I’ve often heard people talk about how important it is to work hard, work long hours, and to turn yourself into a non-stop machine to be successful. Just “do the work” they say, “get it done, all of it, now!”
But here’s a little different take.
Don’t spend yourself too much. Especially if you do thinking, creating-type work.
The urge to do that “one last thing” can often be what does you in too. You want to squeeze every last drop out of every day, I get that. I do too. But what I’m working on is setting myself up for success tomorrow. In 99.99% of the times that last half an hour or hour you push yourself through to get something done before bed isn’t going to drastically change your world and make you wildly successful. Let’s face it you’re already tired and you don’t do your best work when you’re tired(unless you do, some are like that, but most aren’t). So you should save some energy, go to bed earlier so you can be rested for the day tomorrow, and realize that no matter what you think you can get done in that extra little bit of time, it could be detrimental to your productivity tomorrow. You’ll end up waking up late and being tired or less enthusiastic. Your creativity will wane, and your success will too.
Now you’re asking, but Joel.. what do I do about it?
The real big key is to be intentional about how your evening goes, not how your next day is going to go. This is the mindset that needs to change. And I’m not talking about ‘oh I’ll just do it tomorrow’. This is about being mindful and paying attention to your sleeping habits and how they affect your productivity the following day. You need to find the optimum balance for your ratio of sleep to work. Keyword here being YOUR. If you’re completely rested, tomorrow morning will take care of itself. So if you know that you end up picking up your phone or tablet right before bed and working for half an hour before you collapse into your sleep deprived coma, put an alarm or reminder on your phone that notifies you to put it down at a certain time. Or leave it out of the bedroom altogether (a very scary thought for most of us digital-addicts).
If you’re married or live with someone use that to your advantage. Try to sync up your schedules as much as possible so you can use the other person as an accountability measure. Try to get your spouse on board with going to bed earlier, or not playing Candy Crush before you guys fall asleep.
The point is to start shifting your thinking from, “I’m going to just work a little bit harder right now”, which is ambitious and yes very positive but not practical if you’re exhausted anyway, and change it to, “I’m going to organize my evening so that I will be rested and do my best work tomorrow”.
It will take some work and experimentation, but heck, that’s what we do as marketers anyways. Try it, if it doesn’t work, change it a little bit and try again. But if you always stick to your old ways you’ll be tired, less happy, less productive, and less successful.