“Get up Early to be Productive” Is Really Bad Advice
Pablo Picasso would hit his snooze alarm twice and get up at 11am every day.
Just kidding. The alarm hadn’t been invented yet. But he did wake up at 11. Voltaire got up at 4am, but he only slept for 4 hours total. Kafka had the night shift and slept during the day. Despite popular belief and many articles on the subject, getting up early doesn’t make you more productive. Furthermore, early risers aren’t necessarily the most productive.
Getting up early to be productive is really bad advice because it will actually make some people LESS productive. When I was forced to get up early (before sunrise in my case), I was terribly lethargic. I got things done, but at a sluggish pace. I was exhausted by the end of the day and needed a nap around 5pm. It was the absolute worst thing for my productivity. Now, when the sun gets up, I get up. That’s my motto.
As you can see, the greatest minds in history all had radically different schedules. Benjamin Franklin did his creative work from 8am to 6pm. Clock in, clock out. Mozart worked a couple hours at 6am, then went to a day job, then took a 4 hour fun break before starting his creative work again. Charles Darwin exercised 3 times a day while Maya Angelou didn’t exercise at all.
If you look at the chart below, you will see there is no pattern at all. How can this be? How can all the greatest minds have nothing in common in their daily schedules? How can I possibly copy them to be successful?
Ah, but they do have something in common. And it has nothing to do with getting up early or when they work or when they exercise. It’s more simple than that.
THEY ALL STICK TO A SCHEDULE
A daily schedule is predictable. It’s based on habit. It requires no decisions, no additional energy or thought. Each day has a set plan. This is what you should be copying. You should figure out what works best for YOU. And then repeat that. Make it a habit.
If you like to run at 3am, then run at 3am! If drinking coffee helps put you to sleep, then drink coffee. Don’t be afraid to be weird. If you want to be successful, you have to be willing to break from the herd. Copy things that make successful people actually successful. Don’t copy things just because some internet jockey told you their, theory on what creates success.
Habit-formation is the holy grail of productivity. It’s also the most difficult to master. Because good habits are difficult to form and bad habits are difficult to break. It takes time and energy but it can be done.
So please ignore all the silly advice about getting up early. Wake up at the time that makes you the most productive.