I read a nice entry by Bert Webb called, Get More Done By Going Home On Time yesterday. Bert talks about the creeping habit of working late and how we should, "Put that sense of urgency back to the early hours of the day where it belongs." I couldn’t agree more. Mr. Webb also mentions that basically, early rising is the only way to fit in that which we must do. Again, I’m with you Mr. Webb and I’ve subscribed to that belief since my early twenties when I figured out that getting 3 hours of work done before others rise actually produced a sense of balance and calm in my life. Even today with 2 little ones running around, I can still achieve more by 7AM than most. Living in the Central Time Zone and having an office in the West only magnifies the power of this since I typically don’t get calls or emails (interruptions in the creative process) before 9-10AM Pacific.
But, what if you work at home like I do? Getting up early and selecting a "finish time" is even more important for us. If we don’t have that sense of urgency…all we have to do is "slip downstairs" or "be right back" while you’re checking some emails..only to find that 2 hours has time warped you away from family time. My wife often reminds me that on my scale "a couple of minutes on the computer to finish an email" means that I’m fully engaged for at least an hour. I still swear that I was just gone for a few moments, but the clock tells the tale. I fight tooth and nail to maintain this awareness that it’s not acceptable to work at all hours. I love what I do and often it’s easy to work ad nauseum but it seems to be sage advice to rise early, execute on that which you’re passionate about, and what MUST be accomplished today, then wrap up at a well defined time.
Of course, we must often spend extra time on business affairs to execute on something important…but don’t you find that once you get in that habit, that just about everything can fall into that "very important must work late category"? It’s difficult enough to focus these days with the myriad interruptions that cloud our brains. The best thing one can do to maintain a sense of control and focus is to rise early, execute, enrich, and then turn some of the burners off.