Mondays are productivity days at SimpleProductivity blog.
There are many articles out there about how to successfully start your day. Most of them assume that you are chipper and wide awake as soon as your feet hit the floor. In other words, they assume you are a morning person.
I am not a morning person. And I don’t believe that you can necessarily become one (see Why Being A Morning Person Is Not Essential). However, that doesn’t mean that non-morning people can’t have successful starts to their days.
Here are ways that we can adapt the morning-person strategies and give us the same advantages for our days.
Same Tasks, Different Time
The difference lies not in the tasks that are done, but when they are done. The tasks for successful people are always the same…it’s just that non-morning people need to do them before the morning comes.
A reader recently commented that he heard someone say “I only have to be smart for 10 minutes a day.” That 10 minutes is when you do your planning. Night owls can shift that plan to their peak times and run on autopilot when they are in their non-peak.
Here are some suggestions:
Prepare Meals The Night Before
It has been said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Having breakfast ready to eat can mean the difference between eating something healthy or eating something that will set your day off on the foot of blood sugar spikes. Or not eating at all. Get everything ready that is possible. If you eat cereal, for instance, put the bowl on the table with a spoon. Put the cereal box on the table. All you have to do is dump into a bowl, pour the milk and you’re ready to go. (Granted, this might not be possible for some night owls, but adapt.)
Making lunches is a place where night owls can get hung up. Peering into the fridge is simply wasting time. To that end, pack your lunch the night before and put it in the fridge. All you have to do is grab and go. And if you have trouble remembering your lunch, put your car keys with it.
Planning the night before takes the brain drain out of incoherence and into a place where we are functioning at peak. Does it really matter if you plan your day right before bed or first thing in the morning? I don’t think so. The important thing is to have a good plan. Figure out what you need to do the next day. Look at your calendar. Make a list of tasks. The next day, just follow the list.
Figuring out clothing that is appropriate both to the activities of the day and the weather can be a big challenge if you are foggy. Checking the weather and your calendar, then picking out your clothes the night before can turn dressing from a 15 minute task into a 5 minute task.
Just as it is difficult to get your clothing together with your eyes closed, so too is it difficult to gather everything you need to get out the door. Assembling everything the night before and placing it by the door is a good way to make sure that you don’t forget things.
A Sample Productivity Launch Routine for Night Owls
Here is an example of what I do to make sure I have it together in the morning. Around 9:30 pm, I:
- Check the weather and my calendar
- Pick out my clothes for the next day and put them (with jewelry) in the bathroom
- Pack my briefcase and take it downstairs
- Pull an appropriate jacket/coat and shoes and put them by my briefcase. I make sure my umbrella is in my briefcase if it calls for rain.
- Set up the coffee pot (it’s on a timer)
- Make my daughter’s lunch and put it in the fridge. I assemble the non-freezer parts of my lunch and put it in the fridge. (I usually eat frozen dinners for lunch)
- Make sure all dishes are in the dishwasher and either set it to rinse or wash, depending on the load size.
- Take the dog out
- Secure the house
- Go back upstairs and set my task lists for the next day
- Head to my writing nook for a writing session, or to my favorite chair for a read.
Just because you’re a night owl doesn’t mean you can’t hit the ground running the next day. It’s just a matter of shifting the time you do things to when you are awake, rather than first thing in the morning.
Photo by beccafrog