Often in our search to either solve problems, or improve situations we fall into the trap of thinking what works for one person, will work for another. It is understandable as we look for proof of a solutions viability, the fact it has worked before gives us confidence it could work for us.
We also live in a world where this message is used as the hook to sell us the any product even vaguely related to self improvement. Do what I did and you will look like me. Here is the secret for how I became a billionaire. How X went from that to this.
But what a lot of people fail to appreciate is how different we all are. There is no one size fits all model for achieving anything in life. If there was, wouldn’t we all be doing it?
F*ck that T-Shirt
If you follow business press or read biographies you will read a lot about how super successful people achieve so much in their day. And a lot focuses on their daily routine or habits, suggesting that if you replicate them, you too will replicate their success.
If I hear about one more person who has followed the Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg model for wearing the same outfit each day I may strangle somebody with their plain black tshirt.
Equally, another of the more consistent stories you hear is about how these people rise ridiculously early each day and on need 4 hours sleep. Something which many people try and replicate, and will generally tell you how productive it makes them at every opportunity.
I’ve done a fair amount of research into productivity and can tell you that two things for sure:
- There is no reason this will defintiely work for you, that doesnt mean you cant be be more productive
- It is far more important to understand your own energy patterns
Personally I am an early riser anyway. I’ve never struggled getting up in the morning and find myself most pre noon. But that doesn’t mean I am more effective over a 24 hour period.
I have lulls at other times of the day when my energy levels dip, and past 10pm in the evening I am useless, no matter if I feel alert, I just can’t be effective.
Conversely I know a lot of people who do their best work late at night. But speak to them pre 10am and its a complete waste of time. This isnt because they are any less effective, or any less productive, it means they have their energy peaks at different times.
It irks me to see people handing out blanket advice without considering the differences of each individual. You need to find what works for you, and understand when you have energy. If that’s early in the day and you can crank out a ton of work pre 9am then great, and if its post 9pm and you like to work into the night, then thats fine too.