For a long time, I would put off tasks like writing blog posts until the evening. Just get the 9–5 out of the way first, then you’re free to do your own thing, right? But the evening never came and if it did, I never felt as productive.
A few years on and I now always schedule tasks for me for first thing in the morning. I work selfishly first and for someone else (my 9–5) after. This has led me to write almost double the number of articles I had written in 2020 so far, in the last 30 days alone.
Here are the 3 reasons that this works and how you can enjoy this approach too.
Setup for Success
Getting the most important task done first means the rest of the day can only get easier. By getting my writing done first thing, I am setting myself up for success.
I now spend less time feeling guilty at night. Instead of skipping a writing session after burning myself out at my 9–5, I can relax knowing my writing is already done.
It also makes the rest of my day more productive, the same way that doing a workout first thing makes the day feel easier. I’ve completed a mental workout before the workday even begins and produced something tangible. The rest of the day is a breeze!
You can build on top of success and your brain is now mentally prepared for the day ahead. For me, there are no failures with writing. As long as I write a single word, it’s a success. This immediate success is like a little reward for my brain, giving it a thirst for more throughout the rest of the day.
After listening to Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker on Audible, I’m now the biggest sleep nerd. This book not only teaches the negatives of a lack of sleep but also the benefits of good sleep.
How 8 hours of sleep will change your life for the better
The secret weapon that helps you feel happier, eat better, lose weight and reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer
It will come as no surprise that after a good nights sleep, you’ll be at your most refreshed. Capitalise on this mental clarity and get to work as soon as you can. You’ll never feel more awake and motivated than first thing in the morning, the rest of the day will only go downhill.
This is because of our intrinsic sleep drive mechanisms.
If you read Why We Sleep you’ll learn about sleep pressure. It’s one of the driving forces of sleepiness. It’s literally our brain's way of regulating sleep and helping us feel sleepy in the evening. This sleep pressure is not surprisingly at it’s lowest after a good nights sleep and only increases throughout the day.
You don't need to be a Sleep Scientist to understand that you’ll feel most awake and ready for work first thing in the morning. By putting off tasks until later in the day not only does the likelihood of you completing them decrease, but the quality of the output does too.
You’re never going to produce your best work when tired so capitalise on that morning clarity. Schedule your most important tasks first.
The final reason mornings are the best driver for productivity is due to habit chaining. I talked about building a writing habit in a recent post and these themes carry through here.
How to Write Daily When You Have a Full-Time Job
Building a Writing Habit and Making it Stick
Habits are a strong driver in daily activity. In fact, they are that strong that often you perform habitual activities without even thinking about it. Writing should be no different.
Creating new habits takes time but can be made easier by pairing a new activity with existing habits. If this subject interests you, I recommend reading The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. This is why mornings are a great time to establish a new habit, as you likely have a lot of habitual activities that you perform in the morning.
My morning consists of waking up, showering, getting dressed, making and eating breakfast and then brushing my teeth. Most mornings I do all of these things on autopilot, so when trying to develop a writing habit, I just tacked it onto the end.
Now after brushing my teeth I walk and sit down at my computer and write. To start with I had to remind myself to do this, but now it’s as habitual as all the other activities. Having a strong base of morning habits to build upon increases the chances of success and ultimately will lead the habit to stick.
As you can see, mornings almost look designed for productivity. It makes a lot of sense when you think about it. Working when we’re at our freshest will always produce the best results and sets us up for success. It has definitely worked for me and I hope it does for you too.