Up Early. One Sure Way to Increase Productivity.

For some reason I woke up early yesterday and didn’t do that thing I do so well to start my day—rolling over and falling back asleep for another two hours. 

Instead I found myself up and making breakfast long before anyone else had stirred.  To be fair we were at a cottage and part of the pleasure of being up north is sleeping in.

But as I discovered, the calm of a sunny dawn is a pleasure too.

Although we were at the cottage, it wasn’t really a vacation.   We were working.   With our new program, ADD & Mastering It!, debuting on PBS, plus 3 additional videos that will be available with it, plus a ton of new stuff being developed for this website, a real vacation won’t be on my horizon until about Halloween. 

Hopefully Halloween this year.

Now, I want to make one thing clearabout the fact that I was up hours before normal–I was not thrilled about it.  It wasn’t the culmination of a dream.  It wasn’t part of some big master plan. 

Unlike the early bird, I had no desire for a worm.

Rather I had read several books in the past month which all claimed that one sure way to increase productivity is to get up earlier. 

The thought of getting up earlier was about as appealing as broken glass in my slippers.  Heck, I got into show business because it meant I could sleep till noon and have dinner at 10:30 pm when the show ended.

But I was curious.  Would rising early be a big deal?

The result was, well, not astounding, because I kept reading that if I got up early it would make a difference, but it was definitely a pleasant surprise. 

Sitting by the calm blue lake in the golden glow of sunrise and watching a blue heron glide across the water was definitely soothing to the soul.

We were not on vacation, but for half an hour I was definitely enjoying a mental vacation. 

And then I did some work.  Willingly! 

Quite a bit actually. 

By the time everyone else was stirring I had 4 major tasks checked off my to do list. 

Considering that I normally start my days, struggling to overcome procrastination by doing a dozen little trivialities and sundry fripperies, this was worthy of celebration.

And this morning? 

Well it’s the Friday before a long weekend here and the garbage collectors in this small town were roaring around the neighborhood grabbing up garbage and compressing recyclables.

A symphony of clattering cans, brief spurts of diesel engines followed by sharp squeals of truck breaks and groaning, crackling sounds of trash being compacted.

Our garbage and recycling was ensconced in the garage, out of reach of raccoons, crows and the skunk that chased us off the front porch last night. 

Knowing I would score major bonus points I  whispered, “I’ll take care of it” and slipped out of bed to take the trash to the curb.

Thus, to my slightly groggy delight, I find myself up earlier than I would’ve thought possible.   

Writing, digesting a bowl of cereal and pausing periodically to try and figure out if that’s a hummingbird or a  gigantic mutant bumblebee zipping madly over my head.

What’s the lesson? Or the ‘take-away’ as business executives say.

Perhaps I can start a new good habit without a huge amount of planning and self-motivation and drama. 

I pushed myself a little, ignoring those voices in my head saying “I don’t wanna.  I don’t feel like it.  My bed is warm.  I’m not a morning person.” 

As you’ll hear Patrick McKenna explain in ADD & Mastering It!, simply start small and let the momentum build.



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  1. Avatar
    Wgreen June 29, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    Bring that skunk inside. That should keep you motivated…

  2. Avatar
    Rick July 20, 2012 at 11:33 am

    Ha ha. It’s several weeks later. And I have been up early about 1 day in 3. Now though, with the good weather, I’m getting up early every day, and enjoying breakfast on the dock by the water… and my body is starting to like it. I’ve made a promise to my coaching group that I will be up early every day for the next week. (I figure by then I’ll have trouble sleeping in.)

  3. Avatar
    Offtopic July 25, 2012 at 3:27 am

    Getting out of bed in the morning has always been the most difficult part of my day. If you can change habits, I’ll be impressed and more than a bit envious.

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