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How Getting up at 5 Am Made Me Less Productive

Despite my persistent belief, I decided to test it in practice and wake up several nights at 5 am. Below I want to describe my impressions of living in such a regime. For convenience, I compiled them in one typical day.


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Volodymyr Hrunskyi

a year ago | 5 min read

I like everything related to efficiency and what helps me to do more things in less time. I find articles about personal productivity exciting, especially when people share their experiences. This, by the way, is the reason why I became a regular reader on Medium.

I will certainly not be mistaken if I say that the most popular advice is to wake up at 5 am. The authors state that the advantage of such a regime is managing their time much more efficiently. But some people disagree with such a statement. I am one of them. It always has been hard for me to find significant benefits from such a regime.

Yes, no one bothers you in the morning so that you can work on projects without distraction. It also allows you to get to work faster and not stand in traffic jams. However, it is irrelevant to me because I ride the subway.

These are the only advantages I could come up with to justify such a regime. I’m not talking about how many shortcomings it has.

Despite my persistent belief, I decided to test it in practice and wake up several nights at 5 am. Below I want to describe my impressions of living in such a regime. For convenience, I compiled them in one typical day.

5–6 am — I wake up wondering if there is any real need to do this. But I force myself to get up. I try not to make noise so as not to wake my wife. Even though I’m on my feet, I’m still asleep and unaware of what’s going on around me. I take a shower while coffee is brewed, and breakfast is warmed up. Shower and coffee bring me to my senses a little.

6–7 am — on my way to work. There are few people in the subway and plenty of free places. I do not sit so as not to tempt myself with the opportunity to take a nap. I turn on an English podcast, but it doesn’t fit well in my head.

7–10 am — I drink another coffee at work to get myself fresh. I want to start the day with news and profile articles, but this is not a priority, so I put it off until the evening. I sit down to read the documents prepared by the junior staff. It doesn’t turn out very well because I have a peak of mental activity in the afternoon. My first conclusion is that the work that takes 2 hours in the morning can be done two times faster in the afternoon. Maybe I should start my morning with preparatory and technical work? But then it makes no sense to come so early. My colleagues begin to gather in the office at 10 am. And of course, it’s time for “morning” coffee. I’m not against coffee with my team, although it’s already 3rd cup, which is too much. What I want is to eat something. The problem is it’s not lunchtime in almost all cafes or restaurants. So I have to endure another 3 hours.

10 am — 1 pm — the period of staff conferences and calls. Because everyone is in the office, I can work productively with colleagues and discuss problematic issues. Hunger is the only distraction.

1–2 pm — lunchtime. Finally. I’m so hungry that I take a bigger portion than usual. If it becomes a habit, my stomach will “thanks” me in a couple of months. As an option — I can take some snacks from home to eat at 10 am.

2–4 pm — after a hearty lunch, the least I want is to get to work. But since I started working at 7 am, my 9-hour workday should end at 4 pm. I try to work actively on projects, but client meetings and administrative work grab the biggest piece of allocated time.

4–8 pm — the work of my team finally reaches maximum efficiency. I understand that I can’t go home because, among other things, the management of this team hangs on me. Even if I leave the office, I will still look through sent emails and documents. But I don’t want to bring work home. So I stay. The problem is that I got up early, and now feel tired and lose concentration. The efficiency is falling, so I have to stay longer at work.

8–9 pm — finally, on my way home. It would be good to read some smart books during this time, but I give my eyes a rest.

9–11 pm — time for late dinner. I want to visit the gym, but my strength left me. I feel annoyed because, most of all, I hate to skip my training. It would be good to go to bed, however I don’t want to cut my evening routine. I share the news with my wife, watch some series, and spend time reading the book. After that, I can say that the evening program is almost complete, although I feel exhausted. I go to bed with the thought that tomorrow I get up as usual and live in rhythm with others.

What are my conclusions after a few days of getting up at 5 am:

  • I was out of sync with my colleagues and clients. I’m sure it would be inconvenient for them too if I made such a regime as a habit;
  • Although I started my working day at 7 am, it did not end at 4 pm, as my colleagues and clients continue to interact with me with various issues. And 12-hour day is not what I expected from a regime change;
  • If I go to bed early, I will have no time for myself and my family.

Should you even try to live in such a regime? I’m sure, yes. You’ll never know if it allows you to be more effective until you try. But first, give yourself answers to the questions:

  • What real benefits such a regime can provide you?
  • Will your relationship with your family suffer from this?
  • Will such a regime resonate with your colleagues and clients?

I am convinced that regime change can be justified if it allows interacting with the people around more effectively and doesn’t affect relations with them. Otherwise, getting up at 5 am may adversely affect personal and work performance.

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