Just the idea of waking up early to go to work would make some people groan, but productivity experts believe that doing so would actually make a positive difference to your work life. Here are just some of the benefits of being the early bird every morning.
• You feel calmer and more prepared to face the workday. Traffic jams, annoying drivers and motorcyclists, traffic lights that seem to take forever to turn from red to green ...these are just some common morning encounters that can dampen your mood. Arriving early at work allows you to collect yourself through some casual pre-work rituals such as enjoying your morning coffee or tea, reading the papers, etc. By the time your workday begins, you will feel like your normal self, all ready to go!
• You have time to plan the workday ahead. Take the opportunity to review your to-do list (or make one if you don’t have it yet), organize your desk and do other simple, small things that will make it easier for you to stay focused for the rest of the day.
• You will feel more in control. All the small things mentioned above help you feel more confident about your workday. You will know which task to prioritise and there will be less likelihood of scrambling around. You will be setting the pace and rhythm for the rest of the workday, so you will feel more positive, less stressed out and, who knows, even begin to enjoy your work more!
• Your superiors will have a more positive image of you. In addition to being an early bird at work – always looked positively upon by employers – your increased positive attitude and organized work would lead to improved productivity. All these would be advantageous when it comes to your annual performance review!
SERIOUSLY, GOING TO WORK SO EARLY?
Julie Morgenstern, time management expert and author of Never Check Email in the Morning, offers the following tips to help you get into the habit:
• Think positive. Many people dread going to bed because the next day means more work and more stress. If you have such a mindset, it is time to view sleep in a different light. “Consider sleep as the beginning of the next day,” advises Julie. “Sleep is an active way for you to charge up your inner battery.”
• Go to bed earlier. Your body has a biological clock which influences when you sleep and when you wake up. As time passes, it can be harder to change the pattern of your biological clock, which is why many adults have a hard time waking up earlier than usual. You can make it easier for yourself by going to bed at an earlier time. As long as you get your usual amount of sleep, it will be easier to wake up at your preferred earlier time. Thus, Julie recommends finding out how many hours of sleep your body needs, and counting backwards to determine your new, earlier bedtime.
• Adjust your evening and night schedules. Going to bed earlier may require some adjustments to your evening and night activities, such as dinner and after-dinner activities. Plan to have dinner no less than two hours before bed, in order to have optimal sleep.
• Plan your morning activities. Some people feel reluctant to get out of bed in the morning, even after they are awake, because they are not looking forward to work. If you are one of these people, reduce your pre-work blues by planning in advance your activities during the time before you hit the road.
For example, if you wish to run on the treadmill or go for an early jog, get your exercise clothes and shoes ready the evening before. If you wish to have a quick breakfast, you can get the bowl, spoon and the ingredients you need set up the evening before. You can even consider preparing sandwiches, overnight oats and other healthy on-the-go breakfasts ahead of time, and just heat them quickly in the microwave when you want a quick morning bite.
If your morning goes perfectly well, you will look forward to waking up early over the next few days. Keep this up, and you will soon be making a habit out of this.
• Switch off the electronics. Research has found that being glued to the phone, tablet or computer can increase your anxiety and even affect your ability to sleep well. So, at least 90 minutes before bedtime, stop all activities involving electronics. Turn off the TV or computer, silent or switch off your phone (no checking for messages and status updates, please) and put away the tablet.
In those 90 minutes, try relaxation activities, such as having small talk with your partner, listening to calming music, looking at the moon and stars, meditating or getting small things ready for the next day.