This post comes from our contributor FP Naomi.
It has always seemed to me that the most successful people rise early. And so I – the most hard-to-get-out-of-bed person in the world – declared it a mission to become a morning person. I envisioned early mornings with yoga, coffee, and news. I wanted so badly to trade my snooze button for a productive and enriching experience. For a long time I fought, only managing to get out of bed with 15 minutes to spare. I realized that sheer will wasn’t going to cut it, so I did some reading, jotted down tips, and got to experimenting. I put my alarm across the room, didn’t eat an hour before bed – tried it all while documenting the outcomes. After finally achieving two consecutive weeks of successful waking up, I figured some things out that do work. For all you other non-morning people out there, here is what I found.
Break the Routine
This is THE HARDEST part. But, you have to do it. Once you’ve managed to wake up early several mornings in a row, it gets much easier. You’re making a new habit, and it takes serious dedication. You need to wake up early every single morning for at least a week straight to make it stick.
To get into it, you can try several things. Some people force themselves to get up by setting an alarm across the room. When I tried it out, I just ended up getting back in bed. Sad, I know. The first breakthrough I had was when I purposefully parked my car in a school zone. I had to be on my way to yoga by 7am or my car would get towed. Tricky ;).
It set off a light bulb in my head though. I realized that a good method to break the routine is by setting up obligatory morning tasks. If you don’t have school zone parking or a car, arrange a morning gym date with a friend and trade sneakers the day before. Your friend can’t work out if you don’t bring her sneakers in the morning, so if you don’t show up, you ruin your friend’s whole workout. Don’t want to go to the gym? Plan a Skype date with family or friends in another time zone. Whatever it is, give yourself something obligatory to get up for.
If you’re still having trouble, another thing that I found works really well is immediately turning on a light. In my case, when I felt a strong urge to get back in bed, I instead, stepped into the hallway and flicked the light switch. If you don’t share a room with anyone, you can also turn on your bedside lamp.
It makes a huge psychological difference to get up if you’ve prepared your things the night before. Lay out your clothes, pack your lunch, and get everything together. If you don’t have the energy to do it at night, you’re not going to have the energy to do it in the morning. Not being fully ready will just turn into an excuse when you’re trying to get yourself out of bed.
Get into bed at least half an hour before you actually want to fall asleep. Turn off the TV, put your phone away, get rid of all technology. Instead, read, sketch, have a conversation… anything that will calm you down. I found that technology really does mess with your brain. Just the light from it confuses your body. In my case, I found that sometimes it gives me a weird kind of anxiety — like needing to see if someone emailed me back. Instead, you can check in the morning after a great night’s sleep. Plus, think of how well read you’ll be by just shutting off the TV a bit earlier. Not to mention, you’ll fall asleep easier and you’ll sleep better.
You can try all the little tricks you want, but what it really comes down to is discipline. For me, it was mostly finding the discipline to get into bed early enough at night. As soon as I made the rule, “no technology after 9:30,” I had a much easier time. Prepare for the day to come, unwind, get enough sleep, and get yourself out of bed in the morning. You have to stick to your guns.
There’s no point in having the discipline to get up early if you feel like it takes the enjoyment out of life. Be sure to reward yourself for your efforts. The feeling after a morning workout really helps, but why not go further? My yoga studio has a steam room, so I’ve been rewarding myself with that. You could also grab a nice breakfast before work, since you have the time. You’ll also find that evenings are all of the sudden free, so fill them with fun stuff! Go out for drinks, spend more time on a hobby, whatever feels like a reward for you. You earned it, you morning person, you. ;)
Visit Naomi’s blog Numie Abbot!