Productivity lies in mornings, not lethargic late night intervals

October 23, 2023 — by Florence Hu
Graphic by Amelia Chang
Working in the light of the morning sun maximizes productivity.
Potential is waiting to be discovered behind the morning moods.

On a quiet, serene morning, cool air passes through my open window. It is 7 a.m.

 The few people walking outside keep quiet. No one chats on their phone, and cars have not even started to roam the streets yet. Pouring out across the paper, the math equations form in my head just as fast as I can jot them down. 

Ever since I’d started the habit of waking up early, my thoughts have seemed clearer and focused. 

Waking up to complete last-minute homework might sound like procrastination — but is it really better to fall asleep halfway through a  project at 3 a.m.? Or worse, falling into an hours-long rabbit hole on YouTube shorts? Instead of staying up late waiting for that one group member to contribute to the 2-week project (only for them to “forget”), waking up early has allowed me to make the final decisions without needing a valid reason to consult with them.

On top of being a great time to ditch communication problems, mornings are also my most productive time of the day. The first one to two hours of daylight provide a quiet space to work and much fewer distractions. 

The benefits of being an early bird are supported by science, too. Waking up with the sun’s morning light reins in the body’s levels of melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone. Syncing with the sun’s schedule means natural light helps the body’s melatonin daily cycle stay on track, which makes the most out of my few productive hours of the day. This rhythm also helps in reducing sleep inertia, which is the desire to fall back asleep, especially immediately after waking up.

With optimized working conditions, I tend to squeeze the most out of these precious morning hours. Getting out of bed earlier isn’t usually easy, but on the other hand, 8 a.m. deadlines mean that I have to plan with a time constraint. These early morning deadlines are immediate incentives that push me to be even more productive. 

Setting my goal of finishing the close read in 10 minutes means that I can be fully engaged. As a result, if I finish work in less time, I won’t have to wake up as early, allowing myself more sleep. The goal transforms from merely finishing an assignment to finishing it as efficiently as possible. Being able to cram in more sleep is easily a motivating factor that I’m sure I’m not alone in. 

This early start to the day has made me more aware of how much sleep I should strive to get. Since quitting the mindset of needlessly staying up late just for the sluggish, endless hours of nighttime blurriness, I’ve realized just how much more I can accomplish, immersed in mornings of clarity.