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I like waking up early. My productive days are usually the ones that I have definite actions for the day, and I woke up early (getting out of bed between 4 am to 6 am). The days I wake up late, I tend to waste my whole day with higher probability.

A complication is that I am sensitive to barometric pressure drops, and I usually cannot wake up early when it's cloudy. Even if I force myself out of bed, I would be in a groggy state for a while. (I tend to come to work 2~3 hours later on these days.)

My question is, how can I become more productive for the days I woke up late? It seems my mind is in a different state that needs some proper stimulation to get into the right mood.

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Do you start your days the same way? Shower, review notes, look at tickler file, tell us what you do differently and we'll tell you what needs to change! – Raystafarian Mar 11 '12 at 19:45
I completely understand you, a day I wake up 9am is not half as much productive as one I wake up 5:30. I think there's something to do with alertness and just being on a high-energy mood. Have you tried coffee for the days you wake up late? I suppose you don't need it when you wake up early. Could also have to do with waking in a light sleep (REM) cycle vs. in a deep sleep cycle, though I wouldn't really bet on it. – Vic Goldfeld Mar 12 '12 at 3:57
up vote 2 down vote accepted

I think there are two factors at play here. Firstly why did you get up late? If you overslept because you spent the previous night knocking back Jack Daniels, that may also be the reason that you're not having the most productive of days. Whatever your reason for not getting out of bed it boils down to the fact that you didn't get out of bed because you didn't want to. Now the reason you aren't doing much work is probably strongly correlated.

Secondly there are psychological forces at play here. If you get out of bed late you are immediately thinking "oh no, today is going to be a bad day". You have built up this idea in your head that if you get up late, you're more likely to waste away your day. The main differences between getting up at 5am and 9am are distractions. At 5am you're probably the only one up at home and unless you're a fan of infomercials, there is nothing good on the tv. Most shops aren't open, so you can't go out and buy the paper, and you're not going to get people calling and emailing you because they're still in bed. But these are all the same things that exist at 9am every day. You have all these distractions there at 9am whether you got up at 5am or not. If you're allowing them to distract you on a normal day, then you're not really being all that productive anyway, and if you're not, then you just need to realise that whatever you would have done at 5am you can still do at 9am. Don't let the procrastinating voices in your head tell you otherwise!

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I agree with most of your points. There are times when waking up late is definitely just an excuse to procrastinate. But there are also many days that even when I'm actively fighting against it I can't still get in the zone. – Memming Mar 15 '12 at 16:26

So consider the idea that it might be your body trying to tell you something... I'm sleeping a lot at the moment because I'm fighting off a heavy cold and I'm really glad that, because I'm quite organised, there's nothing that can't be put off for a few days while I have some R&R...

Maybe the correlation runs the other way... so not 'If I get up late, I'm unproductive all day' but 'If I've got the energy to get lots done in the day, then I'll wake up early anyway...'

Obviously it would be a good idea to take this to extremes - the stereotype of a slacker college student is an easy one to identify - but for me, the single greatest thing about being well organised is that you can take unscheduled sick days, or just days off - do something nice for someone or have a day to yourself. Moreover, not only can you do these things but you can also do them safe in the knowledge that your in control of your life enough that nothing will explode before you get back...

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True. There's that psychological effect of self-fulfilling thought pattern. I am quite organized, but not enough to stay ahead of my work life (practically self-employed). Thanks for the suggestion. – Memming Mar 15 '12 at 16:20

Your mention of the weather changes brings two thoughts to mind.

First, do you have any trouble with headaches on these days? Weather changes are a common trigger for migraines (which need not be severe, pain-wise, to bring the rest of the symptoms along) and "migraine fog" feels a lot as how you describe.

Second, consider mimicking the light level of a non-cloudy day with a dawn simulator or full-spectrum light bulbs.

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I didn't know about migraine fog. I believe I don't have migraine, but interesting. Thanks! – Memming Mar 15 '12 at 16:17

If you know beforehand that you are going to wake up late the following day, try preparing for something exciting to do the first thing the day you wake up late. Preferably something that would give you a sense of accomplishment in a short amount of time. Then you might feel that you are on the roll and you might want to do something else.

On the contrary, try to "eat the frog" when you wake up and do something you have been dreading doing for a while. That may make you feel good too.

And, of course, there are stimulants, such as coffee/tea, nice breakfast, 15 minutes of exercise, but consult your physician before doing exercises :)

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Great idea. I'm gonna try it right away. I'll let you know. :) – Memming Mar 15 '12 at 16:18

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