My high school self that slept until noon or later on the weekends is screaming at the person I have become. But waking up earlier has changed my life for the better and made me a more productive person.
At some point during my Sophomore year of college, my habits started to change. I started waking up before 7:00 every day and then that became 6:30, and that became 6, and so on.
Now, I’m awake between 5:45 and 6:00 each morning because I’ve found that the quiet of the morning is the most productive hours of my entire day. I now find that I’m beating my 6 a.m. emergency alarm most mornings and no longer dread the sound of my alarm each morning.
Becoming a morning person fundamentally changed my life and made me more productive. Here’s how I did it:
1. Make it easy on yourself
If you try to overdo it in one night you’ll end up doing more harm than good. First thing’s first, if you want to wake up earlier, go to bed earlier. Take the time you want to wake up, subtract the number of hours of sleep you need, and get to bed. It sounds elementary because it is. However, I’m still astounded by the number of people who say they aren’t morning people and don’t see how anyone can be but proceed to fall asleep at three in the morning.
For me, I’m practically never up after 10 p.m. on a weeknight. For some, this is impossible and I understand that. But if this is something you can control, do it. Never deprive your body of sleep because it will end up biting you later. Try working backward in 10-15 minute increments and avoid using your phone or computer in the half hour or so before you go to bed. I do my skincare routine and tidy up before bed, no electronics required.
2. Put your alarm clock far away, but make sure you can still hear it.
I live in a smaller space and I can put my phone anywhere and I’d be able to hear it. I keep it far enough away from my bed so that I can’t reach it while still laying down and have to get up to access it.
A bonus-hack I do here is I leave a glass of water near my phone. Once I’m out of bed to turn off my alarm and take a sip of that glass of water, I’m ready to get moving.
3. Reward yourself
It’s basic psychology.
I used to get up early because I had to. It was the only time I had to myself and was able to write or do things that I cared about that weren’t school or work. To make it a little more palatable at first I would make sure to play some TV shows I enjoyed watching in the background to watch while I was doing what I needed to do in the morning.
You have more time now, make yourself a nicer breakfast with the extra ten to fifteen minutes you can afford to spend here. Make yourself a smoothie. Go for a quick run. Take a longer than normal morning shower. Just don’t remember why you woke up early and treat yourself to the small things.
4. Automate as much as possible
If you read any book on the habits of rich people or productive people, other than getting up early, the next thing most will point to is automating as many decisions in the morning as possible. This often time starts the night before. Usually before I went to bed my to-do list for the next morning has been made, my coffee pot is set for around the time I wake up (it’s harder to fall back asleep if you can literally smell coffee brewing), I have at least thought about what I want for breakfast, and my outfit for work the next day is picked out.
These will not only make you more productive, but it’ll just make it easier to get up in the morning.
5. Get moving
Having a four-legged best friend certainly helps with this. Once I’m out of bed, have a glass of water, and put on my shoes I’m out the door with my dog. Hillary and I spend at least 10-15 minutes outside in the morning to let the air hit our faces and do a quick jog around the block. This gets my blood flowing and when I get back in I’m ready to keep going.
6. Find something to do
Surely you’re not waking up because you just want to wake up early. Remember why you’ve made this goal. Maybe it’s to work on that side-project you’ve been meaning to start, to read a bit more, or cram for a test. Remember what your goal is and stick to it. If you’re waking up an hour or two earlier than you usually would, that’s a lot of extra time to get stuff done. It’s easy to fall into the trap of checking your email or social media, don’t.
The quiet of the morning can be such a productive time for you if it’s used wisely.
7. Enjoy it!
Watching the sun rise and hearing the birds chirp is beautiful. Before the city gets moving or your town starts to stir, take a minute to enjoy the quiet. Open your windows, let some air in, there’s truly nothing like it.