MORNINGS ARE PRIMETIME FOR PRODUCTIVITYYour brain is at its best approximately two hours after you awaken. If you get up at 6 a.m., you’re in your most cognitively active state by approximately 8 a.m. There are a myriad of studies that support the early bird concept. One such study according to a “Harvard Business Review” article, the-early-bird-really-does-get-the-worm, succinctly sums it up the best. The corporate and academic world, not surprisingly, follow the traditional 8 to 5 schedule. Positive attitudes toward rising early are deeply embedded in our collective psyche. In Germany, for example, Prussian and Calvinist beliefs about the value of rising early are still pervasive. Worldwide, people who sleep late are often, albeit incorrectly, assumed to be lazy and unmotivated. The vast majority of work and school schedules are tailored favorably to morning types.
THE TWO MOST PRODUCTIVE HOURSDan Ariely, cognitive science professor at Duke University, and author of “The Honest Truth About Dishonesty,” elaborates on the significance of maximizing productivity saying: “The two hours after we become fully awake are, potentially, our most productive.” Ariely added, “What’s the first thing you do when your brain shrugs off the fogginess of sleep? I know what I do: I ease into the day by attending to my most mindless tasks first, like replying to emails or playing around on Twitter.” Ariely, as well as many others, laments spending the two most productive hours of the day on things that don’t require high cognitive capacity (like email and social media). Odds are that you are not using your brain’s best two hours as you should. Here are three tips to help you to maximize your two-most-productive-hours of the day:
1. DEVELOP YOUR HABITResearch has shown that it takes approximately 66 days to form-a-new-habit, which means that if you want to get an earlier start to your day, it’ll take around two months to make it routine.
START WORKING ON YOUR NEW ROUTINE
- The “if-then” approach. Think risk/reward, if you love coffee, maximize the “if-then” approach–if I get up early I can enjoy an additional cup of coffee.
- The “don’t-break-the-chain” approach. An almost forgotten Runner’s World article on maintaining a regular schedule of daily running, offers a helpful method for sticking-to-it. I was training to get-in-shape to run a marathon, which is a 26.2 mile run. Every day I would mark an “X” over each day (that I ran) on my wall calendar. After a week and a half of consecutive days of running I was more motivated than ever “not to break the chain.” It worked like a charm.
- The “remind-yourself” approach. Approximately a few weeks into your new commitment it can become easy to forget your goal. Place simple reminders to execute forming-and maintaining-your new habit, in this case, getting up earlier to start your day.