It was a simple story, with a simple headline that divided the office.
A new report published in The Wall Street Journal has found that 4am is the most productive time of the day.
Yes, you read that correctly. 4am. Not 4pm. And don’t try to pretend you thought you read 4pm.
The reasoning is simple:
- Less distractions from the world before the sun rises
- No emails or texts
- Less to scroll through on social media
The report also found that productivity did not just mean how much you can accomplish in regard to your job. For many the pre-dawn hours are the prefect time to do anything but work. They are the perfect time to live your own life for an hour or two and therefore set you up for the day.
A few 4am fun ideas are: meditation, exercise, journalling, alone time, creative thinking, family time – but no napping or drinking vodka (unless you still haven’t gone to bed, then that is totally fine).
When the new “hour of power” was revealed to the office one colleague felt shame.
“I can never be that person. I’ve lost already.”
Another dismissed it out of hand:
“Why would you want to do that?”
Well … it obviously delivers some life gains.
The early, early bird schedule is followed by a lot from very successful people from Apple CEO Tim Cook to Virgin CEO Richard Branson and First Lady Michelle Obama (okay, she rises at 4.30 but that’s still within the hour of power).
"The early, early bird schedule is followed by a lot from very successful people". Image via NBC.
After hearing the benefits of a 4am wakeup, everyone started asking the obvious question:
"Well, what time do you get up?"
(It's really interesting finding out what time your colleagues rise and what they do before they sit at their desks. It's sanctioned perviness.)
There were a few 5ams and 5.30s. Admittedly there were no 4ams, which is very different to five (those hours in the early morning are like dog years).
Then there were 7ams, "as late as humanly possible" and "I'd still be in bed now if it were up to me". There were sighs and comparisons. A few eye rolls and a colourful discussion about what exactly is considered early (answer: anything before 6am).
(And if you didn't get up early, here's how to get ready in less than 15 minutes. Post continues after video.)
We became two very separate worlds. Even amongst the non-CEOs and corporate powerhouses in our office, the divide was pretty clear: those who had children were early and those who didn't have children were later risers.
I'm an early riser convert. My kids are older now and I could sleep in because they don't need me in the mornings like they used to, but I don't. Before kids I was late to bed, late to rise and weekends were lived mainly in the evening.
Now, I get up around 5.30am most days. I need the morning. I need it - by myself - to set up my day. I even find that I've become the type of person to take a moment to look at the sky and wonder at its colour - that magical dark that turns into light. The stillness. The moment before the giant collective heave of human motion begins. The moment where there is space and silence and you think "Anything can happen today. Today might change my life."
It crept up on me this desire to rise early and the understanding why I did it.
My reasoning will probably not make it into The Wall Street Journal, but I do it because:
- When I exercise it gives me energy for the entire day
- When I read I fill myself with pleasure
- It makes me feel I am in control - until the kids get up
- It makes me fall asleep at night easier (big plus if you have tend to get wired at night and take a long time to go to sleep)
- This one is hard to put into words. It makes me feel a cross between hopeful about the world and really connected to it. It's grounding and liberating at the same time.
- You have to get up anyway
There is a fallacy about the early riser. I don't get up to "win" anything. I don't feel I have more self control or am superior to late risers. Productivity comes at different times for different people.
I don't know if my early mornings have so much to do with productivity or are more to do with simply making me feel good about myself.
I'm very very happy for late risers to stay snuggled up in bed.
The early morning wouldn't be the same with a crowd.