Getting Up Early is Essential to my Workflow

I often get questions like this:

I am often asked, just as I was this morning, why I get up so early (also “how” I get up so early) and the answer is quite simple: I get up earlier than most because I’ve discovered that this is part of my unique and custom workflow for productivity.

This tweet in particular was posted around 5:30am, which is about the time I start sitting down to get my work done. Before that, though, I’ve already been “working” as I’ve been thinking about my day, the tasks before me, the meetings that I’ve got scheduled, as well as the blog posts that I will be writing.

It generally looks like this:

  • 5:00am – Wake up
  • 5:05am – Shower
  • 5:15am – Dressed, water boiling for coffee (I do pour-over via Chemex)
  • 5:25am – Sit down at my desk, cleaning it off, and jumping in.

It’s purposefully paced and consistent because my goal is to hit “flow” as early as I possibly can, maximizing my productivity before anyone else gets up.

Productivity vs Time

I then work solid, oftentimes clearing out my inbox and writing and/or publishing (or scheduling) blog posts for the day. I queue up anything else that’s needed in terms of discussions and then work myself through until 7:00am when the girls get up.

But this 90 minute stretch of time is absolutely critical to my personal productivity workflow and without it I have often been completely sunk, unable to get back into the “groove” and finish out the things that need to get done.

Now, I’ve discovered this over a long period of trial and error, testing different time periods of the day and experimenting with different workflows but I eventually realized that the most natural timing for me to start my day was created years ago back in Middle School when I would get up around 5:00am.

The difference was that I wasn’t getting ready to go to work (or head to my home office, a few steps away) and it wasn’t even because I was trying to get ready for school (which was a teeny tiny part of the motive) – it was because I wanted to play a few video games before anyone else was up.

Yes, it was video games that drove me to get up early! This would allow me to play guilt-free while the rest of the family slept. Fascinating, right?

The holy grail of productivity that everyone talks about and is on the look out for is much less about applications, technology, or DIY methods from the many productivity gurus out there and has everything to do with how you’re uniquely built and what you’ve discovered about yourself in terms of managing work.

There are some methods that can help you diagnose or analyze what might work well and the best for you but ultimately it’ll be up to you to determine the absolute best workflow so that you can truly achieve flow within your day.

And waking up at a certain time of the day can be a significant part of that strategy and method. So, when do you wake up and what’s it like? Is it fluid or rigid? Do you have a lot of flexibility in the morning or is it chaotic?