There are three options on the table for every person who wakes up and wants to enjoy a healthy and productive day. An important decision you should make is when and how you work out.
Putting the workout or a productive session of deep-work as the first thing in the morning has both its advantages and disadvantages.
Working Out First
Planning your workout as the first thing in the morning gives you the advantage that you cannot miss your workout session later that day. Often your day becomes stressful or exhausting and your willpower to head to the gym in the evening becomes smaller and smaller. If you have an upcoming deadline, it will be likely that you postpone your workout session to the next day. However, if you head to the gym as the first thing in the morning, you cannot miss it in the evening. The other significant advantage of working out first is that you wake up every fiber of your body. By lifting weights, going for a run, or stretching your body, you will feel more alert afterward. If you finish your workout with a cold shower, the day is yours. If you are lucky to have a sauna in your gym, try working out quite early, going to the sauna for 10 minutes, and then having an ice cold shower. You will feel super alert which is a fantastic way to start your day.
Putting your Work-Out FIRST
When I talk about putting your workout first, I mean it. Don’t waste your time having breakfast first. Your body will not be able to digest your breakfast immediately, and you will not be able to access all the energy quickly. I suggest that you get up, dress up, and have a glass of warm water. Grab a banana or maybe drink a small oat-shake and head to the gym.
Now you might say: Well, I don’t have as much energy in the morning, especially when I skip my breakfast. Well, your statement is not necessarily false. It is proven that our energy level is usually highest in the late-afternoon and early-evening. However, this does not mean that you will have no energy in the morning at all. I can promise you that you will be surprised at how much weights you can lift or how many kilometers you can run without having breakfast.
The first sessions might be hard for you because your body is used to working out later in the day. After a few sessions, your body will accustom to your early work-out, and you won’t see any significant difference regarding your performance. Your body will adapt, believe me!
Putting your Deep Work First
Scheduling your deep-work phase as the first thing in the morning can be a great productivity hack as well. I found that putting your in-depth work sessions first thing in the morning is super effective for some tasks. Writing, planning, researching, and strategizing are some of these tasks. I found it surprising how much I accomplished during the first hours of being awake. Often I achieved more things in the first hours than I usually would have during an entire day. When I worked on several deep work tasks, I woke up early at around 5 AM. I had a glass of warm water with honey and then sat down to work on my top priority for that given day. Usually, I worked by using a Pomodoro timer – which means working 25 minutes non-stop with a subsequent 5-minute break. The great advantage of working before 7 AM is that you can work without any distractions. There are no family members, friends, or co-workers who can distract you. Why? Because they sleep. So while everyone sleeps, you can work super focussed on your priorities, and by 7 AM you will already check marked your most important to-do.
However, this working schedule does not suit everybody. If your work requires a lot of communication or collaboration, you cannot merely shift your work to 5 AM. I find it also very hard to work creatively in the morning hours. For creative work, for example, design, producing music, painting, writing fiction, and so on I prefer working late at night. I work as late as 4 AM on creative tasks before going to bed.
My experience tells me the following: – Working early in the morning is excellent for logical tasks. – Working late at night is great for creative tasks.
Combining It: Work and Work-Out Early
If you correctly set your priorities the evening before you can efficiently work on your priority and do some sports before 9 AM! Waking up at 4:45 AM, drinking a warm cup of water, and working from 5:00 AM until 7:00 AM will give you 90 minutes of focused work on your prioritized task. Have a breakfast shake at 7:00 AM and head to the gym by 7:30 AM. Congratulations, you will leave the gym at 9 AM while having accomplished your priority, your workout, and a super cold shower.
Well, you can schedule your work-out also during the lunchtime or in the evening. It is great if you can combine having lunch with a 45-minute workout. This will give you a bright and alert mind when you would’ve otherwise been quite tired. Work-outs in the evening are especially great if your mind is full of thousands of things. From my experience, you will have an excellent goodnight sleep when you workout first. Your workout will eliminate all the crazy thoughts you have in your mind and lets you fall asleep more easily.
It’s an Individual Thing
While I recommend to workout early, this is a very personal decision. What works for me might not be the best for you. I suggest that you try and test the described schedules and see what works best for you. Leave a comment below and tell me how you plan your day.
Photo by Dawid Zawiła on Unsplash