Since graduating college, I spent the first three years working in the corporate world before venturing out on my own to work in real estate sales.  It’s been a dozen years and I have just finally figured out how to drastically increase my productivity.  It’s not an app or a new hire, it’s a behavioral change.

I consider myself a night owl with my “most productive” work over the past several years being produced during the hours of 10pm – 1am on a given weeknight. Emails have slowed down, phone calls stop this late at night and the family is asleep. Throw in a beer and continuous sit-coms playing in the background and you have my typical night.

The older I get, the more complex and busy my life seems to have become. At the same time, either the beer is getting stronger or I’m just getting tired at night. So I realized several months ago that I needed to figure out a better way to be productive. I tried a few different strategies as outlined below.
Productivity Test #1 – Give Up Coffee
I don’t know if coffee is healthy or not. But I do know that it adds a caffeine boost in the morning which can result in a crash around early afternoon. I wondered if giving up coffee would stabilize my energy and result in a more productive work day. I went about 35 days without any withdrawal issues and drank a lot more water during this time. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice any real change except for the fact that getting going the morning took a little longer than usual.
Productivity Test #2 – Exercise in the Morning
I wish I was the type that exercised on a regular basis as I can obviously appreciate the need for a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, when I feel overworked and stressed, working out doesn’t have the relaxing effect that it supposedly has for others. I get anxious knowing that it’s an hour I could have spent getting caught up with work. I tried getting up at 5am for about a week to run. Outside of finding a new appreciation for birds chirping before the sun rises, I didn’t get much out of it.
Productivity Test #3 – Switch from a “Night Owl” to a “Morning Person”
This test sort of happened by mistake. Instead of getting up for an early morning run, I decided to stay home and get some work done instead. I swapped out my late night beer for an early morning coffee and discovered that I was strangely productive throughout the entire day. I had gotten caught up with 50-60 emails in a couple hours and even pumped out a daily agenda for members of my team. When I arrived at work, my plate was pretty open and I was able to spend the day being proactive with my business rather than reactive.
What I realized is that getting a great jumpstart to your morning doesn’t work when you attempt to begin your day at work, during normal business hours. The combination of social interaction, emails and phone calls will ensure that you won’t truly become productive until after lunch.
If you are looking for the best way to be productive, it starts with setting your day up for success by getting organized every morning. Getting up early is hard so it’s important that you find your motivation and put tools in place to ensure you succeed. Here are a few tips:
  • Set your coffee to brew before you go to bed (don’t buy Dunkin Donuts Chocolate Donut coffee though… I just bought it and it was terrible.  Tasted nothing like a donut)
  • Pick a motivating song to play on your phone alarm
  • Get to bed early to accommodate an earlier rise
  • Don’t work in front of a TV – Sportcenter and other programs will be a major distraction
  • Leave some warm clothes by the bed so you don’t wake your spouse getting up, it’s cold early in the morning!
You’ll be amazed at how much more productive your day will be once you put this routine in place.  Have any other suggestions for increasing productivity throughout the day? Let me know in the comments below.

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