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Productivity Hacks: Why 4 a.m. Is the Best Time to Work

Productivity Hacks: Why 4 a.m. Is the Best Time to Work

For me, the most precious commodity in business is time. And I find I am most productive when I balance time that I spend with others with blocks of time during which I can think, write and —my favorite — build earnings models.

When I was in corporate America, I tried for awhile to schedule no meetings on a couple of Fridays every month, thereby giving myself the luxury of blocks of time to think. It worked ... sort of. But I had one significant problem: email. Some people can ignore email, but I have never formed the discipline of not checking email repeatedly and obsessively during the course of the day. It appears that I am addicted to the rush of endorphins that occurs when one receives a batch of emails, which I guess is better than being addicted to other things.

So now I work when others sleep.

[Related: What Do the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast?]

I am never more productive than at 4 am. I brew a cup of coffee, I keep the lights pretty low, I sometimes light a fire in the fireplace, and I let my daughter’s cat sleep next to my computer. My mind is clear, not yet caught up in the multiple internal conversations that we all conduct with ourselves once we gear up for our first meeting of the day. And there’s a peace that comes from knowing that my family is all in bed and safe upstairs while I work. It is at this time of day that I often have a rush of ideas (some of them actually good).

Yes, this does mean I have to go to sleep earlier, but I long ago recognized that I am out of gas by about 8 p.m. every evening. Any work that I try to do after that isn’t up to my standards anyway, so I give myself a break then. I use that time to be with my children, to socialize ... and to get to sleep so that I can start again at 4 a.m.

Photo: Knight725/Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

By Sallie Krawcheck. This post was originally featured on LinkedIn.

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