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The Secret to Having a Productive Work Day



Maybe it’s no secret, and you know it too: Get up and start the day early.

That’s it. That’s all the juicy secret you can get out of this post. But if you read on, you’ll get to know 3 successful people who start their work day early, and why waking up early in the morning spells a universe of difference to your work productivity.

But first of all, let me break the news to all you workaholics out there (yes, including myself):


Working late doesn’t mean being productive

One of the perks of working in a startup is having a flexible schedule. Because of the nature of my profession (online marketing), I’ve had the luxury of a flexible schedule for years, working from home and from wherever I decide to camp out during the day—on my bed, in a coffee shop nearby, at a friend’s house. I often start the day late, compensating it with doing more work late in the evenings and doing all-nighters.

Sure, I beat deadlines (photo finish!) and get some tasks ticked off my list, but I realize time and time again that the most productive days I’ve had, ever, are those days when I start the day early in the morning.

Let’s take it from some of the best entrepreneurs, writers, and industry leaders of our time who happen to be early risers.


Twitter’s Jack Dorsey starts his 16-hour work day early

Jack DorseyWidely known as the creator of Twitter and the CEO of Square, Jack Dorsey wakes up at 5:30 am to meditate and jog. He starts the day early, as evidenced by his very own twitter timeline where he documents his mornings quite a lot.

This 36-year old billionaire maintains his morning routine and balances his schedule between Twitter and Square, pulling off an 80-hour work week in total.

Let’s not count the number of hours, shall we? (80 hours??! Whoa.) Let’s just say, for this guy to maintain that kind of work schedule and still manage to remain successful and sane, he really must start each day early.


Author Jeff Goins writes early in the morning

Jeff GoinsJeff Goins is one of my most favorite writers/bloggers of all time. In an interview with Copyblogger, he shares that he reads books every morning, for about an hour. He claims that his most productive time of the day is definitely in the mornings, before everyone in the house starts waking up.

I recently read Jeff Goin’s new book “The In Between“, and it.. blew my mind and stirred up emotions I never knew I had. It’s definitely one of the most inspiring books I’ve read recently, and I imagine that the best parts of it were probably the ones written in the morning.


Starbucks’ Howard Schultz maintains a morning routine

Howard SchultzStarbucks CEO Howard Schultz arrives in his office every morning at 6am, that is, after squeezing in some morning bike workout with his wife before going to work.

I seriously don’t know why he still needs to be in the office that early, I’m pretty sure no one is monitoring his attendance! But that’s just about the right statement to make, being in the caffeine business and all.

Hey, I’ll probably come to work early too if I have a free Starbucks drink waiting for me when I clock in. 😀

Summing it all up,


Here are three ways to start the day right:


1. Set a morning routine. Jack Dorsey and Howard Schultz start their days with a workout. Jeff Goins spend the first hours of the day reading and meditating. Note that they don’t dive into work just yet; they first prepare their minds and their bodies for work. Maintaining a morning routine wakes up your sleeping muscles and energizes you to start the day.


2. Take advantage of the quiet. For parents, these are the quiet hours before the kids start waking up. For professionals, these are the quiet moments before colleagues start coming into the office. For commuters, this is the short period before the rush hour traffic. Starting ahead of everyone else allows you to accomplish more. And accomplishing more while the world is still sleeping is one of the most fulfilling feelings ever.


3. Maintain this frequency, even on weekends. It’s easy to fall into the temptation of oversleeping or slowing down in the morning, or in the weekends, especially after you had a long week. But maintaining a certain level of consistency for a period of time creates a habit. A habit that you don’t want to break on weekends!


Try waking up early and starting your day early for, say, 30 consecutive days and see for yourself if it changes your work patterns. (I guarantee you, it will.)

It also helps to have a basic project management tool at the least, especially if you’re collaborating or working in teams.

I’ve always been a self-confessed nocturnal, but now that I’m older, my body just can’t handle all-nighters anymore. Also, I realized that the quality of my work is better when I do it early in the morning and not later in the day when my energy is already running low.

Best of all, starting early allows me to end the work day early, avoid the rush hour, spend more time with my family as the day ends, and sleep early so I can repeat the process the next day.

Let me end with this nursery rhyme nugget of wisdom from Benjamin Franklin:

Early to bed and early to rise,

makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.

Let’s raise our morning jujus and make a toast on that, shall we?