Want to Be More Productive? The Surprising Thing You Need to Stop Doing

Early bird catches the worm. We’ve all heard this saying. When it comes to being productive, getting up early is the number one piece of advice all self-help gurus seem to agree on.

If you’re not a morning person, that prospect might be discouraging. Who wants to force themself to get up early? If that’s your case, here’s a bit of good news: you don’t have to. In fact, joining the 5 am club might be doing you a disservice. Here’s why.

Sleep Deprivation Impacts Sustained Focus

Getting things done in the first few hours of the morning is all well and good, but what about the rest of the day? If you’re stretching yourself too thin by skipping on getting adequate zzz’s, science says your productivity will inevitably suffer.

The reason?

Our internal resources, that is your ability to exercise self-control and make good choices (not procrastinating on Facebook!) are intrinsically linked to your circadian rhythm.

Poor sleeping habits are linked with lower brain activity in the prefrontal cortex and thalamus, two centers involved with critical as well as divergent thinking. This means that lack of sleep impairs your ability to work on both crucial tasks and creative endeavors.

Furthermore, sleep deprivation compromises your prefrontal cortex’s role in inhibiting your drive and impulses, which means you’ll be less able to keep yourself from procrastinating, especially as the day wears on.

How Your Circadian Rhythm Determines Productivity

The biological process that controls wakefulness and sleep is tied in to your ability to focus by its effect on glucose. Processing and metabolizing this sugar molecule that gives us energy is heavily influenced by your circadian rhythm through hormone production.

Ever felt zonked out after a sugar high? That’s the same kind of effect at play. The unsteady supply of glucose impairs your ability to focus and stay awake.

Having good sleeping patterns helps your brain get the steady supply of glucose it needs which, in turn, helps you be more productive.

What You Should Do in the Mornings Instead

Not only is forcing yourself to wake up early a mistake for productivity but jumping straight into work in the morning is, as well. Research shows that practicing self-care activities in the am boosts your ability to focus on tasks throughout the day.

Whether it is journaling, exercise, yoga, or meditation, making time to take care of yourself builds up your mental resources and ability to self-control all throughout the day. These activities (or any positive hobby) will improve your productivity by stimulating your concentration, memory, creativity, and motivation. This leads to better job performance and satisfaction.

Want to learn more about ways to increase your productivity? Check out 6 Easy Ways to Beat Afternoon Fatigue Without Coffee, these 6 Strange (But Easy) Ways to Be More Productive, and some Easy Body Movements to Improve Productivity.

Are you a night owl or an early riser? Do you think waking up early is essential to your productivity? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Photo Credit: JESHOOTS.COM


Danny C
Danny C8 hours ago

A good night's sleep should never be underestimated and its benefits are innumerable. Thank you for sharing.

heather g
heather g12 hours ago

Something different about my circadian rhythm.

Jessica K
Jessica K3 days ago

Some journaling in the morning works for me. Thanks.

Jan S
Jan S3 days ago


Camilla Vaga
Camilla Vaga4 days ago


Alicia S
Alicia Smith4 days ago

I'm definitely not a morning person, quite the opposite actually. And I've discovered a long time ago that not forcing myself works a lot better for my productivity. Thanks for the article! For those of you who are searching for more information about productivity, I'd suggest to go here: https://kanbantool.com/blog . Lots of interesting content!

David C
David C5 days ago


David C
David C5 days ago

do your best

Teresa Antela
Teresa A5 days ago

For the last 19 years I have been an all day/night person taking care of my elder ones. Now, I'm still trying to know who am I... Depressed, of course.

nahia L
nahia L5 days ago

@Renata: I wish I could work from home too. Not only I'm not really a morning person, crowds and people in general suck all my energy out. I would gladly drastically reduce my human interactions and rather be with animals. Also, unfortunately I can't bring myself to wake up even earlier. I'm simply not made this way.