting!
Why Waking Up Before Dawn Works
Now, can I be honest with you? Like, really really honest with you? If I didn’t have to wake up at 430am for work, I probably wouldn’t! I’d probably sleep until 9am and BOOM those 4 hours of productivity would be gone. Would I also stay awake until midnight, maybe 1am if I didn’t wake up before dawn? Probably! And what would I be doing, exactly? Scrolling through Twitter or Facebook, or just watching TV.
Going to work as early as I do means that I’m able to be home by 3pm on most days. That gives me so much more time to be productive! At my other job, I wasn’t getting home until around 8 or 9pm. Sure, I didn’t have to leave to catch my bus until 11am, but I would just sleep until then. Life really was just sleep in, go to work, go home, have a beer and goof off.
Waking up before dawn will not make you more productive if you’re a night owl.
Waking up before dawn works for me because I’m a morning person! It all boils down to circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are just our natural sleep-wake cycles. Matching your work schedule with your body’s natural energy cycle is key to maximizing your productivity.
Take Advantage of Your Circadian Rhythm
Everyone is different, and that’s okay! Humans have a natural energy cycle, which tends to peak twice throughout the day and then decline in between those times. Keep in mind, being a morning person doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll just naturally wake up early! I sure don’t. But I feel the best when I do wake up early, and that’s what matters.
This is, of course, not as easy as it sounds. Not all jobs are flexible with scheduling. Luckily for us, if we can’t match our work schedules to our circadian rhythms, we can just change our circadian rhythms to match our work schedules!
The easiest and healthiest methods of adjusting your sleep cycle are:
- wake up and go to bed at the same time every day
- change your meal schedule
Consistently doing these 2 things will, eventually, cause your body’s natural rhythm to adjust to the schedule that you’ve set. It will take time, especially if you’re a night owl trying to become an early bird or vice versa, but it is possible.
Wake Up and Go To Bed At the Same Time Every Day
Even on your days off, do what you can to maintain a consistent sleep schedule. This will ensure that your energy levels will peak and dip at predictable times throughout the day, allowing you to plan your days more efficiently. Eventually, your body will get used to that schedule and naturally adjust accordingly.
Change Your Meal Schedule
Getting used to a new sleep schedule can be tough! It can be made a little easier if you change your meal schedule. To get to bed earlier, try to have earlier meals. And to stay up later? Push your meal times later in the day!
It can help to mark your meal times in a journal or something. Maybe you’ll find that it’s easier to sleep after a meal, or maybe you sleep better on an empty stomach. Listen to your body and act accordingly.
Remember to Let Yourself Rest
Adjusting your sleep schedule to maximize productivity is a great way to take control of your life and regain work-life balance. But make sure you aren’t focusing solely on productivity! We weren’t put on this Earth to just hustle until we die. Get some rest, spend time on yourself, and be sure to enjoy life when you can! Otherwise, you’ll just end up burnt out and unhappy.
A balanced life is a healthy life. Waking up before dawn has helped me balance out my schedule because, if left to my own devices, I would spend 10-16 hours in bed doing nothing. Seriously. Use your time efficiently and use the time you’ve saved to do the things that really bring you joy!
Thank you so much for reading! Do you have any tips for being productive? Share them in the comments below! ☺️