Productivity 101: Power of a "boring" structured day

Recently many of my friends started asking me questions about my habit of rising early at 5 am. After that they'd continue inquiring about how the rest of my day looks like. To many of them, regular habits and early rising seems impossible... and they claim it's boring and not spontaneous...


So I wake up at 5 am. And I don't have to. Nobody makes me.

As I wrote before (even recorded a video about it) I wake up at 5 am on weekdays (on weekends I usually sleep a little longer). Why am I doing that? Because I can start my day early and get a lot done before my wife and my daughter wake up.

Was it easy? No. Hell no. I'm not a morning person. I used to love staying late... but when I found out that between Midnight and 2 am time passes by without me doing anything productive... or anything at all... just staring at the TV... I decided to switch patterns and wake up early.

Here's how my day looks like

5 am - wake up call - a cup of coffee and I'm at my computer cranking the first tasks I planned the day before
7 am - two hours into work... time to reward myself with a gym time  - sport is good :-)
8 am - after around 45 minute gym time and a shower, my ladies (my wife and my daughter) wake up and it's time to prepare some breakfast and get my baby-girl dressed (love spending mornings with my daughter)
9 am - Au pair comes to take care of my baby and my wife goes to work (she has a J.O.B.)
9 am-10 am - email, twitter and Google Reader time
10am - 2 pm - work again, mainly Nozbe and the new app we're cooking (in the meantime snack)
2pm - lunch
3pm - 5pm - work, meetings, blog posting, whatever I feel like doing
5pm - Au pair is gone - it's time for me to play with my baby girl again and spend time with my wife.

Rest of the day is totally up to us :-) I go to bed around 11 pm.

A structured day is not boring, it's empowering. Being in control is not boring... it's powerful!

None of my days looks the same... but I'm trying to make sure that most of my days start the same. That's the difference. Thanks to this early start I get to work early and get to do some sports before the day starts for anyone else. Because I work from home I decide what to do an when to do it... (after writing this post I'll go play some pool as a reward for myself)

What if something like this is not for you?

Of course it is. If I can do it, anyone can. And I'm telling you it's not easy. But it's great. As David Allen the GTD guru says - being in control is fantastic... and doesn't make you boring... it makes you powerful and makes every choice of yours a conscious choice. Good luck!

P.S. There is a key secret here - don't be so hard on yourself. Do you think that every day my first two hours of work are ueber-productive? Do you think that every day I work I get tons done? Not really. We're just humans and we have good and bad days... but the structure I've created helps me get more good days than the bad ones.

What does your day look like? What's your secret recipe for a productive day? 

--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Posted on Tuesday, January 12, 2010 (earlyriser,gtd,productivity)

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Kevin MacDonell
Jan 12, 2010 14:28
I do 5:30. Early morning provides the only truly quiet hour of the day, so I use it for things that require quiet: writing and meditation. If I can do a little of one or the other, I can usually manage to have a good day!
Michael Sliwinski
Jan 12, 2010 15:32
My friend has a saying - start a day early, and you won't be running around with a tongue out all day long. This is why starting a day well means so much to me... Glad you also can make it happen Kevin - thanks for sharing!
Kourosh Dini
Jan 14, 2010 13:25
Routine can be extremely powerful. Many creatives - authors, artists, and the like - describe their process of entering a creative mind set as one of routine.
Michael Sliwinski
Jan 14, 2010 14:22
Exactly my "finding" - routine boosts creativity as your mind is free and you have the time to think creatively!

Thanks for your comment Kourosh, let us keep our routine!