Maybe it's because I turned 30. Maybe it's this new old man thing I picked up. I've been happily getting up at 5am on most days the last couple of weeks. I actually look forward to it. It's weird. Like something flipped overnight - but I think I know why that may be. It all starts with being busy.

I'm in about the busiest season at work right now that I can remember in a long time. We are launching a lot of initiatives at once, so there is a lot to juggle. I could go in at work, knock out my to-do list but not feel any progress made since so many other things came up during that time. It's one of those seasons. 

That could lead you to believe that I have been going nonstop from the time I get up to the time I go to bed. It's not the case.

There are certainly days where I have taken that approach. Those are also the days that I ironically feel less productive. 

Which is what leads me back to my old man routine of getting up at 5am when I don't really need to. I'm not getting up at 5 to cram in a few hours of work. Sure, there are actually some mornings where that is the case (deadlines and working across time zones are real things). However, those mornings are spent just having time of peace and quiet. 

I'll spend at least an hour enjoying the quiet morning. Usually I'll put some coffee on and read a book, some Bible devo on YouVersion, or skim Flipboard and Twitter for the news. Some of that time is just spent hanging out in my favorite old leather recliner, drinking coffee and reflecting on the day. What needs to be done and what things I've been able to knock out that week. 

It's made all the difference. 

If HBR Says It's Important...

I was thinking about how much I've enjoyed my quiet times early in the morning when I came across this HBR article on Twitter on why you should make time for self-reflection. Self-reflection often feels like a waste of time since we aren't actively producing something in that given moment. 

I think I've found that those quiet times in quiet reflection, of not actively being productive, have helped me get more done when I am working. I have a clear vision of what I need to get done. My brain feels less muddy when I go into work. Stopping and taking a moment to breathe has made a huge to-do list feel manageable. 

It's also why I've really enjoyed my new productivity planner (review to come soon). It has forced me to physically take time out of my day to plan what I need to get done. What to prioritize. It's helped me avoid fire drill situations. It's also helped me not go into work and letting my email inbox dictate my day. 

It's funny how doing nothing helps me be better at doing something.

I've had days in the last week where I woke up and hit the ground running and didn't take time for self-reflection. While those days were more full of "activity," they were my least productive days. Other days where I took time out to pause, reflect and let my brain chill for a bit, I actually got considerably more done. 

It's weird how that works. 

I've found that quiet times are becoming a big priority for me. Like any priority, you schedule time for it. That's why I've been getting up at 5am. To let my brain warm up, do some of the fun reading I don't get to do during the day and intentionally plan out how my day is going to go. 

What about yourself? Where does quiet time play into your routine (if at all)? Can you tell a difference?