This isn’t an anti-productivity post, so all you life coaches and productivity gurus out there can calm down.
In my line of work, I see streams of articles focused on improving people’s capability and supporting in their ongoing development (whatever that means for you). One point that seems present across many publications I read is on the concept of waking up super early to win the day, own the day or destroy the days as some of these have presented it.
These articles showcase the supposed super human benefits from waking up at an ungodly hour (in my opinion) to somehow get a jump start on the world and ‘hustle’ harder, which in these pieces seems to suggest this is part of the road to success. Now I’m not sold on this, especially for a number of reasons but particularly the general health and mental health of people. This might come across as controversial to the ever-growing productivity movement, but I’m telling you that waking up at 5am isn’t going to make you successful.
I understand that the practice of waking up so early has generally been marketed as way for you to set yourself up for the day by doing activities such as working out, meditating, journalling, drinking the latest super drink etc and I feel this is commendable to an extent, yet it doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone. I know a number of people who do these same activities throughout their day and still find success in what they do.
A real road to success
What will make you successful is your desire to do the hard work, make challenging choices and push yourself to develop the skills you need — now whether this is done in the very early hours or at 3pm on a Sunday makes no difference.
As mentioned I understand that part of the concept of waking up at 5am is to get more hours in the day to work on whatever it is your doing. But this is only really effective if your using this time towards your work, which I highly doubt as everyone has different ways of working and we don’t just create on command (much like the 9–5 life tries to make us think), plus you would become severely burnt out if you arose that early everyday and just went 100 miles an hour all day, every day.
Your success will be determined by a number of variables and many are about more than waking up at 5am. The one thing I can guarantee it will do is impact your cognitive functioning if you’re not getting proper sleep and now I don’t personally feel that’s a very positive or helpful message for people to be consuming if they are already overworked and sleep deprived.
I feel sad when I see so many articles advocating the get up super early message as being one that is essential and your made to feel like a failure if you don’t. I’ve literally seen people around me crash in a few months after following such advice and I can tell you now that achieving your own success is possible without having to impact your sleep and make a potential run of bad decisions in your day.
Insight into my own approach
So shock, horror, I don’t wake up at 5am to conduct any morning rituals. I once took the path of the early morning rising and spending 1–2 hours going through a regimented plan that I thought would allow me to “own the day” but after a number of issues I came to realise that it just didn’t work for me and had become dangerous for my overall health.
Nowadays my approach is quite simple, I wake up between 7.30–8am, sometimes I’ll meditate for 5–10 minutes and sometimes I don’t. I have a smoothie every day around 10–11am, consisting of lots of greens, fruits and plant protein which I find gives me great energy throughout my day. I’ll finish my corporate work around 6pm and will workout for 30–45 minutes in a micro-dosing approach around 7pm, this then leads to spending a little bit of time on my side project of writing content like this which I’ll invest approx 1- 2 hours into but this varies daily. After this I’ll take some time to meditate, relax and spend time with my partner before I hit my bed around 10.30pm.
For me this approach works as it allows me to be successful in what I need to do and by the measurements of what I deem to be successful for my life. This probably won’t be the same for you, but this approach is what I follow now and it provides me with the structure that allows me to be at my best.
You have to do what works for you
Of course, everyone will be different and there will be die-hards of this protocol who will no doubt hate this article and proclaim me a madman, but that’s fine. Your road to success, power, happiness or whatever it is you seek will already be paved with challenges, so don’t make it harder by doing something that might not be right for you just because x,y and z claim it is a must do.
As I pointed out earlier in this piece, your success is underpinned by so many elements and you always want to put yourself in the best position to succeed. But I don’t recommend draining your energy, creativity and cognitive function through this practice as for many, you can be just as creative or overcome with ideas at any time of the day.
You greatly impact your recycle and repair functions of a good night’s sleep by forcing such continuous early morning rising accompanied with 16–18 hour days. It’s a concoction for disaster and I’ve shared in a number of publications why sleep is important for your mental health and how it’s the best natural performance enhancing drug that we all have access to.
Something to reflect on
Don’t take everything you read from the productivity/success articles as absolute truths, you need to find what works for you and experiment. Never put your body or mind at risk by following something that just really isn’t natural.
You can still wake up at 7am and change the world.
Before you go…
If you like my writing and think “Hey, I’d like to hear more of what this guy has to say” then you’re in luck.
Every week I share a dose of my own writing and interesting content that has caught my eye, it’s free, no spam, unsubscribe whenever you want.