How I make every morning super-productive

I’m a night owl: some of my best, most productive work happens between 8pm-1am.

Understandably then, 8am…and even 9am, is not my best friend.

(And neither are alarm clocks.)

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So I’d gotten into this pattern of working late, sleeping ’til I woke up, wandering into my office in pjs, and slowly booting up for the day. After Facebook and catching up with my favorite blogs, it was often noon before I mustered the motivation to crack into my work.

Then I was hungry and my dogs need a walk (and I was STILL in my pajamas), and I had errands to run…all of a sudden, the whole day had passed before I worked on anything.

That’s no responsible way to run a business!

More importantly, I always felt behind, rushed, and lazy.

(Note: If you have a not-so-normal schedule that works great for you, go for it! I just found this wasn’t working for me.)

How I made every morning super-productive

Truth be told, I kind of got pushed into it, so I can’t take full credit for this.

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I started training for a new remote part-time job and we started at 9am every morning with a Skype call. That meant daily I had to look appropriate and “together”Β by 9am.

Out of my pajamas. Hair done. Teeth brushed. Face washed. Presentable.

Oh boy.

And guess what? By noon, I felt super-productive:

  • I had accomplished multiple “work” things.
  • I felt cleaner and more alert.
  • I had really earned my lunch break.
  • And I felt motivated to accomplish more.

All that from a set of clothes and a little bit of personal care!


In fact, when training ended, I realized I was so happy with my new schedule that I’d continue it.

So, against my lazy judgment, I set my alarm for 8:55am. I do my morning routine before I step foot in my office, following these “rules:”

  • Clothes must be something I wouldn’t be embarrassed to walk my dogs in public in at 1pm
  • No pajamas or pajama-like clothes (i.e. sweats)
  • Hair “done”
  • Face washed
  • Teeth brushed
  • (Note: I’m a night showerer)

And I get right to work.

It’s not that I make any rules about not checking social media or surfing the internet.

  • It’s that I’m READY to start my day.
  • I WANT to be productive.
  • I FEEL LIKE getting work accomplished.

So I might spend 15-20 minutes checking personal email, but the motivation is there to get busy and to do so quickly.

The HUGE bonus I never expected

The amazingly awesome – and totally unexpected – bonus is that I’m working fewer hours.

My better half will tell you I’m a workaholic. I used to work EVERY weekend. It was normal for me to put in 50+ hours per week.

But in the last 3 months, I’ve put in between 30-40 hours per week. Many weekends, I don’t work at all.

Let me say that again: sometimes, I don’t work at ALL on weekends.

(And I’m still making the same income and hitting – or beating – deadlines.)

That’s kind of unheard of for creative entrepreneurs.

Here’s what I think has happened:

  • I’m more productive each day, so I don’t need the weekend to finish projects.
  • I don’t (have to) follow my weekday morning routine on the weekends, so there’s a clear difference between weekdays and weekends (before, the days just blended together into a wall of never-ending work).
  • I’ve had a lot of personal obligations on weekends, so I haven’t over-booked my business.
  • None of my clients have had rush projects with crazy deadlines lately. πŸ™‚

So if I want, I can tackle additional work and make more money.

But it’s been REALLY nice relaxing on weekends. Tackling personal projects. Working on passive income.

And generally enjoying life, feeling refreshed and ready when Monday rolls around (well, as much as one ever feels that way!).

Try it!

So if you’re feeling overworked, underproductive, and like every tomorrow is going to be the same hustle, try something new.

If getting up and dressed in the morning like I do is your kick-in-the-butt that transforms your life, awesome!

But maybe your secret is:

  • going to bed earlier,
  • working a split shift,
  • hitting the gym before work, or
  • simply eating healthier.

Whatever it is, try something new and find what works for you!

(Have you already found your secret to success? Share it with us in the comments!)

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About April Greer

April is the Director of Projects at Reliable PSD, a design-to-code company for designers, by designers. She’s the glue keeping everything together, organized, and right on time, and giving everyone a fantastic experience while she does it.



