Yes, You Can Sleep In and Still Be Successful
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I'm putting my foot down -- you don't have to get up at 5 a.m. to be successful and productive.
In recent months, article after article has been published about what "successful" people -- business owners, tech titans, savvy CEOs -- are doing bright and early. Apparently to be successful, you've already meditated, drank three green juices, ran six miles and disrupted four industries before breakfast.
We get it. We are fetishizing early risers -- to the point where it makes the rest of us feel like we're doing something wrong if it's not dark out when the alarm goes off.
In America, we seem to put a priority on getting up early. In other countries -- this was especially true when I lived in Argentina -- offices open later, and it's not customary to quickly slam down an English muffin at 7 a.m. on the way to work while driving and plucking your eyebrows.
Yes, we're obsessed with comparing ourselves to the business and entrepreneurial elite -- and particularly in trying to figure out what they've got that we don't.
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So what about us later risers? Are we really at a disadvantage? It can certainly feel that way, but it definitely isn't true.
Music star Pharrell gets out of bed "generally" at 9 a.m. and doesn't even use an alarm clock. Alex Ohanian, of Reddit, "tries" to be up by 10 a.m. Both of these people were just highlighted as some of the "most productive," and they're not up at dawn.
I spoke to many non-early birds that are "successful" and happy. Here are some of their tips:
Plan your day ahead the night before. A number of people leave to-do lists for the next day on their desks so they can get right into it in the morning. This is helpful for several reasons -- it keeps you prepared and anticipating the next day, and also doesn't leave any lag time so you can hit the desk running. It helps to keep calls or meetings within a specific time frame so you know what to expect as well.
Figure out your peak productivity time. This is different for everyone. Some people would say the morning, some would say mid morning. But if you know you work best in the early afternoon, capitalize on that time and be sure to keep it clear for knocking items off of your list. There are ways to figure out when you are most productive.
Related: The Ultimate Guide to Sleep
Make the best of the time you do have. Be strategic. When you confine your time, you're often more productive and focused. Keep your desk clean and organized, as it helps boost productivity. Be sure to time when you are working too -- I was recently alerted to the Pomodoro Technique, and I adore it. It adds in time for breaks too so you feel okay about taking five minutes to read about Beyonc?. (Unless she is a client, in which case -- can I work for you?)
Ignore the early bird pressure. There is pressure from all sides to be working constantly and earlier. Articles are one thing, but you've all seen social media brags about how early and "up and at 'em" everyone is. That might be what works for them. Try not to compare yourself to others. At Shabby Apple, founder Athelia LeSueur knows that being a late-riser doesn't mean she isn't ambitious or "a ferocious worker."
"I love my job. I also have to sleep at least ten hours a night," she said. "That means that an early day often starts at nine for me. Hip, hip for sleeping in."
Have some boundaries. Often with boundaries comes respect. You can't put them in right away, but if you do have parameters for what you will and won't do -- and in this case it's for your own mood and health, then that's okay. If it's someone with whom a meeting could change your life, and you need to meet him or her early, make sure you don't have a crazy rest of the day.
Get creative. How about a walking meeting, as outlined by Nilofer Merchant? Sitting is terrible for you, even if it's earlier in the morning. What about Skype? What about a call? Sure, nothing compares to being in person. But there are other options. Just please, don't make it pedicures.
Although there's pressure to be up early "rising and grinding" (a popular and equally silly phrase on Twitter), hitting the snooze button might do your body, and your business, some good.
Related: Debunking 5 Common Myths About Sleep