Mark Twain said, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” Certainly, the business world takes “early to rise” very seriously, intensely so. The “early to rise” wheels were set in motion a long time before any of us were born. Just guessing, it probably started whenever that first early bird started catching the worm, and long before Benjamin Franklin said “early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy wealthy and wise” in 1735. They say billionaires rise at 4 a.m. There’s an overwhelming amount of evidence that suggests business success or even success in general, is tied directly to getting an early start on the day.

So, what if you are naturally an unnatural morning person? Some people are more naturally night owls. What if your body’s circadian rhythm is telling you to get started at 11 a.m. instead of 4 a.m.? What is there to do? Find work as a vampire or other graveyard shift work, or conform to the world of timekeepers according to business. If you’re in a sales role like us, there simply is no graveyard shift available. Night work is not an option. Working from home does not make a sales job’s hours more flexible, although it does theoretically provide more disposable time in the day. The schedule for sales people like us requires certain hours, so night owls need to switch from night owl to early bird.

Working from home is more difficult for night owls than early birds. The traditional commute served a purpose, but now we are working from home. The traditional commute created a structured routine for both early birds and night owls. Now, in working from home, it is up to us, each person, to emulate that structure and form new work from home routines that help us to be more successful. If you’re naturally an early bird, work from home success may come easier, but if your own body is doing battle with the early bird, there are things you can do. Science shows that it is possible to alter your circadian rhythm. Whether you are a natural early bird or an unnatural early bird, it is important to establish daily routines.

Banish the wimpy alarm clock. Fortunately, there are many really loud alarm clock products on the market for heavy sleepers. It is possible to get one that is louder than a jackhammer, and instead of putting it where you can reach it, put it on the other side of the room so you have to get out of bed. Once you’re up, the rest gets easier. You can begin your routine. Some people may need more than one alarm clock. Natural morning people may prefer the cell phone setting of gentle rain, but the sound of a screaming fast jet breaking the sound barrier might be better for the unnatural morning person. You can gradually reset your body’s clock so that you have the equivalent, or preferably even better routine established than the traditional commute created. It doesn’t mean not getting enough sleep. Proper sleep is required as part of the routine.

The power of routines. Once you have a routine, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every day. You can use that brain energy toward goals and goal setting. Routines are efficient. Routines are proactive. Routines help us put success on an auto pilot setting. Routines create momentum. Giving birth to new routines is more difficult, however, once you have created your own structured routines, you have created a powerful tool for your work from home life. Maintaining is easier than creating.

Make your bed and change the world. There is a book called Make Your Bed, Little Things That Can Change Your Life and Maybe the World, by Admiral William H McRaven. I learned about it when I was reading a Jon Gordon article and then I realized that it’s a whole book, not just an article. One of the important points in the book is to start your day with a task completed, like making your bed.

Reading that article helped me to change the way I looked at an annoying little thing that morphed into a positive good thing. I moved into a new house about a year ago and found that the upstairs shower takes an exceedingly long amount of time to get hot. I’ve never seen a shower take so long. If there was a Guinness Book of World Records for showers, this shower would be listed. I found it annoying to have to wait soooo long for the water to get hot. After I read that article, I found that it takes almost exactly the amount of time to make my bed, and really do a good job, as it does for the shower to warm up. Then I thought about how it feels to accomplish something and start the day off with a task completed. It feels really great to check something off the list right out of the gate. It sets the tone for the day. So now, instead of having that impatient, waiting, annoying experience, I have a great start on the day. Making my bed while waiting on the shower became part of my morning routine and one of the ways to start off the day feeling productive.

Even if you are not a natural early bird, getting an early start on the day is undeniably important, if for no other reason, for the obvious reason, more hours to get more things done. But how the day begins carries just as much weight. What is the good of more hours if they are spent in an unfocused, undirected way or otherwise inefficient way? A morning routine is a way to accomplish both. When working from home, the structured routine is different than the old routine of the traditional commute. When working from home is new, there may be a period of time to regroup and replace the traditional morning commute routine with the new work from home morning routine. It’s an opportunity to invent something new and script in the activities that are the most meaningful to you. Working from home creates new possibilities for early birds and night owls.

Tracie Chancellor
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