  1. Reading the beginning of your article and I was like “She talking about me, right?!” πŸ™‚ I’m right there! I wasn’t there before, it kinda happened somehow. I tried putting my alarm at 7am like before but I ended up snoozing for an hour. Tried 8am, works better but I still somehow start work – real work – at noon or even 1pm, always finding a new reason to delay it and I don’t finish my day till super late hours. And like you, I end up feeling lazy and always rushed. So thank you for your advices! I will try them out. I already started “dressing up” nicely after workout and shower in the morning. No more sweats and it does make a difference. haha Who knew right?! πŸ˜‰

    • Hey Isabelle,

      Ha ha! πŸ™‚ I’m still surprised how much of an effect this has had on my productivity and mood. It’s a bit silly, imho, but hey, if it works, I say go for it!

      Thanks for sharing!

  2. Great article, April.

    Working from home over the last 7 months has taught me a great deal about self-discipline and productivity. Finding time to get ready in the morning not only makes you feel like a functioning member of society (I’m guilty of the occasional “morning zombie from hell” and it’s no fun), it also has a positive effect on my productivity and overall mood.

    • Hey Brian,

      It’s crazy how much better I feel about myself when I’m not in pajamas with an empty food carton next to me at 2pm!

      That whole ‘functioning member of society’ thing feels real when you’re dressed and have done something productive.

      Glad to hear I’m not the only one!

      (Every once in a while, Friday can be my lazy day. It feels good until it’s noon, and then I start to feel icky and wish I had just taken the time to get dressed and cleaned up.)

  3. Lisa McKenna says:

    So often people say “it must be so nice to work in yoga pants all day!” — I feel so unproductive when I wear too comfy clothes. Slovenly even! My mantra is to wear a necklace or funky scarf every day, even if I know I’m committed to the house, if I’m blinged, gets my creative juices going! Great article, as all Millo ones are.

    • Hey Lisa,

      “Slovenly even!” — Me too!

      I love the idea of something that makes you feel “dressed up,” even just a little. πŸ™‚

      Thanks for sharing!

  4. This is great. I’m a night owl through and through, so I can relate to this completely. I know I’m so much more productive and feel better overall when I wake up earlier and get ready for the day, but…ugh, alarms. I’ve been putting off making a change, but this may have been the kick in the butt I needed!

    • Hi Brittany,

      Tip from a fellow night owl: don’t try to bite off more morning than you can chew. Try getting up just 1/2 hr or 1 hr earlier than normal at first. For me, the idea of setting my alarm for 7am is ludicrous, but setting it just before 9am is tolerable!

      Also, it’s okay to work later nights. Like I mentioned above, I can be REALLY productive from 8pm-1am, so I embrace it and don’t force myself to work at times of the day when I’m not making useful headway. So I have many days that are split shifts, and that’s okay, too.

      No reason to hate life just to conform to society’s idea of 9-5 being a “proper” workday. πŸ™‚

      Thanks for dropping by!

  5. I’m at a 9-5 now so getting up early and looking like someone’s well-raised child is a must, but you pretty much outlined the bulk of my pre-day job life (except for the dogs).

    Since being productive before and after midday is no longer an issue, I’m going to work on getting up steadily earlier so that I can get more of my personal and freelance tasks done before heading off. Who knew that a day job would be the extra kick in the pants on an issue I was procrastinating over?

    • Isn’t that the truth?! So crazy how something you thought might limit your time actually increases your productivity.
      Thanks for sharing!

  6. I used to think it was awesome that I stayed in my pyjamas for as long as I felt like but then I realised it was also making me feel very sluggish so, like you, I changed up my morning routine and man, it has had such a positive effect.

    I wake up early, eat cereal (have to eat literally as soon as I jump out of bed :P), meditate, shower, eat a second breakfast like a hobbit, maybe read a little bit.. books or articles like this and then start work a good hour or hour and a half after I’ve woken up. It’s my little morning ritual and when I don’t do it, I can immediately see how it has a negative impact on my productivity so I attempt to stick to it as much as possible.

    • Hey Radhika,
      Awesome to hear you’ve also found a routine that gets you going each morning. Congrats!
      Thanks for sharing. πŸ™‚

  7. This helps so much! I can absolutely relate to all of this, especially how tough it is for me finally feel like I’m ready for work and suddenly it’s 6pm and I didn’t achieve anything. Around 11pm really good ideas come in but I’d be too sleepy to materialize them.

    So thank you for posting.

  8. By the way, morning is the most productive time of the day. Therefore, I try to do all the main things in the morning.


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