When did you start your day?
If you are Jocko Willink, it may well have been 4:30 am. If you are Tim Cook, Howard Schultz, or Richard Branson, it was before 6:00 am. According to this HuffPost article, 90% of executives wake up before 6:00 am, and at least half of the self-made millionaires are up three hours before their work day begins. There seems to be a strong correlation to getting up early and being successful.
I want to refute this idea that getting up at a certain time should be added to your daily routine if you are seeking to be more successful.
My logic is quite simple. You sleep to sleep and both quantity and quality appear to matter for most people. Therefore, it's not when you get up but rather when you go to sleep and for how long that matters more.
By setting a bedtime rather than an alarm, you have a much higher chance of getting the sleep that your body and mind need. A friend of mine, who is a hardcore software developer, made this change after realizing that, without a bedtime, he would push himself to keep working into the night trying to do more but would then have to battle fatigue after waking up to an alarm. Essentially, he was borrowing from the next day and continuously running up a sleep deficit. For him, switching to having a bedtime has resulted in better quality of life and increased productivity. From my own experimentation, I would agree.
So what does this have to do with socks?
Imagine that you are focused on making changes to your daily schedule with the goal of improving your quality of life and productivity. You set an alarm or a bedtime. You get up in the morning and feel rested and eager to start making it happen. However, as you get dressed, you discover that you cannot find a pair of matching socks. You search high and low, rifle through your dresser, check the dryer, and finally, while looking in your laundry basket, you find a match! This is all good, except now you're feeling a bit of stress and 15 minutes have dissolved off of the clock.
Even with making a positive change to your schedule with respect to your sleep habits, you have put the quality of your day at risk over a pair of stupid socks.
You might now feel that the day has gotten off on the wrong foot (sorry, couldn’t help it!). The socks in this example are just a metaphor for the many other small, innocuous tasks that we need to do before or at the beginning of a new day, which have a disproportionately high chance of a negative impact. Think about it this way, you wouldn’t think twice of successfully finding a pair of socks in your drawer...no whoops of joy, but the lack thereof could send your day off the rails. Why risk it? Which leads me back to when your day begins and it's not the time you set on your alarm.
Your day actually begins the night before.
I've found that the best day is formed by understanding the bridge between the night before and the following morning. Take the time to set out your clothes (gym and work), jot down a To Do list for the next day, plan your breakfast and lunch, etc. Do these preparatory tasks the night before so that you are ready to rock it the next morning.
If you are interested in experimenting using this bridge technique, I would love to connect with you and chat about programming. Give it a try and let me know what you think…..if it doesn’t work, you can always blame it on the socks!
Written by: Austin Meyermann, Founder and President of Hunter Crown, LLC
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