Why start work at 4 in the morning?
Their alarm clock rings at four in the morning, but it's by choice, not by obligation. At this time, there are no noises, not even the social ones: the telephone is mute, the social networks are deserted, and most of them still sleep. For these people, the perfect time to start work is before dawn. A professional routine that conquers more and more fans, who redesign their schedules to increase productivity and earn hours in the day.
Two years ago, Filipe Castro, director of marketing for Prodsmart, observed being a victim of an evil common: he had no time for anything. The work devoured most of his day, and barely enough room for leisure, family, or a sport. So in the footsteps of top executives such as Tim Cook and Howard Schultz, director of Starbucks, the challenge of getting up at 4:30 p.m. was 21 days. Not to work more hours, but to work better. It worked.
"I discovered that until 7 am there are no distractions, it's like nothing happens in the world. This helps me to concentrate more and to be more productive, in those hours I solve much of the work of the day ", he says. After about two hours of work, he does physical activity and arrives at the office around 10am, with most of the tasks already completed.
Such routines, far removed from standards, have become popular in the US, the mecca of time management and productivity methods. There is a whole literature about it, a myriad of manuals, schools and gurus that, with their peculiarities, agree essentially: "All studies indicate the same thing - that the two hours are most productive the first of the day, "Said Dan Ariely, a professor of Sociology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University in North Carolina. His proposal is to anticipate this beginning to the dawn, when distractions decrease and the feeling of isolation reinforces concentration - and efficiency.
Lodges and owls
According to their studies, we are deeply mistaken about our habits: "Most think of ourselves as more night-bogglers than we really are, we believe we are more productive at night," he says. This leads us to prolong the hours until late, which does not translate into more effectiveness, but more fatigue. The teacher appeals to the traditional distinction between "larks" and "owls" (ie, more active people in the early morning or late at night). "In fact, believing that you surrender more at night is just an illusion," he says. He insists that dawn has "a lot of attractions" related to the lack of distractions, but the best way to take advantage of them is not to roam the night, but to get up early.
Prolonging hours to late hours does not translate into more effectiveness, but more fatigue
For most of his life, Berto Pena believed to be an incurable owl, unable to be productive earlier in the day. The ThinkWasabi director worked late, but he felt he did not give up. Until he began to apply the routines of guru David Allen, based on the method Getting Things Done, which also shares the early-morning premise. "I kept it for years and it worked for me. Now I no longer agree at 4 am, I keep my own habits and method, because there is a moment for everything, and needs change, "he says. At 6 am you are already in front of the computer, delivered to the most creative and demanding tasks. No phone calls, interruptions or social networks clamoring for attention. "When most people get to work, I've covered almost half of my journey. The day is more spent, because there are not hours. What is missing is organization, "he adds.
The latest research in this regard was made by psychologist Josh Davis, scientific director of the NeuroLeadership Institute, and was mentioned last week in The Wall Street Journal. Their results not only corroborate the thesis of the benefits of starting the day early but also suggest the best time to make the alarm clock ring: four o'clock in the morning.
The importance of the environment
Victor Martín, a consultant at Young Media, gets up at 5 am but does not start work immediately. "First, I meditate for an hour, reconnect with myself and do visualizations. I know it sounds like a monk thing, but for my level of concentration it's critical. Then I connect with the world and start working. It's something that more and more people do, "he says. He also underwent a change of habits a few years ago, motivated by a family circumstance that forced him to review his schedules. He performed one of the least radical Uberman sleep diets, consisting of sleeping 4.5 hours in the evening and completing the cycle with two 20-minute naps throughout the day. "It had to be very scrupulous, they had to be exactly those minutes, or everything was going to the marsh," he recalls. Though it was enough for him, travel and jet lag prevented him from continuing. "And that was the least rigorous of these diets, which I think few people can maintain," he notes.
But beyond this period of acclimatization (which Victor places more in 66 days than in traditional 21), the environment is fundamental. "I needed to re-educate those who surround me professionally so they can contact me when I can be contacted, because the phone calls are brutal time robbers," he says. Like most followers of such routines, Victor programs his e-mails, not to send them at inconvenient hours, and sets himself down early, another of the pillars of the method. Their followers sleep on average between 6 and 7 hours and guarantee that their social life is not harmed. "I do not know if this eight-hour sleep thing is a myth, but I gave up and went to sleep less," says Berto Pena.
"You are your habit, not the other way around. There is no predisposition. "
Despite this, they are aware that such methods may not be universally valid. "In jobs like mine, with more flexibility, it's simpler. And this not everyone has. But it is also true that everyone can try to get up before, which is something that many do not even try and that brings many benefits, "says Philip. While more and more American executives - and also figures such as First Lady Michelle Obama - are using these routines as a key to success, there are still few CEOs who add to the trend. "Societies have their own cultural particularities, but society is not always the best example to follow," says the Portuguese businessman. "I do not try to convince anyone to wake up at 4:30 a.m., I just say that each one should look for his best routines and adapt his life to them, not to maintain the routines that society determines," he proposes.
In the end, it's all about habits and their flexibility. "You are your habit, not the other way around. There is no predisposition, "says Victor, who, before reprogramming his schedules, also believed to be a nocturnal bird. "It's the habits that need to be at your service, not the other way around. I do not mind getting up at that time, but what I get out of it, "adds Berto Pena. Everyone agrees with the positive repercussions of advancing the alarm clock in a few hours: if they say more productive, but also more rested and with more free time for everything that is not work.
Unfortunately, however, there are no infallible formulas nor a fixed scheme. Not magic hours: "It's not that we are more productive at 4 am, the environment itself is," concludes Dan Ariely. It is about remaking the puzzle to make it fit.