You get up early. Insanely early. You find your peace—and most productive hours—in the first slice of the day.
The godfather of productivity, Benjamin Franklin. As he put it in Early Rising: A Natural, Social, and Religious Duty: "There is a feeling of life about the morning sunshine, provoking cheerfulness and vivacity, and he is a great loser who has not his eyes and his heart early open to welcome it."
Spend these quiet hours on your most high-value tasks. Energy Project CEO Tony Schwartz wakes
up and immediately throws 90 minutes at the most crucial job for the day. Author and investor Whitney Johnson wakes up and writes before her inner critic can start criticizing it. How to be most effective on email: Don't do it first thing, says Julie Morgenstern, author of the clearly stated Never Check E-mail in the Morning. "Early birds get a jump-start before the true pressures of the workday hit," she says. "Use those hours for the deep-thinking work."
A version of this article appeared in the December 2013 / January 2014 issue of Fast Company magazine.