- Beat the stressors of the day with an early start.
- Use the Superego to your advantage.
- Don’t ignore your biology.
Proactively jumpstarting your workday by seizing the often uncomfortable hours of the morning can be the next best move you make for your creative career. Culturally, rising early is often synonymous with productivity. "The early bird gets the worm", and there is good reason for this.
Peace, willpower, and happiness
Willpower is actually a finite resource that can be managed throughout your day. Getting your jump with an early start lets you tap into a larger reserve of willpower. This isn’t necessarily because sleep rejuvenates willpower, but because the stressors that may sap your willpower throughout the day, have yet to been encountered. Mornings can be the fresh start that you need before the demands of the day are allowed to settle in.
A majority of creatives can benefit from the quiet time mornings can offer. Working early will often give you isolation from the regular hours the world seems to hold. It can be a time before the kids wake up for breakfast, before your clients get into their offices, or before your Slack group gets chatty. Whatever it may be, early hours of the day can give you the retreat you may need to increase your focus in a distraction-free setting. Going offline can do wonders for your creativity.
Tiredness is strongly correlated with the state of your mood and can be a huge contributor to your ability to be positive and maintain creativity. It is going to be much more easy to be in a positive attitude when your energy levels are at their highest, and working early is a great way to capitalize on this.
No time is like the present
Consider the delay between when you wake up and when you actually begin working. Sometimes hours can go by with morning rituals and office commutes. Try and beat this by putting in some early hours directly after rolling out of bed before you allow the stressors of the day to modify your mood, sap your willpower, or disrupt your quiet time.
In the most basic understanding of Freud’s structural model of the psyche and its implications on creativity, consider the superego as the “gatekeeper” of the id, filtering it before we are able to act on it. The superego is monitoring the creativity generated from the impulsive and exploratory nature of the id. We want the superego present to reign in the purpose of our creativity, but we don’t want it to be too heavy-handed either.
Fortunately, it is observed that your tiredness can affect the ability for your superego to do its job. This means that in the morning, your id is more open to be creative, but as you become increasingly more awake, your superego too wakes up and starts to balance your creativity out into more purpose-driven tasks.
In short, you begin your day more creative with an unburdened id, then as the superego begins to wake up, your psyche is better positioned to complete tasks that require more precision. Take advantage of this transition by allotting your creative tasks for the early morning, followed by the more structured tasks during the day.
Biology has a schedule too
Our body needs to power down a little to recharge and recalibrate. To do so, the brain assists by producing melatonin on a fairly regular schedule. If you are unfamiliar, melatonin is nature's sleep-aid, and a chemical or brain is able to produce with no assistance.
Our brain will naturally boost melatonin production in the latter parts of the day, increasing drowsiness and preparing our body for rest. It isn’t a large leap to conclude that when your brain is signaling to your body to shut down, it is going to be increasingly difficult to reach an as effective place of creativity, compared to the morning.
Through the magic of science, it has been observed that the creative mind is most alert after a solid rest, when the prefrontal cortex, a portion of the brain that is attributed to creativity, is at its best. Take advantage of this since, as the day progresses your more analytical portions of the brain begin to kick in and balance the prefrontal cortex.
Shower your way to creativity
In this awesome analysis of Why We Have Our Best Ideas in the Shower, the author analysis how a mindless and rejuvenating task, like showering, amplified by the bonus effects the morning has on creativity, can foster some of your best ideas.
At the core of the idea, the equation is to achieve a relaxed state of mind, be easy to distract and full of dopamine. Therefore a shower in the morning can be a highly creative environment.
To fully take advantage of rising early, do it with vigor and hit the ground running. Set aside designated time into your morning schedule for before your “regular” day begins, and fully maximize your creative potential.
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