Like you, I am subscribed to a number of different sites and organisations offering advice, tips and thoughts about life, the universe and everything. Some of it is useful, some I just ignore, and generally my strongest reaction is, "Oh that's interesting," or recently, "WHAT? A #candykittens vegan advent calendar! One please!"
But the other day an email arrived in my inbox that actually made me feel a bit cross (I don't usually do rage).
This email told me that I should be getting up at 4am every day to 'maximise my productivity,' and that doing so was the best way to achieve all my goals. Seriously. Recently I have seen that same advice in a number of places on social media.
Now, I am all for an early start and usually wake up at 6am; often with the cat pawing at my face in the vain hope that it will result in food. (Spoiler alert: it always does.) And, I know many people have to be up early, or do shift work, so this is not designed to be an 'attack' on people who get up at 4am! If that works for you, then go you!
I think what I take issue with, is that the coach in question effectively told us we just need to get up 2-3 hours earlier and life will be amazing, we will all be hugely productive and achieve all our goals.
Knowing how critical getting eight or nine hours of sleep is to effective brain and body functioning, this should mean going to bed at about 8pm at the latest. And encouragingly, bringing all bedtime routines forward and endeavouring to be in bed by 8.30pm at the latest was a key recommendation. But I just don't think it's as simple as that.
The associated need to go to bed early detracts from your evening. It takes away your time to rest, reflect and unwind. If you have young children that go to bed at a similar time to you, when do you and your partner have time to connect? Are you prioritising your goals over your relationships? What impact might that have in the long run?
As a coach I am totally in favour of goals. Goal setting and achieving is a key element of the work I do with my clients. The satisfaction and sense of achievement we feel when we reach a goal is essential to life satisfaction and happiness. But it isn't the only thing. Relationships and a sense of belonging are also critical and it is important to weigh up what is right for you and your family as a whole.
Overall, what this email actually did was make me wonder how this person's partner felt about the 8pm/4am routine. If they were on board then great; but if not...
This made me question whether my personal/professional goals are impacting my relationships (they definitely are) and I need to make time to talk to my partner about that.
I also reflected on when in the day I personally feel most productive, so I can organise my time to make the most of my energy levels. Not everyone feels energised in the morning, some people need lunch in order to truly wake up!
I guess, getting up super early might provide you with some uninterrupted time first thing in the morning to focus on your goals and tasks; and, if you feel more productive during that time (and are organised and focused) then it may be helpful.
It might help you to answer these questions to work out what will work for you:
1. What time of the day do you feel most energised? Morning, afternoon, evening?
Be organised and plan your time to make the most of that.
Focus on your most important tasks and goals during that time period.
2. How long does it take you to wind down before bed? Is there more you could do to help you relax and sleep?
Try creating a sleep routine. My blog post 'Sleep Like A Baby' has loads of useful tips to help you sleep better.
Plan to get at least 8 hours sleep and allow 30 minutes to fall asleep too.
3. What are your current goals/key tasks? Are they realistic and achievable? How do they impact people other than you?
Try applying the SMART framework to your goals.
Write a list of the people impacted by your goals and whether it is negative or positive.
Consider whether the long-term gains are worth the short-term sacrifices and discuss them with your partner. Sometimes compromise is essential.
4. Are there any tasks or things you do that are actually a waste of time?
Using an app like TimeTune can help you work out where your time goes and may help you be more productive. Just don't be a slave to it. Things change and we all need to be flexible and adapt to new situations.
Remember, as with all thing in life, balance is key. Maybe adjusting your bedtime to give yourself just one extra hour in the morning would make a difference to you. Or maybe you need to adjust your goals or explore how to be more productive with your time.
Whatever you do, make sure that you prioritise self-care (especially sleep) and your relationships. You will definitely feel happier and more productive if your family are too.